Doing Good While Doing Good by Melissa Lowry

Doing Good While Doing Good 

5 community outreach tips you can implement today

by Melissa Lowry

In the competitive world of dentistry, the success of a practice often hinges on the ability to foster strong relationships and establish trust with patients. To generate new patients, dentists have long relied on traditional marketing methods such as digital advertising, social media postings and local billboards to spread the word about their practice.

What if you’ve reviewed the response and return on investment from these marketing tactics and they’ve fallen short in bringing your practice the desired influx of new patients?

Your role in the community extends far beyond the confines of your operatory. When you engage in community outreach initiatives, you have the opportunity to not only bolster your practice’s reputation but also create meaningful connections with potential patients. Whether it’s volunteering at a local charity event or sponsoring local social events, community outreach allows you and your team to give back to those who need help most, while simultaneously showcasing your commitment to improving the overall oral health of your town.

The best part? It doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, community outreach initiatives can be an incredibly cost-effective way to make a positive impact on your community. By demonstrating your genuine care for the well-being of those around you, you can establish yourself as a trusted and valued member of the community.

Think about it: How much of an impact would it have on your practice if you could develop that trust long before your patients sat in the treatment chair? And what if you could do that on top of giving back to your community (and getting your practice a little attention for it, as well)?

Don’t miss out on the multitude of benefits that community outreach can bring to your dental practice! Failing to incorporate it into your overall marketing strategy could leave significant untapped potential on the table, including increased patient engagement, improved reputation and a broader reach in your local community.

In this article, I’ll share five community outreach tips you can implement today.

1 Find opportunities— strategically.
How can you determine the best opportunities to make an impact in your community and attract the type of patients you want? One strategy is to start by looking at your team’s passions, memberships and hobbies outside of work.

Perhaps someone on your team has a child involved in sports, or someone is a member of a local club or organization with a sizable following. If you tap into these existing networks, you can quickly expand your reach and make a meaningful difference in the lives of those around you. On the other hand, you need to find out what your ideal patients enjoy doing as well: Your staff could enjoy TikTok parties but your ideal patient could be into museum fundraisers. Play toward psychographic reports.

If your ideal patient is the museum fundraiser type, you and your team should attend that fundraiser for networking purposes. Ask to have brochures, flyers or practice information placed at the event for attendees to take home. If there are goodie bags for attendees, add a branded promotional item with your contact information in the bags. Find out if you can provide a social media video about how excited you are to sponsor the event and what it means to you to be included; post the same video in your own social media channels. Find out also if you can speak at the event, or even have a table set up where your team members can hand out information and welcome attendees.

But you don’t have to stop there! Google can be a powerful ally in identifying other potential outreach opportunities in your area. Are there schools nearby? What about retirement communities, banks or large businesses that offer employees dental insurance? Also, find out what your ideal patients enjoy doing when they’re not getting their teeth cleaned. The best way to find out: Ask them directly. Are they cinema aficionados? What’s their favorite movie theater?

Is your office near a lot of sit-down restaurants with servers? Purchase branded pens, a Mason jar, hard candies, ribbon and business cards. Put together a nice presentation by adding the pens and candy in the jar, tie a ribbon around the top and attach business cards to the ribbon. Have a team member drop this off at the restaurants for the staff; chances are they’ll use the pens and give them to customers to sign their checks, when they can see your business name. Are patients hitting the golf course often? If so, which courses are their favorites? Sponsor a beverage or snack station at an event and have fun golf promo items to hand out. Have fun and engage with the golfers at a sponsored hole.

2 Engage your team.
To build a successful community outreach program takes a village—or in this case, your team. But in which ways can you ensure everyone works to their strengths, and works together in a way that the outreach efforts feel more like team building than work?

One strategy is to understand each team member’s unique talents and interests, and assign duties accordingly. Maybe you have a social butterfly on your team who loves to attend events and meet new people. Or perhaps you employ a numbers whiz who can manage inventory and costs with ease. When you tap into the individual strengths of your team members, you can create a cohesive and effective outreach team.

But why stop there? Outdoor activities like citywide cleanup campaigns and food drives not only benefit your community but also strengthen your team’s relationships. Why not volunteer for other team-building events such as bingo nights at your local retirement community? And if you offer dental-related prizes for the winners, you aid your community, create stronger bonds within your team and effectively market your practice.

3 Be cost-effective.
Tips When Visiting Businesses
When introducing your dental practice to nearby businesses, here are a few tips to remember:
  • Keep it short and simple.
  • Always try to get a business card. Note whom you spoke with and anything else helpful, so you can include that information on the tracking sheet.
  • If you visit a business that doesn’t offer dental benefits, highlight membership plans and financing.
Introduce yourself: “Hi! My name is [name] and I work with [name of dental office], located at [address]. I am visiting businesses today, dropping off these goodies with offers and information on our office. [Mention a few benefits of the office.] We are accepting new patients and offer benefits such as same-day crowns and flexible scheduling. Would you mind sharing this with your co-workers? I am happy to drop off more items if needed. Thank you!”

Community marketing doesn’t have to break the bank. By buying items in bulk from stores such as Amazon, Costco and Walmart, you can save time and money. The keys are to build awareness for your practice, allow potential patients to get to know you and invest in effectively positioning your brand. Don’t spend a dime on a single resource that doesn’t explain to people in your community how to reach and locate you (keychains, hand sanitizers, lip balm, stress balls, etc.).

Baskets and bags are great to assemble to blitz the area. Have the social butterfly in your office visit businesses and drop off goodies to start building relationships.

4 Be time-effective.
Time is always a concern, but with effective time management, it’s possible to make community outreach a part of your team’s daily routine.

Whenever there’s downtime, ask your team to assemble bags or baskets, review inventory or follow up on opportunities. It certainly beats watching them scroll on their phones! If your team has blocks of free time, have them deliver those bags or baskets to local businesses.

  • If your practice is starting out and you want to build a larger presence in the community, I recommend blitzing any business you can. The goal is to build awareness. [Editor’s note: For more details, see the “Tips When Visiting Businesses” sidebar.]
  • A more established practice can be more selective: Provide baskets to local banks and try to schedule lunch-and-learns with larger businesses that offer employees in-network dental insurance. If the office is big on cosmetic dentistry, target nail salons, hairstylists and spas.

5 Track your efforts.

It’s important to track your outreach efforts so you can measure your return on investment. Create referral sources in your practice management software and ensure the team is attaching the correct referral source to every new patient. Use a tracking sheet to outline your outreach efforts, noting:
  • Day/time.
  • Business name.
  • Contact name.
  • Team member name.
  • Notes.
  • Action items.
It takes time to build trust, and you might not see traction on the first or second attempts. Don’t let this stop you from being consistent and active in your community! You and your team should commit to no fewer than two community events per year. Once you start to see results, you’ll be surprised at how quickly it can increase referrals to your practice.


Everything listed in this article is just the tip of the iceberg. There are certainly differences between different community support levels, but the main goals of them all are branding visibility and relationship building. There is no true formula for success, except to make community support and outreach a team effort that everyone can get on board with and become passionate about.

Community outreach should not feel like a chore and doesn’t need to break the bank. It’s an opportunity to make an impact in your community and raise brand awareness.

Focus on what you and your team members care most about and build on that foundation, but also ensure you choose outreach tactics your ideal patients would most likely engage with.

Author Bio
Flint Geier Melissa Lowry, who has 15 years of experience in marketing, is a marketing consultant and team development coach with dental consulting and marketing firm Productive Dentist Academy. Email:
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