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Ronald Silverstein is a veteran dentist and seasoned marketeer, practicing on the East Coast of the United States. Like many of his contemporaries, he started off with “drill, fill, and bill,” but unlike many of his contemporaries, he has adjusted to the new times—with success. As you will see, he’s not afraid of ruffling some feathers.

It always amazes me that my fellow dentists apparently lack an understanding of that most essential skill, the attribute that defines success within this highly competitive industry: marketing!For, unless the dental profession seeks to vanish or become another antiquated word (think “apothecary” or “phrenology”), my colleagues had better learn the principles of effective business communication. The fanciful days of loyal customers and robust business—the seemingly effortless expansion of a dental practice—are commonly uncommon. My recommendation—start marketing to the needs of patients with problems that should fall within day-to-day services provided by most dentists. In other words, treat today’s problems with today’s remedies for today’s patients, period.

In fact, the American Dental Association has its own manual about developing a successful fee-for-service business. This manual, though obviously well-intentioned, is also an invitation for failure. Advertise in the Yellow Pages? Mail a series of form letters? Why not write your own professional obituary as well? Fellow dentists, we can (and must) do better! But where to begin? Open wide, and just listen.

Today’s patient often complains about embarrassing halitosis, the kind of bad breath that ordinary rinses or mints cannot remedy. For us dentists, this problem is a bona fide marketing opportunity: by using the Halimeter®, a specialized instrument that monitors the volatile sulfur compounds responsible for bad breath, we can offer patients scientific data about the extent of this condition, which is typically a symptom of more serious illness. In the process, we also expand the range of professional services offered, selling targeted treatments that attack the bacteria responsible for bad breath (numerous companies operate within this space, affording us a highly competitive range of options).

Indeed, dentists who actively use and incorporate the Halimeter® within the core services available to patients count significant ROI. My own experience with this marketing effort remains highly positive, because my patients appreciate this new service and the treatment options at their disposal. I no longer rely as heavily upon conventional (and increasingly irrelevant) methods of revenue: drilling, filling and more drilling.

Today’s dentist needs to learn about his profession, yes, but he or she must also be a skilled marketer. Failure to absorb the principles of business development—an attribute most dental schools, I believe, deliberately ignore—is just plain stupid. The most influential medical practitioners are some of the world’s greatest marketers, eagerly meeting with members of the press and adroitly using “free media” to further a very simple goal: success!

A simple investment in the Halimeter® is perhaps the easiest way for a dentist to achieve success. The product establishes credibility among patients (I have testimonials galore), while furthering my own professional strategies. The technology is user-friendly—a major plus, indeed—and the results speak for themselves: repeat business, a dentist’s dream. And remember, the alternative to zero marketing is zero business—an epitaph even my friends at the ADA would just as soon forget. Memorable advice for us all.

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