Dental schools are in an interesting position when it comes to providing other services. A lot of the time, funds are strapped, and the schools struggle to provide things like catering at an affordable price for their students. They may opt to install vending machines to make money and provide their students with convenient refreshments.
Vending machines aren’t always of chocolate. There are machines that make cup soups and noodles. There are coffee, tea, water and soda machines, and some that sell savory snacks or even hot snacks that can be prepared in a microwave attached to the machine itself.
With these machines, it’s important that you put the time and effort into marketing them. If the students don’t know that the machine is there or are under the impression that “it will be expensive” then they won’t use it. Usually, machines are against a wall or in the corner of a hall – hardly somewhere that will get a lot of people passing by and stopping to take a look at it. The students will be in the routine of making a beeline to the counter to get their food and drink, and you need to make them get out of that habit.
Believe it or not, SEO is a good way to do this. Using SEO, you can prepare students for the idea of convenient vending machine food and drink (or even other goods – some vending machines can sell stationery or electronics!) before they even come to your facility. This is best done by making sure that you talk prominently about your products and services, and your facilities, on your website. Let us look at an example, so for example if someone that is going to the dental school searches on one of the search engines locally inside the school for a vending machine. They should be able to find the location.
Why should they care? Well, when they’re at university after hours studying in the library because their flatmates are annoying, they’ll want a nice hot drink. The canteen is probably closed, so they’ll be pleased to find out that you have a bean to cup coffee machine, and that you also have some healthy snacks on an adjacent machine, so that for a couple of dollars they can enjoy some real food, instead of having to dial a pizza or leave the dental school to find a store that’s open.
SEO can help with marketing the machine to existing students as well. It can encourage them to spend more time at the school and can be a good reminder to them that the facilities are available.
Student satisfaction and wellbeing are essential factors and things that don’t get enough attention in a lot of dental schools. The schools are often too busy worrying about other targets, grades, recruitment, etc. – but putting some time into marketing the quality of life side of things can be of benefit to the school as a whole.
The challenge is figuring out how to do the SEO. People are not likely to search for “coffee machine in Anytown Dental Academy,” so you would need to look at the searcher habits that people do exhibit. What can you promote to make sure that you are reaching your target audience?
SEO is just one part of the marketing equation. Creative marketers may want to set up a social media account ‘for the machine,’ or use other location-based or app marketing. Even small things such as changing the location of the machine so that it is more visible can be helpful in increasing the number of people who buy from it.
If the machine sells more than the usual calorie-dense snacks, then it might be worth promoting that – is it good from a lifestyle perspective? Are you encouraging your trainee dentists and hygienists to practice what they preach? Are you leading the way regarding encouraging a healthy diet? If so, those are highly marketable things, and things that could net the whole school some good publicity. Take advantage of them and start talking about them as much as you can. It will increase sales, and it could even bring in new students.