I had a challenging call last Friday morning with this really great dentist from Ohio.

Jane is fairly early on in her career. She recently bought an established practice, where she’d been an associate for several years prior. Of course, Jane was totally excited to finally have her own office, and to be running the show. However, one thing she knew she needed to be successful…. New Patients. And she needed them yesterday.

The dentist she’d bought the practice from had been, well…. let’s just say ‘less than aggressive’ in his new patient marketing. Jane knew there was a lot of opportunity for this practice. But she was essentially starting from scratch with her marketing efforts.

As we started talking, she said to me – “So, Kent, here’s the situation. I really need new patients. We’re bringing in about 25 per month right now. I need to at least double that, and do so pretty quickly, to get this office growing. I brought on (marketing company named removed for privacy) to do digital ads – Google pay-per-click, Facebook re-targeting, and YouTube video. It wasn’t cheap! But they had all these testimonials and examples of other offices that had great results with them. So, I figured it’d work for me too. But it hasn’t worked at all. I’m now 4 months into a 12-month contract. I’m burning $4,500 a month on this stuff, and it’s not working at all. I’m totally frustrated, locked into this year long contract, and I don’t know what to do.”

Jane’s story is painful. No matter how many times I hear stories just like this in talking with dentists, the frustration is so vivid and I feel terrible for them. The dental marketing industry is totally broken, and it creates these situations over and over and over again.

But there’s good news for Jane… and every other well-intentioned dentist out there who’s struggling in these types of situations. There is a way to course correct, and I’m going to share it with you here. Just as I did with Jane last Friday.

The issue here is what I call “Marketing Backwards”.

Strong new patient growth requires a well thought out marketing strategy. That means the coordination of several different marketing elements, in an integrated manner.

The approach of just flipping on an advertising switch, all by itself, does not work. Advertising alone will almost always fail. It needs several supporting elements in place prior to be effective. If you lead out with advertising, you’re essentially doing your marketing backwards.

That’s what Jane did here. She just flipped the advertising switch, but nothing else. And it failed terribly!

Now, that’s not her fault. Jane’s a dentist. Not a marketer. I don’t expect her to know this. I don’t expect you to know this either. And that’s why I write these weekly articles – to share what I’ve learned over the course of my career – in hopes it will help give dentists like you insight, and save you from these frustrating situations.

So, what does work?

While every situation is unique, there are 3 MUST HAVE supporting marketing elements to make any advertising campaign produce positive results:

1. A Great Website Experience. If you’re running an ad campaign, you’re likely pointing those leads to your website, right? So, what happens when they click your ad, land on your website, and then have a poor experience? They bounce. And another costly lead is lost.

Your website experience needs to support your advertising. You need that lead to hit your site, easily find the information they are seeking to cement their decision, and quickly contact your office to schedule an appointment. Now, to be clear, I’m not advocating here for crazy expensive websites. Quite the opposite actually. Complex websites often create more conversion challenges than they solve. Often times, simpler is better. (note: last week’s article addressed this topic in full detail, please read it if you missed it). The point is this… make sure your website experience clearly and quickly communicates the necessary information to that new patient lead, and prompts them to contact your office. Otherwise, you will lose them. And your cost of new patient acquisition continues to rise as you miss out on another opportunity.

2. A Top Tier Online Reputation. Between 80-90% of patients are “primarily” or “strongly” influenced by online reviews when selecting a new dentist. So, what happens when those leads check out your Google review profile and don’t get the social proof, they need to feel comfortable? Or they’re checking out multiple practices and, while your review profile may be good, it’s severely lagging another practice (or worse… several practices) in your area? Guess where that new patient is likely heading?

Your online review profile (namely your Google review profile) is incredibly important! I really can’t emphasize that point any more strongly. Every market is different, but if you’re in a competitive area and you don’t have at least 4.8+ stars on 200+ reviews, you’re not going to stand out. That sounds harsh, but it’s the reality. If you want to know exactly where you stand in your market, just Google ‘dentist near me’ as you are near your office and see how you compare to the other practices within your competitive area (i.e., the area from which you are attempting to attract patients). The good news (if you’re lagging) is that there are true and tried ways to quickly boost your online review profile (and they’re not difficult or expensive). Shoot me an email if you want some advice.

3. A Highly Effective Lead Conversion Process. Here’s the cold, hard truth… if your team is converting less than 80% of your qualified new patient leads, then your advertising campaign is almost certainly destined to failure. Here’s the scary fact. The national average for new patient lead conversion is… wait for it… only 38%. Yikes! If you don’t know your team’s actual new patient conversion rate, you need to find out what it is… like pronto. Seriously! It’s almost certainly worse than you think.

I’ve worked with many high-performing dental practices over the years, and they work hard to clear that 80% threshold. It’s honestly not easy. And that speaks volumes to why so many dental practices ultimately fail to see positive results with advertising campaigns.

Jane found her advertising failing because she lacked the above 3 supporting marketing elements. And she’s not alone.

Key Takeaway: If you don’t have all three of the above supporting marketing elements effectively in place, the reality is that you’re going to lose money on your advertising campaigns.

Ready to grow your practice?

Grab some time and let’s discuss your growth goals and what success looks like to you. I’ll walk you through what’s needed to get there, and we can determine if it’s a good fit for us to partner together in making that happen.

Simply reply to this email, or click on the button below, and sign up for a complimentary consultation:


I look forward to talking with you soon!



About Kent Sears

About Kent Sears

Kent provides over 15 years experience in consulting and marketing strategy. His work has spanned the globe, in both public and private sector, with leading companies such as Microsoft and T-Mobile. He brings his corporate experience to help private practice dentists realize their full business potential through more effective marketing strategies to stay competitive in the rapidly changing world of marketing and healthcare.