26 Sep 2016  •  Marketing and Design  •  4min read By  • Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow’s predictions on the future of marketing in dentistry

Over the last two years, there has been an explosion in the digital marketing landscape. It’s fair to say that you would have to have been living in a cave not to see the developments which have been made in this area.

These developments have impacted massively upon the dental sector, more so than you may first think. The ways in which prospective new patients can find you has advanced with changes in the way search engine optimisation (SEO) ranks your website. Advances in online advertising, particularly on Facebook over the last twelve months, mean that it’s now easier to engage with larger audiences. Coupled with that, the use of sophisticated customer relationship management (CRM) software means that it’s now easier to communicate with your patients – whether it’s your existing patients, dormant patients or those prospective patients that you want to get in through the door!

So what’s my prediction for the future of digital marketing in dentistry?

Digital marketing is no longer a question of throw a load of money at a digital agency, never understand what they say to you, and just hope for the best. It has now become far more sophisticated than that and the dental practice of 2026 is going to be all over this.

“My belief is that ten years from now, print media in dentistry will be largely extinct and websites will become obsolete.”

In fact, I would argue that in ten years’ time, half of a dental practice’s new business will come through word-of-mouth referrals and the other half will come through digital channels. My belief also is that ten years from now, print media in dentistry will be largely extinct and websites will become obsolete.

The future of the patient journey

Similarly, in 2026, there will be far more focus upon the patient journey, because you will have realised by then that your patients are your unpaid sales force, that your patients are your brand ambassadors, and that the experience that you deliver to those patients at every step of their journey is actually mission critical in turning them into those ambassadors.

What this means is that at every point in that patient journey, whether it’s how the front desk team deal with telephone enquiries or the treatment coordination, everybody in your dental business is in marketing every day. Ultimately, the way you write a letter is marketing, the way you answer the phone is marketing, the way you meet and greet is marketing, the way you escort somebody to a surgery is marketing, and the way you put your hand on somebody’s shoulder during their treatment to give them some comfort is marketing.

“Marketing is a behaviour, it’s not a bunch of leaflets.”

Marketing is a behaviour, it’s not a bunch of leaflets. Nobody goes in the wine bar on a Friday night and says, ‘I went to my dentist this week, you’ll never guess, they’ve just got a new CBCT scanner.’ It’s never going to happen! What they do in the wine bar on a Friday night is say, ‘I went to see my dentist and they were absolutely lovely.’ That’s where the bar is set, ‘absolutely lovely.’ If there’s any member of your team that turns up for work with the wrong attitude, that person has to go because they’re destroying your marketing.

My final prediction about the future of marketing in dentist is that this patient journey will actually become even more important as dentists start communicating with their patients in real time, in terms of giving them information, alerts and notifications about their dental health – all through an app!

Let’s see what the future holds. One thing I can guarantee, it’s going to be an absolute blast!

To hear Chris speak more about the face of dentistry in 2026, join him for his talk ‘2026: What the business of dentistry will look like in ten years’ in The Business Skills Theatre at BDIA Dental Showcase. To book your tickets, head over to our Events page.


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