Differentiate your dental practice with social marketing

Digital marketing can help small dental practices compete with the corporate dental offices when it comes to gaining patient attention. It’s a great equalizer when it comes to sharing information, and can help your practice gain the attention of those perfect patients.

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Leon Klempner, DDS

Amy Epstein, MBA

Your marketing efforts must differentiate you from your competitors and answer the question, “Why should patients choose my practice instead of another?” In the past, your competitor might have been a nearby solo dental office. All things being equal, reputation and word of mouth might have been the deciding factors in who got the new-patient call.

In today’s world, solo private practices have the added pressure of competing with corporate dental offices, or dental service organizations (DSOs), that have the advantage of large advertising budgets. How can the little guys compete with the goliaths of the industry?

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Power to the practice

Your practice has the power to make sure its voice is heard in the marketplace. Digital marketing is the great equalizer, with plenty of solutions that average dental offices can take advantage of without breaking the bank. A digital marketing plan is targeted, responsive, and when executed by the right agency, has a proven return on investment. In conjunction with your quality care, a carefully crafted digital marketing plan differentiates your dental office from the corporate practices.

Here I’ll outline three strategies to harness the power of patient referrals, tell the story of your practice, and capture the attention of potential new patients.

Reputation management: In reviews we trust

People trust online reviews and often base their decisions on what others write about your practice. A recent survey by BrightLocal.com found that 84% of people surveyed said they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.1 That’s equal to a friend telling them that they should call your office.

In the same survey, 74% of consumers reported that a positive review will help them trust a local business more.1 Your future patients are researching dental practices online and will make decisions based on what they read on review sites such as Google and Yelp. The report also found that, if asked, the majority of consumers will leave a review for a business.1

This highlights how important it is to have a system in place to amplify the positive comments you hear within your office walls, and “catch” potentially negative experiences to prevent them from going public. It’s not as hard as you might think to convert an offhand comment into an authentic, positive, five-star public review so that potential new patients can read them. At the same time, it’s important to offer a sounding board to patients in case their experiences aren’t perfect, and this gives them a chance to vent before they take to the internet to air their grievances.

Social engagement: And they’ll tell two friends . . .

There is no better way to add value to your practice than by having current patients share your content with their friends on social media. If done right, actively engaging with your patients through social media will exponentially reap benefits. A Facebook page must have not only a regular stream of updates, but it must be interactive, encouraging current fans to like and share your posts on their own pages. This helps to reach their network of contacts and make potential new patients aware of your practice.

To be good enough to share, the content must be personalized, informative, or entertaining. A contest that incentivizes people to like and repost something to their own pages in order to enter to win (or earn more chances to win) is just one of many great examples of interactive and shareable content.

Facebook advertising: Choose your audience and get clicks with educational content

Facebook knows the power of its network and has spent a lot of time developing an advertising platform to help small businesses reach billions of users. But small dental practices really don’t need to capture billions of eyeballs. Luckily, Facebook’s ad platform allows you to target a specific audience of qualified new patients who might be in need of your services and who live a short distance from your office. These ads can be directed back to educational content on your website, with forms that are specifically designed to capture new-patient lead data that will be delivered right to your inbox.

Stronger together

Each of these strategies can operate individually to help boost your dental practice’s referral and retention rate. In conjunction, reputational management, social engagement, and Facebook advertising combine to form a digital plan that is unmatched in helping solo private practices compete in a crowded field. Your practice has a lot to offer in expertise, experience, and personalized service. You can use the power of digital marketing to deliver that message directly and convert people into new patients.


1. Local Consumer Review Survey 2017. BrightLocal website. https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/.

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Leon Klempner, DDS, a retired orthodontist, is CEO and cofounder of People & Practice, a digital marketing agency that builds and manages the social marketing and online reputations of dental practices in the US and Canada. He is a national speaker available to dental study clubs and can be reached at leon@pplpractice.com.

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Amy Epstein, MBA, is director of client services and cofounder of People & Practice. She is a seasoned marketing and communications professional with business-to-business and business-to-consumer experience. Reach her at amy@pplpractice.com. For more information or free marketing analysis, visit pplpractice.com or call (888) 866-docs.

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