Dental Marketing Environmental Influences Matter!

In my last post, I talked about the five main elements of an integrated dental marketing plan and how they lead to a steady stream of new patients. Let’s look at those elements in detail, starting with environmental factors, the things you can analyze and predict, but not control.

Just because you can’t control environmental factors doesn’t mean you can’t use them. Market segmentation, market size, demographics, and competitors can be powerful factors in making strategic decisions and developing dental marketing campaigns.

Most dentists accept that they “practice where they practice,” and in urban areas, most patients live within 1 to 5 miles from their offices. While this is true, you can gather and use consumer and competitive data to create effective successful campaigns. Many dentists gather some of this data, but few do it rigorously. When you dig deeply, gather detailed data, analyze it thoroughly, and act on it, you create a significant advantage.

Exactly what does “detailed data” and “analyze it thoroughly” mean? Let’s look at what happens when data is not reviewed. Here’s a typical example. Many dentists are enticed by high-income areas close to their practice and want to market there – but here’s the reality: (1) The practice has very few if any patients from this area, (2) there’s intense competition among dentists in this area, and (3) most potential clients in this area already have a dentist. The chances of attracting new patients from this area are close to zero. Quality data can prevent costly marketing mistakes.

Of the six major environmental factors you can’t control – competition, government policies, natural barriers, social and cultural, demographic factors, and technological changes – three are crucial for dental marketing purposes. Let’s take a look at them.


Know your competitors, starting with who and where they are. In a high-density urban area, most patients – and competitors – are within 1 mile of your office. In low-density urban areas that extends to 3 miles. In the suburbs, it’s 3-5 miles, and in rural areas, 20 miles or more.

You need to know your competitors’ hours of operation, services, insurance providers, and special offers to design competitive dental marketing strategies.

Knowing the competition also helps you to manage revenue expectations and tells you whether you’ll require repeated touch points – and the budget to fund them – to generate the new patients you need to meet projections.

Here’s a really simple rule of thumb. Try to plan for as few dentists as possible between your office and your demographically targeted area.

Social & Cultural Factors

Social and cultural factors are crucial to understanding your market’s needs, wants, and behaviors, starting with knowing the key influencer in targeted households. For example, women make up 80% of healthcare decisions; that information should be a major factor in your dental marketing strategies. Consumers respond to products and services that specifically target them, and that’s why it’s so important to understand behaviors, buying patterns, lifestyles, nationalities, and ethnic groups to make your dental marketing more effective.

Demographic Factors

Demographic factors include population size, density, location, age, gender, marital status, family size, and more. For example, if you’re a Patient News client, you can gain access to dental-specific data including the percentage of population that’s visited a dentist in last 12 months and the percentage of population with insurance. Demography can tell you where to market within your targeted area.

One simple trick is to look at where your current patients live. By plotting them on a map, you’ll see patterns where your dental marketing has been most successful. We do that all the time for our Patient News clients.

It All Fits Together

You want to connect with people who’ve never purchased from you, but who can be reasonably expected to be interested. Choice of dental provider is based on many factors and you can’t control any of them, but by identifying and understanding the way targeted consumers think, your campaigns become more efficient, provide a better ROI, and set your practice up for growth.

Next blog, I’ll discuss “Your Value Proposition” and how you can differentiate your practice from your competitors. If you can’t wait that long, contact Patient News and we’ll be happy to provide a free consultation and demographic analysis for your practice.

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