Every day at RAMP, we talk to dentists about their advertising efforts. Here are some of the common misconceptions that we see.

Bigger is better. Of course size matters. But you don’t have to be in the newspaper with the biggest circulation or on the most popular radio station in town. The number of times your message is in front of the audience is just as, or even more important than the number of people you reach each time. Very often, the medium with the biggest audience is prohibitively expensive, so the average dental office is hard-pressed to advertise with much frequency. We’d rather reach 10% of the community with a solid, repeated message than attempt to influence 100% with sporadic efforts.

Nobody listens to that station. When we hear this, we know the doctor and his team are really saying, “we don’t listen to that station”. RAMP uses the Arbitron rating system, which provides extremely detailed information about thousands of radio stations across the nation. These statistics are a much more reliable gauge of the market than the affinities of a particular office. If a station reaches enough of the target audience, it makes no differences whether we like the music the station plays.

I don’t need to advertise to the whole region. People won’t drive that far. Some newspapers, and radio and tv stations, reach beyond the neighborhoods that practices are used to drawing from. It may seem like a waste to advertise on a source that reaches people who seem unlikely to patronize your office, but sedation dentistry changes the rules. Once you offer an uncommon service like sedation, people will drive surprisingly far to seek you out.

You have to target women with your advertising. We actually agree with this one little bit, but don’t carry it too far. Conventional wisdom in dental marketing says that you must target women with your marketing because women make the appointments for the family. We hesitate to use sports radio stations as a primary strategy because they hardly have any female listeners. But that’s as far as we go with the “target the women” rule. While you should avoid sources without female audiences, when advertising sedation dentistry, it’s best to find media that attracts a mix of men and women. Targeting women is less important when you only offer adult sedation, because children have been taken out of the equation. Also, the busy male executive has proven to be one of the biggest customers for sedation, as they are attracted to messages promising fewer appointments.

Before you buy into traditional assumptions about marketing, make sure that you know the reasoning behind the assertion. Advertising for sedation dentistry breaks many of the rules, and some of the rules are just plain wrong to begin with. Happy marketing.