Cosmetic Dentistry: How Much Should You Rely on It?

“Family Dentist” vs. “Cosmetic Dentist” – The Bottom Line

Over the last month we have conclusively demonstrated that consumer demand for cosmetic dentistry is in a long-term decline, and it’s shrinking even more rapidly in the face of our prolonged recession. What should you do with this information?

If you are clearly established in your community as a cosmetic dentist, and at least 20% of your production is cosmetic-based, there is no doubt that you should continue to actively market and promote your cosmetic service. However, I would be skeptical of making any large-scale investments in cosmetic dental institutes or equipment in 2009.

If you are not clearly established, regardless of the local competition, 2009 is not the year to forge your marketing position as “The Local Cosmetic Dentist to the Stars.” In a recessionary market, fundamental family dentistry is where you want to put your marketing dollars!

Death by Signage

The first thing to do is decide what kind of image you want in your community. Over the years, cosmetic gurus and their institutes have brainwashed thousands of dentists into changing their practice signage to read “John Doe, D.D.S. Cosmetic Dentistry.”

Declaring “Cosmetic Dentistry” as your sole marketing focus kills off about 20-30% of your annual production potential. The average American looks at your sign and says, “I’ve got a spouse and two kids. I don’t need a fancy Cosmetic Dentist; I need a Family Dentist.”

Over the last 20 years, I’ve changed dozens of dental signs from “Cosmetic Dental God” to “29th Street Dental Care.” Guess what? It’s added 25% annual production from new patients who declared, “Why, Dr. Doe, I didn’t know you treated regular families!” (Click here for more info on designing a dental sign.)

Even worse is when you declare that you are a practitioner of “Aesthetic Dentistry” or insist on spelling it “Esthetic Dentistry.” I’ll give you two-to-one odds that 90% of the people in North America could not give you a reasonable explanation of what an “Aesthetic Dentist” is or does. I once spent an hour convincing a client that he really didn’t want to build a 20′ x 5′ sign saying “Seattle Dental Arts.” What does that even mean to consumers? “Dental Arts” is tooth painting in the mind of the consumer, and it’s death by signage to your practice.

What Does the Research Say?

By this point I’ve alienated a good number of you with this rant. However, unlike most dental marketing pontificators, I like to take some time to do some real research. Below is a graph from Google on what people (i.e., dental consumers) are searching for in relation to Dentistry or Dentist. I limited the results to those with a minimum of 100 queries and deleted specific geographic phrases.

Dental search terms online

What does this tell us? The phrases “Aesthetic Dentistry” and “Esthetic Dentistry” were searched either uniquely or as part of a larger search (i.e., Chicago Aesthetic Dentistry) a total of 6,300 times. Compare this to the other top 16 phrases with a count of of 337,430. This is a ratio of 68 to 1 against “Aesthetic Dentistry.” Another way to look at it is that “Aesthetic Dentistry” accounts for less than 2% of all the searchers related to “Dentist / Dentistry,” making it the equivalent of throwing yourself under the marketing bus.

Next week we will analyze these numbers in more depth and learn why you want to be a family dentist in 2009!

About Jim Du Molin

+Jim Du Molin is a leading Internet marketing expert for dentists in North America. He has helped hundreds of doctors make more money in their practices using his proven Internet marketing techniques.

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