The trick to effective dental advertising happens before you run an ad. It’s knowing which patients you want more of, understanding why your patients value your office, developing a message that resonates with them, knowing how to reach those specific patients, and building effective dental ads that gives you permission to market to them further. 

First, let’s analyze these elements, so you can develop a dental ad campaign that might actually bring in some new advertising resized 600

Step 1: What patients do you want more of? You may have to do some research at this point. But a good start would be to determine patients who refer others, have and spend money, follow your treatment instructions and appreciate you and your dental team.

Once you have this patient list together, you need to look at their demographics to see if there are similarities. Now, look at how they behave. What do they value? To get a clear picture, ask them why they value you and your practice, loyally return and refer others. Using a third party to conduct a survey and interview your patients always generates the truest answers.

It is best to be valued for something that your immediate competitors are not offering. In the world of dental advertising it is better to “be different” than to be “the best”. “Different” stands out and is remembered. “Best” is an expectation.

You know you have done your homework correctly, if you can describe to someone else what this patient looks like in a very clear distinct manner and they can respond with a couple of people that they have in mind because of your description.

Step 2: Is the message. You need to be able to come up with a message that resonates with the patients you want to attract. For example, if you want more business people, you may want to discuss how you can cater to this group. Promote your extended hours that include opening before 8 a.m. and staying open until after 5 p.m. and during lunch. Or address the fact that you run your practice on time, all the time, so patients never have to wait.

Step 3: When it comes to dental advertising, you have to use the above message in the correct mediums to reach your target patient. Why they value you may determine where to run your dental advertising. For example, if it’s convenience of proximity, then advertising in the local neighborhood directories might make sense or target a dental direct mail piece to that geographic area. See the follwing blog post on writing a killer dental postcards

Ask them what their hobbies are and what they enjoy doing in their spare time. What do they read (newspapers or local magazines), watch (T.V. or streaming on Netflix) or listen too (talk radio, music on XM or do they become channel surfer as soon as the music stops?) Are they online all day at work and also gather their news, do research and participate in social media online? Collect information on their reading habits to better reach them, do they read dental postcards when they come in the mail, would they read a dental newsletter, can they remember any dental ads they saw?

Beware of wasting ad dollars on areas that you have a low probability of pulling patients. If you only have one dental office and are located in a suburb of a sizable city, it probably doesn’t make sense to run radio or TV ads. Most patients come from a 3-mile radius of their residence or work. However, if you have a unique specialty or multiple practice locations you can pull from a further distance.

Step 4: Wherever you decide to run your dental advertising, you need to be consistent! All too often people run an ad once or a few times and don’t see immediate results and stop. Advertising takes frequency, consistency and time for the message to sink in. A prospect may need to see it 5-7 times before they are in need of a dentist and is interested in taking the next step to become a patient. The good news is, once the calls start to come in, they are generally qualified and ready to move forward and set an appointment. Remember to track and measure your ad results. It may take a few changes before you find one that works. Once you do, stay with it. Don’t feel like you have to change the ad copy and format every time you run an ad – that isn’t necessary.

Step 5: Now that you have ideal perspective patients in mind, developed a message that resonates with them, and have a good understanding of how to reach them you need to write a good ad to get their attention. It is said that “90 cents of every dollar spent on advertising is in the headline” – and I believe it. No one is going to read further if the headline doesn’t catch their attention for a product or service they need or want, period.  The headline should be placed at the top of the ad or be in the largest type. It should also be short and have value. Seven words or less is optimum for a headline in a topic that resonates with their interest. Such as, “Whiter teeth in 5 days!” or “Have the smile you have always wanted!”

Keep the ad single focused on an issue and don’t try to put multiple messages in the copy. The rule of thumb in dental advertising is, “Less is best”. Trying to cram everything in to get your money’s worth actually backfires and usually makes the ad hard to read and confusing.

The remaining ad copy should include “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM), from the patient’s perspective. Keep it short, use bullets and end with a call-to-action. Then, drive them to your website to get more information in exchange for their email and name. This way you can continue to market to them and build “Like” and “Trust”. Also, don’t forget to include all “Housekeeping” items at the bottom of the ad, including name, address, phone, email, web address, days, hours, directions, and financing options.

For more information on how to prepare your dental office to advertise, download your 25 page report, “7 Steps to Dental Practice Marketing Success”: