Marketing the cosmetic practice

May 1, 2004
In spite of the recent media attention that focuses on facial aesthetic makeovers, including smile makeovers, the vast majority of people still do not know...

Cathy Jameson, PhD

In spite of the recent media attention that focuses on facial aesthetic makeovers, including smile makeovers, the vast majority of people still do not know what is available to them in the ever-evolving world of cosmetic/aesthetic dentistry. Depending on someone or something else besides yourself to market these services could leave you gravely disappointed. If you truly want to build the cosmetic aspect of your practice, you must make a conscious decision to open your own doors. No one will open those doors for you. You must proactively open them yourself.

Consider opening the door in three separate, yet connected, areas: (1) your team, (2) your own patient family, and (3) your community and surrounding area. There are people within each of these areas that could benefit from your services. But first, they must know what is available. Let people know what types of cosmetic services are accessible, and that you can and do provide that care.

Your team must not only know the procedures that you can provide, but they also must believe in the benefit of these procedures to both the patient and the practice. They must be capable of communicating that message to patients. If the team is less than enthusiastic about cosmetic treatment, your patients will follow suit. If any team members (including the doctor) could benefit from a smile makeover, then do it. Let your team be walking, talking ambassadors for your beautiful dentistry.

For all new patients and for returning hygienic or restorative patients, begin "opening the door" by sending special mailings, newsletters, and articles about cosmetic possibilities. Write about various procedures with enthusiasm and include a brochure that "shows" the end results. Also, have patients complete a smile-evaluation form that lets them begin thinking about potential smile changes.

During each hygiene appointment, have your hygienist take four photographs with the intraoral or digital camera: a view of the upper anteriors, the lower anteriors, a left lateral, and a right lateral. The hygienist should tell the patient that you are continually working to discover new and better ways to serve your patients, and that's why you requested these photographs. Take the photographs and save them to your computer system. Then, one at a time, bring the photographs up on the screen and ask patients to tell you what they like the most in that particular area, what they like the least, and what they would change if they could. Then, go to the next photo. Do the same thing with each photograph. The hygienist should make notes regarding the patient's comments, but don't go into an "oration" about treatment. When the doctor comes in, share the patient's comments. If the patient shows an interest in cosmetic change, invite that person back to either gather the necessary data or participate in a consultation with you. Once patients receive a smile makeover, ask permission to display their portraits in your albums, intraoral camera library, and your "Wall of Smiles" if you have one. Be sure to send cosmetic patients a final photograph with a note of thanks. Include at least two of your cards and ask for referrals of other people who might be interested in a new smile.

Consider media exposure as a way of introducing cosmetic options to people in your community and surrounding area. Get professional assistance in the creation of any formal media messages, such as newspaper, television, or radio advertising, or with information on your Web page. Make an effort to contact civic and community organizations that would love to have you or a team member provide an educational presentation on cosmetic dentistry or smile makeovers. Use visual aids. Ask permission to pass out relevant material to support your presentation, and make sure that your name and contact numbers are on the materials.

Obviously, there are numerous ways to market cosmetic dentistry. This is an introduction to the concept. Your entire practice must be "aesthetic"-organized, efficient, effective, customer-service oriented, and excellent in all that you do. Always remember that the first step of successful marketing is to have a well-managed practice.

Dr. Cathy Jameson is president and CEO of Jameson Management, Inc., an international dental practice-management consulting, lecturing, seminar, and product provider. An accomplished speaker, writer, and workshop leader, Cathy earned a doctorate in organizational psychology, focusing her studies on effective stress-controlled management. Cathy's books, Great Communication = Great Production and Collect What You Produce are top sellers for PennWell Books. You may reach her toll-free at (877) 369-5558, email her at [email protected], or visit her Web site at

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