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Do you ever get bored and actually look at those discount coupon envelopes you receive from direct mail companies? Among the coupons for cheap dry cleaning and backyard awning installation, you’ll find a handful for dental practices. They typically feature one of the following: a 20-year-old poorly doctored headshot of the dentist, an unflattering group photo of the dentist surrounded by the team, or stock images of smiling people. The aesthetics of these ads are indiscernible from the ads for funeral planning or chiropractic services.

The similarities don’t end with the images. Did you know that every dental practice that mails to me is “now accepting new patients?” Did you know they offer “free X-rays and exams for new patients?” Guess what? They also do same day crowns and whitening.


They look alike and they sound alike. This results in dental practices plunging to the commoditized bottom of the red ocean. What’s your competitive advantage? Why should they make an appointment with you? I’ll give you a hint: Don’t do what they’re doing.


The restaurant industry is a tough business, and most establishments fail within the first five years. In the throes of the COVID pandemic, my friend Brian opened a restaurant in an area of St. Louis already teeming with restaurants. Even smart people can make dumb decisions, I thought. And then I heard about the concept: “Terror Tacos,” a horror movie-themed vegan taco restaurant that only plays death metal music. Hearing this, I rushed to call Brian and urge him to nix the crazy idea.

Then, I checked it out. The food was amazing. Sitting in the restaurant noshing on their delectable tacos, I watched my fellow diners relish their experience. Older vegans loved the food and novel experience while the younger crowd dug the vibe and the unique cocktails as much as the “Carnage Asada” burritos replete with house-made seitan. They market their restaurant via social media, email newsletters, community events, and word-of-mouth. I’ve eaten there at least ten times, and I tell anyone who will listen about how great it is. After three years of honing processes and scaling operations, Terror Tacos is eyeing expansion into new markets.

At a sleep conference with umpteen vendors vying for dentists’ attention, we were given one minute to introduce ourselves from the lectern. One presentation droned into the next: “Hi, I’m Jimmy Clone and I work for Clone Lab. We make the same products as everyone else.” I took the mic and introduced myself, shared our company’s tight elevator pitch, and told everyone that I won on Wheel of Fortune but failed to solve the final puzzle. I invited everyone to our booth to find out what the puzzle was. Same 60 second opportunity, but guess whose booth was swarmed by prospective clients?


It works for restaurants, authors, and dental practices. Look different. Sound different. Set yourself apart and set sail for the limitless blue ocean, beyond competition and on to the horizon. Promote CPAP alternatives. Highlight the free consultation and possibility of an improved version of themselves. Use images of healthy middle-aged couples living their best lives: riding bikes together, walking on the beach, smiling in bed. Below are a couple of copy concepts for your consideration.

“Sick of Snoring? Tired of Sleeping Alone? Singing the CPAP Blues? Contact Dr. Diva for a Free Consultation Today.”

“Is Snoring Keeping You Up at Night? Schedule a Free Consultation Today So You Can Sleep Better Tonight.”

I can hear you now. “Yeah, Jason, but it’s 2023. I never look at junk mail. Everyone finds their dentist online.”

That’s partially true. It is 2023, and you probably rarely look at your “junk” mail. Interestingly, Murphy Research recently conducted a survey of 3250 U.S. consumers and found that 88 percent of “key purchase decisions” across retail and financial categories are discussed at home. Which means that a uniquely targeted message could really keep your DSM practice top-of-mind among your target demographics. According to a report from InfoTrends, 65 percent of millennials made a purchase as a result of direct mail, and 82 percent of the coveted baby boomer population reported being more likely to buy from a business that mails them.

Like your stock portfolio, marketing is a bit of a gamble, and, like a proper portfolio, diversity is key. You shouldn’t put all your eggs in the direct mail basket. A well-managed, properly executed digital marketing campaign for your sleep practice can generate desirable returns.

You’re a smart cookie, but you should absolutely outsource your online marketing. It’s a very specialized, ever-changing niche. Don’t trust the job to your 22-year-old nephew because “he’s always posting on TikTok and playing video games.” What does he know about the lifetime value of a customer, conversion paths, TOFU, MOFU, BOFU, and CTR?

Google Ads and other social media ad campaigns can be hyper-focused. This means you can target specific age demographics, professions, and geographic areas. These pay-per-click (PPC) marketing channels also allow you to allocate a reasonable, flexible budget and track performance in real time.

As with offline direct mail marketing, be sure your digital campaigns have a focused message that cuts through the clutter. Many people don’t like their CPAPs. Most people are embarrassed by their snoring or annoyed by their bed partner’s snoring. Focus on this messaging. Incorporate compelling images that grab viewers’ attention, and have a direct call-to-action. Give it time. Effective marketing usually requires multiple impressions. Whether it’s Facebook ads, a poster in your waiting room, or a postcard in their mailboxes, each impression exposes them to your message.

Partner with a reputable, capable marketing company to promote your sleep practice. Pro Impressions and Dental Sleep Profits are a couple options. Leverage best practices while creating your unique message. It’s not only OK to be different; it’s a necessity. John Stuart Mill wrote, “That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.”


Are you attending the TRANSFORM DENTAL SLEEP SYMPOSIUM in Scottsdale, AZ on February 2-3, 2024? This inaugural event will be held at the brand new Hilton North Scottsdale at Cavasson and features dynamic speakers including Dr. Erin Elliott, Dr. Stacey Layman, Dr. Kent Smith, Dr. Madan Kandula, and over a dozen others. Register now before tuition increases $100 on 8/31. You don’t want to sleep on this career-changing event.

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