How To Take The Guesswork Out Of Dentist Marketing


And get the patients you want to call your practice

Your ultimate dentist marketing goal is to get the patients you want to attract to find your dental practice. Reaching relevant prospects requires a depth of knowledge about the market area – and expert targeting.

A target market is defined as a group of prospects that you have decided to attract to the practice. Truly targeted marketing is the only way to optimize marketing resources because no one can afford to target everyone and no one can afford to market in areas that are not primed to respond.

How do you select the prospects to target?

How and where are competitors positioned and who are they targeting?

Is there a target area available that meets criteria that provides the greatest opportunity for success?

Targeting Patients That Dentists “Think” They Want

Before we had access to the analytical tools available today, a dentist marketing area would be decided based on their perception of their practice area. Unfortunately, this often meant the practice was extending too far from the practice location to areas from which they were not likely to draw patients ... setting themselves up for failure.

How many dentists have you heard say, “I tried direct mail and it didn’t work for me.” The reasons were likely related to incorrect targeting, a poor content and offer strategy, and/or lack-luster call handling at the practice.

Analyze and identify potential practice reach, ultimately increasing marketing response

Today we are equipped with the tools and technologies to analyze and identify potential practice reach, ultimately increasing marketing response.

Without an active effectively targeted direct mail campaign, a website will only be driving new-patient flow from people who are looking for a practice near their homes when they have a need. Imagine new-patient flow if the right people were educated and perceived that the practice services were elevated over competitor dentists!

Still today, many dentists feel that they may be able to reach into a higher-end neighboring location. However, tracking and analytics prove that, in most cases, this will not generate the desired results. The fact is that the reasonable draw area will vary based on location.

Urban settings may be just a 6-block radius, suburban areas may reach 1-2 miles, and rural areas, for obvious reasons, are much wider. Without unlimited financial resources to market aggressively in a reach market, consumers are not likely to travel far afield from a high-end area or into a low-end area. They have far too much choice available to bother inconveniencing themselves – regardless of the expertise of the practitioner (unless that practitioner is referred by their GP).

What should a dental practice do when…

A. Consumers perceive that most dentists are the same?

B. They have too many choices that are more convenient to them?

The best course of action is to analyze the market area and focus on the prospects that meet the ideal new-patient criteria. You must resist the temptation to try to get a larger slice of the pie. It’s a terrible feeling when dentist marketing dollars are spent for low return.

A location is a location. The patient draw area is set. Start with a detailed analysis of current patient trends to identify the pockets surrounding a practice that are most likely to respond to marketing efforts.  

Where are current patients located? How far are they willing to travel?

Are there any barriers or reasons that patients will not travel to a location from their location?

Are there heavily saturated patient pockets that will spur more word-of-mouth awareness building?

How To Define A Target Audience

A competitive analysis should always be part of a detailed market area analysis. Knowledge is power when facing strong competition from solo and group dental practices that are offering the latest greatest technologies on a 24/7 basis. First determine how many other dentists are competing for market share in the area and where they are situated. Plotting this against current patient trends is always beneficial to future dentist marketingplanning.

A competitive snapshot will also help to determine how a practice stands apart. In a targeted marketing campaign, what are your practice’s key attributes to focus on that will resonate with the residents and set your practice apart from the competition?

With a complete well-rounded picture of your market location, patient trends, competitive insights, and area demographics and growth projections, a practice will be better equipped to develop a marketing plan that will not only reach the right potential patients, but patients that are most likely to respond.

Identify Demographics For A Well-Defined Target Audience


In most cases, regardless of demographics, the primary target audience will be the female head-of-household. She makes 92% of all dental buying decisions. That’s a no-brainer. Beyond that, a full report on the demographics of surrounding areas will identify the areas most likely to match your ideal patient makeup.

  • What is their age?
  • What is their family lifestyle?
  • What is their ethnicity?
  • Where do they live? Are they in homes or apartments?
  • What is their income/home value?

Once there is a solid understanding of the people a practice wants to reach, an appropriate creative approach is to be determined.

Interestingly, women of all ages and economic positions want the same thing:

  • Content. They want quality information to make good decisions for their families.
  • Convenience. They are busy managing households, families, careers, and businesses.
  • Urgency. They need a reason to call now … a good offer will help them decide quicker because the offer will benefit their family.

If you are serious about building and growing your practice … knowing your reach, knowing who your potential patients are, and targeting these prospects effectively is imperative. Partner with an experienced dental marketing firm like Patient NEWS – one who uses leading-edge business intelligence to help you narrow in and identify a target market who will respond, will call, and whose residents will become your patients.