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The deadliest dental marketing mistake that most doctors make

Oct. 1, 2019
The key to new-patient acquisition isn’t your website—it’s Google reviews.
Graig Presti, CEO, Local Search For Dentists®

Imagine you’ve just walked into your financial advisor’s office. You sit down to review your portfolio performance over the last 12 months. With a giant smile plastered across his face, your advisor tells you, “I know you wanted to build a nest egg and have consistent growth over the next few decades, but instead we allocated $25,000 of your hard-earned funds toward buying you a beautiful new welcome mat for your home.”

He plops a photo of a bright, colorful doormat down on the table.

“What?” You’re completely stunned.

“Isn’t it wonderful?” he asks. “This welcome mat gives people the best impression when they come over. I really think they feel more welcome when they see it.”

Steam rushes from your ears as your right hand balls into a fist . . .

End scene.

What a farce, right? If this actually happened, you’d fire that financial advisor on the spot. You’d also sue him for neglect—and lose a lot of sleep in the process!

Well, here’s a news flash: This is exactly what’s happening with doctors who are habitually building websites year after year. They’re wasting thousands of dollars that could be spent on real marketing systems and not a glorified brochure (which is what a website is in 2019).

The difference between branding and marketing

First, let’s have a quick primer on the difference between branding and marketing.

• Branding: Graphic-based and other pieces of collateral that define the look, feel, and overall consumer perception of you and your business

• Marketing: A measurable effort that is strategically designed to inform and educate potential clients in a way that favors you and drives them to take a desired action

With that said, can you guess which category your website falls into? That’s right; your website is part of your brand. It’s there to help clients learn more about you, as well as provide general information, such as how to contact you and where you’re located. It has pretty pictures of your staff, your office, your front door, etc. And sure, it’s essential. You have to have a website. It’s a primary component of your overall practice brand.

However, what data tells us (and Google shows us) is that your website is no longer the deciding factor in whether a prospective patient chooses you over your competition. (We’ll get to the statistics below.) This is the main reason that you should not spend as much as you do on your kid’s education to get a good website. In this day and age, it’s easier and cheaper—much cheaper—than ever before to have a stunningly beautiful, informative, and easy-to-update website. You or your staff could build it in less than a day if you wanted to. And concerning costs, the DIY route starts around $10 to $30 per month in hosting fees, plus $15 per year for domain renewal. Even if you wanted to hire out, you can get it done for less than $1,000 with minimal monthly maintenance fees.

Yep. That’s it. 

So it really grinds my gears when I see doctors getting gouged for insane amounts. Some are paying for web-design packages that run for $15,000, $20,000, and even $30,000, plus hundreds or even thousands in monthly upkeep for something that they could do themselves for less than the cost of a tank of gas.

Sure, these “packages” may offer some basic SEO (search engine optimization) features and directory inclusion, but make no mistake, you’re overpaying for an online brochure.

A pretty, pricey, multi-thousand-dollar doormat.

And mark my words: any tagalong marketing services included in the web package are typically worthless. Here’s the very important reason . . . 

The difference between designers and marketers

Here it is, plain and simple, the difference between website designers and marketers:

• A designer designs. The good ones spend years learning color theory, how to code in different programming languages, and how to make your website look good and perform well.

• A marketer markets. A good dental marketer, by contrast, knows everything about how to deliver paying patients. A marketer spends years learning influence strategies, copywriting, segmentation practices, retention secrets, and basically anything that helps get the best customer to your doorstep, keep that customer there for years, and get that customer to tell all his or her friends about how you’re the best dentist in town.

Marketers and designers have vastly different skill sets. But only one truly impacts the mechanics of getting new patients and referrals for you. And it’s not the designers. It’s not just my opinion, either. Data shows us that even well-built websites aren’t what makes a difference in patient acquisition anymore. 

Here’s the data that proves why: 

90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.1 For nearly nine in 10 consumers, an online review is as important as a personal recommendation.1

88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.2

93% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions.3

97% of people read reviews for local businesses.4

The bottom line: Put your effort toward getting more patients through good marketing.

What is good dental marketing?

So, what is good dental marketing? I’m glad you asked. Good marketing helps demonstrate your quality and expertise to potential patients. It turns subconscious dials to show them that they can trust their family’s health and well-being to you and your staff. 

However, great marketing takes it a step forward. Great dental marketing leverages your existing patients to do all of this for you through gushing, glowing reviews.

And fantastic marketing? Well, that’s when all of this happens for free. Enter Google reviews.

Your “Google house” is simply the most powerful tool in your toolbelt. It’s what separates you and your corresponding patient flow from the doctor down the street. 

How do you build a strong Google house? Here are three things you have to address:

• Your Google listing—Claim your Google listing, keep it up to date, and post bright, fun pictures of your office and staff. This is an essential start to creating the right impression.

• Fun and informative YouTube videos—Uploading quick, informative videos on dental health with a strong call-to-action at the end will position you as the dental expert in your community.

• 5-star Google reviews—This is most important! This one element can make the difference between success and failure in your practice. We have clients whose hundreds of positive Google reviews have resulted in quantum leaps of success, including four- to six-week waiting lists for treatment and $1 million in collections year after year. There’s simply nothing like it.

There’s no doubt you need a clean and well-designed website. But don’t be taken by the shysters out there who tell you it needs to cost as much as a car to do its job. Put your time, focus, and money on good marketing. You can start today by focusing on getting your Google presence to be the best it can be.  


1. Gesenhues A. Survey: 90% of customers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. MarketingLand website. https://marketingland.com/survey-customers-more-frustrated-by-how-long-it-takes-to-resolve-a-customer-service-issue-than-the-resolution-38756. Published April 9, 2013.

2. Anderson M. Survey: 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. SearchEngineLand website. https://searchengineland.com/88-consumers-trust-online-reviews-much-personal-recommendations-195803. Published July 7, 2014.

3. Consumers get “buy” with a little help from their friends. Infographic. Published in: 2017 State of Online Reviews. Podium website. http://learn.podium.com/rs/841-BRM-380/images/2017-SOOR-Infographic.jpg. Accessed August 30, 2019. 

4. BIA/Kelsey. Nearly all consumers (97%) now use online media to shop locally, according to BIA/Kelsey and ConStat. Cision PR Newswire website. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/nearly-all-consumers-97-now-use-online-media-to-shop-locally-according-to-biakelsey-and-constat-87221242.html. Published March 10, 2010.

GRAIG PRESTI is CEO of four-time Inc. 500/5000-recognized company Local Search For Dentists (LSFD), one of the fastest growing companies in dentistry. LSFD helps dental practices all over the world gain dominance in their local markets. Presti’s proprietary marketing systems have helped thousands of dentists achieve more freedom, increased new-patient numbers, and the ability to reach their income goals.

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