The Love/Hate Relationship Between Dentists and Marketing

Written by: Xaña Winans


Would I call dentistry and marketing a perfect match? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes… not so much. When things are going right, it can be like a fairytale romance, with dentists gushing over how wonderful their dental marketing is.

When things take an ugly turn, however, it can get more like a Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee affair (without, of course, the sex tape, two children, claims of Hepatitis C, domestic violence, and three divorce filings with two reconciliations). What differentiates love and hate dental marketing relationships? There are a few, very common signs to look for.



When a dentist finds that “right” marketing partner, it can be a beautiful, lasting thing. Sure, some relationships are a bit shallow, and more like “what have you done for me lately?” But dentists who are looking beyond quick marketing “flings” want a deeper connection with their marketing agency. One that fulfills certain needs.

You see the real me.

Building a strong brand identity for a dental practice can be challenging, but definitely worth it since it will be the foundation for all future marketing. To do it correctly, the agency really needs to “get” the dentist and the practice, and develop the messaging and visuals that represent who they truly are. Doing it incorrectly (which, unfortunately, is the way it is commonly done) involves creating a somewhat fake identity that is only based on what will appeal to patients, and not on the dentist themselves.

You introduce me to new people that I like.

A steady flow of new patients is critical for any dental practice. It’s even more important to attract your ideal patients, who will turn into loyal evangelists for your office, and refer more family and friends your way. Just about any agency will promise new patient leads, but if those leads aren’t targeted and qualified, you can expect your marketing relationship to quickly turn into a meaningless fling.

You make me a better person.

A real marketing partner is just as interested in your success as their own. Filling your schedule, building brand awareness, retaining patients, and maximizing your ROI are all mutually important when you find the right match. If you have an agency like that, hang on to them. On the other hand, if you see any of the red flags below, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship.


I don’t understand you.

Long gone are the days when a Yellow Pages listing and a dental sign on the street were enough to bring in new patients. Today, it takes a complex strategy of lead funnels, media purchasing, conversion rates, personas, CTAs, lead magnets, and other marketing concepts to generate new business. All of that can be far more complicated than most dentists want to deal with.

After all, dental schools teach dentistry, not dental marketing, and who has the time to learn enough about marketing to truly master it? In most cases, dentists just want their marketing agencies to simplify their explanations of what strategies are being executed. But that results in information simply being withheld from dental clients, which leads to our next problem.

You’re not completely honest with me.

Even if a dental marketing agency has the best intentions of trying to filter the complicated aspects of marketing strategies from the dentist, that can lead to a perception that things are being swept under the carpet. In fact, lack of transparency is one of the biggest complaints we hear from dentists looking to part ways with their old marketing partners. In some cases, the concerns are fully warranted, and their agencies are actually withholding reporting, trying to hide their own lack of performance or service. They just keep sending invoices and cashing checks while the account is on autopilot. That brings us to the third relationship problem.

You only want me for my money.

Agencies that prioritize selling services over helping clients are the worst type of marketing relationship to be in. It really hurts when dentists realize they’ve been taken advantage of.

After that, it’s usually time to break up, and find a real relationship with a “true” marketing love that actually cares about your practice and your success.


What do you do when you realize it’s over? Start looking for a dental marketing agency that knows authentic branding strategy, clearly defined strategies, and transparent reporting.

When you find the right one, trust me, you’ll know.


Xaña Winans is the CEO and founder of Golden Proportions Marketing, a dental marketing company dedicated to the growth of dental practices throughout North America. Founded in 2001, her agency provides strategy driven, full service solutions including branding, internal marketing, advertising, and digital marketing.

Goal driven results are at the heart of everything she creates.

Her passion for constant and never ending improvement led her to develop Smart Market Dental, the first dental marketing software designed to tie individual marketing strategies to resulting patients.

The ability to measure marketing ROI in real time holds her agency to a higher standard, driving continuous improvement of their work.

Xaña is a board member of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants and lectures nationally on the topic of dental marketing.

She publishes regularly in Dentistry Today and Dental Economics, and is a frequent guest on industry podcasts.