© Emevil | Dreamstime.com
2107 De Cblo P01 60b1019c4cc98

Marketing lessons from my trendsetting grandpa

July 6, 2021
Dentists can take their marketing presence on Facebook a step further by joining local Facebook groups and personally messaging potential new patients.

When I was young, I watched my Grandpa Joe struggle with his business, a custom tailoring shop. Custom tailoring had become a dying art, so he rebranded his business and started renting tuxedos. I remember visiting him and noticing the newspaper stretched across the dining room table. It was always open to the engagements section. Grandpa Joe circled the names of the men who were getting married, found their addresses in the phone book, and sent them cards introducing his business and asking them to come to his store to rent tuxedos for their weddings. His willingness to think outside the box led to his becoming a very successful businessman.

After 18 years of commuting more than an hour each way to my father’s dental office, I purchased a small practice close to my home and my children’s school. Many of the 800 patients did not stay with the practice for various reasons. I knew that to be successful, I was going to have to market my practice and become a great businesswoman. I thought about the lessons I learned from Grandpa Joe and began reinventing and rebranding my practice. In the 17 years since I bought the practice, my production and collections have grown six times (even during the pandemic), yet I continue to maintain a very low overhead. I have moved the practice, enlarged the practice, and hired two associates.

Join Facebook groups

Marketing is very different today than when Grandpa Joe used the newspaper to acquire new customers. I have found local Facebook groups to be a great way to connect with potential patients. You can search for groups to join on your personal Facebook page. Use the search option and enter the name of your town or a nearby town, plus the word “groups.” You should see several active Facebook groups pop up.

Ask to join one or more of them in your area. Manage your notifications from the groups and interact and post regularly so that your posts will show up on the groups’ timelines. Also, set your notification preferences. I recommend choosing “all posts” in the in-app notifications and “highlights” in the push notifications.

The more you interact with dental-related posts in the group, the more your posts will appear. Another way to increase interaction is to ask the group administrator to create a group topic for dental posts. This would allow members to quickly find information related to dentistry and find local dentists.

Once you have joined the group and set your notification preferences, search for the term “dentist.” A list of posts relating to dentists will pop up. Look for recent posts about new dentists and private message these potential patients. (Don’t send a friend request to the people who show an interest. A private message is enough to start a conversation.)

Offer potential patients a complimentary consultation at your office. Ask if they have any questions and provide your office phone number and website information. Make sure your website has many ways that patients can make appointments. I recommend having a contact form, a chat feature, and a “schedule online” button on your website.

Once you’ve joined one or more Facebook groups, look for new posts about needing a new dentist. There are often threads of dentist recommendations. If you’re one of the recommended dentists, thank the person who mentioned you in the thread. Whether you’re mentioned or not, send a private message to the person looking for a new dentist and introduce yourself and your practice.

As you feel more comfortable with the Facebook groups, take a more active role. Ask some of your most enthusiastic patients to post about the fantastic experiences they had in your office. Use a group to ask a question or start a dental topic discussion. For example, ask if anyone has started clenching or grinding during the past year (the “COVID clench”). As people respond, you can send them private messages and start a conversation without directly asking them to make an appointment. Once they see that you’re genuinely interested and can help them with their problem, give them your office contact information and direct them to your website.

Another way to start conversations with potential new patients is to post interesting articles about oral health or dentistry. I posted an article about how the tooth fairy does not leave as much money as she used to. I asked group members how much money they give their children when they lose a tooth. This started some great conversations, which enabled me to send private messages to the people on the thread.

Post an ad for your dental practice if the group allows you to do so. I posted an ad that told prospective patients that we’re accepting new patients. Let people know that your practice happily welcomes new patients.

Beyond new patients

You can also use Facebook groups to find new team members. Post that your dental practice is growing. Let the group know that youre reaching out to them for whatever position you may need. Ask applicants to send you a private message. This is a free space to advertise your office positions. And you never know; your enthusiastic patients may even comment on the post about you or your dental practice.

Grandpa Joe was way ahead of his time when he found strategies to grow his business. I have found that marketing my dental practice has become a passion for me, and it’s brought many new patients to my practice. Every day when I walk into my office, I turn on the light switch, which also turns on my marketing switch and helps me think of new and different ways to reach potential patients. Using Facebook groups is a no-cost way to reach people in your community who are looking for a dentist. Give these ideas a try. You have nothing to lose, except potential new patients!

Editor's note: This article appeared in the July 2021 print edition of Dental Economics.

JOANNE BLOCK RIEF, DDS, practices general dentistry in Owings Mills, Maryland. She is a hygienist and a third-generation dentist who started working in the dental field at age 13. She enjoys being a dental speaker and mentoring and coaching other dental professionals. You can reach Dr. Rief at (443) 604-2200 or [email protected].

About the Author

Joanne Block Rief, DDS

Joanne Block Rief, DDS, practices general dentistry in Owings Mills, Maryland. She is a hygienist and a third-generation dentist and started working in the dental field at age 13. She enjoys being a dental speaker and mentoring and coaching other dental professionals. Dr. Rief can be reached at 443-604-2200 or at [email protected].

Updated April 19, 2021

Sponsored Recommendations

Clinical Study: OraCare Reduced Probing Depths 4450% Better than Brushing Alone

Good oral hygiene is essential to preserving gum health. In this study the improvements seen were statistically superior at reducing pocket depth than brushing alone (control ...

Clincial Study: OraCare Proven to Improve Gingival Health by 604% in just a 6 Week Period

A new clinical study reveals how OraCare showed improvement in the whole mouth as bleeding, plaque reduction, interproximal sites, and probing depths were all evaluated. All areas...

Chlorine Dioxide Efficacy Against Pathogens and How it Compares to Chlorhexidine

Explore our library of studies to learn about the historical application of chlorine dioxide, efficacy against pathogens, how it compares to chlorhexidine and more.

Enhancing Your Practice Growth with Chairside Milling

When practice growth and predictability matter...Get more output with less input discover chairside milling.