Dental Practice Marketing is Part of a Dentist’s Job

Melinda Spitek The “New Patient” Mystique: Build It and They Will Come?
Special Marketing Feature
By Melinda Spitek, CEO, Hycomb Marketing

In the classic movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s movie character has a vision of building a stadium and attracting long-dead baseball stars to come back and play ball. We the audience get caught up in the dream and, like the hero, start to believe the players will truly show up. But the truth is, it’s only a fantasy.

It’s not surprising that even in today’s competitive market for the new dental patient, some of the powers-that-be advocate the classic approach to dental practice building: word of mouth referral from satisfied patients. Effectively, dentists are encouraged to “Build it and hope they will come.”

So, should you be actively involved in soliciting new patients, or merely waiting for your current patients to “tell a friend?”

The answer is both. We’ve all heard dentists say, “Our best patients are referred by our best patients.” Certainly, that’s true. But should you just sit around and hope? I’ll bet dentists who do nothing to stimulate referrals do a lot of waiting – not to mention have plenty of empty chair time.

Alas, new patients just don’t magically appear. Perhaps you’re disinclined to mount an aggressive direct mail effort to solicit new patients. Or maybe you feel newspaper, magazine, or radio would be overly restricted by your state’s guidelines. At a bedrock minimum, then, you should be getting referrals from the best source of all – your current patients – by asking for them!

I know that, for some of you, asking for referrals is tough. You may even think it denigrates your professional image. But I assure you, that’s not true. Your current patients are coming to you because they believe in your abilities. Why shouldn’t they be honored and flattered when asked to refer their own friends or relatives?

You can punctuate the referral process with patient referral cards – Smile Cards.* These are business-size cards in which space is provided for the new patient to write in the name of the person who referred them. A win-win situation: the new patient receives a monetary incentive to make an appointment with you, and the referring patient receives a similar reward.

You may want to supplement your referrals effort by reaching out to potential new patients in other means of advertising. However, there are a few things to keep in mind here. Some states are very restrictive when it comes to professional dental services advertising. Before you begin to spend, make sure you’re knowledgeable about guidelines. An even better idea is to hire a professional dental marketing agency familiar with your needs and your state’s regulations.

*Smile Cards (design and text) are a Copyright product of Hycomb Marketing Inc. (Created by Jim Du Molin)

Melinda Spitek is CEO of Hycomb Marketing Inc. Hycomb is an authority in marketing for dentists. Melinda has had plenty of hands-on experience as well, having worked 23 years in dental offices. For help with marketing, just call Hycomb at (800) 523-6961 or visit

Dental Marketing Essential During a Recession (VIDEO)

Many dentists are increasing their dental marketing as a direct result of the slumping economy, this survey revealed.

Thirty-eight percent of dentists reported they had increased dental marketing, while 33% said they had cut spending and were tightening their belts.

Read more: When Things Are Slow, Marketing Keeps It Moving

New Dental Patients: Referrals Are Good for Dentists

Dentists see about 20 new patients a monthDentists see about 20 new patients a month, found this survey, and referrals are the leading source of new dental patients, with 68% of dentists calling referrals “very effective.”

According to two out of three dentists, dentist websites, and radio and TV ads are “somewhat effective.”

Dentists were split over direct mail. In addition, yellow pages seem to be falling out of favor, as 71% of dentists report that phone book ads are “not effective” at attracting new patients.

Here are some comments from dentists:

  • “Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals.” (Georgia dentist)
  • “Keeping your name out there using multiple sources seems to be the most effective method of attracting a significant number of new patients.” (Tennessee dentist)
  • “Networking with other businesses, especially chiropractors, podiatrists and MDs.” (New Jersey dentist)
  • “We take pamphlets and seasonal items to local businesses, so each month it’s fun and we meet out local merchants.” (General dentist)
  • “At this point, 12 new patients per month is all our practice can handle with one dentist.” (North Dakota dentist)

Read more: New Patients: Referrals Are Still the Best Source for a Dentist

Best Dental Marketing Avenues (Dentist Survey Video)

Best dental marketing avenues dentist survey videoWhich are the best dental marketing avenues, the ones that lead to the most new patients? When it comes to dental practice management, that’s the real question.

In a recent survey, doctor-to-patient interactions ranked as the most effective form of dental marketing. Direct mail marketing and dental patient referrals were also noted as effective.

Dental websites came in at #4, followed by email marketing, social media marketing, and radio advertising. No respondents felt that Yellow Pages or local community involvement were effective sources of new dental patients.

“Patient referrals are just as valuable as my radio advertising,” commented a Washington dental marketing professional.

Jim Du Molin and Julie Frey discuss dentists’ thoughts on the best dental marketing avenues:

“I find doctor-to-patient interactions to be most effective,” said a Missouri Dentist. “I think more local community involvement would also help.”

“We are currently working on greatly increasing our internal dental marketing via patient referrals,” said an Ohio prosthodontist. “We have found direct mail marketing to be effective.”

“Since our practice is well established, we are continuing with internal marketing and excellent patient care,” offered a South Carolina Dentist.

What is your attitude about the best dental marketing?

Dentists Report on the Value of a New Dental Implant Patient

Dentists Report on the Value of a New Dental Implant PatientThe latest The Wealthy Dentist survey reveals that the average gross production of a new dental implant patient in the first 9 months of treatment in 2012 was $4,400.

Urban dentists reported higher production figures with amounts between $3,000 – $15,200.

According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, statistics show that 69% of adults ages 35 to 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth to an accident, gum disease, a failed root canal or tooth decay. By age 74, 26% of U.S. adults have lost all of their permanent teeth.

Dental implants have become an increasingly popular choice among dental patients for replacing their missing teeth.

The American Dental Association reports that approximately 3 million people have dental implants and that number is growing by 500,000 a year. The estimated U.S. market for dental implants is $1 billion.

In this survey, general dentists report average production profits between $1,200 and $15,200 for new dental implant patients, while prosthodontists average $5,000.

One dentist responded, “After referring my dental patients to specialists and getting back poor work I thought: How much worse can I do? Now I offer implants.”

What are your thoughts on the value of new dental implant patient gross production?


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