A peer-reviewed journal that offers evidence-based clinical information and continuing education for dentists.

Secrets of Succcessful Marketing

Oftentimes, the edge that separates truly thriving practices from run-of-the-mill offices is a successful and highly focused marketing strategy.


Oftentimes, the edge that separates truly thriving practices from run-of-the-mill offices is a successful and highly focused marketing strategy. While many dentists cast a wide net in an attempt to attract anyone and everyone, savvy marketers know a more targeted approach will land more — and bigger — cases. This is what drives practices to the next level. 

When it comes to dental marketing, Bart Knellinger, president and CEO of Progressive Dental Marketing, has seen firsthand what works — and what doesn’t. He also understands the crucial connection between generating leads, closing leads, and gaining case acceptance. Offices that get this right will ramp up production exponentially. This is precisely why Knellinger founded The Closing Institute, which offers continuing education boot camps that show dental teams how to focus on, and close, the most profitable cases.

Defining a clear marketing objective is the first step in crafting impactful campaigns. “Dentists should identify the types of cases they’re after, and determine the volume they can reasonably expect,” he says. “The next step is to estimate the closing percentage in regard to the leads generated with the marketing materials.” This allows offices to calculate cost per lead and closing percentage. These estimates will help practices determine a monthly marketing budget.

doctor talking to patientKnellinger stresses the importance of clearly outlining budgets and goals before considering the tactical approach to advertising channels, such as website search engine optimization, social media, or television and radio. “The messaging must resonate with the patients the campaign is designed to attract,” he says. “It is not based around the technology, doctor or protocol.” The messaging should help patients understand the benefits the office provides, and clearly show how it can satisfy their needs and eliminate pain points.

Noting that marketing channels are not the most important part of practice growth, Knellinger emphasizes the keys to success are the campaign’s focus and specificity. “Without focus, the content will appear generic, the assets will appear generic, and the tactics will be broad,” he says. In turn, costs go up and efficiency drops.

“Marketing allows dentists to be specific in how they want to grow their practice and solicit only those types of patients,” Knellinger explains. A common mistake, he adds, is not having a defined sales strategy that ensures leads are being handled correctly and closed at a high percentage. Toward this goal, owners are advised to train the entire team to maximize the marketing return because, as he notes, “marketing and sales are one. Marketing generates interest and opportunities, but once it becomes a lead, it’s now in the sales process — which is run, managed and implemented by the entire team.”

According to Knellinger, key metrics for measuring marketing success are cost per lead, cost per sale, and closing percentage. These points determine whether the campaign is generating a favorable return on investment.

Asserting that doctors who devote 80% of the marketing budget to promote their most profitable cases see the biggest gains, he suggests crafting campaigns specifically targeting these procedures. And by training the team to become highly proficient in generating and closing leads, the practice gains the additional benefit of attracting new patients by proximity, word of mouth, and the office’s growing reputation as the place to receive care. 

From Decisions in Dentistry. June 2022;8(6):46.

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