Five Ways Dental Marketing Can Suck the Life Out of You

Kevin Williams


As a dental practice owner, you have a lot of responsibilities, from seeing patients and staying on top of dental technologies to running your business and making sure you’re growing. But marketing your practice shouldn’t be one of the items on your to-do list.

That’s not to say that marketing your practice isn’t important, because it is! It’s just that having to do all those things can be tiring—exhausting, even—making you less likely to be successful as a whole.

Think we’re kidding? Here are five ways that marketing can suck the life out of you: 

Marketing Is Time Consuming  

A behind-the-scenes look at a marketing campaign will show a tired marketing team, many  spreadsheets, piles of post-its, and lots of empty coffee cups. (The stuff they show in movies and television is way wrong!)

Coming up with cross-channel marketing programs that effectively target audiences, improve brand awareness, and generate leads takes a lot of work—and quite often the work of three or four people. 

Let’s say you’re going to run a teeth cleaning special to attract new dental patients to your practice. You’ll have to:

  • Plan the campaign
  • Create your marketing materials
  • Set up your campaign on your chosen channels
  • Launch the campaign
  • Analyze the results after a predetermined time frame
  • Adjust the materials (or channels) to improve results
  • End the campaign and determine your return on investment.

Running a marketing campaign might seem relatively easy. But once you get deep into everything, it can easily become much bigger than what one or two people can handle.

And this is just a campaign. Think about the other areas, including digital marketing, which involves updating your website, optimizing it for search engines, and managing your online reputation. These things can’t be ignored if you want to grow your dental practice. 

But they can easily be overlooked, especially if you’re also trying to run a dental office. Overseeing your hygienists and office staff, seeing patients, retaining patients, staying up to date on dental technologies and medicine, and dealing with the business/financial side of your practice is already a full-time job. 

Marketing is not a “set it and forget it” type of activity. It requires constant attention and care. So if you’re unable to truly devote the time and energy it deserves, it will end up sucking the life out of you and causing more stress than reward.

Marketing Is Constantly Changing

Dental technologies are always evolving. Think back to when traditional metal wire brackets were the only type of braces available. Now there are clear brackets and even clear aligners to make straightening teeth more attractive for you and patients.

The same is true for marketing. It is a rapidly changing field, especially when it comes to digital marketing. Dental search engine optimization (SEO) strategies that once worked five years ago no longer provide the same results because of constantly changing algorithms and techniques. 

How we advertise services also is evolving. We are constantly bombarded with content (including advertising!), making it increasingly difficult to capture user attention and get them to convert. We must adjust and change our strategies, tactics, message, and emojis to stay relevant and ahead of the competition.

By not following marketing best practices or new industry guidelines, you run the risk of looking outdated, behind the curve, not up with the times, and like a caveman. 

For example, your adult patients want braces. They’re interested in clear aligners because they’re embarrassed about wearing them in front of their colleagues. However, you never learned clear aligners and don’t offer them. Instead, you offer traditional metal wire braces. 

How do you think your patients are likely to perceive you?

The same is true for marketing. And if you’re unable to read marketing journals, listen to social media podcasts, and attend conferences, you’ll likely fall behind. Besides, wouldn’t you rather spend your time and energy on new dental technologies to grow your practice?

Getting in the Google 3 Pack Is Not As Simple As You’d Think 

Google is the go-to source for getting information about products and services. This means that you definitely have to spend time on local SEO efforts that boost your Google My Business listing into the Google 3 Pack. 

The Google 3 Pack is the three top listings that appear in the map results of a search result.

When you show up here, potential patients can:

  • Find your location
  • Find your phone number
  • Read reviews
  • Make an appointment
  • Compare you to other local dental practices.

It’s a prime spot on page one of Google with a guaranteed boost to your local awareness. One of the first steps to getting there is having a Google My Business listing. If you don’t have one, check out this step-by-step guide to creating your profile with details on what to include.

Getting into the Google 3 Pack is more than just having an updated Google My Business profile. You also have to get reviews, constantly review your own information for accuracy, and verify that it matches other local citations, which are local places where your business is listed. It’s a combination of online reputation management and off-page SEO—two marketing tactics that people often specialize in because they can be tricky and ever-changing.

Reviews are key to your local SEO (and getting into the Google 3 Pack) for two reasons. First, they give prospective patients an idea of what to expect should they make an appointment with you. Second, they tell Google that you are a quality, customer-centric business and that other people would most likely enjoy coming to your practice.

Of course, this is all true if your reviews are mostly positive. A few negative reviews aren’t going to seriously affect your ability to rank high in Google. Just make sure you’re responding to all reviews in a professional way so that others can see you’re genuine and truly care about your patients’ dental care.

This article, “Getting Dentist Reviews and Reputation Management for Dentists,” does a great job of explaining the ins and outs of getting reviews, how to respond to negative reviews, and how negative reviews can actually work in your favor.

Creating your Google My Business listing is not a “set it and forget it” marketing activity, though. It definitely requires some TLC. To take care of your listing, you should:

  • Add new photos and remove old, outdated images
  • Build your reviews from patients
  • Update hours on holidays
  • Leverage Google Posts to share updates
  • Consistently review your description and links for accuracy.

You want your Google My Business listing to be as accurate as possible, leaving little doubt for Google and patients to think you’re not the best dentist to show in search results and visit. Google, like us humans, appreciates when things make sense. And when things don’t make sense, chaos often ensues. 

When it comes to off-page SEO and citations, chaos can easily unfurl when you have listings across the web that do not match one another. For example:


Listing A:                                            

Dental Practice Name

123 Open Sesame Road

Town, State, Zip


Listing B:

Dental Practice Name

123 Open Sesame Road

Town, State, Zip


Listing C:

Dental Practice Name

123 Open Sesame Drive

Town, State, Zip + Postal Code


Listing C is a tad bit different than Listings A and B. And those tiny differences, using Drive instead of Road and adding the postal code after the zip, can make Google stop, pause, and rethink whether your listing is valid.

Once another directory-type site like Yellow Pages or Merchant Circle catches that there is a difference, it might create a new listing for you because it is unique and new. But it’s not really unique and new. It’s your same practice.

This starts the chaos of duplicate listings, which is not a fun process to undo and put back together. It can take months to undo the work one duplicate listing has done to your local SEO, off-page SEO, and online reputation.

Constant review of your citations and ensuring they match Google is a must to prevent this type of horror from happening to you. And with so many citation sites, directories, and dental-specific listings on the web, tackling this on your own can be very time consuming and tedious.

Marketing Takes You Away From Growing Your Practice

You might be thinking that this isn’t true and that by focusing on marketing, you are growing your practice. And yes, you would be right to an extent.

While marketing will help you get more patients, improve patient retention, and build community awareness, it won’t help you teach your staff how to communicate with patients, teach you the latest dental technology, or hire more staff to support your growing patient base.

All of those things have to come from you, the dentist, leader of your dental practice. 

Great leaders delegate so they can focus on doing what is right for their organization. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about the delegated tasks, but it does free up your time to work on the most important facets of a budding dental office. 

By putting someone else in charge of your marketing and website, you’ll be able to work hand in hand so your patient base grows right alongside your actual business.

Marketing Takes You Away From Your Patients

Marketing is a time intensive job. From the campaigns to the learning to the constant updates, there is no shortage of work to market your dentist office to new and current patients. This time and energy, however, takes you away from the one thing that keeps you in business: your patients.

Your patients are the lifeblood of your office. They help you bring home the bacon! If you’re constantly focusing on your marketing, then you’re not giving them the attention they deserve when they come in for a cleaning or a root canal.

Think of patients like customers. They’re smart, they do their research, and they know when something has changed. They can feel when a business has deviated from its original mission and starts to think more about the dollars then the value it provides.

Patients might not act on their inkling right away, but after another visit or two, they might test out another local dentist to see the difference. After all, customers want to feel like they matter. They want to feel appreciated. And they want to feel like they’re a part of something.

Brand loyalty is really hard to come by these days. But when you get it, you typically get it for a while, even if you mess up once or twice. Build brand loyalty with your patients by focusing on them and their needs during visits, making it easy and painless for them to come in for appointments and by treating them like a person, not a number in your patient base.

Trying to focus on your marketing and your patients will drive you nuts. So focus on what really matters, your patients, so you can continue to grow your office smoothly and efficiently. 

Mr. Williams, a digital marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience, is the CEO and founder of DigitalToothFairy, a digital marketing agency that specializes in creating dentist websites that are focused on dental patient growth. He is also the author of the free book How To Supercharge Your Dental Website and Dominate Your Competition. For information about how DigitalToothFairy can help your practice dominate your competition, visit DigitalToothFairy, email, or call (888) 748-7178 for a free consultation and evaluation.

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