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 Table of Contents  
REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 216-219

Dental service marketing


1 Division of Periodontics, Department of Preventive Dentistry, College of Dentistry, Riyadh Elm University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
2 Division of Orthodontics, Department of Preventive Dentistry, College of Dentistry, Riyadh Elm University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Date of Web Publication24-Oct-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Osamah Mohammed Al Mugeiren
Department of Preventive Dentistry, College of Dentistry, Riyadh Elm University, Riyadh 11681
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jioh.jioh_194_18

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  Abstract 

The purpose of this paper was to review the dental service marketing and the use of social media marketing within the field of dentistry. The literature was searched using appropriate keywords related to dental service marketing and social media. The concept of dental service marketing reviewed under 8Ps (product elements, place and time, price and other expenses, promotion and education, physical environment, people, process, and productivity and quality) and the role of social media in marketing were briefly reviewed and reported. To become a successful practitioner, dental professionals need to understand the theory and practice of marketing strategies. The eight “Ps” of the service marketing can be effectively utilized for successful marketing of the dental services. Social media has a lot of potential for marketing dental services in a cost-effective manner to influence the modern dental practice.

Keywords: Dental, marketing, service, social media


How to cite this article:
Al Mugeiren OM, Al Sanea JA. Dental service marketing. J Int Oral Health 2018;10:216-9

How to cite this URL:
Al Mugeiren OM, Al Sanea JA. Dental service marketing. J Int Oral Health [serial online] 2018 [cited 2018 Nov 19];10:216-9. Available from: http://www.jioh.org/text.asp?2018/10/5/216/243860


  Introduction Top


Marketing matters more than ever before. It has been pointed out that there is a drop in the percentage of patients visiting a dentist. This resulted in practices becoming in excess capacity. Therefore, marketing strategies can be utilized for bringing in new patients and it became common in almost all types of dental practices. Therefore, dental marketing is an essential and important for the opening or buying dental practices.[1]

The economists recognized demand and supply sides as two important elements in the provision of oral health-care services. Demand side encompasses several elements such as patients and patient demographics, financing of care, the need for dental care, and the economic ability to purchase the care, etc. On the other hand, supply side includes dentists and dentist demographics, office and treatment hours, and practice staffing. The marketing of dental services is somewhat different compared to the other health-care marketing.[2]

In dentistry, it is important to change the general features of the marketing to adopt to the market conditions. One of the famous demand models for dentistry is known as the health production function model. This model assumes that the health is the final endpoint of individual desire. Individuals opt for services due to the need for those services to maintain their oral health.[3],[4],[5]

Dental services have been facing several issues due to the growth in the dental health services over the years. Economy of the country plays an important role in the delivery of oral health services. Hence, a thorough understanding of the issues related to the dental care markets is essential.[6]

Since the introduction of the Internet, the way people communicate with each other has changed dramatically. In addition, the introduction of social media has transformed the way people interact with each other. Social media are computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests, and other forms of expression through virtual communities and networks.[7] This paper aimed to review the strategies of dental service marketing and the use of social media marketing within the field of dentistry.


  Materials and Methods Top


Literature review strategy

Literature search was carried out in various online databases such as PubMed, Medline, Google Scholar, EBSCO, Wiley Science Library, and Saudi Digital Library using appropriate keywords like dental service, clinical practice, dental practice, dental marketing. All the pertinent information related to the dental service marketing and social media was reviewed and compiled. Various elements of marketing dental practice and role of social media in dental marketing were discussed briefly.

The study proposal was submitted to the research center of Riyadh Elm University and registered (FRP/2018/218).


  Results Top


Total 1663 studies were retrieved. All the relevant and informative studies among them were included in present review.


  Discussion Top


In marketing, services are considered as the economic activities provided by one party to the other. Service provision mainly aims to satisfy the customer or consumer or recipient. Lovelock and Wirtz have found a new marketing mix of 8Ps that is designed for service marketing due to the unique nature of service. These include product elements, place and time, price and other user outlays, and promotion and education, physical environment, process, people, and productivity and quality.[8] Conventionally, marketers usually use 4Ps to market goods. The four Ps are product, price, place, and promotion.

Product elements

In marketing, dental service is anything that can be offered to a client that might satisfy a want or need. Dental service takes the most important role in a clinic marketing strategy because this is the direct thing can meet the client's need and effect client's relationship. A poor-designed service cannot bring any meaningful value to the client. Poor service keeps damaging clinic's value.[8]

Place and time

Most obvious characteristics of service are intangible. Dental service delivery should consider both physical and electronic channels. Today's information sharing is increasingly conducted through electronic channels. Three inter-related elements deal with electronic distribution the process of making deal through the Internet: information and promotion, negotiation, and product flow.[8]

There is a need for the physical facility to deliver dental services by establishing the clinic. Hence, location for setting up clinic is important. In general, cost, productivity, and access to labor are the important factors. There is a complete transformation in trend in opening time of clinics from 40 to 50 h/week into 24/7 model in some places due to the high demand and increase in competition.

Price and other expenses

Price is the total of all the sum that client exchange for having dental services. This is the money payable for the service.[9] Cost of the service is highly dynamic and dependent on various factors such as type of clients, time and place of dental clinic, level of demand, and available capacity. Cost of the service and other expenses are the key elements that clients take into consideration while seeking the service. Therefore, dental service pricing should be set with minimal other expenses or outlays to avoid the losing clients. Keeping in mind the uncertainty of dental service pricing, clients tend to choose previous service provider.[8]

Promotion and education

Effective method of communication is important for marketing dental services to reach the three functional goals:First, to provide required information and advice; second, to influence the clients of the merits of the specific services provided by the clinic; and finally, encouraging the clients at specific times. In service marketing, providers sell different types of services provided by the clinics because clients have no idea about the different services that are worth paying. Hence, dental clinics should use promotion method to achieve educational goal to convey the information of the benefit of certain service.

Physical environment

The first impression made by the clients to dental clinics is normally from the physical environment which includes the appearance of buildings, interior furnishing, equipment, staff's uniform, signs, printed material, and other visible signals. The main purpose of service environment should include to influence client's experience, image positioning and differentiation, value proposition, and to enhance the productivity.

People

While delivering dental care, the interaction between staff and clients is not avoidable. This creates an impression among the client perception of the company. Hence, dental clinic should have a policy and comprehensive system of recruiting and training the staff.

Process

Even though there are many physical items involved in the process of delivering services, still the core value is from the intangible service process. Actually, customers care more about the attitude of the service people rather than their uniforms. But we still have to make the uniform clean, fit, and decent.[9]

Delivering services include many tangible and intangible items. Dental clients care more about the attitude of the service provider rather than their personal attires such as cleanliness and fit of the uniform. However, clients tend to seek the physical evidence to assess the service quality. Hence, service should be made clearly visible by physical clues. Moreover, there should be advertising, glowing images, and branding to make services conspicuous.[8]

Productivity and quality

One of the measures of efficiency of production is the productivity. Productivity refers to the ratio of what is produced to what is required to produce it. This is expressed in terms of average of total output divided by the total input. The cost of running the clinics can be minimized by improving the productivity of the services. The quality of the service provided to the clients can enhance satisfaction and constancy toward the care provider. The external communication is important to convince customers and potential customers to purchase the dental services.

Role of social media in dental service marketing

Individuals residing anywhere in the world can communicate with their friends and families by using social media websites. Because of this, millions of people are engaged in social media communication across the world. For example, Facebook network has crossed the 1 billion subscribers. There are millions of subscribers for the Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.[10]

Nearly, three-fourth of the studies supported the utilization of social media in healthcare for communication.[11] Recent data have shown that social media has influenced the medical field too by connecting and communicating between practitioners and patients.[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17]

Similarly, social media is also considerably utilized within the field of dentistry mainly for the marketing and communication purposes. Social media is used in orthodontic practice to communicate with the patients, establish a repute, and attract new patients.[18] In addition, YouTube is playing an important role by displaying variety of content ranging from education to clinical case presentations and in opinion forming process.[19]

Moreover, social media such as Twitter is being extensively used to advertise the services to exchange information between present and potential clients. Currently, dental services are advertised through the social media marketing which is comparatively cost-effective and more efficient. Sites like Twitter used to collect positive and negative perceptions regarding braces.[20] Since many people spend time on the Internet, social media is the main source for the promotion of services.[21] Facebook is considered as the top social marketing source followed by Twitter. Once the consumers become fan of a product or service, they are likely to purchase the product or service.[22] Hence, social media marketing becomes the most preferred way to market dental services.

Over the last few years, social marketing has taken over compared to the traditional marketing strategies. Markham et al. have shown the use of social media to share clinical and other information with practicing colleagues.[12]

In addition, social media can also be utilized for evaluating one's reputation. One of the critical elements while selecting the orthodontist is the good reputation apart from the cost and recommendation.[23] Patient satisfaction surveys can be utilized to rate the service provider. However, such satisfaction tools will fail to obtain the minor details. On the contrary, social media platforms will provide patient's critical details and real patient experiences. Both positive and negative experiences can be shared through the social media tools.[24]

Social media provides many opportunities for the health-care professionals ranging from the facilitation of communication between colleagues, chance to take part in professional development activities, advertise expertise, and services. It also helps to start collaborative research and development projects between colleagues. It also provides an opportunity for virtual hands-on teaching and training courses. If social media is used in proper way, it is a strong tool to improve the quality of health care.[25]

Ethical issues in social media marketing of dental services

There is no doubt about the advantages of the social media in dental marketing. However, several challenges and ethical issues do surround the social media marketing. Issues concerning the privacy and confidentiality are considered as the main barriers to avoid social media for health-care purposes. The lack of time and likely risk of harming one's reputation by unprofessional behavior is associated with social marketing.[12]


  Conclusion Top


To become a successful practitioner, dental professionals need to understand the theory and practice of marketing strategies. The eight “Ps” of the service marketing can be effectively utilized for successful marketing of the dental practice. Social media marketing can be a potential tool for marketing dental services through the Internet reaching the target groups.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

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Markham MJ, Gentile D, Graham DL. Social media for networking, professional development, and patient engagement. Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book 2017;37:782-7.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
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Sharma P, Kaur PD. Effectiveness of web-based social sensing in health information dissemination – A review. Telemat Inform 2017;34:194-219.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
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Pereira CA. Dentistry and the social media. Rev Gaúch Odontol 2017;65:229-36.  Back to cited text no. 18
    
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Livas C, Delli K, Pandis N. “My invisalign experience”: Content, metrics and comment sentiment analysis of the most popular patient testimonials on YouTube. Prog Orthod 2018;19:3.  Back to cited text no. 19
    
20.
Rachel Henzell M, Margaret Knight A, Morgaine KC, Antoun JS, Farella M. A qualitative analysis of orthodontic-related posts on Twitter. Angle Orthod 2014;84:203-7.  Back to cited text no. 20
    
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Stephen A, Galak J. The effects of traditional and social media on sales: A study of a microlending marketplace. Am Mark Assoc 2012;49:624-39.  Back to cited text no. 21
    
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New Research from Constant Contact and Chadwick Martin Bailey Shows Facebook® Fans More Likely to Recommend a Brand, Buy Products. Chadwick Martin Bailey. Available from: https://www.cmbinfo.com/knowledge-center/news-events/news/news-item/new-research-from-constant-contact-and-chadwick-martin-bailey-shows-facebook-fans-more-likely-to-recommend-a-brand-buy-products/. [Last accessed on 2018 Aug 14].  Back to cited text no. 22
    
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Larsen MK, Thygesen TH. Orthognathic surgery: Outcome in a Facebook group. J Craniofac Surg 2016;27:350-5.  Back to cited text no. 24
    
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Sykes LM, Harryprasad A, Evans WG, Gani F. Social media and dentistry: Part 8: Ethical, legal, and professional concerns with the use of internet sites by health care professionals. Afr Dent J 2017;72:132-6.  Back to cited text no. 25
    




 

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