The 5 Cardinal Rules of Dental Marketing

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  1. The patient perception shall reign sovereign. Gone are the days when the practice reputation was built solely on the dentist’s reputation. In this era, the patients’ collective perception of the practice is what matters most. If patients believe the practice to be an average family dental practice that fulfills their needs every six months for a cleaning and a check-up, then that is what it will become. If patients believe the practice is a cutting-edge center for dental excellence where they are treated like a celebrity, then that is what it will become. And which practice do you think will attract more referrals and more loyal patients? Of course, your practice is somewhere in between these two extremes, but you get the point: you are what your patients think you are. Survey patients to uncover what they think of the practice, and then tailor marketing communications to shift their thinking in the direction you want your practice to take.
  2. Marketing shall be built on a strong foundation. The foundation shall include, at a bare minimum, goals, a message and a marketing plan. Goals should be quantifiable and articulated in writing. For example, number of new patients seen per month and number of new patients desired per month. The message should be based upon what was learned when the patients were surveyed. What do patients like best about the practice? What do you want the practice to be known for? What do you do better than any other dentist out there? Put it in writing, and train your team to tout your strengths in every patient interaction so the practice story becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The marketing plan should document what marketing tactics the practice will use and the investments the practice intends to make in marketing over the next 12-month period. Only with this foundation in place can marketing begin to be a success.
  3. Marketing shall be a lifetime commitment. Marketing is the oxygen to your practice. You would no more cut off oxygen to a patient under general anesthesia in the midst of a surgery than you would cut off marketing in the midst of running a dental practice. Marketing is a line item on the profit and loss statement every month, every year – just like payroll, supplies and lab costs. It’s part of the cost of doing business.
  4. Marketing shall be an investment not an expense. With a strong foundation in place, marketing produces a return on investment. To be clear, returns are not always immediate nor the same month over month. Like anything in business, there are ramp-up periods and ebbs and flows. Still, you should be able to pull reports and see trends of earning more income in terms of new patient traffic and existing patient retention – all attributed to brand and marketing efforts. Pay close attention to this data. If in any 3- to 6-month period a particular marketing tactic fails to produce a return on investment, consider forgoing it in favor of investing more dollars into areas that are producing healthier returns.
  5. Marketing shall be an evolutionary process. Just as the practice grows and changes throughout the years, so shall your marketing. Once monthly is fine for analyzing marketing and patient traffic reports. Beyond that, complete a marketing performance review once annually. Revisit goals and the marketing plan. Ask what’s working and what’s not. Fine tune it and get it back in motion. Momentum is key.

The Anatomy of Patient-Producing Dental Direct Mail (And Why Not All Approaches Work)

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“Dental direct mail doesn’t work.”

“That stuff just ends up in the trash.”

“I never read those things.”

Now that we have gotten the thoughts and feelings out of the way, let’s focus on the facts: 80% of patients come to the typical practice from a radius of one to three miles, and dental direct mail targets that circle.

As with all marketing, it matters less what the dentist likes or wants. It matters most what’s going to make patients walk through the door, accept treatment and become loyal, referring members of the practice community.

There are specific elements of a dental direct mail piece that will get it noticed, and that will inspire the recipient to act upon it. Among them:

Strong positioning. Your practice is known for something that cannot be replicated anywhere else. A great sense of humor. Unmatched compassion. Attention to detail. Find out what it is by asking patients, and then make that the headline right on the front of the dental direct mail piece. Rope in the reader so they become eager to learn more about you.

A good story. Piggyback on your positioning. Expand into the practice story. Steer clear of clinical speak about state-of-the-art equipment and dental procedures, which can be overwhelming and even scary to the patient. Share what your current patients love most about visiting your practice. Talk about what keeps members of your community coming back for years and years.

Compelling offers. You don’t have to give away discounts on your services to make an offer. An offer can be something as simple as a gift card for coffee or an entry into a drawing for a prize. People like excitement. Make an offer that fits with your positioning and gets potential patients excited about coming to see you. We find that three offers is the magic number to really draw in patients.

Different size. A little postcard won’t do your practice justice. Invest in an 8.5″ x 11″ glossy sheet folded once so that it opens and reads horizontally. It’s a classy representation of the practice and makes a great first impression.

Accurate information. Have three people proofread the address, phone number, website address, map and any other contact information. Be sure to include a phone number on the dental direct mail piece that can be tracked, preferably with recorded calls, so that you can attribute marketing successes back to that piece for future marketing planning.

Call to action. Tell readers exactly what you want them to do, when and how. “Call now for an appointment by dialing this number.”

Here’s why most dental direct mail efforts don’t work:

Amateur effort. There is a true art and science behind dental direct mail. Expecting success from an amateur effort would be like expecting success from a layperson performing a root canal. 

Incomplete effort. Sending one mailer and stopping is not enough. A dental direct mail piece must be dropped to households at least three times to have any effect. Six or more times would be best.

Sloppy content. Even if the mailer gets to the right place the right number of times, it still has to send the right message. Follow the guidelines above to be sure your message is on target.



How to Make Your Practice Website a Patient Intake Machine

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In this day and age, it is highly possible to attract your ideal new patients while you are sleeping. You may have spent a lot of time and money optimizing your website for search, but have you optimized it as a patient intake machine yet? Here are a few simple steps to making your website work for you.

Write and design for the ideal. Choose your 10 best patients, and have the website written and designed specifically to their tastes. Sprinkle in testimonials from your top patients, too. This approach makes your website an engaging tool for attracting the right visitors and delivering them to your doorstep. More importantly, it helps to weed out the patients that you don’t want, which makes the intake process easier and more efficient.

Hone your services. Decide who you want to be in the world before putting it on your website. Perhaps your practice is best known for crowns in a day. Or for cosmetic orthodontics. Or for oral surgery and dental implants in one location. Nix the long list of general services and make yourself known for a signature service instead. This will keep patients loyal and keep them referring.

Let the web do its work. When used correctly, the World Wide Web can be a wonder in driving patient leads to your website and in your door. Some practices benefit from SEO. Some from Google AdWords. Some from retargeting ads. Some from Facebook ads. There are a myriad of other online marketing tactics to explore on top of those. Research which online marketing efforts are best for your practice by talking with online marketing experts and by surveying patients to uncover what type of online promotions they and their peers prefer. Then implement the tactics you select for at least 6 months to give them a chance to work and to gather ample data on how it’s working.

Tout accolades and awards. You are not a general dentist, you are an extraordinary dentist. Share all of your success stories on your website. Potential patients are more interested in your passion for what you do than where you went to undergraduate college or that you are a member of your state dental association. Get at the heart of why you are extremely dedicated to CE, or are committed to offering state of the art technology, or are involved in a study club. Without the why, these things are just features. With the why, they are benefits to the patient.

Give multiple ways to get in touch. At any given time, new patients are entering your practice through a funnel. At the top of the funnel are potential patients who just recently learned about the practice. They might want to like you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter to continue to get to know you before taking the next step. Be sure these options are easily accessible on your website. In the middle of the funnel are new patients who need a bit more nurturing before they are ready to make an appointment. They might prefer to email you a few questions, or call with those questions. Email and phone number should be prominently displayed on every page of your website. At the bottom of the funnel are the ones who are intentional about finding the kind of dental care you offer and are ready to enter the practice. Make it easy on your website for those folks to make an appointment now.

Offer online patient forms. The easier you make it for the new patient to enter the practice, the more likely they are to do so. Go beyond the downloadable form. Offer forms that can be submitted online. There are all kinds of sophisticated website development widgets that make this possible while still maintaining HIPAA compliance.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your new patients!

3 Simple Ways to Free Up Capital to Fund Marketing

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Top dentists reinvest at least 5% of total production back into marketing to maintain thriving practices. That could mean an annual marketing investment of $30,000 to $60,000.

Where does the capital come from for the initial investment?

Here are three simple ways to free up funds to invest in better marketing:

  1. Cancel current marketing tactics. (Especially those that aren’t working well.) List everything the practice is currently doing for marketing. Next to each, write down the cost. This is the Investment. Next to that, write down the total number of patients that came to the practice from that tactic in a particular time period no shorter than 3 months. (Nix from the list anything that’s been running for shorter than 3 months since that’s too early to draw metrics.) Multiply the number of patients by the average value of a patient to calculate your Return. If the Return is not greater than the Investment, cancel the marketing tactic. If you are in a long-term contract, see if you can renegotiate. In many cases, the same budget you are currently spending can be optimized into a worthwhile marketing investment. Simply canceling a directory listing can open up $15,000 annually.
  2. Sign up for discounts. Join a buyer’s club to get discounts on supplies, lab fees and implant systems. There is no better way to create instant savings. There’s no need to sacrifice quality in order to capitalize on discounts. Web-based buyer’s group Dentistry Unchained seeks out high-integrity providers that are willing to offer services and products at better rates. Practices that utilize these group discounts save up to $25,000 annually.
  3. Pause your practice consultant. An excellent practice consultant always has the practice’s best interest at heart. If the practice is in dire need of a sudden marketing injection, consider asking your practice consultant to put your contract with them on temporary hold. A 3-month break probably won’t be detrimental to the practice (but check with your consultant first), and that will free up $2,000 per month.

Most practices are already spending what is needed to fund a robust, comprehensive marketing plan. But that’s just it – they are spending it.

Marketing should never be an expense. It should always be an investment that produces healthy returns.

A 75-Year History of Dental Marketing in 5 Quick Parts (And What It Means for Your Practice)

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As with medicine, marketing has changed drastically in the last 75 years. This is an examination of the history of dental marketing, broken into five parts.

BBB1Part One: Information and Innovation

During the Industrial Revolution, marketing was strictly informational, not visual. An ad for a new medicine ran in 1938 with the bold headline, “Texan Universal Pills.” What follows is an article-length description of the medication, what ailments it treats, and how best to take it. The only image is of a single star under the word “Texan” in the headline. The rest is text, and tiny text at that.

Like most ads of its time, it speaks to a specific knowledge of innovation: “The effects of these Pills (sic) upon the system, is thoroughly to cleanse the stomach and bowels…”

As was also common in that era, the ad features the voice of the medical expert: “…the object is first to clear the system, and afterwards, to strengthen and invigorate it…” We do not hear any patient viewpoint.

This was the first iteration of push advertising, communications targeted at what the reader needs according to someone else’s expertise. It conveys not what the reader wants or feels, but what is needed from the expert’s perspective.

During the Industrial Revolution, society was based on the provision of information, innovation, finance, and services. Hence the expert tells the reader what he or she needs, and then sells that service to the buyer. It was often value-based advertising, including pricing for the expertise, service or product offered. In those decades, advertising was price-driven, not lifestyle driven, which would emerge much later. (Source:

BBB2Part Two: Lifestyle Advertising

The focus didn’t shift to the individual until the mid- to late-20th Century, particularly during the Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation movements. It’s no accident that lifestyle advertising emerged at the same time that America became obsessed with individuals’ freedom.

A 1963 ad for Anacin shows a woman’s furrowed brow, wrinkled by her painful headache. “In 22 seconds after entering the bloodstream, Anacin is speeding relief to your nervous tense headache.” We see less about the doctor’s expertise, more about the patient’s relief.

This is still push advertising, just a new flavor. This second generation of push advertising tells the reader what fits them. The voice of the ad seems to know something about the reader, and speaks directly to that pain point. But it’s still the voice of the expert teaching the reader. (Source:

Part Three: New Media

The Information Age came about with the adoption of the personal computer in the late 1970s, and evolved with the Internet in the 1990s and the emergence of e-mail around 2000. Push advertising took on a third form called new media.

Thousands of internet-based companies led to the dramatic rise (Dot-Com Boom) and fall (Dot Bomb) of the stock market. Even brick-and-mortar businesses erected websites to peddle their wares and services. It was popular to cram as much information as possible onto the website, sometimes onto a single, long-scrolling webpage. This became information overload. It was still push advertising, but preaching online what fits the reader. No true engagement quite yet.

Part Four: Empowerment

Enter the Age of Empowerment in advertising and marketing. Seemingly overnight (but really during 2002-07), the Internet was overtaken by the voice of the consumer, and the voice of the expert faded into the background.

It wasn’t just happening on the web – all forms of media were affected. This was startling, disruptive and destructive to businesses in almost every industry, including dentistry. Newspapers and magazines began seeing rapid declines in their readership. Marketers struggled to figure out this “new way” to promote services and products. Dentists in private practice panicked that patients now had the power to say anything about them online.

Suddenly every professional was tasked – on top of everything else they were doing –with posting relevant information on their website and using online marketing tools to attract the right clientele.

Besides a good website, everyone needed search engine optimization (SEO), a social media footprint on Facebook and LinkedIn, and a blog (what on earth was that?). It seemed everyone was in a tailspin over how much time and money it was all going to take. Perhaps the worst fear was that consumers were now the voice of our brands!

This is pull marketing, in which patients choose to join your circle because they feel strongly that they belong there.

Part Five: Pull Marketing, and What’s In It for You

Pull marketing invites patients who have the most in common with the practice to become part of the circle as an exclusive club. It conveys that patients are part of a conversation with the dentist. It is an exclusive invitation that attracts only the ideal patients.

Since much of pull marketing happens online, it is more measurable than traditional marketing that happens on radio, television, and in print.

Pull marketing is more cost-effective. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time rather than papering the world with a canned message that came off the shelf. Higher efficiencies add up to lower costs.

Pull marketing is a more natural social interaction, like hosting an open house online. It’s one of the best ways to attract like-minded patients, those who accept treatment and pay on time.

Pull marketing yields better results because it’s about attraction rather than coercion.

Pull marketing features the voice of the consumer, and that makes some dentists nervous. Worry not. Remember that the voice of the patient of the high-integrity practice is most often a voice of praise.

Embrace pull marketing, and your practice will thrive for generations to come.

11 Ways to Improve Practice Marketing Now

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  1. Ask. Survey the 10 best patients, asking what the practice does best in their eyes and what media they pay attention to most. This will allow the practice to put to market a message that resonates with patients and their peers. It will also allow the practice to reach potential patients across the media that matters most to them.
  1. Plan. Based upon data from the surveys, establish a marketing plan. Hone in on 5 tactics for the practice to deliver over the next 12 months. Avoid the temptation to implement only the marketing tactics that the dentist or team likes. Invest in the marketing that patients said they prefer.
  1. Prioritize. Think in terms of lowest-hanging fruit. It can be very cost-effective to train staff to properly and regularly ask current patients for referrals, and those referrals typically make great patients. Next, it can be in the practice’s best interest to implement at least one direct marketing effort like direct mail or online advertising. Finally, awareness marketing efforts like social media and sponsorship of charitable events can keep the practice top-of-mind in the community.
  1. Review. Have a look at your current website. Visitors will make snap judgments about the dentist and the practice in the first 30 seconds on the site. Make sure the home page shows that the dentist is Affable, Able and Available. Affability can be shown on the home page with warm, inviting photos of the doctor. Ability can be demonstrated with patient testimonials, board certifications, and awards. Finally, make the practice Available by providing multiple ways to get in touch: phone, email, social media, etc. And yes, all of this needs to be right on the home page.
  1. Empathize. Vastly improve your website by using full-face photos. Laypeople do not interact with the mouth like you do, and are not accustomed to seeing teeth-only photos or radiographs, which can be frightening to them. When it comes to before-and-after shots, always use full-face photos to tell the practice’s story. The transformation in the smile shows as much in the eyes as it does in the teeth.
  1. Join. Social media is nothing more than a practice open house. Even better, it’s happening 24/7. Join the party. General dentists typically see the best results with Facebook while specialists enjoy networking with potential referrers on LinkedIn. Apply the same social rules online as you would offline.
  1. Go Viral. Increase your social media “virality” on Facebook with photos of the staff, photos of babies and puppies, funny and relevant cartoons or jokes, simple voting contests, and celebrations of birthdays and holidays. Boost “virality” on LinkedIn with regular lead mining: connecting with potential referring doctors, then messaging them to ask for a meeting to explore how best to help each other.
  1. Behave. Adhere to HIPAA guidelines by posting on social media about general conditions, never actual cases. Train your staff on social media posting decorum and perimeters. Have patients sign a simple waiver allowing the practice to use their image, likeness and testimonial on marketing materials.
  1. Blog. Make the dentist a thought-leader in the community by downloading his or her thoughts into writing and sharing it online. This article is a good example of a blog post: roughly 500 words, helpful insights for the reader, never promotional.
  1. Be Prompt. Meet any negative online reviews head on and with the same professionalism you would use with an unhappy patient in your waiting room.
  1. Have fun. Marketing is like a science experiment. Set a hypothesis, test theories and create reactions.

9 Problems with Page One

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“Can you get me ranked on page one of Google for the keyword ‘Dallas dentist’ by next week?”

There are 9 inherent problems with this question:

  1. SEO is more than that. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a long-term strategy for improving a website so that it is more visible in the un-paid or organic search results. SEO is to marketing as oral and maxillofacial surgery is to dentistry. There is so much that goes into it: image and video optimization, internal and external link building, content development, removal of indexing barriers… Sound Greek to you? It should. SEO is a complex process best left to true experts.
  2. You are more than that. Your practice has a much bigger, more interesting brand story to tell than your city and your specialty (i.e., “Dallas dentist”). A good firm begins SEO by researching the most searched keywords that your target audience is typing into Google. It matters less what search terms you think people are using to find you, and more what search terms they are actually
  3. SEO is not enough. SEO alone is not going to cause a major uptick in new patients. It is one of several marketing tactics that should be executed in tandem for optimum results in meeting your goals. Be sure about what tactics are best for your practice by surveying your patients first.
  4. New patients aren’t searching for you online. Okay, this is unlikely, but it does happen. When you survey your patients, ask if they would search online for a practice like yours before you invest time and money in SEO, social media, online advertising or any other types of online marketing. There are a lot of options available for promoting your practice online, and you want to focus only on the ones that will really work for you. (And they are likely not the ones that work for your competitors or peers!)
  5. It’s unethical. If the SEO company you are considering is promising page one in days, they are probably doing unethical things to falsely enhance your ranking. For example, they may be stuffing the term in question into your website text in as many instances as possible. This is called keyword stuffing. Google frowns upon this approach and will seek you out and penalize you if you do it. The short-term effect is great, but once they find out, you never saw your ranking plummet so quickly. And once Google blacklists your website, it can be extremely hard to get back into good standing with them.
  6. It’s not true. If your SEO company says they don’t use keyword stuffing or any other unethical practices, but they can still get you on page one tomorrow, then they are lying about their service offering. Any web-savvy 12-year-old can have you appear on Google Maps with a Google + page. But that’s not SEO, it’s just an online phone book listing.
  7. The timeline is unreasonable. Don’t expect to go from zero ranking on Google to page 1 in three months, let alone one week. Especially for extremely general keywords like the one in question.
  8. The budget is too low. Anything is possible if you throw the right amount of money at it. If you paid a team of extremely talented content developers working around the clock for you, your website might get on page one for a specific search term within a short period of time. But, of course, that would be a ridiculous waste of resources.
  9. It negates the goal. The goal is not to be on page one. The goal is to increase new patient numbers. One way to do that is to attract more traffic to the website with SEO. When any reputable firm is conducting SEO, they should be optimizing your website for hundreds of frequently searched terms, not just one. The right combination of well-rounded SEO with other strategic marketing tactics is what will get you to your goal.

Definitely Not Different

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A lot of dentists say they already know what differentiates them, or sets them apart from competing dentists. They mention their experience, expertise, technology, or that they take the time to listen to their patients and provide them with a multitude of services.

Trouble is that it’s the same story from almost every dentist. And it’s definitely not different from what every other doctor is saying.

How will the dentist know what really makes the practice different?

The first step is to ask the happiest patients the right questions to understand how they think about the practice and how they consume marketing. An emailed survey looks simple to the patient, yet it provides immense insight into the practice.

Why survey?

When you survey patients, you get timely, relevant and actionable feedback. You learn precisely what they love most about the practice, and it’s typically not the things that come to mind first. It’s not technology. It’s not philosophy. It’s not even credentials.

The thing that patients love best is that you made life better.

When surveyed correctly, patients light up and share animated stories. Only the patients have the passion behind the story, and that shines through when they start talking about you. You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried.

Here’s how my dentist, Dr. Brett Kessler, talks about what he does best: “I am a dentist specializing in comprehensive dental care for patients with a focus on TMJ disorder treatment, and I have been in practice for more than 20 years.”

By contrast, here is how I, as one of his happy patients, talk about what he does best: “When I came to see Dr. Kessler, I was getting migraine headaches and missing work left and right. Life was all about managing pain. In a matter of a few visits, Dr. Kessler totally restored me back to my happy self. I’m more productive at work than ever before. And I am even able to go running again, which I haven’t been able to do in months.”

Dentists tend to talk about features rather than benefits. Happy patients, on the other hand, delve straight into what’s in it for them. Happy patients talk about how you changed their lives. This simply delights their friends and family, who then become potential patients.

The survey extracts these stories so you can bottle them and put them to market. Nothing sells the practice like these stories.

The surveys also reveal what media patients use to “shop” for a new dentist. This is important to know so that you invest time and money only on the marketing tactics that will help the practice now.

If, for example, you discover that your favorite patients and the people they know aren’t following Facebook, then don’t invest there. But if every family reads the neighborhood newspaper cover-to-cover, run a print ad there. If 70% of patients pay attention to direct mail, then advertise there.

You get the picture.

And with survey-based marketing, your potential patients will, too.

-Adapted excerpt from KABOOM!: The Method Used by Top Dentists for Explosive Marketing Results.



Why Corporate Marketing is Bad for Independent Dentistry

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There is a general feeling that corporate dentistry is bad for independent dentistry.

But what about corporate marketing? 

Let’s start with the negative impacts of corporate dentistry.

First, there are financial implications. The American Dental Association (ADA) reports that an independent dentist will make $193,640 on average versus $146,040 as an associate in a corporate practice. (Source:

Second, there is a sense that corporate dentistry is infiltrating the industry. The ADA goes on to say, “Of the approximate 190,000 practicing dentists in the United States, 92 percent are in private practice; more than 80 percent of active private practitioner dentists in the United States are practice owners. In the coming years, the solo practice will become less dominant as more cost-efficient, larger practices predominate.” (Source:

Third, there is a general feeling of malaise about corporate dentistry among many independent practitioners. The blogosphere is lit up with strong opinions about corporate dentistry. Here are just three recent posts from an online forum of independent dentists

“Corporate dentistry does nothing for the future of the profession. Corporate dentistry offering mentoring? I don’t think so, unless you mean they’ll have the money to pay for your CE courses.”

“Don’t follow the money — provide the same quality of care for your patients that you would put in your own familys’ [sic] mouths and the money will come.”

“screw corporate dentistry. lets make it our explicit goal to bring em down!!!” [sic]


Corporate versus independent dentistry is a true story of the survival of the fittest. As corporate dentistry grows, only the best of the best independent dentists will survive.

As Marc B. Cooper, DDS, MSD put it in a recent blog post, “Twenty percent of solo private practices will survive and even succeed in this new future. But these practices have very special practice owners. Dentist-owners in this 20% are obsessive in their commitment to practice success. They are continually engaged in advanced training, usually teaching and/or speaking at national and regional conferences. They are always marketing—and I mean always.” (Source:

And they are not just marketing – they are marketing like no other practice does.

The independent dentistry practice that will survive and thrive will have a very specific message for potential patients. It will be sure of its mission, vision and values. It will have a staff and patient base that believe in what it stands for, and that regularly sings its praises. It will stand out in a sea of sameness with true originality. It will market only a specific set of services that it delivers best. It will deploy only the marketing tactics that matter most to its target audience. It will be good as gold to current patients, which will regularly attract referrals. It will follow through with new patients in an unprecedented way, delivering on its marketing promise over and over again to create lifetime patients.

Corporate marketing can’t do those things. Any company that commoditizes marketing is a corporate marketing company.

Here are just a few examples of corporate marketing companies:

Yodle: All-in-One Local Internet Marketing & Advertising. Get a Free Quote!

Dentist Marketing 360®: Tour the #1 Dental website designs for generating more Patients!

ProSites: Free, no-obligation trial. Innovative web design, mobile sites, SEO, and social media services for dentists.

They offer cookie-cutter solutions that the average dentist figures are good enough.

But you are not average, and good enough is not good enough for you and your practice!

An independent marketing agency is much better able to offer the customized art and science of marketing that independent dentistry needs now.

Besides Big Buzz, here are just a few examples of independent marketing agencies that specialize in dentistry:

Gilleard Dental Marketing


Practice Cafe

You know it’s an independent marketing agency when you can see who works there and the specific custom solutions they offer. If you can’t see those two things, steer clear for fear of ending up with the same old marketing solution as the practice down the street.

You’re simply better than that!




5 Steps to Creating Wealth with Marketing

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One of my favorite books, The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley  and William D. Danko shows that those making high salaries, including doctors and dentists, are not the wealthy.

Wealth is defined as the money that comes in each month. Wealth is what’s in the bank.

In his book Tied to the chair, Michael Schuster, DDS writes, “Doctors are notorious for making a lot of money (gross income) and living high lifestyles, but creating little or no wealth.”

He goes on to explain:

“A major fallacy in thinking on the part of most professionals I have counseled the past 30-plus years is equating high gross income with actual wealth. I would say that 95 percent of professionals believe that increasing their income means increasing their wealth. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“Recent national research shows that 90 percent of all general dentists in the United States have a net taxable income of $135,000, plus or minus $42,000 a year. Stated clearly, this means that 90 percent of dentists make a maximum of $177,000 a year or less, no matter what their gross income.”

And you are worth so much more than $177,000.

From a marketing perspective, there are 5 things you can do today to create wealth: 

  1. Document your goals, backward. All marketing begins with goal setting. Begin at the end. What do you want to have in the bank by year’s end? Subtract total expenses and cost of goods sold from last year, adjusting accordingly if you foresee these figures to be higher this year. Now you have a solid projection for total income needed to meet your goal. Document all revenue streams from last year: dentist production, associate production, hygienist production, etc. Then add potential new sources for income, brainstorming all possible streams until you see a way to get to your total income goal. Read on for some examples of possible income streams. Once you have all income streams defined, document the specific marketing tactics needed to attract that income.
  2. Publish your book. You already wrote it, even if you don’t realize it. Perhaps you have contributed articles to your local dental society’s magazine. Maybe you have written a blog. No doubt you have rattled off a few long emails to colleagues about insights or challenges in dentistry. Compile your works, and you might be surprised how much meaningful content is there. Consider having a freelance writer ghostwrite your book based upon the content you already have. Publishing is easy and fast through CreateSpace. Royalties from book sales can be a terrific added income stream to build wealth. Once the book is published, specific marketing strategies for this income stream may include promoting the book on your practice website and your social media pages, sending out free copies to close contacts to spread the word, selling copies at dental events, and initiating an email campaign to a database of potential readers.
  3. Sell videos of your lectures. If you have ever spoken in front of a group of dentists, you have a double-whammy income stream. The content from the presentation is yet more fodder for your book, and you can sell videos of your lectures online. Over time, even a $19.95 one-time fee for access to all your videos can add up and really contribute to your wealth. Specific marketing strategies for this income stream look a bit similar to those for a book: online promotion and email campaigns will work best.
  4. Rent out an operatory. If you have more space than you need, consider renting out an operatory to a fellow dentist. Several of our clients do this with great success, particularly with a well-trained front office, distinctive brands and unique patient bases for each of the two practices. This passive income further builds your wealth. Marketing for this income stream may be as simple as posting an ad on Craigslist to advertise availability. Remember to promote what’s in it for them (“start your practice with far less overhead cost” or “effortlessly expand the four walls of your practice”) in addition to compelling features (“state-of-the-art dental equipment included”).
  5. Inspire your team. Work with a practice consultant to refine the way that you, your associate and your hygienist deliver care. Most practices can see a higher volume of patients without sacrificing high-integrity care just by fine-tuning systems and processes. More efficient patient flow through the practice can add up to even more wealth over time. Internal marketing – that a virtuous circle where happy employees cultivate happy patients, and happy patients bring more patients – is your best bet here. And your practice consultant can guide you through how to implement an internal marketing plan that will drive bottom-line results. 

And bottom-line results add up to true wealth.