I know they are out there. It’s a question of finding them and bringing them into your practice with adroit dental marketing. One middle-age woman with a mouthful of broken down teeth, an unattractive smile, and significant periodontal disease recently completed dental implant treatment. She found the dental office that helped her when she responded to the practice’s Internet advertising. For years, this individual had driven past countless dental practices. She had no doubt been bombarded by ads promising replacement teeth and a beautiful new smile. Until one day, she searched on the Internet, clicked an ad that caught her eye, and made the decision to make a new patient appointment. Her life was changed forever.
This success story reminds us that demographics are destiny: we have an aging population with significant unmet dental needs. At my recent lecture at the American Academy of Implant Dentistry in Las Vegas, I identified four major challenges in dental marketing, specifically dental implant marketing:
- Increasing competition. There was a time when dental implants were placed only by specialists, but now general dentists routinely offer this service. Dental implants have gone mainstream. Trying to get a patient into your practice for implant dentistry is harder because every dentist around you has the same idea.
- Downward pressure on fees. With more competition and some very aggressive pricing in the market place, patients are seeing eye-popping fees for dental implants. It is harder for traditional practices to justify their fees, which nonetheless remain quite justifiable.
- It is difficult to cut through the clutter and get your message out. Doctors are honing websites, testing Google ads, and using more targeted television advertising to find patients who need their services. It’s not about “mass mailings” any more; it’s about precise demographic and geographic targeting.
- People often have priorities other than needed dental implant treatment. The patient I described above is now delighted with her new teeth, but she rationalized her procrastination for years before seeking treatment.
While marketing challenges have multiplied, the profession’s ability to deliver implant dentistry in an efficient and predictable manner has also increased. I will discuss specific marketing strategies in future blogs. Finding the “right” patients requires finely-tuned dental marketing, but every day we are reminded that they are out there.
David Schwab, Ph.D.