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Q&A: ‘Every dentist should have an Internet presence’

August 08, 2014 Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of articles about Internet marketing that features interviews with ADA members to describe how PBHS, the website and marketing services provider endorsed by ADA Business Resources, is helping dentists address today’s marketing challenges.

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Dr. Ricky Farmer, of Somerset, Kentucky, has been practicing for 11 years.

Over the past decade, Dr. Farmer’s new patient growth strategy has evolved with the help of PBHS, the website and marketing services provider endorsed by ADA Business Resources. To view his practice’s website, visit

Q: Remember not too long ago when all dentists had to do to market themselves was put an ad in the Yellow Pages? Dentists are now challenged with managing an online presence and a brand. Tell us how you have developed your marketing strategy and vision for your practice.

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Dr. Farmer
A:  I used to have a Yellow Page ad, and this is my first year without one. In my opinion, every dentist should have an Internet presence. Dentists who don’t have a website are communicating a lot about their commitment to technology and service, and I believe it can really turn patients off. A Web presence has to be accessible and attractive. Back in 2003 we had a very simple website, really just a landing page. The plan was to develop that further, and I knew I wanted to do more on so many levels. I did a lot of research on Web design, and I chose to work with PBHS based on the dental specific content they could offer me, specifically the videos. They know the industry better than anyone. As soon as I signed on, my website went from almost nothing to state-of-the-art.

Q: How does your website add value to the service you provide to your patients?

A: We strive for a patient base that is well-informed, so patient education is our greatest tool. The quality of my service won’t be understood if I don’t educate my patients. So we use our website on a daily basis.  We have a flat screen in every operatory, and I usually pull it up while the patient is in the chair. On our website there is a patient aesthetic module that shows, for instance, options on replacements for a tooth. The videos are a wonderful tool to explain procedures. We also refer patients to our website for follow up questions, but I still believe in the personal touch of a follow up phone call after a procedure.

Q: Do you engage with your patients with social media, and how effective do you find it for your practice?

A: My patient base is definitely using social media, so that’s where I need to be. PBHS has handled every bit of our social media platform, so they update our Facebook page and our blog. I have the capacity to go in and make changes to the social media update schedule if I want to, but I have the luxury of practicing the art of dentistry while the experts are doing outstanding work on our social media platform. I realize that I have a higher comfort level with technology, and some dentists feel that social media is a big mystery. With PBHS I’m in constant contact with the social media team. I’ll get periodic emails and I’ll check the statistics on what’s working and what’s not. They’ll send me a proposed schedule so we can set up goals if I want to target something in particular, and we both work to keep everything fresh. They keep me current on everything so I can breathe easy. The power of this is exponential.

Q: Tell us more about the investment you’ve made and how you track returns on practice marketing.

A: Everyone should be asking whether marketing can be done more affordably. If I were to look at the annual investment in PBHS, it would look like a lot of money. But I track everything, and I see the power of what that investment delivers. For example, if I were to do a $200 color ad, such as 1/8 of a page that would run one time, I don’t have hard ways to track that. But I know that a $200 ad on Facebook is seen by 48,000 people. We are averaging 30 new patients a month, and we are in a small town in Kentucky. So our investment in marketing services with PBHS is really paying off.

Q: What’s next for you and your practice?

A: I don’t know where the future is, or where Google or Bing are headed. If something changes, I’ll get a call or email about it from PBHS. The greatest thing is that the more they succeed the more I succeed. You can find anyone to build a website but I haven’t been able to find a company that does everything that PBHS does. They know my practice, they are as much a part of my team as everyone on my staff, and they’ve exceeded my expectations on every level.