Targeting Generation Y

by Ashley Ann Morin, RDH, BS

There is a new shift in the population dynamics at my suburban dental office. The baby boomer and elderly patients are leaving the practice, and they are being replaced with a young population base.

My current patients and I share the same mindset of the 1950s. We read the newspaper, own and use a dictionary, and write thank-you cards. We still like to receive mail. We also have stayed loyal to our employers and health-care providers. The Gen Y patient (born 1977-1994) is entirely different. They do not stay still for a second. They are technologically savvy, and they do not want to waste their valuable time reading snail mail. Because Gen Y is extremely sophisticated, they are not seduced by marketing and sales pitches. They want information condensed and concise. So how do we keep and secure this patient base without the use of antiquated methods?

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My office recognized this dilemma, and we hired a practice management consultant to evaluate the business. We received high marks for the use of dental software for the operatory computers. The ability to retrieve and print information for patients was considered exceptional. Valuable information, such as drug interactions and side effects, oral HPV symptoms, and the perio-systemic connection, are many of the documents I provide for my patients.

The consultant, however, felt that we were not competitive and strongly recommended the use of email. Gen Y connects with the world through their cell phones. If we were to attract the attention of this generation, then we needed to keep up with the Joneses.

I devised a newsletter with our office logo, website address, and Facebook link. Each month, our patients receive the newsletter, which highlights either new products or services. A recent issue showcased two products that appealed to our holistically minded patients, Tooth & Gum Tonic and Thieves Essential Oil. Both could be purchased at the office for their convenience or on Amazon.com. February is National Children's Dental Health Month, and the newsletter will reflect the importance of developing good habits at an early age. GumChucks, the new flossing tool that resembles nunchucks, will attract attention as it is cleverly packaged in a cool travel case. Spry gum and toothpaste completes the newsletter, reminding parents the value of xylitol-based products.

The ability to create newsletter content is endless as companies are constantly vying for our dental practice dollars. Topics such as bruxism and snoring appliances, take-home and in-office whitening treatments, and brush biopsy and oral mucosal services will stimulate interest in your patients.

Email marketing is extremely cost effective. A printed version of the newsletter is an expensive and archaic method to reach your audience. Hundreds of dollars will be spent in paper costs and stamps, not to mention labor intensive.

Gen Y will skim the page and throw it out, not absorbing the message. Constant Contact, Inc., is an online marketing company that allows us to easily engage our patients through email. They are perfect for our small business and marketing needs. I can select from many of their professional templates and customize my monthly content. Constant Contact updates the patient email list and connects the newsletter to our Facebook page. There are similar companies such as ExactTarget, MailChimp, and iContact. I chose Constant Contact for their affordable pricing and technical support.

Staying current with the growing needs of your practice requires a certain awareness and willingness to change. What worked for years has grown tired and outdated. Your newsletter will provide you with two results -- a new respect from your co-workers and employer, and will serve as a renewed interest in your practice from your current patients and prospective patients from referrals. Communicating with GenY may seem like a daunting task. But just ask your kids, they'll know how to help.

Ashley Ann Morin, RDH, BS, has over 25 years of experience as a chairside registered dental hygienist. She completed her bachelor's degree from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences/ Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene. Her research on recognizing and reporting suspected child abuse was published in RDH magazine. Ashley has been an adjunct instructor in dental radiography and registered dental assisting. She was the liaison to the New Jersey Oral Health Coalition and held the position of vice president of the New Jersey Dental Hygiene Association.

Sources:

http://www.constantcontact.com/email-marketing. Accessed September 16, 2013
Schroer, William J. " Generations X,Y,Z and the Others." The Social Librarian. 2004.
Emailed newsletters provide relevant information to high-tech patients

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