To Successfully Market Your Emerging DSO, You Need a Solution That Scales

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So you’ve taken the leap and turned your dental group into a real DSO. Now you need to level up your marketing to match.

What does successful marketing look like for a DSO? To start with, the days of flying by the seat of your pants are over. When you were running a three-location dental group, you might have focused your efforts on establishing a cohesive brand and building a strong reputation in your local community. But if you’re aiming to market 30 or even 300 practices, you need a different approach: one that can scale.

For many business owners, that means learning to change their thinking. Instead of building your marketing around a broad concept like, “I want to attract more patients,” or “I want to improve my brand image,” you need to get specific.

🚀 Start by Targeting Results You Can Measure

First, identify a concrete, measurable result that you want to achieve. This could be as straightforward as 80 new patients a month at each of your 10 locations, or a little more nuanced, like 10 percent new patient growth each month for six months. What you don’t want is to aim for something fuzzy and unquantifiable, like, say, increased brand awareness.

Once you’ve got a clear target, you need a way to track your marketing data. How else will you know whether you’re achieving your goals or be able to pinpoint problem areas? Here, though, you need to learn to distinguish between the wheat and the chaff and zero in on the data that directly impacts the success of your chosen result. A spreadsheet full of numbers is useless if you can’t break it down into clear, actionable metrics that point you in the direction of your desired outcome.

The simplest way to get good data is to use good tracking software. Here, again, you want to get specific. Your new patient stats need to be separated into two buckets: marketing patients (patients who walk through your doors as a direct result of your marketing campaign) and everybody else, or what we could call organic growth patients (word-of-mouth, walk-ins, and more).

Why? Because this is the only way you are able to monitor how well your marketing is working. If you’re just lumping all of your new patients into one category, then you can’t tell the difference between patients generated by your marketing efforts and those who come in through a referral or because your practice is next to their favorite coffee shop. That distinction is essential, though, because while you can scale your marketing efforts, you can’t do the same with organic growth.

Ideally, your tracking software will not only isolate your marketing patients, but give you access to KPIs like cost-per-acquisition, recare rate, phone conversion rate, and no-show rate that shine a spotlight on each step of your marketing funnel from lead generation through patient conversion.

🚀 Next, Review Your Data to Solve Problem Areas

Having the right data will pay off big time when you begin actively marketing your practices. Say you decide to start by spending $20,000 a month on Google Adwords. When you review your data after the first month, though, you realize that you’ve fallen well short of your new patient goal. Time to revamp your ad campaign, right?

Not so fast. As you dig deeper into the data, you notice something else: on average, your front desk teams answer the phone only 75 percent of the time. Right off the top, 25 percent of your monthly ad budget is wasted because 1 in 4 potential patients can’t even get through to make their appointment. Worse, your no-show rate is almost 1 in 3, which means that even if you’re scheduling every potential patient who you do speak with, you may as well be lighting half of that $20,000 ad budget on fire.

But here’s the good news: because you’ve got enough data to accurately diagnose the problem, you can fix it. Rather than wasting time changing your strategy or worse, trying to spend more cash through the pain by boosting your overall marketing budget, you know that you need to improve your business operations instead.

You try expanding your front desk teams so that someone always answers the phone and assign a team member at each location to follow up with new patients over the phone and text before their first appointment to reduce your no-show rate. The next month, two-thirds of your practices hit their new patient goals — more than enough to pay for any new hires.

These are just examples, of course. Other possible problem areas include targeting your ads towards the wrong new patient avatar or on the wrong platform, ignoring appointment requests that come in via webform or chat (you might be shocked at how often that happens), a lack of follow-through to encourage recare patients — the list goes on.

🚀 Now You Can Scale

Once you can accurately track your numbers, then you can drill down on how to improve your marketing for one practice or hundreds. A results-focused, data-driven process works the same regardless of scale. The sky really is the limit.

Here, a good tracking system can help you get really granular, too. You don’t have to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach: just set a clear target for each practice and then work backward through your data to ensure you’ve got a smooth, efficient marketing funnel. This is especially helpful if you’re leading a DSO that manages several or even dozens of locations or different brands spread across multiple markets, as you’ll have the flexibility you need to localize your marketing to fit conditions on the ground.

🚀 SMC Makes Data-Driven Marketing Easy

If you’ve read this far, you almost certainly take a forward-thinking approach to the dental business, understand the huge changes that our industry is going through, and get excited about long-term growth. You’ve also probably got too much on your plate to master scalable dental marketing on your own. In short, you’re the kind of client that SMC loves to work with.

SMC is a data-driven marketing company that works exclusively with dental groups and DSOs to create steady, predictable new patient growth. We lead the dental industry in using advanced analytics (the kind that most marketing companies don’t even measure) to gain clear, actionable insights into every step of your marketing funnel so that we can give you outstanding results that we can dial up or down to fit your needs.

As an SMC client, you’ll be able to set specific new patient targets and adjust them month by month — plus get seamless, real-time tracking updates on all of your marketing data (ROI, CPA, call conversion rate, and more) using our app. And since we don’t do contracts, you’ll pay only a monthly subscription fee that you can cancel anytime.

If you’re ready to scale your dental business or need consistent
new patient growth, SMC should be your first call.
Head over to to contact us today!🚀


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