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Marketing Your Dental Practice

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Managing Marketing | Introduction
Marketing Your Dental Practice: What it Means
Marketing concepts on paper

Marketing matters more than ever before. A recent report from the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute (HPI) revealed that the percentage of Americans aged 19-64 who saw a dentist dropped 5.5% from 41% in 2003 to 35.5% in 2013. As a result, many practices have excess capacity.

When done correctly, marketing can be an effective tactic for bringing in new patients and is becoming more commonplace in all types of communities.

It’s an important element for any practice and especially critical for those opening or purchasing practices.

Deciding how and where to market your practice can seem overwhelming. This module will help guide you through the different aspects of marketing, including branding, internal marketing, website development, print marketing, referral generating techniques and advertising. Articles will provide information and resources that will help you:

  • Understand what marketing is – and what it isn’t
  • Assess your current marketing efforts
  • Identify the type of patients you want to attract to the practice
  • Recognize the differences and similarities in marketing and branding
  • Identify your brand
  • Determine which marketing channels are best for your practice
  • Decide who should manage the marketing of your practice
  • Create and implement a formal marketing plan
  • Create and manage the practice’s social media footprint
  • Understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC)
  • Ensure that your website is accessible, effective and easy to navigate on multiple platforms

The content contained in the Managing Marketing module of the American Dental Association’s Guidelines for Practice SuccessTM (GPSTM) details aspects of marketing via nine major topics that offer more detailed information about the options available. The module also includes original resources, such as checklists and tip sheets, which were created specifically for this project and designed to help ADA members manage the marketing process.


Legal and Ethical Aspects of Marketing

The Patient Survey

Defining and Managing Your Brand

Creating Your Marketing Plan

Calculating Return on Investment (ROI)

Website Development

Social Media

Other Advertising

GPS™ Original Resources

The American Dental Association thanks the following individuals for their contributions to this module:

  • Dr. Andrew B. Brown, Council on Dental Practice 2012-2016, chair 2015-2016
  • Dr. Jean L. Creasey, Council on Dental Practice 2012-2016
  • Dr. Julia Mikell, Council on Dental Practice 2015-2019
  • Dr. Scott Theurer, Council on Dental Practice 2014-2018
  • Dr. Stacey Van Scoyoc, Council on Dental Practice 2015-2019
  • Mr. Gary Bird
  • Mr. Daniel A. Bobrow, MBA
  • Ms. Melissa Green
  • Ms. Wendy O'Donovan Phillips
  • Mr. Jacob Puhl
  • Ms. Grace Rizza

In addition to the individuals cited above, principal contributors to this publication include Dr. Pamela M. Porembski, director, Council on Dental Practice, Cynthia Kluck-Nygren, manager, Dental Team Activities and Publications, and Dr. Diane Metrick, senior manager, Special Projects and Emerging Issues. Special thanks to the ADA’s Council on Dental Practice, Council on Communications, Council on Ethics, Bylaws, and Judicial Affairs.


The American Dental Association created the Guidelines for Practice Success™ (GPS™) on Managing Marketing to provide dentists with a more complete understanding of the many components involved in marketing the practice, including legal and ethical aspects that must be taken into consideration. In making these materials available, the ADA does not, nor does it intend to, provide either legal or professional advice. None of the content in this module represents ADA’s legal or professional advice as to any particular situation you might face or any decisions you may need to make regarding the marketing of your practice. Guidance of that nature is most appropriately provided by a properly qualified professional, such as an attorney and/or marketing consultant, in your jurisdiction.

While some content within the ADA’s Guidelines for Practice Success™ (GPS™) on Managing Marketing may discuss certain federal and state laws in very general terms, it does not and cannot address every federal and state law, rule or regulation that could affect the marketing and management of a dental practice. Each dental practice must be aware of and comply with applicable state and federal laws, rules and regulations. This resource refers to various federal statutes and regulations, including those adopted by agencies such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and others. None of the information in this module has been reviewed or approved by representatives of those or any other federal agencies. The structure and design of each practice’s marketing plan will be unique to that practice and each practice should appropriately consider, and abide by, the federal and local stipulations regarding those activities.

We have made every effort to make these materials useful and informative. As a consumer of this information, however, you must understand that laws vary between jurisdictions and that changes to those rulings may occur more frequently than this resource is updated. For that reason, we make no representations or warranties of any kind about the completeness, accuracy, or any other quality of these materials or any updates, and expressly disclaim all warranties, including without limitation all implied warranties (including any warranty as to merchantability and fitness for a particular use).

To the extent that we have included links to any websites, we intend no endorsement of their content and imply no affiliation with the organizations that provide their content. Nor do we make any representations or warranties about the information provided on those sites, which we do not control in any way.

We welcome your comments and suggestions regarding the ADA’s Guidelines for Practice Success™ (GPS™) on Managing Marketing.