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Inside Dentistry
July 2015
Volume 11, Issue 7

The 3 Principles of Marketing Every Dentist Needs to Know

Remove obstacles that could be hindering practice growth

Jay Geier

When I first started analyzing practice growth more than 25 years ago, I became aware of something very surprising. Most of the dentists that I met did not actively market their practices. Since then, things have come a long way. Practice marketing has steadily increased, a shift that my team and I have been working toward for almost a decade. But the marketing in most dental practices still has a long way to go.

When dental marketing is done right, it is easily a full-time job. That’s why we advise our clients with larger practices to hire a marketing director who can take full ownership of creating and tracking marketing campaigns and overseeing the image of the practice. The dentists who have followed this advice have seen enormous success—in the form of skyrocketing new patient numbers, production, and collections.

However, if you’re a smaller-sized practice or if you’re struggling to grow, this could be a fantastic opportunity to discover the hidden talent of someone already on your team. Chances are, this person would love to take on this project, but you just don’t know it because you’ve never asked. As your marketing brings in more new patients and your practice begins to experience growth, you can revisit the idea of hiring a full-time marketing director.

3 Simple Marketing Tips

Although dental practices come in every shape and size imaginable, certain things are true for every business in the industry. These are important marketing principles that can bring drastic growth to any practice.

Judge Everything with a Critical Eye

Try this in your own office. For 1 day, observe every single detail that a typical patient would observe in your practice. That means sitting down in the treatment chair, looking up at the ceiling in the waiting room, noticing the friendliness and engagement of your staff when someone walks in the door, and what the televisions are playing in your reception area. Now begin to examine these experiences. What opportunities for marketing are you missing out on?

Next, consider how your practice is viewed in the community. For many dentists, their lack of public marketing comes down to a fear of seeming egotistical. Maybe you are so afraid of seeming bigheaded that you miss out on numerous marketing opportunities in your city. In reality, fear of judgment and fear of failure can get in the way of your success. According to a basic rule of marketing, you belong to one of two categories: you are a big fish in a small pond or you are a small fish in a big pond.

If your practice is located in a small city, you are in the perfect position to dominate the marketing scene. So own it! Get your name out there as much as possible and become the practice name on everyone’s lips.

On the other hand, if your practice is in a big city, you need to take a different approach. Narrow in on a specific audience of desirable patients. Consider this audience. Where do they go? What appeals to them? How can you get their attention? If that audience happens to lie within the 20-mile radius around your office building, use that geographical information to maximize your marketing investment.

Track Everything You Send

Imagine that you’ve decided to lose 20 pounds. If you don’t step on the scale every few days, how can you measure your success? How will you know which eating habits are melting off the pounds, and which ones just aren’t working? Having a system of measurement is similarly crucial when you are trying to decide which marketing endeavors are worth an increased investment, as opposed to those that need to be pulled.

You should be tracking of your marketing campaigns by assigning them an individual tracking number and email address, so that you will know the source of every single inbound call you receive. Record the successes of each piece, notice the trends for each campaign, and if something is failing to catch the eye of new prospects or patients, be sure to drop those efforts quickly. Use flops as springboards for new, enhanced ideas. Whatever you do, don’t let your marketing failures discourage you!

Raise Your Tolerance for Rejection

If there is one piece of advice for you to hold onto when it comes to marketing, it is this: Learn from your failures. I have never once learned as much on a successful day as I did on a day full of failures. If the creativity of your marketing is crushed by fear of rejection, it will show. The campaigns you produce will come across lifeless, two-dimensional, and dry.

Think of it as a stroll through an orchard. Much of the fruit you reach for on the lower limbs will be picked over, but the firm, flavorful pieces are at the top of the tree. So it is with good ideas, you have to work to get to them, but these are the campaigns that will excite your prospective patients.

You’re going to have to accept that a large percentage of marketing is strategic guesswork. It’s very difficult to pin the market down, especially because it’s constantly shifting. Social trends, media crazes, and buzzwords are all constantly shifting, making your job as a marketing strategist very experimental. The keys are to test, track, tweak, and amp up whatever is working. The more you lower your fear of rejection and change and maximize your creative energy, the greater your marketing successes will be!

Focusing on Marketing

Following the three simple principles above will set you on the path to improve your marketing going forward. Growing practices is what I love to do, and marketing is one of the most excellent tools at our disposal.

As a next step, ask yourself: Am I truly maximizing my resources? Am I striving to be the best in town and to spread the word to all of my potential patients? Or could I be doing a lot more? You may not have the answers to all of those questions right away, but don’t let that stop you from marketing your practice!

To help you out, I put together a free eBook to give you some new ideas on how you can marketing your practice. The eBook included 21 different marketing tactics you’re probably not using in your practice today that are easy, simple, and affordable. You can download this marketing resource at

About the Author

Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute and the creator of the world-renowned five-star new patient generation training program that has revolutionized the way dentists attract new patients to their practices. He reveals his secret strategy (the same one he used to obtain his world-record for “most new patients generated in one week”—600+) on a single CD that you can request by visiting

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