Bullet-point dental marketing and design advice and tips
The Cliff Notes version for dentists in a hurry
The marketing message for your dental practice
What does a babysitter do? Humor me in coming up with an answer—it’ll be worth it. Allowing for the random odd answer, most of you would respond with something similar to, “Caring for and watching over another person’s child(ren) for temporary amount of time.” That’s an acceptable response, but author Jeffrey Fox has a completely different answer in his book, How to become a Rainmaker. Jeffrey proposes the babysitter does far more than watches someone else’s kids. She/he provides a clean home and a completely worry-free night out for parents.
Notice that Jeffrey focuses on the benefits the babysitter offers. With that in mind, what exactly do you do as a dentist? Do you just do crowns, fillings, and restorations? Do you just provide a finite list of dental services?  Of course not.
Using Jeffrey Fox’s babysitter example as a starting point, let’s look at what you really do as a dentist. You reconstruct smiles, you restore hope into people’s lives, you allow people to look and feel their best, you turn shame and embarrassment into confidence, you help people reestablish normalcy in their lives, and you keep people healthy and out of pain. These are just some of the benefits you provide as a dentist, and they are what your overall marketing should focus on.
Direct mail for your dental practice
If you only have enough money or patience to run one or two postcards, don’t do it. Successful postcard campaigns are achieved when there are at least three mailings—preferably more than seven.
Make sure your postcards have a clear, desirable call-to-action. For example, new patients receive complimentary Crest Spinbrush. Additionally, make sure your call-to-action is only offered for a limited time.  
Website design for your dental practice
Finding a web designer is a lot like finding a dentist: you have to be in it for the long haul. A lot of trust. Do your research. Make sure there’s a good feeling. Bonus: killer question to ask a designer, “How do you evaluate success on a project?”
The main goal or focus of your website is not to educate people about dentistry or even the benefits of dentistry. There are other websites that people can visit for that information—you don’t need to be Wikipedia. Instead, your website should be mainly focused on getting visitors to make an appointment with your practice. Caveat: There is a fine line between professionalism and looking like a used car salesperson. If you hire the right marketing and design professionals, your website can maintain respectability and still be effective in getting visitors to make appointments.
You don’t need a practice application  “app” on the iTunes or Android store, but your website needs to be responsive, which means the experience visitors have on your website, no matter what device they are viewing it on, is still a good one. Whether your visitor is on a laptop, workstation, smart phone or tablet, it is relatively easy for her to read, navigate, and use.    
Online promotional videos for your dental practice
The best way to convey professionalism, warmth, and trust on the internet.
An experienced director and editor can work wonders with a sub-par interview. However, knowing what you will be asked and what you’ll say ahead of time, as well as repeatedly practicing what you will say, can make the difference between a passable interview and a compelling one that can bring in patients.
A bad video is worse than none at all. If you’re going to have a video shot—do it right.
Branding for your dental practice
Developing a brand for your practice can be a personal, life-changing process. Don’t let it be. All too often business owners experience paralysis through analysis when having a brand designed for their practice. To ensure you have the right brand (and that you maintain your sanity) do your best to keep your personal feelings and likes/dislikes out of the decision. Your brand should be a reflection of you and the image you wish to project, first and foremost, it’s essential your target audience likes and responds to your brand.
Continuing on with the previous suggestion, develop an informal group of patients or people who represent your ideal patients. Ask these folks if they would be open to giving you their opinion about your branding and marketing efforts (which can be done over email). This is an inexpensive way to beta test everything from your logo to your new website before you spend a load of money on them. Caveat: choosing the right people for this group is vital for you getting honest, valuable feedback.
Advertising for your dental practice
Most business owners, including dentists, often misstep in thinking that empty space in an ad is worthless. As a result, ads are typically crammed with every detail about the business or practice without any heed to readability or aesthetics. Keep in mind that the more words or graphics you place in your ad, the more likely it will appear overly-busy to readers. Cluttered ads are ignored.
Often times, business owners oversimplify why an ad didn’t work as projected. For example, declaring, “We’ll never advertise in that magazine again. It didn’t do anything for us!” To be fair, the magazine might have been a poor vehicle for the ad, but more likely, the lower-than-expected results could be a function of uninspired design, bland marketing content, a weak call-to-action, etc. If you’re not getting the results you want out of your advertising, avoid the aggravation of trying to diagnose the problem yourself. Hire a professional who has a proven track record of delivering results—she or he will diagnose the issue, and ensure your ads work as projected.
Social media for your dental practice
A poor or damaging social media presence is worse than none at all.
Post a mix of content on your social media outlets: humor, information, inspiration, new services or equipment, new team members, photos from a community involvement, a contest, a survey, or even a special offer for your social media followers (use sparingly). Ultimately, you want your content to reflect the personality of the office and type of patients you have (and want to attract).
Be extremely wary what you post about yourself and your practice. If you’re not sure what to avoid posting search Google for “what not to post online.” You’ll find a wealth of sage advice.
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