How much do you know about the demographics of the community surrounding your dental office?
Setting up shop in the right neighborhood and understanding the people who live nearby are both critical for the success of your dental practice and your marketing efforts. Without knowing who your patients (and future patients) are, it will be difficult to attract them to your office.
Collecting accurate demographic data will help you get a clear picture of the local population and help you come up with the right marketing strategy to connect with them. But where do you start? And what data should you gather?
Why are demographics important?
Knowing the demographics of your service area gives you a snapshot of your practice’s potential growth and success. Demographic data, broken down by city, county, or zip codes, also helps you pinpoint marketing efforts so you can maximize your return on investment (ROI) by adjusting messaging and spending for particular areas. For example, one neighboring town may be filled with prospects for your dental membership plan, while another may have little interest in it. With accurate demographics, you can spend your marketing dollars where they’ll get results.
What demographic data should you research?
First, you should find out how many people live within the radius of your service area, and if that number is trending upward or downward. How far to extend that circle will vary depending on whether you are in an urban or rural area, but you’ll want to determine how many people fall within a reasonable and convenient travel distance. You will also want to compare the local population against the number of competing dentists near you to see if the patient-to-dentist ratio is favorable and there are enough patients to go around. Anything less than 2,000 to 1, and you may find yourself in some cut-throat competition trying to fill your schedule.
While people of all ages need dental care, certain types of dental practices will obviously target certain age brackets. Implant specialists will lean toward an older demographic, while pediatricians will focus on attracting younger families. Median age can also give you a sense of the average longevity and lifetime value you can expect from each patient.
Understanding the education level of your audience will help you fine tune your messaging and “voice” when communicating to patients and prospects. Some services and procedures you offer may be more technical in nature, and knowing how to explain those clearly can make all the difference when it comes to acceptance of treatment plans.
Median Home Value and Average Household Income
Combined, data on home values and household income will give you an idea of how much disposable income is available that can be used toward dental care. That can be especially relevant for practices that focus on fee-for-service and elective cosmetic procedures.
Employment statistics are an additional indicator of available income, but they can also help you estimate the number of people who likely have some form of dental insurance coverage (which can be a positive or a negative, depending on whether you are a participating or fee-for-service practice). Having knowledge of some of the larger employers in your area and the dental coverage plans they offer will also be helpful.
Where can you find demographic data?
If you decide to dig up demographics on your own, one of your best sources of information will be the U.S. Census Bureau. There are a number of free tools available on their website to find the data you’re looking for.