Small Business Marketing On The Cheap



Every week we receive at least two direct mail pieces at our home from dental practices in our neck of the woods (suburban St. Louis, Missouri). Some dental mailers are more effective than others in marketing their services, but direct mail can be pricey for a new business that also has personnel, real estate and equipment costs.

Here are some other ways these dentists might want to market to prospective patients.

  1. Send targeted, personal mailings. Take a page from many who have transitioned into financial planning careers. They send handwritten notes to friends and associates offering their services and soliciting referrals. Time consuming, yes, but effective.
  2. Reach out to neighbors. If your clinic is in a strip center or an office complex, take time to say hello to other tenants. Drop off a dozen doughnuts and invite them to stop in and visit your digs.
  3. Employ social media. It may not be easy to get a large number of likes or followers immediately for your new practice, but you can let all your personal Facebook friends (and Twitter followers) know about your venture. And you can purchase reasonably priced, targeted Facebook ads that let you reach people within a specific age range and geographic area.
  4. Network with competitors. This idea may sound counterintuitive but other area dentists may have useful marketing ideas (and other guidance) that they are willing to share.
  5. Be part of community events. Business expos, health fairs and community festivals offer good chances to meet people. You may not be able to offer free samples of your services, but you can hand out items such as toothbrushes with your name on them.
  6. Similarly, look for opportunities to donate services as door prizes/auction items for non-profit events in your area. While a free exam and teeth cleaning may cost you time and effort, the lucky winner/high bidder may need further dental work done.

Of course, these suggestions may apply to other small businesses who are in the beginning stages and may have limited funds available for marketing.

IMPORTANT: For a dental practice your #1 marketing goal is to generate a phone call (which may result in an appointment). Make sure that the people who answer your phone are friendly and well informed. Since my longtime dentist just retired, it just might be me on the other end of the line.

(photo credit:,,


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