Everything You Need to Know About Market Segmentation

Have you ever thought about your typical patient? Probably not, because there are no typical patients in dentistry. The people you treat come from every demographic and transcend almost all age brackets, income and education levels, races, and even religious affiliations.

And that’s just one of the reasons marketing a dental practice is unique—you need to market to everyone. You aren’t a clothing store catering only to teenage girls and the people who shop for them, or a hunting outfitter marketing primarily to adult men who enjoy the outdoors. Your promotional efforts should be aimed at the general population because every human being needs dental care.

But that doesn’t mean you can take a generic, mass-market approach to your advertising and still grow your patient list. You need to evaluate your existing patients to identify segments within your clients. Only then can you tailor specific marketing efforts to particular groups, maximizing their conversion and earnings potential.

What’s Market Segmentation?

Market segmentation is the process of evaluating your patients’ demographic, geographic, and behavioral metrics with the purpose of categorizing your customers into sub-groups. The process starts with identifying your market.

Ask yourself, who wants and needs your products and services? As we’ve already discussed, in dentistry, just about everyone needs your products and services. But here’s where you should shift your thinking to consider who wants to or is willing to visit your practice.

In the U.S., 85% of people acknowledge that oral health is important,1 but 42% report not visiting the dentist as much as they would like to. Dental fear, affecting one in five Americans, certainly plays a role. But still, only three out of five people visit the dentist once a year. And an even smaller amount have a checkup twice a year as recommended by the American Dental Association.

Your market is out there and clearly, there is potential to reach new people and gain additional patients. Market segmentation is a helpful, effective tool to focus your advertising and grow your practice.

Why Should I Use Market Segmentation?

There’s a common misconception that market segmentation doesn’t work for medical practices. But that’s not true. Categorizing your patients and targeting your promotions accordingly will give you the same advantages that apply to other businesses. There are two main reasons why.

You’ll Secure a Competitive Edge

Although a well-known advertising strategy in many business sectors, market segmentation isn’t as popular in dentistry and other types of medicine. Like many dentists, you may have fallen into the trap of believing that because people need you, they’ll just show up at your door. This thinking leads to a shocking 22% of dentists spending less than $500 per month2 on marketing.

We know you didn’t put in all those years of difficult schooling to become a marketer. You just want to be a dentist! But you don’t have to make this mistake in your practice. If you take the time to categorize your audience before developing your advertising strategy, you’ll actually get to practice dentistry on many more patients. Because there’s a good chance your competition isn’t even marketing at all.

You’ll Increase Your Promotional Reach

When you segment your market, you identify the more important parts of your audience. Create a few test campaigns advertising to the individual segments and see how quickly your reach and effectiveness increase.

Market segmentation allows you to take identical products and services and promote them to vastly different groups of people. Think about it this way: you wouldn’t expect a teenage girl and a middle-aged man to respond to the same types of advertising, but both of these people (and the groups they represent) need dental care.

When you personalize your patients and tailor promotional styles to specific audiences, your marketing has greater value and ultimately converts more patients.

How Do I Classify my Patients?

There are a few different methods for classifying your audience. Let’s look deeper at the most popular.


When you think about classifying your patients, demographics is probably what comes to mind first. This is a popular approach to market segmentation, and there’s a reason why. It works!

A few metrics to consider when segmenting your market by demographics are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Education
  • Income level
  • Profession
  • Race
  • Religious affiliation


Different geographic areas, even within the same county, can have vastly different characteristics. Keeping those characteristics in mind when using geography to segment your promotions yields powerful results.

And the great news is you already have all the information you need to classify your patients geographically. Here are a few ways to look at location:

  • County
  • Municipality
  • School district
  • Town
  • Zip code

Personality and Interests

You’re probably not collecting information about your patients’ personalities and interests, but you should be. When you understand what your patients like and don’t like, you start understanding what motivates them. And when you know their motivations, you can develop dynamic marketing campaigns for specific personalities.

Add a personality and interests question to your new patient forms and optional patient surveys and ask staff to note relevant conversations in your patient management system. Focus on:

  • Hobbies
  • Goals
  • Lifestyle
  • Personality traits
  • Values
  • Beliefs

What’s Next?

Once you’ve defined the segments within your market, tailor your marketing tactics and how you use them to specific parts of your audience.

But don’t get too precise! Successful market segmentation is a balancing act between reach and specificity. Only segment when that particular part of your market affords you a great deal of reach. You don’t want to create promotional materials only five people will respond to.

If you need help with segmenting your market, Dreamscape Marketing is here for you. Our team of dedicated marketing professionals knows the dental industry and has the knowledge and expertise to segment your market effectively. Contact us today at 888.307.7304 or by clicking here to get started.


  1. ADA News Survey: More Americans want to visit the dentist
  2. The Wealthy Dentist: 22% of Dentists Spend Over 5k a Month on Dental Marketing