The 7 deadly sins of dental practice marketing


The author shares seven of the most common mistakes you should avoid while marketing your practice. While these seven deadly sins of marketing likely won’t be your physical undoing, they very well could lead to your practice’s demise if you’re not careful.

Everyone is born with a “thing”-that one special interest that borders on an obsession. For me, that thing is marketing.

For decades, I’ve eaten, breathed, and dreamed marketing. I’ve experienced great success with my “obsession,” but I’ve also made some big mistakes throughout the years. Fortunately, my biggest mistakes were also my biggest learning opportunities! Every single mistake led me to a valuable lesson, and I’m a better marketer because of them.

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That's why I’d like to share with you seven of the most common mistakes you should avoid while marketing your practice. And while the seven deadly sins of marketing likely won’t be your physical undoing, they very well could lead to your practice’s demise if you’re not careful. 

Continue to the next page to see the first deadly sin...






Laziness is one of the biggest marketing pitfalls for dental practices. When you’re lazy, you begin to make inaccurate assumptions. In the case of marketing, you need to know your numbers, so grab a calculator. Together, we will determine a) the value of a new patient in your practice, b) the acquisition cost per new patient and c) how this affects your marketing budget.

In case you’ve never been exposed to these formulas before, it’s OK. But pay attention: This is math you need to know in order to be a successful marketer.

First, find your practice's average revenue per new patient, or what each new patient is worth-on average-to your practice. To do this, divide your annual collections by the number of annual new patients your practice acquires. This will give you the average revenue per new patient.

For example, $850,000 divided by 250 equals $3,400.

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Next, calculate your acquisition cost per new patient using the formula given below. This is the amount of marketing money it took you-on average-to get ONE new patient. Your monthly marketing budget divided by monthly number of new patients equals the acquisition cost per new patient.

For example, $2,000 divided by 21 equals $95.24

Now that you know the math behind your new patients, you’re probably starting to realize that new patients are a smart investment with an enormous return!

Tracking your marketing stats is another important area where doctors tend to get sloth-like - don’t fudge your numbers! Inaccurate data can be more harmful to your marketing efforts than not having any data. If you aren’t numbers minded or “can’t be bothered” with tracking your results, I would suggest removing that burden on you and investing in a data capturing tool to accurately track your marketing successes. We use and recommend Call Tracker technology to our clients ( If you choose to do it yourself, that’s fine. Just be sure you do it with intention and accuracy.






More is not always better, especially when it comes to paying for marketing. So don’t assume that the most expensive marketing tactics will return the biggest results. Most marketing consultants are paid by the job or project itself, not the results you get from it!

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And speaking of results… be sure that you are measuring the right result – new patient numbers. Yes, it’s great if your advertisement brings in a huge number of calls, but if your staff isn’t properly trained to answer those calls and turn them into scheduled patients, you are wasting your time and money!






Don’t think competitively: Be creative! Rather than just trying to “keep up” with the competition, focus your efforts on what you can do differently and think way outside the box. You will never become the best of the best until you stop caring what other people think about your marketing. Sure, they probably judge you... So what?

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My team and I send out a lot of marketing pieces advertising events, seminars, products and trainings, and we get judged by hundreds of thousands of dentists and consulting companies worldwide. But honestly, we would rather do the right thing. We know what’s best for our clients, and what will help them to take their practices to the next level. That is our main priority. Your main priority is providing your patients with the services they need!






Lust is just the intense psychological desire for something.. And for the most part-when it comes to marketing your practice-this kind of passion is a great thing! Just be careful to draw the line and never allow your emotions to cloud your judgment. You shouldn’t get so attached to a marketing piece, for instance, that you can't see when it is a complete failure.

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So, if you've created a piece that is not generating very many calls (and you would know this by careful tracking), you need to cut your losses. Move on. Keep tweaking, correcting and researching in order to find the best possible angle.






During the marketing sin of gluttony I mentioned the risk of your front-desk staff not turning marketing calls into scheduled patients (and wasting all of those marketing dollars!). Let’s say that is happening in your practice and you realize your team isn't scheduling a high percentage of the new patients that call in. Your first reaction might be to get angry with your team; after all, they’re the ones answering your phones, right?

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No! Fight that instinct. Blaming your team won’t fix the problem, and the truth is, it isn’t their fault. It’s your fault. You should be investing in their training. You should be making sure they are prepared to handle every phone conversation and schedule every potential patient. So, swallow that anger. If you aren’t investing in training your team, you aren’t giving them the resources they need to succeed.






Your pride (or ego) is one of the most dangerous obstacles in the path of your success. You are probably an incredible clinician, but don’t be so prideful that you refuse to accept help in areas that you don’t know anything about.

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After all, dental schools are designed to teach you about the clinical side of dentistry, not the business side. And despite efforts to address that deficit, it’s likely you didn’t graduate with the tools necessary to successfully run a business, make wise investments and market your services. Accepting that you don’t know what you don’t know and being willing to learn from an expert who does, will help prevent Pride from creeping into your practice and doing significant damage.






Quality is always better than quantity, especially when it comes to marketing. If you produce mediocre marketing pieces for a minimal investment, I can guarantee you will get mediocre results. But if you want a lot of top-notch clients interested in high-margin services, you are going to need to part with some money. Don’t be greedy! You’re the primary investor in your practice, and you need to make a marketing investment in attracting new patients.

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Keep these simple marketing rules in mind when creating your pieces in order to ensure quality:

  • Create an understandable offer. Don’t overcomplicate what you’re trying tell your audience. Be extremely clear about the benefit they’ll receive.

  • State the known value. If you’re giving away a car or an iPad, they have a “known” value,” but if you are talking about a dental service, product or other item, make sure you make the value known!

  • Include a premium or discount. This is key - it’s what could push your audience to take action. Whether it’s “first exam at no charge” or “50 percent off for the first seven to respond” - either option is fine to use in marketing offers. Test both to see which works best for you.

  • Include the reason for the offer. Your readers want to know why you’re offering what you’re offering. It provides peace of mind and acceptance.

  • Make the offer time dated. Some people put things off because they have to think about it, research more, etc. So give them a concrete deadline to take action! For example, “This week only!” or “Offer expires on December 31st!”

  • Have a strong call to action. I’ve seen some great offers with no call to action! You have to tell your audience how to respond. For example, “Call this number” or “Respond by fax today.”

  • Create a strong guarantee or reassurance. This reassures readers of why they are responding to your offer. Restate the benefit they are receiving. “100 percent patient satisfaction” or money-back guarantees are both powerful reassurances for anyone that might be skeptical.

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And lastly, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of investing in training your team. I promise, it will pay dividends in the future.

So, there you have it: The seven deadly sins of marketing. I hope that you'll continue to absorb as many marketing strategies as possible so that you can make the most of your marketing investment!

And if you’ve realized your ego has been standing in the way of your full success potential, remember: You don’t have to do it all on your own! Go to today to see how our experience can benefit your practice.  


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