Advertising is smart business

Sept. 1, 2004
In the old days of dentistry, it was standard procedure to hang your shingle, open your doors, and watch the patients come. While that may occasionally still be true of today's dental market...

Matt Bynum, DDS

In the old days of dentistry, it was standard procedure to hang your shingle, open your doors, and watch the patients come. While that may occasionally still be true of today's dental market, sound business principles do not dictate that approach. Today's business climate indicates that a "wait and see" approach will lead to extremely slow growth and probable failure. So what do you do?

One thing is certain in life: If you don't tell someone, they will never know! This is where business-marketing principles come in to provide awareness and branding. The old school dentists thought that any form of "advertising" was not professional, nor was it appropriate for "our profession."

After repeated years of this mentality and closed- mindedness, I refused to be a part of it. After all, how can someone who knows nothing about my business, my debt load, my costs, my family situation, etc., stand up and make comments that I should not do something to improve my practice? Are they going to send me my first month of patients? I doubt it! I often wonder what these same people would do in today's market if they had to start anew.

The fact is, a dentist is still a dentist! No matter where you go, there is always going to be one. We all graduated from dental school, we all are licensed to perform dental procedures, and we all think and perform alike. That's what consumers think, unless we do something to set our practice apart. Maybe Dr. X is known for accepting most insurance plans, Dr. Y is known for working on Saturdays, and Dr. Z is known for his emphasis on cosmetic procedures. Regardless of how you break this down, this is what is known as "practice separation."

Times keep changing! What some call "advertising," I call marketing. What some call "disgraceful," I call business. Why is it that because we are a profession, we should not be allowed to market our practices? It makes absolutely no sense to me. All successful businesses do it!

So just what is it about "advertising" that makes it so "unprofessional"? Is it that a profound dental awareness is being created in the community? Is it that through this awareness, people are asking us, the dentists, about what possibilities exist to improve their dental health rather than us having to ask them? Is it that through such awareness, more dentistry is being performed and more people are being served? Is it the fact that it actually costs money to undertake such a campaign? Or, is it the thought of what "others" will say?

All too often, people are afraid of being individuals for fear of what others will think or say. This fear is derived from the staunch opinions of those who suffer from closed-mindedness. To those individuals, I say, "Shut up and mind your own business!" If you do not approve or agree with what works for others, their business, and the community of patients, then so be it. Just keep your opinions and mentality out of the way of progress and sound business principles. To those who sit on the other side of this fence, I say, "Do not let anyone — and I mean anyone — dictate what your practice is supposed to be and how you should conduct your business!" Remember, you're the one who pays your bills, and that means you get to make these types of decisions in your practice, not someone else.

Difference in philosophy should never be mistaken for being unprofessional or having a lack of integrity. Just prior to sending this column in, I received a letter from a local dentist. He made mention of my "unprofessional" marketing practices. While I thanked him for taking his time to write to me, I explained this was a difference in practice philosophy, not unprofessionalism on my part.

What I found very interesting was the fact that he was calling my marketing efforts unprofessional, yet at the bottom of his letterhead, he listed and detailed every single title or position he had held that pertained to dentistry. Is this not by definition what some would call practice or individual separation and a form of "advertising" or marketing?

Treat your dental practice like a business! The only form of true awareness and business growth is through the use of marketing. Those who do not want to be average should embrace the possibilities that are present, and those who oppose these efforts should either remain quiet or retire.

Dr. Matt Bynum lectures internationally on aesthetic and reconstructive dentistry, practice management, motivation, and team building. He is a clinical instructor and featured speaker at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies and is co-director and co-founder of the "Achieving Extreme Success" lecture series. Dr. Bynum maintains a full-time private practice in Simpsonville, S.C. Reach him at (864) 297-5585 or [email protected].

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.