The Holy Grail of Dental Marketing (Hint): Your Team Holds the Key [Guest Post]

The holy grail of dental marketing

Special thanks to Jennifer Hengtgen, Owner of … This text opens a new tab …Empowered Dental Consulting for today’s guest blog! Learn more about her in her bio at the end of the post. 

One of the many challenges faced in the dental field today is increased competition. There are more dentists than ever before. This paired with the obstacles that COVID has brought forward, is making it harder to get patients in the door.

You know as well as I do that patient flow = cash flow. No cash flow = no bueno.

Now more than ever it’s important to have a marketing plan that brings patients in the front and prevents them from slipping out through the back. You might know your monthly new patient count but are you accounting for the attrition in your practice?

Marketing is about identifying patient needs and determining how to best meet them. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, on the team plays a vital role in how this is carried out.

The intention of dental marketing is to:

  • Recruit new patients.
  • Retain existing patients.
  • Reactivate patients that haven’t been in in a while.

When you have mastered the art of marketing, patient flow and profits increase, leaving you less stressed and packing your bags to paradise instead of the poor house.

Without minimizing the importance of the online space, what if I told you that there is more to marketing than your professionally developed website, copyrighted blog posts, and your paid ads on Facebook?

Before I go on givin’ up the grail, there is some important groundwork to lay.

Purpose or bust

For your marketing efforts to yield optimal results, it’s vitally important for you to know and understand who you are, who you serve and why you serve them. Becoming crystal clear on these three things and using them as your guiding principles is what will inevitably set your practice apart and eliminate the competition.

“Did she say ‘eliminate the competition’?”

Yes, eliminate! In the eyes of your patients and those soon to be, nobody is better than you.

How does one accomplish such a feat?

One word.


Purpose provides a foundation for how you do everything in your practice. It provides a set of guidelines providing a compass in your decision-making and ultimately how you carry out everyday processes as well as how you conduct business in general.

It is an amalgamation of:

  • Your values (core beliefs).
  • Your mission (why you do what you do).
  • Your vision (goals for the future and how you will get there).

Showing up authentically as a reflection of your purpose is what attracts people to your practice and fosters trust in those relationships. This is true of employees and patients and in large part, what keeps them loyal to you and your practice.

The patients and employees you attract are the oxygen in the culture you create.

Purpose-driven businesses are more profitable AND have higher employee and customer satisfaction. There’s proof in the … This text opens a new tab …numbers!

“Profit isn’t a purpose. It’s a result. To have purpose means the things we do are of real value to others.” -Simon Sinek

Is that it? Purpose?

Is that the holy grail of dental marketing?

While purpose is the golden thread woven throughout the practice that holds everything together, in hindsight, the grail itself is far more obvious.

The patient experience

I have news for you! I’ll put it down slow.

Absolutely everything in your practice and how you do it, is marketing. This is known as experiential marketing. You are quite literally promoting your practice through the patient experience both in and out of the dental chair.

To consistently provide impactful experiences to your patients that result in raving fans you must be successful in the … This text opens a new tab …following:

  • Designing a seamless patient experience with your ideal patient, their needs and how you will meet those needs, in mind.
  • Having systems in place that facilitate best practices and a way to measure their results.
  • Hiring team members in alignment with the purpose you serve.
  • Providing continuity in employee training and delegating accountability empowering teams to drive systems effectively and efficiently and systematically carry out tasks.

Patients have no means of judging your clinical capabilities. They don’t know if the crown you seated has an open margin or if there’s a void in the occlusal composite you just placed, but what they are able to use to discern their level of approval are things like:

  • Whether or not your dentistry is painless.
  • How they are treated by you and your team both in and out of the chair.
  • How you handle emergencies inside and outside of office hours.
  • How you fix mistakes.

And less obvious things such as:

  • Office location and appearance.
  • Hours of operation.
  • Parking and accessibility.
  • How your phone is answered.

Patients want to feel safe, seen, heard, and understood. No pain. In the mouth or the pocketbook.

The list by which you are evaluated is long, my friends.

The most effective way to slay the proverbial patient experience dragon, is to have a plan and the RIGHT team to carry it out.

When a patient has a tremendous experience in your office, guess what?

THEY TELL PEOPLE about it. Not only do these patients remain loyal to the practice, but they also become your best referral sources!

And what do you think happens when a patient has an unfavorable experience in your practice?

You’ve got it. THEY TELL PEOPLE about it.

Marketing is a team sport

There’s more to marketing than just the experience itself. There is also the process in which you create the experience, not to mention the team that moves these initiatives forward. Unwavering patient satisfaction is not achieved by an individual alone.

This is it, my friends.

The key to unlocking the coveted grail lies within your team.

As I mentioned earlier, every doctor and team member (patient-facing or not) plays a significant role in marketing your dental practice. While this is generally by nature of their position, it’s the job of every person on your team to make sure the needs of the patient are met whether defined by their role or not. You know the old saying, ‘teamwork makes the dream work’.

A masterfully designed and executed patient experience is comprised of synergistic processes and systems. Success in this requires a team in alignment with your “why”.

When values, mission, and vision become a part of your hiring practices, you attract, hire, and retain employees who not only possess the skillset required to perform their duties proficiently, but are also eager to be a part of the forward momentum and success of your practice.

Why is this important?

  • Employees grounded in purpose are:
  • More engaged in the workplace.
  • More accountable in their performance and yield consistent results.
  • Confident in the service you provide and not afraid to ask for referrals.
  • Able to build meaningful relationships with patients as well as members of the team.
  • Driven by service and exceed patient expectations by going the extra mile.

The moral of this story…

Build and lead a team firmly grounded in your purpose and they will be committed to having an impact and favorably marketing your practice for you.

The social situation

You know your why and your how.

You have a team of rock stars.

You provide first-class experiences to those that entrust their care to you.

You’re an A-list celebrity in the eyes of your team and your patients.

Now what?

Shout that “ish” from the rooftops! Pardon my French.

Having an online presence via your website, social media, and blog posts, provides a sizable stage for you to create a sense of community by showing people who you are, how they will feel as a patient in your practice and what the result will be.

Use this opportunity to connect with patients by sharing things like:

  • What you stand for.
  • What it’s like to be a patient in your practice.
  • What they can expect from their experience.
  • How you keep patients safe and honor their privacy.
  • COVID precautions and other employed safety measures.
  • What you’re doing in the community.
  • Who your team is.
  • What other patients are saying about their experiences in your practice.

There is a plethora of things to boast about and a place for all of it throughout your online presence including your interactions on social media. Be aware, there is some strategy involved in this. First and foremost is providing relevant content and staying consistent in the frequency of your posts.

Don’t fret if this is not in your wheelhouse or your team can’t find the time. There are professionals like the incredible crew at Roadside Dental Marketing that can either teach you how to do this or do it for you.

You in consumer shoes

Don’t believe there’s something to all of this? Let’s keep it simple.

I’d like you to take a minute to think about your favorite dine-in restaurant.

Why is it your favorite?

Is it about the taste and quality of the food?

Is it the fact that they solely source from ethical meat producers and local farms?

Is it about the ambiance, the experience, and how way you feel when you’re there?

Or is it the value they provide?

What about the employees that work there? Do they make you feel like a welcomed guest?

As a consumer, you know what you like and what you want. When you find a business that checks all the boxes and consistently meets your expectations, you become loyal to them. This is also why you’re forgiving when you have a not so favorable experience in their establishment. You know it’s out of character and you are willing to give them a second chance. After all, we all have bad days.

Something else that you might not be aware of?

When consumers perceive value in a product, service or experience and can count on their needs being met, they are also willing to pay more. Think about that $8 latte at Starbucks vs. the $5 latte at Java Bean.

Did that one register with you?

Loyal customers are willing to pay more for their needs being met.

Do you know what this means?

Patients are attracted to and ultimately choose you, your team, and your practice because of who you are, what you stand for, the services you provide and how they are delivered.

You charge $100 more for a crown than Dr. Guy Downthestreet? So what?

Nobody else does it better than you in their eyes.

There is no competition now that the grail that art holy and it’s key have been bestowed upon you.

How will this change what you do in your practice?

Namaste, grasshopper.


Meet the author

Jennifer Hengtgen, Owner of Empowered Dental ConsultingJennifer is a consultant and founder of Empowered Dental Consulting, with a passion for helping dentists create their ideal practice and a life that they love.  In an effort to bridge the gap between the typical, casual approach to the business side of private practice and the tailored operations of formal organizations, Jennifer created … This text opens a new tab …The Purpose Driven Practice, a framework that provides dentists methodical business principles to help them create efficiencies, solve operational challenges, and to scale their practices.

Inspired to help dental practice owners lean into their leadership potential and reach their highest levels of success, Jennifer attended the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPec), obtaining designations as a Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner, making her one of the only consultants in dentistry to also be a professionally trained coach.

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