Top ten marketing mistakes dentists make #6-10. To see 1-5 click here.

6. Don’t ask their current patients about their media habits.

One of the most important aspects of marketing is knowing what your current patients’ media habits are. Do they still watch a lot of TV? Read the newspaper? If so what sections? Do they still listen to local radio? How much are they online? What do they generally do when they are online? Do they do a lot of searches on their mobile phone? Are they involved with social media? Which ones?

These are all important questions to ask. I understand if you don’t want to do them chair-side but it’s still important to find this out. Generally the best way is to have them fill out a quick five to ten question survey when they check in. Ask them what they watch, listen to, view, interact with, etc. Never ask a new patient “How did you hear about us?” Most people don’t remember and will just pick something. This is very inaccurate and an outdated technique.

After they complete the survey reward their participation by entering them into a drawing for a gift card. A $50 gift card giveaway each month is a very inexpensive way to conduct your own focus group.

The Point: Knowing the media habits of your patients gives some great insight into what mediums in your vicinity have the best chance for marketing success

7. Won’t invest in themselves

It’s hard having a conversation with a dentist that contributes thousands a year in their personal stock portfolio but invest very little in their practice. The stock market is very volatile but the right marketing plan could yield more revenue from new patients, more procedures from existing patients, build a strong referral network, and build a stronger practice footprint when you want to sell.

It’s important to establish revenue goals. You need to know how many new patients it will take to reach that goal, what budget will be needed to obtain them and the marketing strategy to get you there.

The Point: Whether you are a successful practice or not you need to be putting a certain percentage of revenue back into your marketing budget. Investing it in your business is more important for retirement than investing in the stock market.

8. Complain about an aging patient base

Are we talking about the 80-90 year olds or the 65+ group?

Things are about to change and I have started preaching to all my clients that baby boomers will be very important over the next 20 years. They may be on fixed incomes but that doesn’t mean they didn’t retire well and will value their appearance more than previous generations.

The opportunity for advanced procedures with this group is much higher then any other. In addition, they are worried about their health and want to make sure they are keeping current in their health and dental plans.

The Point: These are the people that value what you do and aren’t scared to spend the money on dental work. Do not neglect them.

9. Don’t have a marketing plan laid out by month, quarter, and year

No doubt this is an area most dentists fall short. It’s not your fault. You were getting a dental degree, not a masters in business.

That being said, it’s incredibly important to have three key components as part of your business plan: organizational strategy, polished processes, and a comprehensive marketing plan.

Let the practice consultants set up the first two but you need a marketing professional to show you how to set up a short-term and long-term marketing strategy. Make sure they are familiar with a lot of different mediums and can help you execute multi-channel advertising.

The Point: Knowing who to advertise to, what time of year to do it and what markets to send it to will be key to bringing in new patients.

10. Look at marketing as a commodity item.

I don’t usually suggest a dentist do a Groupon because I feel dentistry is a service item and not a commodity. The Groupon deal cheapens dentistry and creates a public perception that dentistry can be done by anyone.

The same is true for marketing. If you believe marketing can be done by anyone or seek out the cheapest “marketing package” you are not going to get the results you’re looking for.

Many national dental marketing companies have created this problem. They do the same template work for each practice they serve so they can keep prices down and make their products scalable. I find it funny that dentists buy $300/month SEO packages and then get frustrated when they don’t move up in the rankings. Google pays over 1000 people more than a million dollars each to make sure the best possible results are delivered. That $300 package isn’t fooling them. You need to find companies that combine consulting and multi-channel advertising that makes the most sense for you.

The Point: If you don’t value marketing don’t do it.

Ben Shaver
Lead Strategist & Consultant

Ben Shaver is a dental marketing consultant for Dental Inbound. He works with practices of all sizes.

His main focus is to develop strategies that provide congruency between traditional media sources and new media platforms.

You can email him at