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Patient Prism's Dental Industry Blog

Here you'll find hundreds of articles and video interviews with dental industry experts on the topics of DSO and practice growth, dental software, call-tracking technology, patient experience and artificial intelligence fueling the dental industries ability to treat more patients and change lives.

May 2020--When entrepreneur Bart Knellinger pitched the idea of founding a dental marketing firm in the middle of the Great Recession, financial consultant Gerritt Cora was skeptical.

“When he came to me and said we’re going to start marketing niche areas of dentistry in the heart of the Great Recession, I said, ‘Bart, you’re crazy,’” Cora said. “What I saw first-hand was it was a game-changer for practices.”


The dental marketing lessons Cora and Knellinger learned early on are as applicable for dental practices today as they were when Progressive Dental launched in 2009.

“What we found was that practices that really set themselves apart during that time, their marketing was more effective,” said Cora, co-founder and managing partner of Progressive Dental. Gerritt was interviewed by Patient Prism CEO Amol Nirgudkar by video conference. “They were seeing higher revenues, and while others were trying to survive, they were thriving. We're seeing it right now.”

Cora also co-host national seminars called Catalyst, in which he teaches dentists how to attract dental implant patients through marketing, then trains the dentist and team on how to increase case acceptance. 


4 Pillars of Dental Marketing

As dental practices gradually begin to welcome patients back this summer, Cora shares his thoughts on how best to rebound in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdowns. It comes down to four basic pillars of dental marketing:

  • Build a sound dental marketing strategy.
  • Create and share informative, emotion-driven dental content.
  • Implement dental marketing tactics wisely.
  • Measure results using marketing analytics and adjust accordingly.


“This is the time to really dial in,” Cora said. “How are we going to do things differently? How are we going to maybe change up our model a little bit so we can recoup those revenues quicker, and do it in a way that serves your philosophy as a clinician?”

Read on for details about each of Gerritt Cora’s four dental marketing pillars.


A Sound Dental Marketing Strategy

Marketing to what Gerritt called the “typical model” of high patient volume and hygiene is not necessarily the only way to go coming out of the nationwide shutdown of non-emergency dental care. Think bigger, he said.

“We're seeing that shift in another direction now, where the practices that are bouncing back quick and seeing their revenues recover quickly, it's attributed to bigger cases,” Cora said. “Your full arch cases, your full mouth rehabilitations, a lot of those patients have pent-up demand. They've been wanting to do this for years, and they had planned to do it in January or February.”

While planning for a shift toward niche dental services, Cora said, don’t allow yourself to give in to the fear that patients no longer have the ability to pay for major work like full mouth rehabilitations.

“I think getting back, one of the big things is everybody's going to have that mindset when they're building their strategies out that people don't have money,” Cora said. “That just isn't the case. I mean, before this crisis, the percentage of people that were living paycheck to paycheck was 76%. So, not a whole lot changed in that respect, and you still have that pent-up demand. The big difference is you have less competition, because a lot of folks are adopting that mindset that people don't want those things. And we're seeing major demands.”

In fact, some people may have more money to spend right now because they’ve canceled vacations and trips.

“The aging population has been quarantined for weeks and is ready to break out,” said Cora. “We know that Proceed Finance is funding a lot of loans. If you can position yourself to perform niche dental – ortho, implants, full-arch cases – then you can dominate the market right now.”

The specific strategy you decide on, Cora said, it is vital to spend time thinking about how you’ll adjust your dental marketing plan to the new post-COVID-19 reality.


Create Content that Moves Emotions

Cora expressed his admiration for inspirational speaker Tony Robbins and shared one of Robbins’ aphorisms: “Emotion creates motion.”

How can dental content generate the emotion requires to move a potential patient to take action?

Find stories that resonate.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean the content needs to make you cry,” Cora said, “but it’s nice when we get a few tears now and then.”

The idea is to tell stories that help readers or viewers see themselves in similar circumstances. Focus on empathy and lifestyle improvement.

“What we found to be the most effective way to connect is really emphasizing emotionally based content, patient transformation stories,” Cora said. “You know, the patient that had treatment, traveled the world, met the love of their life. I mean, we see stories like this. They're doing the things that they love. They've rejuvenated their health. They've rejuvenated their confidence. Their career has skyrocketed. That's really the outcome of what we do in dentistry.”

The right strategy coupled with the right kind of content dovetails nicely into the third pillar, dental marketing tactics.


Cost-Effective Dental Marketing Tactics

The strategy is in place. The content is created. How can you use them to find new patients? The methods of strategy and content delivery are the tactics you’ll employ. And the way those tactics are selected and implemented is key to preserving return on investment – especially during a major economic downturn and subsequent recovery.

“Right now, more than ever, we have to be efficient with our marketing dollars,” Cora said. “So, it makes a lot of sense to really focus in on quality, focus in on the experience.”

The place to start is online. A robust digital marketing ecosystem is a must.

“Most clients right now, it's very important for every practice to have a very digital presence, social media, Google ads, SEO, good website, good video content,” Cora said. “It's all part of that equation. Usually you're going to start digitally.”

Cora suggests taking a fresh look at the patient journey through the marketing funnel. While the marketing funnel is not an unfamiliar concept, Cora adds a dentistry spin.

“Our marketing has to really cater to the psychology and the buying cycles of how people make decisions,” Cora said. “So, really the goal of funnels and intent-based marketing is I can capture somebody's interest, and based upon if they watched a video or not, I can continually feed them more information.

“And if we have good content, we can really build a great educational process. And now, versus me calling somebody 10 times, the technology, social media, our online systems are doing that for us. So, really what intent-based marketing is, is capture their interest and if they're interested, keep educating them.”

The methods used to capture that interest are the tactics you employ. Some practices lend themselves to television. Others can make do with a cross-platform digital presence. Still others might focus on the social media side, email or optimizing patient bookings over the phone.

Regardless of the tactic, it is vital to pay attention to the results of each action. That’s where the final pillar comes into play.


Measure, Adjust, Measure Again

The amount of marketing data available can seem overwhelming. But that’s no excuse to ignore the numbers. Are you develop the strategy, content and tactics, determine what key performance indicators (KPI) influence the fiscal health of your practice.

In most cases, lead conversions are near the top of the list of KPIs. Yet, as important as it is to convert leads, it is equally vital to identify the source of your best leads.

These leads are at the top of the marketing funnel, which is the flow of customer awareness, interest, desire and action. Knowing as much as you can about how those top-of-funnel leads are acquired lets you know how you should approach future marketing efforts.

And how can you find out where those leads are coming from?

“With the right systems and protocols, we can make that predictable,” Cora said. “And it starts with the right tracking. It starts with the analytics.”

The analytics tell you what is working in your dental marketing plan – and what is not performing as well as you had hoped.

This information, in turn, can dictate what strategic shifts you need to make, what kind of content you need to present to your audience, and what tactics are most effective for converting leads into patients.

This is how all four pillars of dental marketing work together to support the practice. And now is the time to shore up those pillars with reflection, analysis and a commitment to making a smart plan for this new age of dentistry.


Additional Resources

Guide: Staying Safe in the Dental Practice: Guidance on everything from what the CDC recommends to how to acquire PPE to whether you should pass along the cost to patients.

Guide: Comeback Strategies for Dental Practices

Dental Marketing Guide: What to Do Right Now

For more interviews with experts, training resources, and guides, visit Academy.PatientPrism.com.

There will be a huge need for dentistry once people can resume normal activities. More people than ever will have questions about safety, affordable treatment options, and what’s covered by their insurance plans post-COVID. Visit www.patientprism.com/product-overview/ to find out how we can help your team convert more callers into booked appointments.

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