Historically, dentists have relied on the strengths of a good location and patient word-of-mouth to generate new revenue. But these days, more dentists expect to increase their marketing budgets to boost business. This change is partly in response to a noticeable decline in patient volume since the start of the recession. Over half of recently surveyed dentists have reported a revenue drop, some mentioning declines of at least ten percent. A Wall Street Journal report indicates that more consumers are canceling dental visits and delaying costly procedures because of job loss or financial strain.
One dentist, Dr. Wong noted, “You can’t go to the office and just be a dentist anymore; you have to go to the office and be a dentist and a CEO.” Wong’s comments underscore a common problem for dentists. These medical professionals are highly-skilled at helping patients but lack the training to manage their businesses. Dr. Wong is just one of the nation’s 120,000 dentists, many operating as solo practitioners, who are revving up their marketing budgets. Many dentists are now turning to direct mail, e-mail, newspaper and traditional broadcast advertising. Some dentists have begun to explore social media such as Twitter. As competition increases and new dental technologies become available, more dentists may use marketing to highlight their skills and form closer bonds with their patients.[Source: Scarpelli, Maureen. Dentists Step Up Marketing as Patients Skip their Visits, Wall Street Journal, August 2009]