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The State of Dental Patient Marketing in 2020


There are 4 big game changers affecting dental patient marketing in 2020:

  1. Heightened competition
  2. The rise of DSOs
  3. Decline of traditional advertising
  4. Increase in fly-by-night online dental marketing agencies

Let’s explore these new changes and review the dental patient marketing trends fueling practice growth and success in 2020 and beyond.

1. Competition is fierce

The dental workforce is projected to grow 19% from 2016 to 2026 — much faster than the average growth rate for other industries. The American Dental Association (ADA) Health Policy Institute contributes this growth to an influx of younger and more diverse dentists, something they predict will continue through 2035. Not to mention that more and more dentists are waiting even longer to retire.

The result is a marketplace saturated with qualified dentists.

But most dentists don’t need research and statistics to know that competition is fierce — they’re feeling it in the day-to-day challenge of differentiating themselves and attracting new patients.

Our dental marketing company works with dentists of all sizes through the US and they all face a similar challenge: attracting their idea patient and growing their patient base. Private practices are feeling this pinch more than others, but in the years ahead, everybody will have to fight a little harder for NPOs.

The good news is despite this increase in competition, the overall demand for dental services remains strong.

As the population ages, and with mounting awareness of the importance of dental hygiene, the key will be creating an effective and forward-thinking dental patient marketing plan.

The number of dentists may be increasing, but the specifics about how these dentists are operating is evolving. The biggest change? Fewer solo practitioners and more dentists participating in DSOs.

According to Modern Dental Network, solo practices are shrinking at about 7% per year. Meanwhile, the ADA reports that 7.4% of dentists are currently part of a DSO, and this number jumps to 16.3% for dentists ages 21-34.

This corporate dentistry model is seen as an alluring alternative for those who don’t want to deal with the headaches of owning a business — especially considering the touted bottom-line benefits.

This shift will no doubt make an impact on the race for NPOs. With DSOs slated to continue taking a big piece of the dental marketplace (up to 30% by 2021!), it will become even more difficult for solo practitioners to stand out and gain market share.

This is particularly true if practices continue using worn out dental patient marketing tactics.

Most practices don’t have a full-time digital dental marketing specialist on their team. And with a successful strategy requiring up-to-the-minute industry knowledge, the majority of dental practices choose to partner with a dental marketing agency.

Unfortunately, unqualified “marketers” have become wise to this opportunity. Over the last year or so, there’s been an increase in fly-by-night agencies just waiting to take advantage of dental practices.

What are some common characteristics of this type of shady, fly-by-night agency?

  • Guaranteeing specific results within a short period of time
  • Throwing around marketing buzzwords and technical jargon without further explanation
  • Using a content library (what we like to call “copy and paste” content)
  • Inability to put you in contact with current or past clients for a reference
  • Small team comprised of just 1-3 people

This type of shady agency likely won’t be disappearing anytime soon. In 2020 (and beyond) it will be incredibly important to verify that you’re working with a trusted dental patient marketing agency that can help deliver high-value patients.

How to improve your dental patient marketing strategy in 2020

In a recent article, we outlined the 10 big dental marketing trends taking the industry by storm in 2020, including:

  1. Voice search
  2. Online reviews
  3. Original photography
  4. Videography
  5. Social media storytelling

We recommend giving the article a thorough read to get a feel for what each of these dental patient marketing trends could mean for the success of your practice. But while you may know all these factors are important, many question which trends to focus on and how to get started.

We understand the confusion — the world of online patient marketing is quite technical and constantly evolving. Plus, there’s never a one-size-fits-all answer. The most effective methods are completely customized to your dental practice based on:

  • Current marketing tactics
  • Website design and copy
  • Location
  • Time
  • Budget
  • Problems you’re trying to solve
  • NP growth targets

Here’s what we suggest. Start by examining these trends under the lens of your overall practice goals and objectives, considering how well they align. Ask yourself…

  • Where is my practice currently falling behind?
  • Where is it succeeding?
  • How do these trends fit with my current online dental marketing methods?

Then, talk to your dental marketing company about their thoughts on whether or not any new methods or ideas are worth your time and how it will help fuel success.

And if you’re not already working with a trusted and qualified dental patient marketing company, this is absolutely something to examine in 2020.

If you’re skeptical about online marketing agencies, we understand. Like we mentioned earlier, there are too many who overpromise and underdeliver.

But that’s not how we do things at Delmain. We only work with dentists if we’re confident we can create and implement an effective strategy and deliver high-value patient results.

On average, our dental clients see 57 new patients per month!

Learn more about our approach to dental patient marketing or connect with us today to talk about how we can help you increase your NPOs and grow your practice.


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