Marketing Your Practice: 3 Lessons You Can Learn From #EpicFails


"If you're going to fail, fail big," some say. But it's even better if you can avoid the misstep and learn from others' epic failures. Here are three major mis-steps to learn from.

Disclaimer — This blog is in no way intended to cause the noted companies further embarrassment. It is written solely as a cautionary tale to provide readers with the benefit of knowing what not to do.

Most people don’t like to see others fail — emphasis on “most”. But what if learning from someone else’s mistake prevented you from making the same one? While the #EpicFails highlighted here probably occurred on a larger stage than you practice, the lessons they teach are applicable anywhere.

#EpicFail 1: Lost in Translation

When Coke first entered the Chinese market they named their product something that sounded like “Coca-Cola” when pronounced. Unfortunately, due to the characters used it was often translated as "Bite the Wax Tadpole,” which doesn’t sound refreshing in any language. Lesson learned? Know your target market.

If your practice is in mid-town Manhattan and caters to busy professionals, it doesn’t make sense to waste your marketing budget targeting families miles away. This is where local search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. Local SEO gives you the ability to specifically target your practice location; meaning when those busy professionals search online for a dentist within walking distance your practice appears.

What if your practice isn’t in a city center and you want to reach prospective patients in surrounding areas? Then you need pay-per-click (PPC) advertising in your marketing mix. PPC advertising allows you to expand the reach of your advertising to specific locations and cities near your practice, where you may not show up organically in local results. Another benefit of PPC is that you only pay when a prospective patient clicks on your ad.

#EpicFail 2: Tuning Out

Not even Apple is immune to the occasional marketing failure. When the iPhone 6 was released Apple automatically loaded U2’s latest album into iTunes accounts around the world — for free! The only problem was not everyone wanted the album and backlash ensued, quickly followed by the release of a one-click tool to remove said album. Lesson Learned? Give your audience what they want.

The average adult checks social media 17 times a day (and we’re pretty sure that’s not all done outside of working hours — wink, wink). So, it’s fair to assume that your followers might be looking for a quick distraction from work. Why not offer them a mid-day laugh with an oral hygiene meme or a quick tip on how to get kids to brush?

This type of easily digestible information was made for social media! Not only is it what your patients are looking for, if your posts are deemed valuable enough to share you get in front of an exponential number of potential patients.

#EpicFail 3: A Whopper of a Facebook Fail

Everyone likes to feel involved, even if it’s in a trivial way. Which is why when Burger King ran their Whopper Sacrifice campaign asking followers to delete 10 Facebook friends in exchange for a free whopper — people did. In fact, close to 234,000 friends were removed by over 82,000 people in less than a week, which is when Facebook shut the campaign down for violating the platform’s terms. Lesson learned? Engage your audience (wisely).

Ask patients to post a selfie or share their favorite tooth fairy story — the post with the most votes gets half off a whitening treatment or an electric toothbrush. As Burger King’s campaign proves, people probably don’t need as much of an enticement as you think. Be sure to carry the excitement over to your physical location by putting selfie props in your waiting area and signage directing patients to your social media pages.

Marketing may not have been on your radar when you entered dental school, but you now know that it’s just as essential to your success as the services you offer.

Heather Frechette-Crowley is director of product marketing at ProSites.ProSites offers custom website design, search engine marketing, social media management, and pay-per-click solutions to over 14,000 dental, medical and professional practices. They are endorsed by 12 state dental associations and received the 2015 Dentaltown Townie Choice Award for website design and marketing. For more information call (888) 932-3644 or visit

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