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Episode #422: Common Mistakes Dentists Make in Marketing, with Grace Rizza

the best practices show podcast May 20, 2022

  Marketers are not magicians. They can't turn $50 into 1,000 loyal patients. But what they can do is help you focus and strategize to attract new patients and increase loyalty. And today, Kirk Behrendt brings in Grace Rizza, CEO of Identity Dental Marketing, to share some of the biggest mistakes made in dental marketing that you need to know and avoid. Don't try marketing on your own! To learn how to get the most out of your time and money, listen to Episode 422 of The Best Practices Show!

Main Takeaways:

  • You will always be spending on marketing.
  • Being cheap will cost you more in the long run.
  • Start ASAP and get ahead of the curve.
  • Don't try to do everything on your own.
  • Always vet your advisors and ask questions.


  • “You can actually shape how people think of you. You can shape what they think of you with effective custom branding.” (4:45—4:53)
  • “[Dentists] don't always realize that [marketing] is its own area of study, that people actually study marketing. Someone made a joke to me the other day. A client said, ‘It’s like I need a second degree in this!’ And I said, ‘You do, if you're going to try to do it on your own! I do have a degree in this. And there are several certifications that you should get if you're going to be running campaigns and things of this nature.’ And they just hadn't really thought about it, that while they were studying dentistry, that other people are studying marketing. So, I think it starts with knowing or accepting the fact that you don't know it and being open to learning from other people’s mistakes.” (6:13—6:58)
  • “You shouldn't do it all on your own. When it comes to marketing, you're likely going to waste a lot of time and money with the more technical side of things. Like, launching an optimized ad campaign is probably not the highest and best use of your time. As soon as you figure it out, it’s going to change. And you're probably going to realize that it’s not ideal for you to do that. But ramping up the number of reviews in your practice, getting your patients to refer to you, having those internal systems that increase your new patient numbers, most definitely, you want systems for those kinds of things. But with the marketing that should be outsourced, it’s the more technical side. It’s the ads, the SEO, setting audiences, managing budgets.” (8:18—9:04)
  • “One of my biggest problems right now in business, in general, is that you've got hundreds of thousands in debt in dental school. You've got, now, a buildout and the fanciest equipment and the most beautiful office, because these are all things — I'm going to be really offensive right now — that feed the ego. These are all things that make you feel special. Like, did you really need the most expensive dental chair when you don't have anyone that's going to sit in it because you have zero marketing budget? So, I have these conversations all day long. By the time they think about marketing, there's no money left. So, my question is always, ‘Well, what do you have to lose if you don't have marketing? All of that previous investment is now at risk, because without patients, you have no cashflow. You have nowhere to go.’” (12:54—13:48)
  • “My advice would be, start asking these questions sooner. Ask, ‘Okay, what does it take to acquire a new patient in my market with this method?’ And then, reverse-engineer what it’s going to cost to make those methods work for you. Instead of saying, ‘I have $500. What can you do with it?’ ask, ‘What's it going to cost to get 20, 50, 80 new patients a month?’ And then, figure out how you can make it happen.” (14:43—15:11)
  • “Template or builders for websites [are one of the biggest marketing mistakes]. So, when marketing companies use drag-and-drop builders — this can be Wix, Squarespace, Webflow, GoDaddy Builder, Elementor; there's a million — it’s not ideal for SEO. So, a lot of times, we’ll have people say, ‘Well, can you just take my website as it is?’ And I look at the code, and I'm like, ‘Google is going to hate this. This is why you're on page four in a competitive market, is the foundation is broken.’” (16:53—17:26)
  • “It’s really sad, because sometimes [dentists] actually pay top-dollar for a website, and they don't even know that a builder is being used. So, don't assume that because you're spending a lot of money that it’s being done a certain way. You have to ask, ‘Is there a builder that's used?’ And you want to get that in writing that it’s not being coded with a builder.” (17:41—18:01)
  • “Being cheap [is another marketing mistake]. Being very, very cheap. And it’s not cheap because, like I said, a lot of doctors will invest in this beautiful office — and even the degree. It’s so much going out. So, I empathize with the difficulty in . . . making another payment. It’s painful because you have nothing coming back in yet. But if you dabble in five different things, there's a huge risk that you're actually taking. And it has nothing to do with the ineffective nature of that way of marketing.” (21:08—21:51)
  • “Let's say I've got $500 in Facebook ads, $500 in Google Ads, and I'm sending out some mailers. I spend $1,000 a month in mailers. And then, I try them. I'm just testing them all to see what they bring. But I'm investing below what Grace Rizza calls “the minimum viable budget”. So, if you're not investing enough in your market to see how something works, you're actually not truly sampling it. And so, what happens in these situations — it’s heartbreaking for me to watch and it’s heartbreaking for the doctors — is they try it, and it seemingly fails. And they don't know why, so they give up on it entirely. And now, they're five years before they can get back on the saddle and try it again in a way where it will actually work for them. So, they become completely turned off to the things that they actually need the most.” (21:53—22:51)
  • “I would recommend starting on Google, whether that's organic rankings or Google Ads. And the reason for that is that people go to Google when they're ready to buy. If I'm searching “dentist near me,” I'm ready to go to the dentist right now. Whereas if I'm on Facebook, I'm looking at baby pictures, I'm wasting time, I'm watching funny videos, or this Johnny Depp trial that I can't seem to escape, for some reason, and your ads pop up. And from there, I'm interrupted by your ads. So, social media marketing is fantastic. But it’s the long game. It’s good for brand recognition. It’s good for being known in your community, for bringing value. And it’s very, very powerful. But it’s not the same as an immediate call-to-action type campaign on Google where you're targeting key words and you're being found at the same moment that someone’s looking for you.” (25:13—26:13)
  • “[Another marketing mistake is having] unrealistic expectations for [social media], I would say. They see one dentist who’s maybe a hilarious comedian putting stuff out there and gaining traction and becoming popular. And they think they're just going to do whatever TikTok trend is out right now, and then get dental famous. And in most situations . . . most people aren't famous comedians, and most people are not models. And so, I think the biggest mistake I see there is just [being] focused on being famous instead of bringing value.” (28:26—29:12)
  • “If you make it your mission to educate your community on the things that matter to them, such as, ‘Did you know when you're pregnant, if you have periodontal disease, that you're seven times more likely to go into premature labor?’ How have you made it your mission to educate your community? If you take that perspective and apply it to social media, you'll be incredibly successful. And stop worrying about the number of followers. Stop worrying about getting famous and just have the intent to help people. And then, in addition, don't be afraid to throw some money at it too. So, if you do this educational video once a week, throw $20 or $50 behind it. Boost it so people can actually see it. And then, they’ll start to follow.” (29:13—30:03)
  • “If you’ve got someone on your team that's helping you, let's say posting to social media or driving that word-of-mouth or helping you get reviews, set your goals so that they're tangible. You don't want to have a goal like, ‘Get 1,000 followers,’ because that's not actually something that you can control. But you can control if your front office team member is to request 50 followers a week. That's something she can control and an action item that she can do. And the result of that may be 1,000 followers. You may achieve the actual intended result sooner if you break it into action items.” (31:33—32:18)
  • “Any time you're putting money behind something, whether it’s your brand and your website and your presence, or it’s exposure in the form of advertising, you want to make sure you're communicating a consistent, clear message that's true to who you are, true to your brand, true to your strengths . . . because when you're true to who you are in the messages that you put out, you're going to attract people who are like you, and your retention is a whole lot easier than if you're trying to be everything to everyone.” (41:26—41:57)
  • “If you would've asked me five years ago how important are Google Reviews, and before everybody was really good at it and all about it, you would've beat the rush and you would've got ahead of it and you would be in a very, very, very sweet position right now. Video is to reviews right now what reviews were five years ago. People aren't comfortable with it yet. They won't do it. They won't hit record. It’s not yet become mainstream, the thing to do. So, do it now! Get involved in it now. If you are someone who should be on camera, do it. Because you'll beat the curve. You'll get traction because you're an early adopter. There's still room there.” (42:22—43:09)
  • “Vet your professional support team. Ask to talk to actual, real clients. If you're hiring a marketing company or any advisor, look at how long have they been in business. How many times have they changed their name in business? Because that's a red flag. How long are they asking you to commit to them? And really take your time. Talk to people, and don't make a rush, rash decision in who your advisors are, because that could make or break your practice.” (44:00—44:36)


  • 0:00 Introduction.
  • 2:15 Grace’s background.
  • 3:45 The journey of marketing in dentistry.
  • 5:39 What dentists get wrong about marketing.
  • 7:42 Don't do it all on your own.
  • 9:20 What to know about long-term contracts.
  • 12:19 Start marketing early.
  • 15:29 The crowded digital landscape.
  • 16:33 Biggest mistakes in building websites.
  • 18:24 Why Google doesn't like builders and templated formats.
  • 20:03 Should dentists manipulate their own websites?
  • 21:01 Biggest mistakes in spending.
  • 23:28 The mindset you need for marketing.
  • 24:38 How to start without a massive budget.
  • 27:50 Biggest mistakes in social media.
  • 31:18 Biggest mistakes in setting goals.
  • 34:47 Is print and mail really dead?
  • 36:44 Implications of the pandemic in marketing.
  • 38:09 Dental insurance as a form of marketing.
  • 40:53 Be true to who you are in your messaging.
  • 42:02 The importance of video in dental marketing.
  • 43:50 Last thoughts on dental marketing mistakes.
  • 44:40 How Grace can help you, and her contact information.

Reach Out to Grace:

Grace’s company: https://identitydental.com/

Grace’s website: https://gracerizza.com/

Grace’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gracerizzaspeaks/

Grace’s podcast: https://gracerizza.com/podcast/

Grace’s social media: @gracerizzamarketing


Start with Why by Simon Sinek: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/304046/start-with-why-by-simon-sinek/

Grace Rizza Bio:

Grace Rizza has guided the growth of more than 1,500 successful dental practices while building a business and family of her own.

After discovering a passion for marketing while earning her degree from Marquette University, Grace won the position of marketing director for a multiple-location practice in Illinois. Here, she quickly discovered a second passion for dentistry. In 2009, she founded Identity Dental Marketing to provide ethical and effective marketing solutions for dentists.

Grace is known for her candor and relatable demeanor. Her speaking style is engaging and lighthearted. She enjoys leaving her audience with a few actionable items that can result in significant growth.

She is the host of the Facebook Group and Podcast, "Dentistry's Growing with Grace" where she shares business development solutions almost daily.


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