Let me ask you a question:

What if you went to your doctor due to an unrelenting headache and he simply prescribed you Vicodin?

Without asking you any questions.

Without taking any tests.

Without examining you, or doing anything at all.

You’d call that kind of “treatment” completely irresponsible, right?

I sure would.

There’s an old saying – “Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.”

Whether it’s Medicine or Marketing, the same principle applies.

And, yet, every day, thousands of dentists are subjected to this type of “malpractice” when it comes to their marketing… with the numerous marketing agencies and providers out there playing the role of the irresponsible doctor in this analogy.

Dentists are constantly led to believe that all of their marketing challenges can be magically solved with the equivalent of a miracle drug… (generally in the form of a shiny new website, an expensive digital ad campaign, a pre-packaged social media kit, and/or whatever else that particular marketing company is trying to push).

In this process, dentists fall into the “marketing trap”, where they spend thousands upon thousands of dollars, month after month, without every really addressing the fundamental, underlying root issue(s) within their marketing.

The results fail to accumulate (as the expenses continue to build), they eventually get frustrated (and angry), and look for a new solution. Only to fall back into the same trap…yet, once again.

Last Friday, I spoke with Jim, a general dentist in California who is desperate to gain new patients and grow his struggling practice.

The past year has been absolutely brutal for him (as it’s been for a lot of dentists). And Jim’s looking for a way to make the pain go away. Like, right now. He’s been talking to several marketing agencies, and he reached out to me hoping I could offer him something “better” than what he’s been pitched so far.

I said to him – “Jim, I can’t help you without knowing more about your practice and your unique situation.”

So, he impatiently answered a few of my questions as quickly as he could. And then, no more than five minutes later, he was right back to where he started.

“So, Kent, yeah, that’s great you’re interested in the details. But just tell me, what do you propose and how much is it going to cost me?”

The problem was, Jim wanted the “magical pill”. And he wanted it NOW!

No questions. No diagnostics. No exam. He just wanted me to prescribe a drug.

I could tell from our short conversation up to this point that Jim was not going to be the right fit for me. Nor was I going to be the right fit for him.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m pretty sure I actually could have helped Jim turn his practice around and achieve the growth he needed. But that’s not what Jim wanted.

Jim wasn’t interested in me diagnosing the underlying issues, determining what was causing his marketing challenges, putting together a custom plan, and then executing it in order to get his practice back on the right path towards growth.

No, Jim wasn’t interested in that at all.

He was so fixated on his headache – on the immediate pain, that he just wanted someone to tell him they could make it all go away.

And, here’s the deal. Someone will make his headache go away.

For a while.

And then, as sure as the sun rises, Jim’s headache will slowly start to re-surface. And it will grow. Yet again, into a raging migraine. And Jim will be right back in the same situation where he is now. With a massive headache, and desperately looking for someone to give him another pill. And the underlying issues will still be there. Only they’ll be worse. Because the pill has only masked the pain, but the true issues have continued to worsen as time has passed.

And this is the situation that, unfortunately, so many dentists find themselves in today.

I knew Jim wasn’t ready for my what I could offer him. But I also couldn’t let him go without at least exposing him to what he needed to hear. So, I said to him –

“Jim, let me level with you here. We’re not going to be a good fit to partner together…at least not yet. I can give you what you NEED, but I can’t give you what you WANT.”

“I’m a Marketing Consultancy. I’m not a marketing agency. One of the primary differences is that I don’t SELL marketing products – like websites, ad campaigns, social media packages, etc. I don’t do that because if I did, my incentive would be simply to get you to buy as many marketing products as possible – whether you actually needed them or not. And that perverse incentive – where marketing agencies sell you what makes them the most money – and not necessarily what you need – is exactly what has gotten you into this entire mess in the first place.”

Jim was pretty taken aback.

Perhaps I was a bit too forthcoming. But the truth is, Jim needed to hear the situation for what it was. He’d been peddled cheap promises and useless “drugs” for far too long. So, I continued –

“As a Marketing Consultant, my mission is to simply help my clients get results. That means truly understanding their unique situation, building a custom plan that meets their specific growth goals, and doing so in a way that is sustainable in the long run, and fiscally responsible.”

“There are a thousand marketing agencies out there that will give you exactly what you’re asking for. Exactly what you think you need. A shiny new website, an expensive digital ad campaign, a pre-packaged social media kit, and, heaven knows, whatever other random crap they think you’ll pay for.”

“If that works for you, that’s great. I’m not here to stop you. But it is important to me that I show you the situation for what it is”

“I do what I do because I truly want to help dentists who I partner with. My personal approach, and the reason my clients get real results, is because I work to solve the underlying problems, not just cover up the symptoms. And that’s what is truly needed for your practice’s long-term health.”

In case you’re wondering, Jim and I ended the conversation shortly thereafter. I don’t suspect we’ll be partnering together in the near future. If ever. And that’s okay.

I could give Jim what he NEEDED. But I couldn’t give him what he WANTED.

And simply giving Jim what we wanted would be marketing malpractice.

Key Takeaway: Building an effective marketing program for your practice that produces real results is not easy. There’s no “magic pill”. If marketing companies are telling you that there is, you need to stop and seriously think about the incentive structure that may be driving them to tell you this. Don’t get distracted by a short-term cover up of the symptoms. Stay focused on solving the underlying issues. That’s your path to optimal marketing health!


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.

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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.