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Dental Practice Marketing: Women Are Key To Your Internal Marketing Success

Women talking over coffee

In my last post, Maximize Your External Marketing Investment, I described how to get the greatest value out of your external dental practice marketing efforts by dropping the generic "market to everybody with teeth" approach in your direct-mail, web site, billboards, etc., and shifting your message to targeting more ideal patients.

Stack the Odds in Your Favor
If you did the exercise I gave you, you identified the person (or persons) in your practice who make you smile every time you see their name on the schedule; your ideal patient. In my presentations, I call that ideal patient “Mary”. And I bet that the ideal patient in your practice is also a female (or at least part of a couple). It’s not a coincidence; the odds are in favor of it being a woman.

Run a Practice Analysis/Barometer report or Patient Analysis report from your practice management software. There is a statistic on the report that will tell you the percentage of women in your practice versus the percentage of men. I've never seen the statistic weighted towards men. Another reason to get serious about women in your practice.

Women Make the Healthcare Decisions
The 11th Annual M2W (Marketing to Women Conference) was held in Chicago earlier this month.  Some interesting Fast Facts from the website:

Women account for 85% of overall consumer spending including everything from autos to healthcare (93% Food, 93% OTC Pharmaceuticals, 92% Vacations, 91% of New Homes, 89% Bank Accounts, 80% Healthcare, 66% PCs, 65% New Cars, 58% of Total Online Spending)

Your front desk will attest that 80-90% of the phone calls coming into your practice on a daily basis are from women. Initially, women do most of the research to identify a potential provider.  They typically know more about their dental insurance benefits, and they call prepared with a list of questions to test and qualify that the practice is a good fit for their family.  Women also handle most of the healthcare appointment scheduling for the family, including the boyfriend or spouse. Even after they become a patient, women are typically the ones to call to handle billing questions and other issues.  In a nutshell, they are in charge of the relationship.

Women Are Relationship Oriented
In her book, “Why She Buys: The New Strategy for Reaching the World’s Most Powerful Consumers”, Bridget Brennan offers some helpful gender differences that are important to understand:

  • Women connect to other women by talking about their feelings and vulnerabilities.
  • Women will talk about what they love or hate about a product/service – in detail.
  • Women have better memories of the details of both pleasant and unpleasant experiences.

My wife and I love going out for dinner with friends. I’m having fun here, but it’s predictable that my wife and the other women at the table will leave together to go to the restroom. Why? My wife said “companionship”. They feel more comfortable and safer being with a friend, they talk on the way, in the restroom, and on the way back. The whole time, they are connecting. One night she actually came back to the table and introduced the new friend she made in the restroom (the other woman was crying because her boyfriend was being a jerk and...); that never happens with guys. It’s how they are wired.

And They Protect Those Relationships
During a recent session of our CEODentist Virtual Academy, I instructed doctors to run reports from their software systems to calculate the number of active patients in their practice and the number of patients in their continuing care (recall) program. In the analysis, one of my clients learned that over the years he had over 7000 patients on record who were no longer active in the practice (we call this attrition). The bigger problem was that he didn’t know they had left and had no idea why. This happens all the time, and if you looked at your practice, you’d probably find similar results.

Remember, your practice is predominately built on women and they don’t often complain to your practice. They just never come back.  And when a woman leaves a business she takes her family and her friends with her; they’ll talk at work, at the kids sporting events, at the book club, and wherever else they gather. They protect their relationships.

The Internet Can Make You or Break You
“Word of mouth can make or break a brand, and this book confirms the fact that women talk to other women more about products than men do.” --Journal of Consumer Marketing (from a review of “Why She Buys”)

“Word-of-mouth” has always been the most effective way to market dental services. One satisfied patient spreading the word to another. And the internet has accelerated the speed that consumers can share their experiences. That could be “good” or “bad”.

Again, looking at data from the Marketing to Women Conference, a study of women in Canada and the U.S. showed that the internet web sites (70%) have now surpassed traditional forms of word-of-mouth (58%) as their preferred method for getting the word out about products and services. The study also found that only 28% of women decide what products or services to buy without looking for some kind of help. Furthermore, 58% of women (18+) share both good and bad experiences online. In every category, these statistics significantly exceed that of men.

What your active (and inactive) patients say about you on the web makes a difference. Obviously, positive patient reviews on Google+, Face book Yelp! etc. can help attract new patients and help to build your practice.  But, it’s easier than ever to share a bad experience with the world.

We’ll discuss ways to meet and exceed the expectations of your female population and develop patients for life in an upcoming post.  In the mean time, if you have a specific strategy for serving the women in you practice, please comment below.

You can find all the statistics and additional information about the Marketing to Women Conference at

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