4 Ways a Roadside Attraction Can Benefit Your City or Town

With the lasting effects of the pandemic on the tourism industry, it is more important than ever to find ways to attract visitors to your town. However, competing with big cities and their many venues of entertainment can make it difficult to keep up.

But what if there was a way to draw in tourists and locals alike? What if you could create something that would make people want to seek out your town? What if you could get on the map?

There is a way, and that is by creating and promoting a roadside attraction! Have you seen the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation? If you have, then you remember Chevy Chase promising his family that they will soon see the world’s second-largest ball of twine. The movie is fiction, but roadside attractions like that are real and do in fact increase tourism.

An attraction can be something like a “World’s Largest…”, a historic site, or a photo op for families to pose with.

By having a roadside attraction within your town, you are creating a focal point for your town’s marketing efforts. A roadside attraction can create buzz around your city, improve your online platform’s performance, develop your town’s economy, and solidify your town’s identity amongst the people.

4 Reasons Why You Should Have a Roadside Attraction in Your Town

1. Attractions Create Buzz and Conversations That Increase Tourism

Having a roadside attraction gives a reason for tourists to not miss your town.

With tourists already on the road and wanting to venture through the country, a roadside attraction can be another destination they’ll add to the list of places to stop. How often can one say they’ve seen a 40ft gorilla, a giant pierogi, or the “World’s Largest Wagon Wheel and Pick Axe”? These are just a few examples of large-scale landmarks that can be found across America.

Giant pines cones at the center of town.

If you’re curious to see more examples of large-scale landmarks created by IDS, click here.

Hearing about these unique landmarks can create buzz and entice tourists to stop by your town. Not to mention that you are providing your tourists with a unique conversation starter that they can share with family, friends, or even other travelers on their journey. This word of mouth can create organic traffic for travelers to come to visit your town, and once they do, you’ll be able to showcase the local businesses and culture that your town is known for.

By having a roadside attraction, you are also giving opportunity for your town’s economy to grow, more on that later.

Bonus Tip: Get Listed in Directories

There are directories, from Wikipedia to travel websites, that list must-see attractions, including those places with “The World’s Largest” sculptures that make it easy for travelers to plan road trips. Making sure your community is listed on these directories is an easy way to get attention.

2. Attractions Create an Organic Social Media Tool for Your Town

Nowadays, posting on social media is key to growing awareness for anything, whether it be businesses, people, cities, or towns. Having a unique landmark that can only be found in your area can provide a memorable photo opportunity for tourists to use and post on social media. This in turn can become an organic way for your town to market itself and grow its online presence. You can even encourage visitors to use a hashtag to help keep track of any photos posted on social media.

Think of the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building. You most likely didn’t have to google where you can find those landmarks because their symbol is so closely tied to that city. Especially with today’s social media climate, all it takes is one photo of your attraction to go viral and draw the attention of potential visitors.

If you’re really eager about how to maximize the photo potential of your roadside attraction, you can provide fun, personalized photos of your tourists when they come to visit your location – think of photos that they provide at theme parks, national parks, and gift shops.

Family posing in the grip of a giant gorilla photo opportunity character.

3. Attractions Help Develop Your Town’s Economy

As mentioned earlier, having a roadside attraction can help boost your town’s economy. An influx of tourism means an influx of money into your local economy.

A landmark acts as a stepping stone for your town. Drawing people into your community helps to share the spotlight from the attraction to local businesses. Hidden gems can be found in many communities and having an attraction can help uncover them. Travelers will be spending money on food, lodging, souvenirs, and attractions while they visit your town.

Check out this great example of photo op bench characters. This pair of dating dinosaurs in downtown Drumheller, Alberta (known as Gus and his girlfriend to locals) are located at 2 separate bus stops on opposite ends of the street, prompting visitors to take a stroll through the main street and see all the other stores and restaurants along the way.

Beyond increasing the activity at local businesses, the attraction itself can create job opportunities for local residents, from management and maintenance to customer service and sales positions.

If you want to take your town’s development one step further, you can provide memorabilia based around your landmark. Think of keychains, magnets, t-shirts, hats, and more. The possibilities are endless. Your landmark will be a feature that can’t be found anywhere else, tourists will love to take a little memento back home or to give to a loved one.

The world’s largest dinosaur has been an iconic feature of Alberta since 1999.

Seeing this landmark not only in its main location but throughout your town can help build and solidify your town’s identity.

4. Attractions Solidify Your Town’s Identity and Boosts Community Pride

We’ve talked a lot about the marketing and economic potential that having a roadside attraction can provide, but a roadside attraction can also benefit the individual members of your community as well. This is because your landmark can become a unifying symbol that represents your town.

It’s easy for people living in small towns or rural areas to feel disconnected from the rest of the world; having a unique piece of art or landmark can give them something tangible that they can point to with pride and say “This is ours!” As word spreads about your town’s one-of-a-kind creation, more and more locals may flock to check it out as well —especially if it’s free!

The local 4H club posing with their community’s attraction.
Even pets can get in on the action.

You may be worried about how to decide on a piece for your town, a simple solution would be to provide a public survey of what your citizens want to be represented with and go with the majority. Having a brand new attraction for your town can help jumpstart excitement within the community and become a talking point for social events and gatherings.

Are You Ready to Boost Your Tourism Power with a Roadside Attraction?

Roadside attractions have been around for decades but have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their ability to attract tourists from near and far. Investing in one could potentially bring numerous benefits to your town including increased tourism, economic development, social media growth, and community pride.

Why not give people a reason to seek you out? Give them an adventure by creating a giant sculpture or artwork as a roadside attraction!

One of our Creative Consultants would love to help. Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started creating your special attraction.

If you thought this article was interesting, watch this incredible landmark whale sculpture come to life in Texas:



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The Secret to Attracting Young Families to Your Shopping Center

6 Types of Roadside Attractions That Will Get You Noticed

Recession-proofing Your Dental Business Marketing Strategy in 2023

The Secret to Attracting Young Families to Your Shopping Center

How do you attract families with children to your mall when online shopping and services like Skip the Dishes make it so easy to stay home? You need to make your mall a destination for young families! The secret ingredient to attracting families is adding a fun indoor play area to your mall.

Play areas are not just fun for kids; they have a number of benefits that can help extend the length of shopping trips, increase foot traffic into your mall, and enhance customer satisfaction. From boosting sales to drawing in new shoppers, the advantages of investing in play areas are clear.

Continue to read on and find out how this one addition can make an impact at your mall!

Play Areas Ensure Your Mall Provides Entertainment for Shoppers of All Ages

Not every kid loves going to the mall to buy new shoes for school or watch mom and dad look at new phone cases. Nothing will ruin a shopping trip faster than a grumpy, fussy child who wants to go home.

Adding a play area can help keep kids entertained during shopping trips, making for a more pleasant and stress-free shopping experience for the whole family. Play areas can range from simple activity rooms full of toys and books to indoor playgrounds featuring slides, tunnels, and mazes. Whether a family is looking for a quiet video game or an energy-burning run-around, they’re sure to find something enjoyable for their little ones.

A stand-alone play structure.
A walled-in activity area.
A room filled with activities for children.

By creating welcoming spaces for children, families can spend more time in your establishment and potentially even make additional purchases. Furthermore, creating a positive experience for families can lead to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth recommendations, ultimately boosting your business’s reputation and success. Incorporating a play area can transform an ordinary shopping trip into a fun-filled family outing that everyone can look forward to.

Kids will ask to come back again and stay longer!

Mall Play Areas Create Convenience for Your Shoppers

One of the most significant advantages of mall play areas is the convenience they offer to busy parents. By providing a one-stop shop for all their shopping needs, including clothing, food, toys, and entertainment for their kids, parents can easily tackle their to-do list without having to leave the mall.

Additionally, mall play areas provide an opportunity for families to capture precious memories with adorable photo ops of their happy children playing and having fun. This added convenience and entertainment can make a day out at the mall a memorable and enjoyable experience for the whole family.

By creating a space that caters to the needs of busy families, businesses can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty, which can lead to increased sales and success.


Indoor Play Areas Aren’t Weather Dependant

Too cold to play outside? Too rainy and mucky to go to a playground? Too hot and muggy to run around? No problem!

When outdoor conditions are less than ideal, an indoor play area at the mall can be a savior for parents looking for a fun and safe place for their children to burn off some energy.

An indoor playground not only provides parents with a much-needed break from the confines of their homes during inclement weather, but it can also serve as a unique draw to attract families to your facility during times when they may not have initially planned to visit the mall. By offering an enjoyable and safe environment for children to play, businesses can entice families to spend more time and money at their facility while simultaneously providing a valuable service that addresses the needs of busy parents.

This added incentive can help increase foot traffic, generate buzz, and ultimately lead to increased customer loyalty and revenue. Speaking of foot traffic…

Mall Play Areas Increase Foot Traffic Throughout Your Shopping Center

Play areas in malls are becoming increasingly popular as a way to draw in more foot traffic, while also providing families with an enjoyable shopping experience. These exciting destinations can create lasting family memories as well as boost sales at the mall when parents decide to treat their children afterward.

With many large shopping centers focusing on creating cohesive entertainment districts, having play spaces is a great way to appeal to customers of all ages. Play areas are also a great solution for parents looking for ways to manage their children’s energy levels during long shopping trips.

With a fun place for kids to stretch their legs, the whole family can shop together in comfort and convenience. Play areas are thus beneficial for both malls and shoppers – providing an efficient way for malls to increase foot traffic and stimulate more sales.

Play Areas Opportunities for Family Events

A dedicated kids’ area in a mall presents a unique opportunity to create special family events centered around the space. From grand opening parties to special family day events featuring mascots and guest speakers, the possibilities for planning and promoting engaging family-friendly events are endless. By leveraging the appeal of the kids’ area, businesses can create a fun and welcoming atmosphere that encourages families to spend more time and money at their facility.

Anna and Elsa are special guests in this woodland play area.

These special events can be a great way to build brand awareness, generate positive word-of-mouth, and foster a sense of community among shoppers. Ultimately, by incorporating special family day events into their marketing strategy, businesses can attract and retain loyal customers while providing an unforgettable experience for families.

Mall Play Areas Help Build Your Shopping Center’s Brand

Shopping centers could significantly enhance their positive branding by creating indoor play areas. Play areas, including special activity rooms with bead puzzle tables for toddlers and indoor playgrounds with slides for older kids, promote a safe, fun, family-friendly atmosphere. The presence of a child-centric play area can also attract businesses catering to families, who are more likely to rent space adjacent to such a facility. By offering a comprehensive and family-friendly shopping experience, malls with play areas can differentiate themselves from competitors and establish themselves as a go-to destination for families and like-minded businesses.

Not only this, but those adorable photos that parents take of their children playing and having a good time are amazing organic marketing on their own. Branded photo ops and mall signage included in play areas can appear across social media as parents share their day with family and friends.

Mother taking a photo of daughter in a divers suit themed photo opportunity.
Mall logo visible on an airplane play structure.

Play Areas Create a Sense of Community

Play areas in malls offer an optimistic way to build community and strengthen local relationships between shoppers. Parents, particularly those who work remotely or dedicate themselves to raising their children at home, may experience feelings of confinement due to isolation and a sense of being overwhelmed by the constant need to keep their children entertained.

Time to get out of the house…

Having a safe and reliable location where they can plan get-togethers with their friends to have a coffee while watching their kids play together can be a great escape from the routine. Play areas are great spaces for families and friends to connect and come together.

Furthermore, the presence of play areas within shopping centers can prove advantageous to mall management as it offers community members a desirable activity to anticipate while shopping, resulting in unparalleled engagement and patron loyalty. An essential element of stimulation can be incorporated into your guest experience beyond the conventional shopping experience, allowing for enhanced social interaction amidst the everyday commotion of retail consumerism.

Play Areas Provide Educational Opportunities

Play areas are not just a fun outing for families and their children, they can also be a great way to provide learning opportunities. Both the mall and parents can play a very important role in providing educational experiences within the safety of an indoor playground or activity room at a local shopping center.

Play areas can help children develop problem-solving strategies, develop social awareness and communication skills, recognize cause-and-effect relationships, build self-esteem and confidence, as well as learn conflict-resolution techniques. Not to mention the impact on physical development. Parents will love to take advantage of these educational opportunities to provide an engaging and fun experience for their children while taking part in family outings.

The Secret is Out

Whether it be by creating entertaining and educational experiences for young visitors or providing the opportunity to shop for both parents and businesses, having an indoor playground is a great way to attract families to your shopping center.

All patrons of your mall can reap the benefits of having a play area. Parents, business owners, mall investors, and many others all have the potential to have a positive experience simply by implementing an indoor play environment.

Interested in building a play area for your space? Click here to take your first step toward a great decision.

Want some more inspiration for creating a play area in your shopping center? Check out this great list with tips for building the perfect indoor play area.



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What to Include in Your Perfect Indoor Family Play Area

Tips for Creating a Presentation Area in Your Children’s Library

4 Ways a Roadside Attraction Can Benefit Your City or Town

6 Types of Roadside Attractions That Will Get You Noticed

Having unique roadside attractions and landmarks can be a simple solution to support your town’s marketing efforts, but how does one decide what to create as their main piece? After all, with the investment going into this project, you want to make sure it’s not only a unique piece that stands out but one that resonates with your community.

Luckily, there are lots of different types of attractions to pick from to help inspire your decision. From giant sculptures to highlighting natural wonders, this list can help show the benefits of each type and make you one step closer to getting your town on the map.

Let’s check out the varying types of attractions that your town may be interested in creating.

1. Giant Statues and Sculptures

Giant, larger-than-life statues can be an eye-catching and noticeable choice to attract tourists to visit your community. These sculptures can be anything from animals to people to plants and objects that are related to or can be found within your community.

Giant pines cones at the center of a town.

Creating a giant sculpture that represents your community can enhance its identity and provide a focal point for its values. Whether your town has a strong connection to an industry such as mining or forestry, local flora & fauna, cultural heritage, or historical figure, a sculpture that embodies these elements can promote local pride and draw visitors to explore your town’s unique character.

For example, imagine creating a larger-than-life sculpture of the majestic Bald Eagle, which is the national bird of the United States and can be found in many states. This iconic bird of prey symbolizes freedom, strength, and independence, making it a perfect inspiration for a landmark sculpture that embodies a town’s spirit. The landmark sculpture could be designed to be educational as well. Visitors could learn about the history and significance of the Bald Eagle, as well as the importance of preserving its habitat and the natural environment.

Large, exterior walrus sculpture on the roof top of a pediatric dental office.
Large, exterior walrus sculpture.

They are a great boost for local businesses as well. For example, dinosaurs have become a beloved symbol that captures our fascination with prehistoric times, and are an obvious choice for a giant landmark owing to their larger-than-life stature. Any region that is rich in prehistoric features can leverage this popular attraction by installing a giant dinosaur landmark that is sure to captivate tourists, leading them to explore local museums, fossil shops, and dino-themed restaurants.

Exterior shot of business with a giant red and blue dinosaur landmark character on the roof.

Having a giant version of an item you least expect can be a unique way to entice travelers to take a rest stop in your town. A simple “Have you seen the giant potato peeler?” can be an easy and simple conversation starter that can lead back to you and your community.

Overall, a giant sculpture that represents the local community can be an excellent way to amplify and grow the town’s identity while serving as a focal point for the community’s values and history. By highlighting the unique aspects of the town or region, it can also help to attract visitors who are interested in learning more about the area’s culture, heritage, and industry.

2. Natural Wonders

Naturally occurring roadside attractions can be a fascinating sight for travelers and tourists alike. These attractions are often created by natural forces over thousands or even millions of years, and can provide a glimpse into the history and geology of the surrounding area.

Some of the most popular naturally occurring roadside attractions include giant redwood trees, impressive rock formations, and stunning waterfalls. These natural wonders can provide a unique and memorable experience for visitors, and can even inspire a sense of awe and wonder.

The Grand Canyon

Perhaps you have a natural wonder close to your community and you want to emphasize its importance in a more interactive way. Having a 3D sculpture that pays homage to your natural surrounding can be a great way to provide the bigger picture in a single space. This can make for great photo ops for family and friends when they come to visit your location.

3. Historical Sites

Many roadside attractions are dedicated to preserving and showcasing the history of a particular area or topic. These attractions can range from small, local museums to larger historical sites that draw visitors from across the country. Some examples of these types of attractions include historic battlefields, pioneer settlements, and museums that focus on local industries or cultural traditions.

The World’s Largest Wagon Wheel and Pick Axe is located in the Fort Assiniboine National Historic Site.

Similar to natural wonders, using giant sculptures can help emphasize the meaning behind historical sites and build on the importance of that site. Oftentimes, historical sites utilize past images to showcase the events of that era. These photos can often be small or only provide a small portion of the actual event.

Using a large-scale sculpture can help immerse your visitors to see the intensity of the many details that history may have. Perhaps your location is next to a well-known historic battle, you could use large-scale sculptures to create a 3D landscape of what that battle may have entailed. Maybe your historical site involves a prominent figure that made a difference within your community or within history, having a large-scale sculpture of that figure can help focus the importance of that historical person.

All these ideas give your visitors a unique and memorable experience that they’ll be able to share with future visitors for years to come.

4. Museums and Curiosities

Museums can be historical in nature, but can also focus on science, art, or just a day of discovery.

Exterior shot of the Hollywood Wax Museum.
Hollywood Wax Museum featuring the World’s Largest Gorilla at 40ft tall.

If your business is out of the ordinary and takes its guests through a journey outside of the box of regular life, using a roadside attraction can be a great way to gauge curiosity towards your business. Museums, optical illusion exhibits, science centers, and other outside-the-box businesses can benefit from outside-the-box attractions. An upscale exterior design can entice or give visitors a hint at what your business is all about.

A great example of this is the business WonderWorks, in which its building is literally flipped on its head.

Exterior shop of Wonderworks Musuem themed and cladded to look like an upside-down building.
Wonderworks Museum with entertainment center focused on science exhibits.

WonderWorks is an indoor amusement park that combines both education and entertainment through its exhibits. Having a unique exterior design both turns heads and causes curiosity as to what hidden treasures that building may contain. WonderWorks also knows that its exterior generates curiosity and that they’ve gone “big” to build a story about its unique origin. By doing this, they build on the customer experience and branding for its company.

5. Amusement Parks and Activities

Many roadside attractions include rides and games, such as go-karts, mini golf, and bumper boats.

Offering a small activity like a mini-golf course is a good way to encourage travelers to take a break and relax for a bit. It can even increase the length of time that tourists stay in the town. Instead of just passing through, they may choose to spend a night to play and to explore the other attractions in the town.

A game of mini golf themed around zoo animals.

6. Art Installations or Murals

Art installations and murals can be a unique way to create both a sense of community and create engagement from visitors. Having a large-scale art piece along a busy roadway can quickly enhance what your town or city is all about and give a focal point for guests to see and instantly relate to. These pieces can also showcase multiple aspects of your town and flow together into one captivating piece that can educate your visitors.

Have you heard of Graffiti Alley in Toronto, Canada? This unique section within the Greater Toronto Area stretches 1000 feet and showcases large-scale graffiti pieces that have become an iconic photo opportunity for models and photographers. These sets of murals also help encapsulate the alley’s history and curiosity about how the piece came to be.

On top of this, it has created an organic focus point for tourists to visit and venture into closeby businesses. The alley can be found within the heart of the GTA and closeby to Queens Street West which has local cafes, restaurants, and stores.

Although graffiti may not be the art style that you’d prefer for your community, a large-scale art piece designed to represent your town can create opportunities to highlight your location.

What Attraction is Right for You?

Whether it’s a statue of an iconic figure, an out-of-the-ordinary exterior design, or a large-scale art piece for photo ops, having a unique roadside attraction can be to drive visitors to learn more about your community. These six different ideas will help you start the conversation and jumpstart your ideas.

Regardless of what your community decides to go with, creating an iconic landmark can become a unique staple of your community piece for years to come.



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4 Ways a Roadside Attraction Can Benefit Your City or Town

The Secret to Attracting Young Families to Your Shopping Center

Recession-proofing Your Dental Business Marketing Strategy in 2023

Recession-proofing Your Dental Business Marketing Strategy in 2023

There’s an assumption that dental practices, like grocery stores, are immune to recessions. After all, people need to eat. And they still need to take care of basic health issues.

Yet a landmark study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association confirmed what dental professionals who have been through economic downturns already know: patients put off dental appointments and oral care treatments in recessionary times.

An analysis of dental visits in the US between 2003 and 2015 by Albert Guay and Andrew Blatz revealed a noticeable decline in dentist visits during the Great Recession (December 2007- June 2009). Only 38.4% of the American population during this time visited a dentist, a remarkable decline. Visits to orthodontists among working adults aged 19+ dropped from 1.1% in 2008 to 0.7% in 2010 as the recession was ending.

With rumblings of a possible downturn on the horizon, the question is, what can dentists and orthodontists do to recession-proof their business?

Marketing is one area where there are strategic opportunities to set a practice up to succeed… through good times and bad.

We spoke with Dan Bergeron, President of Everbrave Branding Group. As an authority on dental marketing, Dan shares four suggestions for dental practice owners.

“In today’s digital age, no matter your business, you can be sure that your target customers will be doing their research online.”

According to Bergeron, a recession is an excellent time to pursue low-cost/ high-return strategies that increase your odds of being found online.

He shares a few easy wins that will improve your content – and help increase your website’s search rankings.

a. Expand your web page content:

Does your website have pages with just a paragraph of text? Did you know that web pages rank higher when they have more information than less?

The more educational information and helpful advice you share, the more Google will consider you a subject authority, which helps improve your Google ranking,” Bergeron says. It’s also important to avoid reusing or copying content from other sources. Website content should be uniquely written for your website, or at a minimum, edited to be in your brand’s tone of voice. 

Dan’s Pro Tip: “I recommend web pages have a minimum word count of 500+ words. Break longer text into shorter, easily digestible sections.

b. Add a Q&A section to your website:

When people use search engines, they’re seeking answers to their questions. Q&A sections are a smart way to draw traffic to your website. If you can provide the solutions, you’ll increase the chances of coming up in their search queries.

c. Keep new content coming:

Search engines reward sites that regularly post new information. Blogs provide a great way to achieve this. There are endless topics to choose from (like an article answering FAQs). Just be sure to keep it simple for patients to understand.

Want more tips for marketing your office? Download the free guide to learn more tips for helping with your online presence.

marketing guide download

2. Encourage patients to post online reviews.

“For years, the bulk of new business has come from patient referrals. But today, people aren’t simply asking friends and neighbors. They’re seeking recommendations from credible sources like Google Reviews,” Bergeron reveals.

“The more patients you can convince to give you a glowing review on these platforms, the better. Many of your best patients will be glad to share their positive experiences. If you want to show appreciation and encourage patients to participate, you might consider giving a small incentive… like a $5 coffee gift card.”

3. Invest in memorable patient experiences that set your practice apart.

“Whether it’s a vacation or visit to the mall, people are looking for experiences,” Bergeron says. “Businesses that do things to set themselves apart tend to thrive.”

In the dental world, he gives the example of pediatric practices that invest in creating cool, interactive spaces that put smiles on the faces of young patients.

“A lobby that creates an immersive underwater world with mermaids, pirates, and sea creatures really stands out and gets talked about. They’re good for business and a fantastic way to put patients at ease. Nowadays, we’re even seeing this approach extend into adult practices as well.”

While this approach involves a more considerable investment, Bergeron says it can provide invaluable exposure and measurable ROI. This is most often realized through a higher rate of patient referrals as well as improved retention.

While investing in a renovation may seem like a good idea when the economy is booming, Bergeron points out that when the market cools, construction costs tend to go down – contractors have less demand for their work, and materials drop in prices, making a recession is a good time to renovate and build.

“If you have available capital, a downturn is a good time to invest in the future.”

4. Turn down the pressure and focus on prevention vs. treatment.

As a dentist, you’ve worked hard to build relationships with your patients. But according to Bergeron, dentists and orthodontists should show empathy and understanding in uncertain economic times.

“People are anxious. Money is tight. If a patient feels unduly pressured into a treatment that an insurer doesn’t cover, you may risk scaring them off,” Bergeron says.

Instead, Bergeron recommends turning the conversation toward prevention strategies and sharing tips to stop the problem from getting worse.

“It shows patients that their health is your top priority and that you understand their reality. Consider it an investment in your long-term relationship – and a recession-smart business strategy for your dental practice.”

Recession-proofing a dental business involves regular brushing!

Bergeron says that recession-proofing a dental practice through enhanced marketing efforts doesn’t start with the first forecast of an economic downturn. It requires a consistent and persistent effort at every stage of your patient relationship.

“The more work you put into growing and delighting your patient base, the harder it will be for them to leave you. And the better shape you’ll be in to weather a financial storm.”

Check out these related resources for improving your marketing efforts:

Why You Should Have a Blog on Your Dental Website

How to Get Online Reviews for Your Dental Office

The Importance of a Website for Promoting Your Dental Practice

Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started transforming your office from a mundane to magical patient experience.

Want more tips for marketing your office? Download the free guide to learn more tips for helping with your online presence.

marketing guide download



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4 Ways a Roadside Attraction Can Benefit Your City or Town

The Secret to Attracting Young Families to Your Shopping Center

6 Types of Roadside Attractions That Will Get You Noticed

Considerations When Creating Your 2023 Dental Practice Marketing Budget

Wow, that year went by quickly. It’s hard to believe that 2023 is here. A new year means it’s time to start setting your marketing priorities and building out your marketing budget. But what are those with an ear-to-the-ground saying about developing a dental practice marketing budget for 2023?

Growth-driven dentists should maintain or boost marketing budgets in 2023.

In a recent article in Dentistry Today Xaña Winans, CEO and founder of Golden Proportions Marketing, suggested pressure on household budgets may result in reduced demand for elective procedures.

Yet her advice is to maintain marketing budgets and double down on ensuring patients come in for routine and restorative care. She says this will put you at an advantage – particularly if your competitors ignore this approach and instead reduce their marketing dollars.

Where are marketers investing in 2023?

Neil Patel, best-selling author and head of NP Digital, surveyed 8,032 marketers to see where they are spending their money and why. His data backs what Winans is advocating.

Here is a high-level look at some of Patel’s findings along with our take on the relevance to dental practices.

68% of marketers surveyed plan to increase their SEO budget.

Why: Patel says search engine optimization provides higher ROI than paid advertising, but does take longer to see results.

Our take: Smart thinking. More patients are searching for dentists online. The higher you rank on page 1 of search results, the more likely you are to be on their call list.

83% are increasing their content production budget.

Why: To create user content that can generate leads in multiple formats (video, print, etc.). Customers are using several channels. Marketers are following suit.

Additionally, many of those surveyed are investing in AI writing tools to help with content creation. You’re busy enough taking care of your patients, let platforms such as AISEO, Rytr, Jasper, or ChatGPT do the writing for you. AI is expected to play a larger role in marketing in general, allowing teams to create more content, faster.

Our take: Providing high-quality content that answers patient questions helps establish your domain authority. Which means you’ll rank higher in organic search. Content creation can be time-intensive but will pay off if strategically managed and well-written. Investing in AI writing tools can help reduce the workload, but AI can require serious editing and be quite simplistic.

56% will spend more on email marketing, while 38% will hold firm.

Why: Patel says increased expenditures likely account for the costs to manage growing databases, ensure privacy compliance and cover investments in email automation platforms. Those maintaining current spending are focusing on existing customers.

Our take: If inflation does lead patients to put off high-value elective procedures, it will be important to maximize checkup, hygiene, and restorative care visits. Email campaigns and automated reminders will be valuable for engaging existing customers. It can also be a valuable way to follow up with new prospects engaging with your website.

84% are increasing their community building budget.

Why: Marketers said they want to “feel in control of their destiny instead of being beholden to algorithms they can’t control.”

Our take: We strongly agree, especially for community-based dental practices. After years of being cooped up due to Covid-19, family-focused community events are returning in full force. As a dentist, sponsorships are a great opportunity to promote your local practice and show you’re engaged in the community you serve. It’s especially valuable if your dental practice’s brand and office space convey that same sense of fun and amusement.

59% will buy more Google ads, and 47% are boosting Bing.

Why: Marketers felt these channels provide high ROI compared to others.

Our take: This is a proven strategy to rank at the top of a localized search (eg. Best dentist near (your community). However, costs can add up. Keep a close eye on revenue that can be directly attributed to your ad-spend using the Google ads goal tracking features or other systems like HubSpot that tie ad-spend to revenue.

Social spending is a toss-up.

Why: There were mixed findings in the survey. Respondents said their social spending will be static or drop on most social channels. Many marketers are reducing their social spend in response to Apple’s new privacy policy. The notable B2C exception is Tik Tok, where 84% plan to increase their presence.

Our take: Social is still a great way to reach patients (especially moms of pediatric patients), so take this one with a grain of salt. Target your social channels based on your customer demographics. If you can create quirky, engaging posts, TikTok may be worth exploring.

If you put focus on social media, video content has become increasingly popular in recent years, and is expected to continue to be an important marketing tool.

Look beyond the market experts and at your competition.

What are other dental practices in your area doing to market themselves? Understanding your competition can help you allocate your budget in a way that sets you apart. As we said before, some businesses pull back on marketing and reduce their spend during uneasy economic times, but that can make them fade into the background. This could be your chance to come out ahead.

To recap, social is hitting some road bumps but is still a wealth of opportunity. Email marketing and search engine optimization are expected to continue to be important for reaching and engaging with customers. Artificial intelligence is expected to play a larger role in marketing, allowing businesses to streamline their marketing efforts. Focusing on content marketing and providing valuable, informative content can help build trust and credibility with potential customers and is likely to remain a popular marketing strategy. And getting back out into the community, meeting people face to face and creating real connections, is going to lead the way as Covid continues to become less of a concern.

If you’re unsure, talk to a dental marketing specialist.

Putting together a marketing budget can be challenging, especially in an uncertain economy (to learn more, read: How to recession-proof your practice). The consensus among marketers is to invest rather than cut back. To ensure you get it right, work with an experienced dental marketing professional. Establish priorities and set S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Sensitive).

We hope 2023 is good for you and your practice.



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4 Ways a Roadside Attraction Can Benefit Your City or Town

The Secret to Attracting Young Families to Your Shopping Center

6 Types of Roadside Attractions That Will Get You Noticed

5 Benefits of a Mascot for Pediatric Dental Offices

Before we highlight the benefits of having a mascot, let’s answer a few basic questions about mascots in general…

What is a mascot?

A brand mascot is a character that represents your company, or ‘brand‘. Companies use brand mascots as a spokesperson to promote goods and services as a part of their marketing strategy.

What can a mascot be?

A mascot can take any form you want – a human character like a superhero, an animal like a tiger, a fantasy creature like a dragon, or an anthropomorphic character like a smiling tooth. A mascot should relate to your products, community, or clientele.

How can mascots help your business?

The importance of creating an emotional connection between your services and your customer via marketing has never been more critical. Customers are much more discerning having the world at their fingertips to find and compare services before making a decision. You need to resonate with your audience and make them think of and choose you.

Emotions are produced by the same section of the brain responsible for memory and decision-making. Advertising that stimulates emotions also stimulates memory which inspires your client to make a buying decision. Advertising should not be presented with reason alone. It is assumed that dentists have a similar level of education and expertise, so how do you make your dental office stand out?

But saying a mascot helps with your marketing and attracts clients because of emotions is a broad statement. Let’s dive deeper into how this works…

5 Benefits of a Brand Mascot for Marketing Your Dental Practice

1. Mascots Increase Brand Awareness

Memory for faces is a core capacity of the human mind. Mascots are memorable because mascots have faces. Your logo or business name may slip from memory, but a character will stand out.

Quick, name a brand of frozen peas… is it Green Giant? I certainly couldn’t name a single brand of vegetable if it wasn’t for the friendly face on the label.

Green Giant

2. Mascots Create a Positive Image for Your Business

As we just said, mascots help people remember your business, but they also help them remember you in a positive light.

Your brand is the thoughts and feelings people associate with you. If you’re a pediatric dentist, the brand you want to create can be summed up as a child-friendly dental office that goes above and beyond for their comfort and care. A friendly mascot effortlessly communicates to parents that you are catering to their children’s wants and needs beyond just focusing on their teeth. You are the dentist they should choose to go to because you also are looking after their emotional and mental well-being. You go above and beyond!

Here’s a famous example of a mascot putting a business in a positive light.

Thinking about car insurance doesn’t generate warm feelings, but the soft-spoken Geico Gecko stirs up feelings of charm and relatability, and that was a big win for Geico. The company itself became relatable and a trusted place to buy insurance from. The mascot worked so well that it spawned competition from other insurance companies including the Aflac Duck and Flo from Progressive.

Geico Gecko

When kids think of the dentist they definitely don’t get warm feelings, but you can change that with a welcoming character by bringing some humor and warmth into their visit. Tell people what your brand is with a mascot. The kids will love you, the parents will appreciate your effort, and your business will grow.

3. Mascots Appeal to Kids

Mascots indicate to kids that something is made for them. Kids are used to seeing mascots on their cereal boxes, sports teams, and schools. The Nesquik Rabbit and Tony the Tiger will forever be associated with a tasty (although not good for your teeth) breakfast. Kids will feel special and welcome because your dental office is meant for them.

4. Mascots Can Assist Your Staff

We don’t mean they’ll be in the office helping to fill cavities. But they really can help.

Your staff can use your mascot as a teaching tool or as a way to break the ice with nervous patients. Create a backstory for your mascot – maybe they were once nervous while visiting the dentist, but they knew that the dental assistant, hygienist, and dentist are there to help keep their smile bright, so they were very brave and let the friendly staff look at their teeth – can they be brave like your mascot too?

Using a stuffed animal or a coloring page with your mascot to convey this backstory can help visualize this story to your patients as well and get them on board for their treatment.

5. Mascots Can Appear Across Different Media

Illustrations, sculptures, photo ops, costumes, puppets, coloring pages, animations, and more!

A mascot can be used in ways that a logo or your own name and face just can’t. A mascot becomes a simulacrum of you and your business. Creating marketing collateral becomes easier for your design team when there is a character with a personality to draw inspiration from.

Let’s look at all the ways you can utilize this great resource…

When and Where to Use Your Mascot

Incorporate your mascot into your logo.

Have a naming contest for your mascot on social media.

Use your mascot on building signage.

Exterior shot of Children's Dentistry of Lakewood Ranch.

Place a 3D sculpted photo op of your mascot in your office.

Kid posing with Cubby the photo op tiger.

Include your mascot on printed swag and shirts.

Create plush toys that look like your mascot.

Featured your character on coloring sheets for contests and prizes.

Bring your mascot to trade shows, community fairs, and educational presentations.

Include your mascot in commercials or TV interviews.

Create social media videos with tips and facts featuring your mascot.

This puppet mascot makes educational videos aimed at kids. Here kids are learning about healthy food choices.

Include your mascot during celebratory moments with your patients and staff.

Include your mascot during holiday celebrations.

Santa Claus, the mascot of the most wonderful time of the year, will be happy to team up with your own jolly character.

The possibilities are truly endless!

Case Study: See a Successful Mascot in Action

One of our clients, Dr. Bill Martin of Martin Kids Dental and Orthodontics, has been utilizing his mascot in amazing ways! We want to show off some of the successful ways he has used his mascot characters in his office and around his community.

Drawing inspiration from the local bayou wildlife, along with the well-known football team in the area, Martin Kids Dental has three charming characters for kids to fall in love with. A turtle, alligator, and frog (Phineas the Frog is Dr. Martin’s personal favorite).

First, the IDS team altered his existing “M” logo, adding in these 3 special mascot characters.

These characters appear in and around his office in his themed decor in 3D sculptures, posing as friendly photo ops, playing around in the murals, and on eye-catching wall-busting exterior signage.

The Martin team successfully uses their interior decor all over their website and social media. Check out these photos of patients from their Facebook feed with freshly applied braces and those who have finally had them taken off. The “Wired” and “Wireless” signs are a great touch!

Dr. Martin even created a costume version of his main gator character – Martin (or Marty) the Gator. This huggable, loveable, portable mascot gets around town.

Marty shows up in all their team group shots – he is one of the crew after all!

Marty has been touring around schools, helping teach kids about good dental hygiene.

And he gets to attend family events and expos. This friendly mascot makes Dr. Martin’s table approachable for kids. If kids go, parents will follow, and the Martin team gets their chance to do their health and sales pitch.

Dr. Martin is getting great mileage out of his mascot. He is known around town for his characters.

When I go around town and say “Hi, I’m Bill Martin, the Orthodontist at Martin Kids” the first thing they say is “Oh my gosh, that’s the alligator that comes out of the building.” We’ve since had people stopping by and taking pictures, it’s great.

Bring Your Mascot to Life with IDS

Don’t know where to start with creating a mascot for your office? One of our Creative Consultants would love to help. Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started transforming your office from a mundane to a magical patient experience. The IDS design team can create a mascot for you through logo designs and implementation in theming around your physical office space.

Our business friend Street Characters has helped make some of our designs come to life in the form of mascot costumes.

Check out these other resources on how to use a mascot as a photo op:

5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Office Photo Op

Themed Photo Opportunities

Our Top 4 Attention-Grabbing Building Exterior Ideas

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4 Ways a Roadside Attraction Can Benefit Your City or Town

The Secret to Attracting Young Families to Your Shopping Center

6 Types of Roadside Attractions That Will Get You Noticed

Do You Have a Media Consent Form for Your Office?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was created to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.

HIPAA was created many years before social platforms became the omnipresent media giant it is today. As a result, there are no specific rules outlining social media use. Rather, you can apply the general rules around the protection of PHI (patient health information).

Healthcare organizations must implement a HIPAA social media policy to reduce the risk of violations. The HIPAA Privacy Rule prohibits the disclosure of PHI on social media networks without the express consent of patients.

So if you want to utilize social media in your marketing, that’s what you need to worry about – acquiring consent.

The easiest way to gain consent is by including a ‘Media Consent Form’ with your patient onboarding paperwork – either printed or as a digital file. Patients and their families are already mentally prepped to fill out paperwork when dealing with health and dental visits, so this won’t be an inconvenience to them at all.

Why worry about getting consent to post photos of your patients?

One of the best ways to show off your dental practice is by posting patient results on your website, office bulletin board, and social platforms (both photos of teeth and photos of patients having a good experience in your care) so having a media consent form is critical to marketing your practice. And it’s just good practice. Some parents are sensitive about sharing their children online, and some encourage it!

One of our most popular marketing items is our photo ops that help create social media engagement. Of course, parents and kids can take and post all the photos of themselves that they want.

The time for a consent form is when your business wants to share photos as well, such as celebrating a cavity-free prize winner, sharing funny photos of a family posing with your photo op character, or showing off the successful results of a dental treatment plan on a young patient.

A consent form should include:

  • your organization’s name to show who is using the photos and videos
  • the name and signature of the parent or guardian
  • the date to show when consent was granted – a timeline of when the use of photos and videos begins
  • purpose of the authorization – description of how the media will be used – social media, website, promo videos
  • the ability of the parent to revoke consent at a future date

This signed agreement, with clear indications of how the information will be used, must remain on file. 

Here is a sample of what a consent form will look like:

We have included all this information in a media consent form for children and one for adults:

This blog is not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by using our contract template. If you have a specific problem and need legal advice, contact a licensed attorney. Consult your legal team or HIPAA Privacy Officer about HIPAA and your social media policies.

Other tips to help you stay HIPAA compliant when using social media include:

  • Have a dedicated social media coordinator who is educated in HIPAA compliance. There are numerous educational programs to help your staff get HIPAA compliant. It is better to have someone who is aware of the rule surrounding HIPAA and who is able to check the consent form before posting or commenting on social. Having control over content is the first step to avoiding violations.
  • Consult your legal or compliance team to verify that your content does not violate HIPAA and aligns with your brand’s social media use policy. Additionally, work with them to establish a communication protocol for corresponding with patients and their families over social media.
  • Make sure your staff keeps PHI off their personal social media accounts. It is a good idea to train your entire staff in HIPAA compliance to make sure they do not make a mistake in their personal use of social platforms.
  • Review environmental photographs and videos to ensure there is no PHI in the background such as a patient’s name on an x-ray, charts, or computer screens.
  • Ask permission to share photos and testimonials posted on a patient’s own social media page, just to be safe.

More HIPAA resources that will help keep you informed:

Summary of the HIPAA Privacy Rule

HIPAA Rules for Dentists

HIPAA and Marketing


Add a Social Media Photo Op to Your Office



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4 Ways a Roadside Attraction Can Benefit Your City or Town

The Secret to Attracting Young Families to Your Shopping Center

6 Types of Roadside Attractions That Will Get You Noticed

The Benefits of Theming for DSOs

Dental Support Organizations (DSO) and Dental Group Practices are built by hard-working professionals who have established reliable partnerships to grow their business nationwide. They own and operate anywhere from 10 to 1000 dental practices.

Resourcefulness and efficiency are at the core of these organizations’ models – providing management and marketing support so location staff can focus on doing what they do best – providing quality care for their patients. With the combined knowledge and skills of everyone involved, this creates a well-oiled, efficient business.

Is this you? If so, it’s time to ask “What can I do to ensure success?”

Read along to uncover the added benefits of running a DSO or Group Practice, plus the new opportunities for the future of your operations with a secret ingredient that has proven to increase the success of dental offices – themed office decor.

What is IDS Theming?

IDS theming is the transformation of a mundane space into a magical place.

We specialize in the conceptualization, design, and creation of playful murals, engaging 3D decor, and interactive gaming for pediatric medical environments.




Many young patients experience high anxiety and stress when faced with dental and medical procedures. Themed healthcare offices can prevent and reduce patient anxiety, help create client satisfaction, secure returning clientele, and grow your business.

DSO locations and Group Practices reap the rewards of these benefits at a heightened level. Because they have multiple locations at once working under the same mentality of communicating dependable brand values and the promise of providing an exceptional patient experience through the deployment of consistent decor across the board. When people like what they see, their trust in your business is reinforced.

While you are noodling about your wildest theming dreams, continue reading to unveil in greater detail just how it can work for an organization.

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Create Consistent Brand Recognition Amongst Your Locations

Your brand is your “thing”. To have a strong brand you need to establish that “thing” you are known for and create a consistent experience for your clients location-wide. By eliminating the mundane and clinical stereotype of what a medical environment should look like, you are creating a stand-out brand for your business. That “thing” patients and parents will know you for is being fun & welcoming plus your endeavor to go above and beyond for their patient experience.

Before you came here, you already knew what you wanted your patients to think about you – that you care about providing them with the best of the best – the best care, treatment, and experience. Theming can help you create a consistent experience across your organization’s landscape.

Dr. Joe Yale, owner of an IDS themed office says it best,

I believe that our theme provides a visual manifestation of how committed we are to giving the best level of customer service and the best experience a child could have. It’s all about the people, the patients, and parents that we take care of.

Take this multi-location dental and ortho office as an example. The same reception desk, murals, and welcoming whale are found at each location. These familiar features make a friendly environment for patients, no matter which location they go to.

By taking the anxiety out of appointments with whimsical distractions, you’ll get parents talking – on social media, at family gatherings, and with their friends over coffee.

From Dr. Alexandra Jensen,

“We live in an age where the big thing online is the review it’s the facebook ads it, it’s the facebook mommy’s and just hearing word of mouth. That being said, I think the theme of the office gives parents something to talk about.”

And here’s how the process went for themed multi-office owner and CEO, Jennifer Kreidler-Moss,

IDS delivered exactly what we wanted. They took our grand ideas and turned them into cohesive themes suitable for our spaces and our budget. We loved customizing the small details and they walked us through the process every step of the way.

Each of her 11 locations has a different child-friendly sitting corner with fun seating and a branded photo op character.

Supercharge Your Marketing Plan and Make Your Building Your Biggest Advertising Asset

Speaking of photo ops, theming is a great way to add extra flair to your marketing materials and social media feeds.

Dentist and owner, Dr. Michael Lateiner has seen it with his own eyes,

Patients come into the office and are immediately comfortable and the parents can’t stop taking pictures. They made my office the talk of the town!!!

Photo ops, from characters to head holes to surfing waves, are a great way to get organic advertising for your business. Sharing photo ops with happy clients increase social media engagement. It also adds the benefit of ‘social proof’, the idea that consumers will adapt their behavior according to what other people are doing, and potential clients will see your business as trustworthy.

The most successful photo op is a mascot that represents your business. The dental market is now more competitive than ever, and you need to use all resources available to stand out from the crowd. Mascots are memorable, helping your brand become more recognizable. A branded mascot can increase a company’s profit and emotional connection with customers by up to 40.9%, according to Technicolour Creative Studio.

One of our most successful partners has created an entire magical world surrounding their mascots. Every location has a familiar face to greet visitors.

Exterior Landmark characters make a business’s exterior stand out visually to people passing by. They draw attention, stir conversation, and become a part of the community’s vernacular. “Turn right at the giant octopus” will become a common phrase heard around town.

Landmark characters completely changed the way owner Sheryl Wright saw her building,

“As a result of the theming, marketing has definitely improved. Even if patients cannot remember the name of the clinic, they know where we are and that our clinic is the fun place for kids to come play while they are waiting for their appointment. Telling patients it is the clinic with the octopus is an easy visual landmark to help them find us. This has helped get new patients through the doors.

Themed interior decor is a game-changer for creating marketing campaigns that stand out amongst the mass of dental reminder postcards and facebook ads. Featuring photos of your interiors with all the amenities you have to offer will get you noticed amongst the noise.

For Dr. Scott Savel, owner of 3 themed IDS offices, the horizon for future success is endless,

We found that theming has been instrumental in our success. By making the investment, it sets us apart. Especially in pediatrics, we walk into an area and we’re a category-killer in that area. We’re definitely planning on opening multiple offices and using theming for all of them.

Ultimately, when you have successfully established brand recognition within your clientele, they know who you are, what you do, and the level of service you provide – all the things they need to know to trust your organization which will help you grow your business.

Sensitivity to Ownership Changes

When you acquire an established practice, there are going to be existing patients and families that are connected and loyal to the previous provider.

With this in mind, as the buyer, you must be mindful of these existing clients’ feelings and find ways to communicate that the change in ownership will only make the place they know and love even better.

Change Can be Good

By joining up with a DSO, dental offices become infused with the latest in staff training, more efficient billing & insurance management, and access to modern technology. But those beneficial improvements might not be obvious to the average customer.

Decor upgrades to your space can be visual cues for patients to recognize this promise to improve their experience and help build their trust in your brand and services. By signaling your willingness to go above and beyond for the comfort of your young patients in ways the previous owners did not, you can help build those new relationships and create loyal customers.

Repeatability Makes Adding Unique Decor Easy

What we do over here at IDS is create original environments for our clients. With our team, you can develop a custom package of repeatable and on-brand decor for all of your locations.

From the initial design concepts, a Group Practice or DSO corporation is making an original, customized investment in their business. This investment is one that is unique to their brand but can be flexible in its conceptualization and execution so core design elements can be re-deployed across multiple locations.

We’ll be candid, there is a cost to the theming process. However, savings on economies can be amplified by theming all offices with the same foundational essentials – a mascot, desk cladding, repeatable wall murals, and more. Once design, brand, and execution are established, there is no starting from scratch when expanding to new locations.

For example, this carnival themed DSO has the same balloon-riding monkey photo op in each location.

Once the design is complete, we can adjust for size, position, and ceiling height in each location. We have installed 6 locations already, with 3 more locations getting themed this year, and more planned for the future.

The ROI From IDS Theming

Like we said, theming is a big investment, but it is an investment in your future success. The payback is unbeatable and our clients have experienced the difference themed decor makes in their businesses.

Even the independent dentists we work with have achieved so much success after theming they are able to open a 2nd, 3rd, or even a 7th or 8th office with the profits achieved from their first themed office.

From Dr. Bill Martin,

At first when I got into this I said to myself wow, this is a lot of money. But when I look at the benefits of it, it really is a marketing tool because you don’t have to put up a billboard when you have an office like this. I think undeniably this is the best marketing tool you can possibly use.

Check out the video below to hear what they had to say:

What’s Next for Your Business?

As previously mentioned, resourcefulness and efficiency are at the core of these organizations’ models. What’s next is asking if your offices are currently working for you in the best way possible to amplify your marketing and business success.

Theming helps add another level of resourcefulness and efficiency to your current business model by working to magnify and engage the added benefits you hold from running a DSO. Are you ready to take the leap?

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What to Include in Your Perfect Indoor Family Play Area

Tips for Creating a Presentation Area in Your Children’s Library

Creating a Sense of Fun and Nostalgia for The Next Generation of Kids

Optimize Your Healthcare Facilities for Patient Acquisition

Convincing new patients to choose you for their care is a journey – a journey that starts with the patient’s first appointment and develops through a series of good experiences with your clinic. Those positive results will typically point back to how well your office is optimized for patient acquisition.

That’s no small feat. These days patient interaction is skewed by your staff demeanor, your standard of care, the services you provide, insurance acceptance, and more. That also includes the design of your office which enhances or diminishes a patient’s impression of you, your team, and your skills.

Conscious Effort is Required to Attract New Patients

The cost of acquiring one new patient can total hundreds of dollars or more. Your total investment can vary from patient to patient depending on their responsiveness to either your office culture or future targeted marketing initiatives.

There’s also the competitive environment that hospitals and clinics exist in. Advertising campaigns can cross the line of sight of potential patients via direct mail pieces or online advertisements. Healthcare providers spend upwards of $10 billion on advertising a year in the US – that’s a lot of effort being poured into attracting new clients.

The conclusion that can be drawn from this is clear – the choice is in the hands of the patients!

And that is the problem you have to solve with your acquisition efforts – occupying a prominent place in their mind when they are making a choice about their health or their family’s care. You must be intentional in your actions to secure their attention and keep it.

Be Aware of the Environment You Have Created for Your Patients

Your physical space, clinic atmosphere, vibe, and overall culture can have a substantial impact on patient acquisition. New patients especially are discerning about specific things relative to your office environment.

  • Does the space mitigate their anxieties?
  • Does it feel like a safe and sterile environment?
  • Will satisfaction be consistent across satellite locations?

These factors align with what’s referred to as evidence-based design strategy. That’s the theory that you can create an office environment that helps you achieve the best possible healthcare outcomes.

And of course, this would strongly influence the acquisition of new patients.

The power of first impressions relies on how each patient feels the moment they encounter your practice. It could be the tone of a direct mailout, the glowing referral of a friend or online review, or the atmosphere of the office when they first walk in.

”Design choices matter. Approximately 24 to 35% of a patient’s overall satisfaction with a health care experience is influenced by the design and decor of the facility.” [1]

Design Details that Influence Patient Acquisition

Overall Design Details

Interior design and decor are important for setting a mood in your dental office.

Maximizing your office design extends from curb to exam room. Remember that one scheduled appointment doesn’t guarantee a second. Make a first impression that sticks like glue.

  • Apply conscientious design from the entrance to the reception to the exam & treatment areas.
  • Maintain and routinely upgrade your exterior and interior spaces.
  • Theme your office to connect with your patient demographic.

Create a Mood with Details in Your Front Office and Reception Area

The attention to detail you bring to establish the vibe of your entry areas will help your patients connect with your space. A pleasant and comfortable tone invites guests in and makes them feel at home. This feeling will have patients willing to begin establishing a long-term relationship with your practice. 

It has been amazing to see the overwhelmingly positive reaction of patients as they come in for treatment. Providing exceptional care and comfort are foundational to my practice. Since the installation, I have watched their joy increase immensely.

– Dr. Clyde Maxwell

When creating a patient welcome area, there are a few things you should try to accomplish.

Welcome your patients to your office with a smile. Your receptionists are the first people your clients interact with, and as such, are the face of your company. Use your reception desk or check-in desk as a beacon to welcome them inside your space.

Include natural features such as plants, nature art, outdoor views, soft lighting, and skylights that utilize natural lighting effects. Provide patients with a comfortable place to relax their minds.

underwater themed waiting room with custom murals, whale sculpture and fish
Village Family Dental Surgery

Include elements like reading materials, free wi-fi, and especially in the case of pediatric areas, themed decor, etc.

An important part of your reception area is entertainment. Turning the wait time into a relaxing or even a fun time with amenities like free wifi, snacks, or games for kids is a great we to turn your office into a welcoming space.

A separate play corner or room for children in waiting areas creates a special space just for them (and a space where adults can relax without the noise of children). A welcoming space for children will reduce their anxiety, but also put their parents at ease knowing they are entertained and occupied, and in the end have them both looking forward to their appointments!

Pikeville Medical Center Children’s Hospital
Gunderson Health System
Andalusia Clinic for Kids Wellness

Ultimately, the intentions are to create a space that your clients enjoy visiting and are motivated to return to when a future need arises. Patients, whether children or adults, will acknowledge and appreciate that you put effort into their comfort and entertainment by paying attention to the spaces they will be using.

Extend Friendly Decor into Your Examination Spaces

Bring the journey beyond your waiting room and into the rest of your space with themed decor. Bright colors and landscape imagery promise your guests a distraction from their ailments if they choose your services. After time spent in your space, patients will know your priorities are giving top not services and a positive experience. 

Pediatric wards can especially benefit from transformative decor in exam and recovery areas. Young patients will feel at ease and parents will have a great distraction for their children. Here are some great examples of how themed office decor has transformed office spaces to create a positive pediatric patient experience.

Surf’s up in this exam room mural.
Jungle murals brighten up a sterile treatment room.
Patients will feel like they’re going on a walk through the wilderness in this treatment area hallway.

At the end of the day, it is the vibe you create in your business space that helps patients feel more engaged and in control of their relationship with you as their care provider.

Theming on the Building’s Exterior to Grab Attention

Visibility, parking availability, ease of access, and exterior aesthetic are all factors that set the tone for patient acquisition success.

At IDS we are all about making the best first impressions for pediatric healthcare environments. We work with family-friendly businesses to design both big and small themed elements for the exterior of their locations. Whether it is a giant blue whale perched on top of a building, a pirate ship busting through the wall, or a quirky photo op, people will begin to associate your business with your theming choices… “They promise a friendly experience!” or “These people go above and beyond for their clients.”

And here’s the thing with exterior theming, suddenly your building is advertising for you 24/7. Exterior theming will not only attract new clientele but spread the word around town about who you are and what you do.

 “As a result of the theming, marketing has definitely improved. Even if patients cannot remember the name of the clinic, they know where we are and that our clinic is the fun place for kids to come play while they are waiting for their appointment. Telling patients it is the clinic with the giraffe and alligator is an easy visual landmark to help them find us. This has helped get new patients through the doors.”

– Sheryl Wright, Family Nurse Practitioner and Owner of Reelfoot Pediatrics

Relationship Development Details that Affect Patient Acquisition

Not all relationships start at a good place. In fact, for many healthcare appointments, there might already be a strike against you.

It’s nothing personal, it’s just that individual health is well, personal. Put in the work of creating the right environment and match that with good relational skills to help dissolve your patients’ natural existing anxieties.

Pay Personal Attention to Your Patients

It’s easy for patients to feel like a number in a long line of appointments you have throughout the day. Every patient interaction or conversation provides you an opportunity to deepen your relationship with them.

Your top relational skill is listening!

It helps to rely on your office design flow for enhanced listening. Meaning, that it’s a good idea to have patient conversations in a designated, comfortable consult area.

Patients will feel more at ease and you and your team members will be better equipped to truly listen to what your patients share with you.

This consult area is designed to put kids at ease as they sit with their parents.

You can also offer additional points of contact beyond an in-person exam and consultation. Making yourself or resources available to your patients beyond office hours will help them feel valued and connected.

Leverage Your Knowledge to Build Trust with Your Patients

Patients know it’s a good idea to take care of their physical health. But they’re often lacking the “why” behind it.

Trust is a defining element in any relationship, but is particularly central to the patient-physician relationship. Trust is built through knowledge and being able to convey that knowledge to your patients in a way they will understand. Patients who feel informed are more likely to have a positive experience. And that positive experience leads to an increase in your patient acquisition success.

  • Listen to their specific questions, and find a solution that is unique to them and their situation.
  • Encourage them to ask questions about your standard of care, technology, treatment outcomes, financials, and more. Freedom to inquire (without judgement) enhances the doctor-patient relationship.
  • Have resources available that they can take home or look up online beyond the appointment to help them feel empowered.

Patients who trust their healthcare providers are more likely to have longer relationships with their physicians.

Schedule the Next Appointment

Relationships require consistency. The same applies to maintaining health. Your intentional efforts to set a patient’s next follow-up appointment confirms that you consider their healthcare as a priority.

Staying connected to you and your office and their health maintains consistency that is essential. Those levels of consistency confirm that you’re on the path to increasing your patient acquisition percentages.

Keep in mind that acquiring patients is fundamentally a two-fold process. It is one part environment and one part relational.

Optimize your clinics around each and you’ll increase your successful patient acquisition.

Check out these related resources on these strategies that lead to an increase in patient acquisition:

6 Dental Office Images That Show How Intentional Design Impacts Patient Experience

What is Patient Experience and Why Does It Matter?

A Practical Guide to Creating an Exceptional Patient Experience

Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started transforming your office from a mundane to magical patient experience.



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Trends to Watch in 2022 – Creating Convenience for Your Clients

It’s a new year, so there’s new business and marketing trends for you to check out to keep up-to-date with your competitors.

The last 2 years have really driven home the need (and desire) for convenience. The at-home, on-demand world of Skip the Dishes, Amazon, and Netflix has changed the way consumers view obtaining products and services. Dental patients are a type of consumer, and with multiple options for patients to choose from when it comes to their healthcare and dental providers, prioritizing convenience for patients will help you stand out.

But how do you align yourself with the convenience of streaming and online delivery services?

To start off you need to recognize that consumers go online to find the care they desire. They also expect to be able to access services 24/7 in addition to being able to communicate directly with their dentist or doctor.

You’re probably thinking that creating more convenience for patients is going to be inconvenient to you, but it doesn’t have to be, not with the right tools.

Here are Our Recommendations for Creating Convenience for Your Clients to Help You Stand Out in 2022

Make Communication More Convenient by Adding a Chatbot to Your Website

Chatbots are a convenient way of opening dialogue with a patient via your website. You’ve seen those little boxes pop up in the corner of the website, asking if you need help with anything. Sometimes they are monitored by staff, but more often than not, they are simply bots. These chatbots can be automated to provide answers to common questions, helped along with some basic AI, with an additional prompt that directs users to leave their contact info if the conversation does require a human touch.

This technology can help your practice grow by generating more appointments (by prompting patients to book online – see below for more) and increasing patient satisfaction (by answering questions immediately, at all times of the day). Yes, chatbots are available 24/7, which is the convenience patients are looking for. The chatbot market for healthcare is expected to triple by 2025 in the US alone. That’s a trend worth paying attention to.

Patient with questions about a toothache in the middle of the night?
A chatbot has you covered.

In addition, by using a chatbot you are able to captured useful data and contact information you can use to better target your patients and potential clients with marketing campaigns. If everyone is asking about teeth whitening, it’s time to a promotion to drive up interest.

There are plenty of chatbot programs on the market, including some that have been created specifically with dental and medical businesses in mind.

Here’s a roundup of the best reviewed chatbots we found on the web:

Dental Attendant

Dental Attendant is a virtual staff member who lives on your dental office website. He works in the bottom corner of your homepage to help visitors get the information they need to become patients at your dental practice.

Chat Compose

ChatBots are an innovative way to automate frequent processes. They can provide critical information to your patients, such as procedures, prices and treatment. They can also book and confirm appointments in your name.


It can make the difference between a patient scheduling with your office or with your competitor.

There are many options out there with lots of different features that will suit your business needs, so shop around and see what works best for you.

Make Paying More Convenient by Offering Online Payment Options

From banks to utility providers to car insurance, businesses are going paperless, both for convenience and for the environment. According to the Trends in Healthcare Payments annual report, 79 percent of patients prefer to pay online. Patients expect the latest technology in the treatment room. To boost confidence in your business, you should have the latest technology in your front office as well. Allowing patients to pay online or from their mobile devices is the next natural step in modernizing the way you do business.

Online payment allows for:

  • Receiving instant payments, keeping your books balanced
  • More options for payments, from credit cards to PayPal to Apple Pay
  • Sending payment reminders without harassing phone calls
  • Simplifying reporting and reconciliation, making accounting easier
  • Reducing labor when it comes to filing, printing, and organizing paper billing
  • And yes, it is good for the environment, which may be an added bonus to potential patients

All are great ways to add more convenience to your patient’s experience with your front office, as well as great benefits for you and your team.

Including a more convenient way to interact with your business that your competition does not, such as “Now accepting online payments!” is a great tidbit of information to improve any advertising you do.

Make Booking an Appointment More Convenient by Including an Online Portal to Schedule Appointments

Consider adding an online portal that allows patients to schedule appointments using a digital calendar.

The aforementioned streaming and delivery services are all accessible online, so consumers now expect to be able to go online to acquire all of their needed services. Allowing people to book online is a great option for busy parents trying to wrangle kids or a 9 to 5 worker who just can’t squeeze enough time into their lunch break to make a call. You can help draw in those patients who may have just continually put off an appointment indefinitely out of inconvenience (I know I’m guilty of that). It also makes a great tagline to say booking an appointment with your office is as easy as ordering in dinner.

Including options to download and fill out required paperwork during booking is a big bonus as well to many online booking systems. The ability for clients to fill out paperwork at their leisure before an appointment will also save your staff time during the check-in process.

There are dozens of online booking apps available, with many aimed at dentists and healthcare.

We found a list of the most popular online portal apps according to Google:


Picktime is a free web based appointment scheduling software for dentists and healthcare businesses in which clinics can book their patient’s appointments and also let their patients book their own appointments online. Picktime offers a comprehensive suite of appointment services for practices of all sizes.

Simply Book

Design a professional and customized look for your booking website. You can even choose the most convenient way for your clients to see your booking availability such as by class, time or staff.


Appointment-setting shouldn’t feel like pulling teeth. List your availability online and allow patients to book when it’s convenient for them. 

Thanks to growing popularity, there are many options available for online booking. So do you research and find one that works best for you.

Make Bringing Kids to an Appointment More Convenient by Using a Fun Environment

While you can add many online conveniences for your patients, at some point they will have to come to you in person.

Patients, as consumers, want to feel special. Like the fitting room experience in a luxury clothing store or the sales experience in a high-end car dealership, a great patient experience is friendly staff + a welcoming space with amenities + a stress-free transaction.

IDS designers are experts on creating the welcoming space part of the equation, especially when it comes to businesses aimed at children and families. Games, theaters, and play areas create fun activities that turn required tasks like going to the dentist or doctor for a checkup into an enjoyable experience. Patients won’t mind coming in if they know they’re going to have a good time.

Themed decor for kids is not just for pediatric spaces. A special room or a corner devoted to kids in a general clinic shows parents that you care about their needs. Plus a separate play area for children will keep them occupied and entertained while parents relax in a space designed around their needs, with wifi, hot drinks, and comfy seating.

To wrap up, remember that this year is about creating convenience in every aspect of you business to help boost your edge on patient acquisition and patient experience. What other ways are you improving your business in 2022 that will help you stand out from the competition?

Speaking of convenience, make sure it’s easy for your potential clients to find you on Google.

Don’t forget about keeping your website up-to-date and easy to browse.



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What to Include in Your Perfect Indoor Family Play Area

Tips for Creating a Presentation Area in Your Children’s Library

Creating a Sense of Fun and Nostalgia for The Next Generation of Kids




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