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The 7 big problems with digital marketing for dental practices (and how to solve them)

As a small business owner, you might think that bigger businesses don’t suffer the same problems as you, but the truth is they do – just on a bigger scale.

When it comes to digital marketing, even companies as big as IBM have the same problems that your dental practice is facing.

No matter what stage you’re currently at with your dentistry business, whether you’re just starting out, or you’re a multi-million dollar company, you WILL experience these problems with your marketing.

At the end of this article, I promise you’ll have more clarity as to why these problems happen, and you’ll discover exactly what you can do to overcome them.

So let’s dive in!

1. Developing Brand Awareness For Dental Clinics

This problem comes in at number one simply because most dentists aren’t exactly sure of the best way to get the attention of new customers.

They’re overwhelmed with an incredibly saturated market full of “digital gurus” all telling them “the next best thing in marketing”, all saying something different, and it becomes next to impossible to know what you should actually be focusing your time and money on.

How can you reach new patients who may be interested in your practice but haven’t got a clue who you are?

Build A Customer Avatar Or Persona

You probably hear this term thrown around by marketers a lot, and there’s a good reason for it! If you don’t know who you’re trying to reach, how do you plan on reaching them so they’ll know you exist.

The customer avatar is an exercise that involves creating a fictitious version of the customer you want to serve (who they are, what they like, what their job is, how they decide on a purchase, what their biggest problems are, where they get their information online).

It’s important to run through this exercise so you can determine the most effective way to reach them.

Create Detailed, Unique Website Content

Once you know everything about who your ideal customer is, you can create content that speaks to them directly.

Have you ever visited a website and felt like they were speaking directly to you? That’s what we’re talking about!

Someone took the time to create an avatar very similar to you, and then made sure the messaging on their website spoke directly to that avatar.

Organize A Brand Awareness Strategy

Once you have your avatar and your messaging in place, don’t spend a dime without first creating a strategy!

There are lots of ways to reach your potential customers, but if you have no strategy in place to make them aware of you (and get them engaging with you), then you’re not going to have much luck!

Use Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Once you have a solid strategy in place and it includes PPC, you can use advertising platforms like Facebook Ads & Google Ads to help you reach new patients, make them aware of your clinic, consider what you offer, and ultimately help them take action (and book a check up!).

It’s important you get your practice in front of people who may not be aware that you even exist, but it’s also important to get current patients re-engaging with you and leaving positive reviews so anyone who is seeing you for the first time can also see you’re a trustworthy company.

There’s a lot more we can talk about when it comes to brand awareness, but we’ll save it for another day.

The main takeaways are:

  • Know your customer (create an avatar for EACH type of customer you have!)
  • Speak directly to their current problems or needs
  • Make sure you’re engaging with them on their terms

To build real brand awareness, you’ll need happy customers and an audience. To build an audience, you’ll need to generate content. And to generate content, you simply need a framework to follow (read more on our content framework here), and an investment of dedicated time.

Brand awareness is just like skimming a pebble across a pond, we’re creating a ripple effect.

While you may not see the benefits immediately, by dedicating even 20 minutes a day to creating content and publishing regularly, those ripples will eventually reach the shore. And when they do… oh baby! Get ready for the tidal wave!

2. Generating Leads For Your Dental Practice

Which leads to problem number 2, lead generation. If we want to have customers, we need to start with leads. But how do you get leads?

Well, you can pay for ad traffic, but if you don’t have a compelling offer once they get to your website it won’t do you much good.

You also need to target the right people, because even with a compelling offer, if you don’t have the right customer coming to your website, it won’t mean a damn thing.

So you need the right offer to the right audience at the right time, and in order to do this, you need to know who you serve. If you say “I serve everyone”.. please, just stop right now.

If you try to serve everyone, you’ll end up serving no one. Full stop.

If you’re not sure who you serve, then we’d suggest figuring that out before you start anything else. Remember that customer avatar we talked about? If you’ve built one of those then you’ll know exactly who you’re talking to and targeting.

Once you know who you serve, you’ll have a much clearer picture of what to offer them and how to actually speak to their problems.

As a bonus, if you can offer a free download that helps them with their dental hygiene, then you’ve just gotten yourself a lead, my friend! Plus this is a great way to get your hands on their emails to send them out reminders that you’re here to provide them with high-quality dental services.

But it doesn’t stop there, you’ll still need to take that lead through a journey from entering their email on your website to trusting you enough to become a patient.

3. Generating Sales For Your Dental Clinic

Enter problem number 3, generating sales. This is where most dentists struggle.

You see, many dentist offices provide the service they think will sell but fail to do their research.

In order to make sales, you first need to test if your service actually solves a specific problem for your target customer, and then if it does, you still need to determine how to create content that shows the customer that you’re the right fit to solve that problem?

If they can’t see that your practice is the one that will help them the most then they’re just going to go for the cheaper option.

Again, you’ll need to take them through the journey of discovering who you are, how you solve their problem, and why you’re the right choice.

Don’t look for customers to book into your clinic, look for a specialized service you can provide that your customers will buy. You serve the market, the market doesn’t serve you! The sooner you realize this, the sooner you can push past any roadblocks in your business.

4. Building The Right Team For Your Dental Clinic

Once sales are steadily coming in, it’s time to build a team. This can be scary for an owner as you’ll probably be right at that stage where you’re too busy for it just to be you, but not busy enough to hire someone, and this is the exact time to hire.

Most dental practice owners will shy away from hiring at this point because they’re afraid to put their foot on the pedal. Now that they’re finally getting some decent coin in the door, they’re afraid of giving it away. But this is the biggest mistake most dentists make!

You see, by freeing up your time to focus on building your business, that’s when you’ll be free to experience growth.

When it’s time to build a team, start by writing out all the tasks you do in a day, and all the tasks you do to deliver on a sale.

Now write out all the tasks you’re good at and enjoy. Do any of them overlap?

Whatever doesn’t overlap is the role you need to fill first. Seriously. If you hand off the things you hate doing, you’ll experience growth MUCH quicker. I’m a full believer that if you love what you’re doing, you’ll be successful.. regardless of what it is.

Draft up a list of everything required in that role. You’ll need to be clear with expectations, and for god sake, don’t throw duties at the new hire outside of that list!

You’re not looking for “Jack of all Trades” type people, you’re looking for someone that can do one thing REALLY well so you don’t have to!

5. Developing Processes & Systems For Your Dental Practice

This really should come BEFORE hiring a team, but unfortunately, most businesses never get to this stage.

In fact, most business owners run away at the mere suggestion of systems and processes, and this is why 80% of small businesses never get past the “one-man show” stage and fail.

When you document your processes and create a repeatable system for executing tasks, it becomes easier to train others to take on more of the work that you’re currently managing on your own.

It also becomes easier to see EXACTLY where and when a problem occurs, and then correct the issue.

Customer didn’t get the best service? Who was responsible for executing that process and did they follow the steps as detailed? Does the process document need to be updated?

Think of McDonald’s, every detail from how many onions are put on a burger, to how the fries are positioned in a container is all part of a process to ensure the customer receives the same service every time.

It’s why McD’s is so damn successful. Trust me, people don’t go there for their amazing food (it’s really not that good), it’s because they know EXACTLY what they’re going to get, and how they’re going to get it!

Now, this is where we lose most business owners – even dental practices.

It takes a bit of work and it’s a huge pain in the ass, but you only have to do this once, and here’s the secret to getting it done.

Now that you have a team, you can simply have them document the process for their specific duty.

Once documented, you ask someone who wouldn’t normally perform that task to run through the process and provide feedback on if it was easy to execute.

6. Retaining Patients

Ok, so we’ve:

  • Created some brand awareness
  • Generated leads
  • Made some sales
  • Built a team and they’re documenting your company processes for you

Now comes the important part.

Making sure our customers have a great experience so they stay your customers!


If you are not concerned with the happiness of your customers, sooner or later, you won’t have anyone in your clinic.

Customer retention is different from lead generation or sales and there are 2 BIG reasons why this is one of the most important tasks in running your business.

  1. It’s easier to sell something new to a customer who has purchased from you in the past
  2. When your customers have a good experience, they’ll refer you to others.

Selling To Past Customers

If you’ve built a great relationship with your past customers by consistently nurturing them through email marketing, quarterly check-ins, as well as actually taking the time to know more about them (their name, likes, family, etc), you’ll create happier customers. And happy customers stick around, even if someone cheaper comes along.

Truthfully, most people don’t make a purchase based on price. Sure, they’ll try to rationalize it, but the majority of the time if you’ve had a great experience, you don’t mind spending a little bit more to keep the same quality.

By providing a great experience and building relationships you can retain customers and turn them into repeat purchasers.

Selling To Referral Customers

As a bonus to #1 above, happy customers also refer you on. It’s easier to sell to someone who trusts you than it is to someone meeting you for the first time, and referrals are darn close to selling to someone who trusts you since someone they trust has just vouched for you.

7. Increasing Revenue

The final piece of the puzzle is increasing revenue in the business. The term supply & demand is a very real term. As is the term fair market value.

If you’re too busy, increase your prices. Seriously.

And before you say “but I’ll lose all my customers” I guarantee you there are people out there that will still pay, and here’s a fun side effect of doing this.

YES, you may have fewer customers, but you’ll be generating the SAME revenue OR MORE.

The only difference is that you’ll be working less.

Doesn’t that sound nice?

So how much should you increase your prices?

Well, you’ll know if you’ve gone too far above fair market value when your BEST customers balk at the price. No, really.

YOU determine your pricing, YOU need to own your pricing. No one can decide what you’re worth but YOU.

There are people in the world paying 2 grand for a flipping Yoga Mat!

Don’t believe me?

Lora Pain is a high-end luxury shop that sells Sunglasses for $690, Beach Towels for $620, 1kg dumbbells for $2150, and Yoga mats for $2,150 USD.. and these SELL OUT quite frequently!

What does this tell you?

It tells you that regardless of your product and price, somewhere out there is a market for whatever it is you sell.

So own your pricing!

Final Wrap Up

The bottom line is this. EVERY business struggles, but you can rest easy that you’re not the first, and you won’t be the last to experience whatever troubles you’re currently facing.

Take a step back, look at your business from a 30,000-foot view, and make a list of what problem is keeping you from reaching your current goals.

Once you’ve looked at it from the outside, you’ll see it’s probably not that bad. In fact, it’s very likely to be one of the 7 things listed above.

We’ve given you some guidance, and some templates to help you through whatever the struggle, but if you still feel like you’re struggling and you could you a bit of guidance or someone to take some of the load off your plate, click here to schedule a free 15 minute Clarity Call, we’d be happy to chat.


Dickens Yard Dental

Meet Dr. Sahil Thakkar. Owner, founder, and principal dentist of Dickens Yard Dental, a dental practice based in West London. As a brand new business, the main goal was to increase the number of new patients to kick things off.