As a dental practice management consultant — and CEO of Million Dollar PPO Coaching and Consulting — I’m regularly asked about marketing. “Do you do marketing,” they ask. I almost always answer their questions the same way: “Everything that I do is marketing!”

I typically follow my answer up with a discussion about advertising. Often the two words are confused and/or misused. Dentists are typically talking about advertising when they ask the marketing question. They have lumped the two together and need to understand the differences so that they can be more effective at new patient acquisition advertising is the use of a single medium to promote your business to prospective customers. In dentistry, advertising typically comes in three forms – print, TV, and radio. Over the last 10 years, the Internet has also become a large part of the advertising climate.

All of these mechanisms can be highly effective avenues for promotion and, when done properly, can provide an excellent return on your investment. The key to successful advertising is first having a great product to take to market.

In addition to defining what marketing is, we also have to clarify what its purpose is. What is the goal of marketing? What is the end game? The purpose is simple -marketing makes the phone ring. It creates the opportunity for people to reach out and join your practice. Often, the challenge in marketing comes when the phone rings. This issue can be addressed through coaching and consulting. You need to train your team to understand the desired outcome for any marketing program, and then provide them the tools to be able to effectively respond to the new demands that have been placed upon them.

At the core of the coaching philosophy at Million Dollar PPO are five factors that affect efficiency – clinical skills, systems, team, technology, and patient acquisition. The most important tool that you can use to market you practice is to be effective at all of these factors. Great products market themselves. They are easy to promote with honesty and enthusiasm.

From the time you enter your office until the time that you finish for the day — and also all of the hours outside of your practice — everything you do to promote yourself, your team, and your business is marketing. All of the subtle nuances within the practice including look, feel, sounds, smells, attitude, emotion, and everything in between help to set you apart and create brand awareness.

Here are five tips for improving new patient acquisitions. Use them consistently and tailor them to fit your practice and your style, and they will help to increase your new patient flow:

• Doctors commonly report calling patients after procedures to check in on them and to make sure they are doing well. This is a great method for promoting your practice and improving your relationships. But I also suggest that you call new patients prior to their first appointment. Call their cell phone or place of work a few days prior to their visit. Introduce yourself, welcome them to the practice, and ask them if they have any questions about their first visit. They will be a little stunned, probably caught off guard, and will most likely have no significant questions. They will, however, appreciate your time and remember this unique experience. It will have set you apart, exceeded their expectations, and improved your relationship before you have even met.

• Use digital patient communications, like Demandforce.Your patients don’t want to talk to you on the phone, and will rarely answer when you call. They will appreciate your communication more if it comes through text or e-mail. You will be much more likely to get their attention if the modality that you use is the more preferable digital technique. We are a cellular nation and text is quickly becoming the more common way of communication. Here is a great tip: The next time you have availability in hygiene, text your unscheduled patients and offer them complimentary take-home whitening if they fill the visit(s).

• Ask for referrals. If you don’t ask your patient to refer, they may not know that you want them to do so. I have created a regular contest in our practice — we hold a raffle every month. We give away lots of fun prizes like iPads and TVs. In order to enter the raffle, you must refer a patient. For every patient referred, your name will go into a random drawing to win cool stuff. Place the prize in your waiting room, wrap it in a bow, and place a sign on it that says, “Ask me how to win this!”

• Incorporate CAD/CAM into your practice. Fewer than 20% of the practices in this country can do same-day crowns. Doing so will set you apart and create a more compelling reason for them to become a patient.

• Be awesome and have fun. The more you enjoy the practice of dentistry and the more enthusiasm you bring to delivering care, the more likely your patients will be to refer their friends and family.

For more information about Million Dollar PPO Coaching and Consulting, please visit our website at, or call us at 877-292-7698.

Dr. Matthew Krieger is CEO and founder of Million Dollar PPO, a dental practice consulting and coaching company serving dentists across the United States. Its core philosophy is increasing profitability through increasing efficiency. It works with its clients through various programs to ensure that they have the understanding and the tools to create the practice that they’ve always dreamed of.