What the Auto Industry Can Teach You About Marketing Dental Implants

September 20, 2018

During the 1995 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting, an audience member asked Warren Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger whether they would ever consider starting a business school.

After saying they weren’t interested, Buffett emphasized that he believed he could “learn a lot from other people.” “In fact,” he continued, “if you learn reasonably well from other people, you don’t have to get any new ideas or do much on your own. You can just apply the best of what you see.”

At Driven Dental Marketing, we work hard to find the best clinical training, marketing strategies, and team training available for dentists. We don’t limit our searches to the dental industry, either, at least when it comes to marketing and team training.

Many times, we find strategies from other industries that can help our clients, including these lessons from the auto industry. Understanding how car companies sell cars can help you market and close more implant cases more effectively.

Structure your dental implant pricing like you're a car company.

In both the auto industry and with dental implants, the vast majority of customers can’t afford to pay cash in full. Car companies know this and focus their marketing on monthly payments for leases and financing deals. You need to look at the fine print to find even a manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

Dentists can learn a lot about that and highlight monthly payment deals for implants. If you advertise dental implants starting at $3,500, patients may decide they can live with their missing tooth. They likely won’t care much about the bigger health impact of missing teeth or the many benefits of dental implants beyond filling in an empty space.

Instead, consider focusing your marketing on what smaller monthly payments you can offer patients. You’ll likely get much better results and help a lot more people. For smart ways to offer dental implant financing, listen to our interview with Dr. Bruce Baird of Compassionate Finance.

Understanding your ideal patient is critical to marketing success.

The most successful marketing campaigns don’t start with ads. They start with understanding. They start with research. The most successful companies place ads only after learning what their ideal customers really want, how and when they buy, and what their biggest objections are.

Car companies do this better than most. They know what people want at different times of the year, with different types of cars, and during different seasons of life. They then craft promotions, create ads, and make ad placement decisions based on each of these. That’s why you see minivan ads promoting weekend trips to the beach in May and packing the van full of sports equipment in the fall. That’s also why you see minivan ads in parenting magazines. Every marketing campaign promoted by a car company is carefully planned to speak to the largest number of ideal buyers as possible.

Understanding dental implant patients at the level car companies understand their customers can help you achieve similar success. For example, we know one thing the vast majority of dental implant patients do before choosing a dentist is search Google. We also know that they search for various teeth replacement solutions when they search Google, are sensitive to monthly payments, and would likely choose dental implants over dentures or other less-than-ideal solutions if they could fit dental implants into their budgets.

Thus, the most successful dental implant marketing campaigns are ones targeting people searching for teeth replacement options, highlighting the lifestyle benefits of dental implants, and promoting ways to fit implants into any budget.

These types of ads will only be shown to people looking for teeth replacement solutions, similar to car companies placing minivan ads on shows parents watch. They’ll address the biggest obstacle to patients getting implants (and buying cars), the payment amount. And they’ll feature the many benefits of the implants, which is really what patients care about anyhow. Which brings us to the next point…

Sell the benefits, not the implants.

Car manufacturers don’t sell cars; they sell the benefits their ideal clients want. To consumers, cars are more about their desired lifestyle than a mode of transportation. Thus, with minivans, manufacturers base marketing around cargo room and safety. Those are things that fit the desired lifestyle of minivan drivers who stuff their vehicles with kids, pets, groceries, and sports equipment. With sports cars, manufacturers market speed, performance, and handling. With pickup trucks, they market ruggedness and payload capacity.

With implants, use what you know about why people actually want implants to craft your marketing messages. People don’t want dental implants. They want to toss their dentures. They want to smile confidently again. They want to eat whatever they want. They want to get raises and promotions at work.

Highlight those things in your messaging. You’ll get more people’s attention and make your ad more about the lifestyle they want than the dental implants, which are only the tool they need to achieve what they really want. That will get you more dental implant patients, and at a lower cost.

You might not be selling cars but you can learn a lot from those who do.

Car companies get to know their customers, why they buy, and what keeps them from buying before creating their marketing campaigns. They then match their marketing to their customer’s buying process to get the best return on their marketing dollars. This sets themselves up for success before each marketing campaign even begins.

While you’re not selling cars, you can set yourself up to sell more dental implants by following the same process. Understand what matters most to implant patients. Get to know why they buy and how implants fit into their lifestyle and even become part of their personal identity. Create your ads based on the benefits they want when getting implants. Then get your ads in front of people where and when they search for teeth implant solutions.

That will put you in the driver’s seat with your dental implant marketing.


Stop chasing unqualified leads and wasting your valuable chairtime. Learn how to fill your operatories with patients who are pre-qualified and serious about moving forward with your high-value treatment.

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Stop chasing unqualified leads and wasting your valuable chairtime. Learn how to fill your operatories with patients who are pre-qualified and serious about moving forward with your high-value treatment.