The Link Between Strategy and Marketing

By Roger P. Levin, DDS

Five strategic marketing plans

Many ortho practices believe that they have a marketing plan. What they really have is a grouping of marketing activities that focuses heavily on patients. This is great because it creates a fun internal environment, but it is not a full orthodontic practice referral marketing plan.

There are five areas that must be considered in orthodontic referral marketing. Before we delve into those it is important to understand that the starting point of referral marketing is a strategic plan that answers the question, “Where do I want the practice to be in five years?” Look ahead five years and envision what the practice is like. Are you starting 200 more patients per year? Does the treatment coordinator close 85% of all non-observation new patient consults? Do 99% of potential new patient callers make an appointment for a consult? Does the practice have a sterling reputation and is known as the practice choice for orthodontics in the community? Do you have an associate?

The starting point of a strategic plan is a five-year vision. Longer than five years is difficult to project because dentistry and the world are changing so quickly. Once you know the vision for five years you begin to create the strategies to achieve that vision and you can be certain that the marketing plan will be a key factor in your progress and success. Then you can determine the right marketing strategies to grow the practice.

As referenced above there are five key areas that are essential for orthodontic practice marketing, and they are now all essential. The marketing plan needs separate strategies for patients, parents, referring doctors, social media, and the community. In a nutshell it would look like this:

Patient marketing strategies should focus on fun, energy, and a positive office environment where children and teenagers have a great orthodontic experience.

Parent strategies should focus on appreciation and the opportunity to have or win something from the orthodontic practice that addresses the busyness of their lives such as a massage, manicure, or spa day for mothers.

Referring doctor marketing is in absolute science and any orthodontic practice that implements it will increase referrals from other doctors. This area focuses more on awareness and touch points but most of all relationship building and relationship maintenance.

Social media is the wild west. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes practices are smart enough to test social media to determine the benefit and other times they invest enormous expenses into a social media plan without knowing if it works. We have spoken to many doctors who are engaged in social media only to find disappointing results which means they didn’t do it right. Social media is about creating a brand and image, but it must reach and engage the right people at the right time in the right way.

And finally, there is the community. Don’t ignore the community. Schools and other community institutions are all opportunities to get and keep the name of the practice out there. Keep the name of the practice front and center in the community.

Simply throwing a bunch of strategies against the wall rarely works, but it is the most common form of orthodontic marketing. Starting with a strategic understanding of where you want the practice to be in five years, setting the strategies to reach those milestones, then designing a marketing plan to support the effort, and achieving results will virtually guarantee a successful orthodontic practice now and in the future.

You can hear more from Roger P. Levin, DDS at the 2022 Users Group Meeting, January 27-29 in Las Vegas. To learn more about the UGM, or to register, visit

Roger P. Levin, DDS is the CEO and Founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the U.S. and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit or email

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