How can you find more loyal patients for your dental practice?

There are different ways. There’s the hard way and then there’s the smart way.

Most people choose the harder way because they don’t know any better. What does this look like?

Well… Usually, dentists blindly spend a couple of thousands each month on old-school advertising such as direct mail or some sort of coupon promotion, either in a magazine or newspaper.

Some dentists think ahead “Wait a minute! This is 2018! Time to go online”!

Although their logic is solid, most still fall in the work hard category and overspend on their marketing. A couple of hundred bucks on Yelp, also let’s throw some money on Groupon Ads… Oh and let’s not forget good old Google Adwords where a click to your website can cost up to at least $50.

Most of these platforms rely on what I like to call “Wishful Thinking Marketing”.

Wishful thinking marketing is what happens when you throw away money on a platform in hopes that when people search for a service you have to offer, that somehow magically you will stand out from the other people in the same pond as you, that are also offering the same services. And usually, that “magic” is described by which dentist overspends more money than the other to appear higher in the search results.

It’s a red ocean strategy. There are too many fish in the sea offering the same thing as you. And the only people that are truly winning in this situation are the advertising platforms that cash in on your attempts to overbid your competitor.

Wishful thinking marketing is like shopping for vegetables in a street market. Everyone is shouting louder than his or her next-door competitor.

“Pick me! Our services are 100% satisfaction guaranteed!”

Yet, the shopper (or in your case the potential patient) is constantly comparing you with others, weighing in the options etc.

It’s not a great position to be in as a business owner.

“If only there was a way to find patients without competing directly with other dentists or wasting so much money on advertising methods where you can’t track your ROI”

Well… Actually, there is a way. There is a way to move from a red ocean to a blue ocean. And this is the smart way.

Using Facebook Ads you can proactively search for people that are most likely to buy your services. Because you can target people based on interests, behaviors, and demographics. I talk more about this in my step-by-step guide on how to dominate your local market using Facebook Ads.

But in this article, I want to take you one level deeper down the rabbit hole. I want to introduce you to something I call Zero Targeting.

Let’s say that you have a database of 250 patients minimum (sweet spot is around 1000 emails). If you don’t have a database of patients willing to buy from you, build it as soon as possible. In my guide, I talk about the importance of nurturing your email list of patients even if most of them don’t have an immediate dental emergency. It’s all part of the relationship building process. In the previous blog post, I talk about the importance of promoting a jaw-dropping offer like free teeth cleaning to get customers through your door.

Someone replied to my post saying:

“Well… what if next time they go with another dentist that offers something for free”?

If you nurture the relationship with your patient both offline and especially online (through the email list) over a longer period of time this is what’s going to happen:

When the time comes that they will need a more expensive and urgent service like cavity repair or implants whom do you think they are going to call?

The dentist that build the relationship with them online for the past months from that initial free teeth cleaning offer or some unknown Joe down the road? When urgency kicks in, emotions kick in as well. And relationships are built on emotions also.

Of course, the obvious choice is to go with the dentist that they trust more, and if you worked on your online strategy properly so far, the obvious choice will always be you.

Now let’s go back to my initial scenario. You have an email list of 250 patients. Besides the fact that all of them probably live within the close vicinity of your dental office they have a couple of more things in common.

Facebook is constantly learning about its users. All your online behaviors, things you have searched online, the way you interact with people online, purchasing behavior, what you are most interested in etc. Facebook’s algorithm has it all stored in its code.

You can use the Zero Targeting method to create Look Alike Audiences from your initial list of patients to find people who are likely to possess the same interests and behaviors as your current patients.

Now instead of trying to guess which age category or gender group reacts best to your advertising or to guess what interests someone who might want a better set of teeth has, you can rely on Facebook to analyse the commonalities between your initial list of 250 people and find a similar set of people that is most likely to pay for your services and become a loyal patient of your dental practice.

Let’s see how this looks like:

Step 1: You sign into your Facebook business account and then go to your Audiences tab

In your audiences tab, you can select the option to create a “Custom Audience”.

There are multiple sources from where you can create custom audiences but for now, let’s focus on creating audiences by uploading an external file. In this case, a .csv file containing the emails and phone numbers of your current patients.

It takes around 10-15 minutes for your audience to be properly uploaded into Facebook and populated properly. Now we move on to the next step.

Step 2: This is where we start building our Ghost Targeting Strategy.

In you Audiences menu you can now select to create a Look-Alike Audience. This option allows you to reach new people who are similar to audiences you already care about.

Step 3: Choose your Type of Look-Alike Audience

There are multiple types of Look-Alike Audiences. It’s based on the range of similarity between the potential new audience and your current patient database

For example:

1% Look Alike Audiences are the closest ones to your current patient database.

2% Look Alike Audiences are a little bit broader than the 1% group.

And the same goes for all the rest all the way up to 10% Look Alike Audiences which is the broadest group the algorithm can create.

Audiences with a higher percentage than that usually already have fewer things in common and are not that efficient.

Step 4: If you’ve read the first part of our Dental Marketing Guide, you know what’s coming up next.

A Jaw-Dropping Offer.

90% of Business Owners fail marketing because they always go for the quick buck.

By now you probably have learned that the money is in the backend process. It’s in the email list. It’s in the way you communicate with your patients and build that trust factor.

The lower the entry level for new customers to try your services out, the higher the volume of new patients. And the better you communicate with them during and after the first session, the higher they will go up your value ladder.

Not all 100% will continue buying from you. But those who will usually go for higher priced services. Sometimes all it takes is just one new customer to triple your Return On Ad Spend per month.

Now that you have your LLA built it’s time to put in front of them a Jaw-Dropping Offer that will make them want to sign up right away.

In this case, we are promoting a FREE TEETH WHITENING Session to anyone that signs up for a new patient consultation at a discounted price of $67.

Combine the copywriting with a clear Call To Action and an attractive picture and you have a higher chance to get those clicks.

Your offer doesn’t always need to be completely free.

Sometimes an offer like this works also. Here I’m a little bit more daring because I know the audiences that we are promoting to are very similar to your current customers so there’s a higher likelihood they will sign up.

Always test your offers. In some areas, depending on the demographics of the people per square mile, some offers will work better than others.

Step 5: Building the Landing Page

In Facebook Advertising is never just ONE THING that gets you a lead.

It’s part targeting.

It’s part copywriting.

It’s part creative design.

It’s part clarity in information.

It’s partly how fast your online pages load.

It’s part Email Automation and Follow-Ups.

It’s part psychology like urgency and social proof.

Make sure that the people clicking the ad have their expectations met once they end up on your landing page.

Everything needs to point to one clear direction, backed up by the benefits they get when signing up for your offer.

Once they sign up for your offer, the email automation starts right away and you start building the relationship with your new prospect even before they take a step in your practice.

Step 6: Setting up your Follow Ups

On the Thank You Page, you provide clear information on how to get in touch with your practice and schedule their treatment. Here you can also provide more information about the FREE Teeth Whitening Session.

This same information will be sent to them via email and SMS notification.

And during the next 3 days, automated follow-up messages are sent to make sure that they call your dental practice and schedule their appointment.

And that’s it. To recap, there are two ways in which in you can market your practice.

The hard way, where you are competing in a red ocean overflowing with the same generic offers where dentists are trying to make money directly from people without building the backend of their business. Basically asking a stranger to pay another stranger a higher service without any clear benefit or evidence.

The easy way, where you use a jaw-dropping offer to give the opportunity to new patients to test the waters and see why you’re the best dentist in town that actually cares about their patients and deserve the trust to ask for higher priced services.

The picture below presented an overview of the whole process.

There are also other strategies you can use to get a patient that will pay for higher priced dental service directly. Usually, once you have run Facebook Ads for a while on your landing pages, you have enough data gathered in your Facebook Pixel that learns what kind of people are better suited for your offers.

Combining the power of Facebook’s Pixel with a strategy I call the ‘Teaching Phase“ you can directly get people that will want to pay you big bucks for services higher up the dental value ladder such as Veneers or Invisalign.

Again, this will not be a quick buck strategy. It’s all about having the right elements in place for your advertising campaign and the right strategy to back it up.


My name is Andrei Constantin and I’m the co-founder of Atom Leads, a digital marketing agency that loves helping local dentists thrive in the online world by creating results-based digital marketing systems that bring in more opportunities for their practice.