Lockdown Leadership - Part 6: Communicating with your community
It's time to stop consuming the conversation and start creating the conversation
Every individual who lives in your postcode is a potential future patient of the practice and it is inevitable that, at some future point, either they (or a member of their family) will be looking for a dentist.
So, whilst you have more time on your hands, why not take the opportunity to become visible in that community as Lockdown Leader?
I discussed in Part 1 of this series the opportunity that you now have to connect with your existing patients (and their family, friends and colleagues) by posting regularly on social media and creating blogs, video blogs and newsletters.
The difference during lockdown is that the old rule of 80/15/5 (80% patient stories, 15% team/owner stories and 5% "boring dental stuff") has now been temporarily reversed.
80% - information and guidance on oral health, nutrition, exercise, mental health and general well being;
15% - stories of what the team/owner/patients are up to during lockdown;
5% what to do in the event of a genuine dental emergency.
So you need a marketing plan that generates regular content in these proportions and makes sure that your existing patients are encouraged to share those stories with their family, friends and colleagues - in other words, your wider community.
You need team members who have a story to tell, perhaps about their activities during furlough (both personal and professional) but equally about any redeployment (subject to rules around confidentiality) or other volunteer work they may be doing in their community.
As always, once the 80/15/5 content has been collected, it has to be collated and created in formats that allow for multi-channel distribution, so that you can make your patients your advocates and your sales force:
In summary, there are two activities going on here:
You and your team members are doing something for yourselves - whether it be your own personal development whilst at home - exercise, home educating your children, baking cakes, tidying the garden, reading good books - or professional development - CPD sessions, Zoom tea-breaks, reading clinical texts, watching tutorials, swatting for an exam.
You and your team members are doing something for the community - any kind of volunteering from driving a delivery van to checking on an elderly neighbour.
Now is your chance to be visible and to develop a reputation for caring that will pay you back for years to come.
Let me conclude with a real life example of a small business owner who is making a difference.
Our friend Paul owns the local butchers at the top of the road. He's a classic example of an old fashioned corner shop - a one man business who thrives and survives in the face of local competition from supermarkets by offering a personal touch, a friendly face and access to the finest local produce.
Paul could easily have closed the shop during lockdown but he has turned the lemon into lemonade.
By offering either a delivery or over the counter service, telephone orders only, he has stayed open and stayed busy. I walk the dogs past his front door most days and we exchange a few words to boost each other's spirits. He is just one of the world's nice guys and the service he is delivering to his community now will be remembered when the all clear sounds.
He's no natural on camera but has created a few videos on his Facebook Page, the first of which has been viewed 2,000 times. Take a look - if Paul the Butcher can do it - so can you.