Tooth jewelry, celebrity patients, and social media: An interview with Dr. Bobbi Peterson
Dr. Bobbi of is a celebrity orthodontist whose practice exploded thanks to social media, high-end referrals, and uber networking. Learn more about her practice (Aces Braces of Brooklyn, New York), her famous clientele, and what she would tell new dentists in this interview by Adam Smith.
BOBBI PETERSON, DDS—better known as Dr. Bobbi—is an unique orthodontist. She has successfully built a large patient base of high-end clientele across the country, and she travels regularly to treat them. Due to her success in branding herself and her practice, I knew I wanted to interview Dr. Bobbi for those dentists who are working to grow high-end boutique dental practices. Thankfully, she obliged, so let's jump into the interview.
Dr. Bobbi, can you give us a little background about yourself?
I grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and decided fairly early on that I wanted to be a dentist. I completed dental school at Howard University and immediately entered a residency program. I was exposed to orthodontics in a hands-on manner during my residency. I really liked it, but I still ended up practicing general dentistry for almost three years before deciding to specialize.
In 2005, I went back to school to become an orthodontist. I completed my specialty in 2008, which was when I opened my own practice in Brooklyn, Aces Braces. However, a lot of my patients know me best by the brand I have built, All Things Dr. Bobbi.
Did you buy an existing practice or start fresh?
I started fresh. Zero patients. I worked a few days as an associate at other ortho offices in town while I tried to get my practice up and going.
How did you start growing your practice in those early stages?
I am a very social person, so I networked with other dentists in town and signed up for most of the insurance plans I could. Those things seemed to get the ball rolling, although it was a little slower than I had hoped.
I also tried a few directories that promised great results, but they yielded very little. That was a learning experience for me.
Your practice is thriving now. What would you say was the tipping point for you?
As we started getting more and more patients through the door, they would refer their family members, so we started growing a lot based on internal referrals. One day, I got a shirt in the mail that caught my attention. It turned out to be from a marketing company called Island SEO. I set up a meeting, and the owner came in and gave me a breakdown of his strategy and costs. I decided to go with it based on some results he was able to show me, and his strategies started to generate a lot of traffic online.
Those two things started to ramp up pretty much simultaneously, and the practice really started to take off.
You have a thriving orthodontic practice, but you have branded yourself (successfully, I might add) as a traveling celebrity orthodontist. How did that happen?
I actually don't travel to do braces, but I have branded myself as the traveling celebrity orthodontist because I travel to provide celebrities with other procedures.
Like I mentioned before, I am a very social person. I had a friend who introduced me to the producer of a major reality show, and we started talking. I had previously started my own line of tooth jewelry that attaches to the tooth much like an orthodontic bracket. The reality show producer was really interested in the tooth jewelry, and I ended up setting her up with some.
She then referred me to a very popular rapper who wanted me to custom make tooth jewelry for him. I did that, and he shared that with his social media following, which was millions of people. From there, things kind of exploded.
I had people from New York, Atlanta, Washington DC, and Los Angeles who all wanted me to come do bleaching, botox, and tooth jewelry for them. So, I started traveling to each of these places at least once every three months to take care of my celebrity clients there.
All of this has more or less grown through social media. When a celebrity takes a picture of their smile and tags you in it, your page gets shared to all of their followers and friends, which can be millions of people. When you have millions of people who are seeing your work, the snowball just kind of keeps rolling.
Wow! That is really cool. It sounds like something that could even work with people who don't have as big of a following.
It definitely could. Even if someone has 200 or 300 local friends or followers, it would be worth trying to get them to post a picture and tag your practice in it. You might be surprised at the traction that it can get you.
OK, now the question I love asking: if you had to start back from square one as a new graduate today, what would your plan be?
Here are the things I would do:
- Sign up for insurances as a specialist because specialists still get really good rates from insurances.
- Network with all of the local dentists as much as possible.
- Skip paying directories like Yellow Pages and City Search.
- Find a good SEO person who is not working with other competitors in my area, because how can someone do the best job for you if they are competing with themselves?
- Use social media the way that I do now to grow my brand.
That is usually my last question, but can you provide a little insight into the social media strategy you have used?
Here are some things I would recommend:
- Follow major dental pages on your social media platform of choice.
- Share their content and ask them to do the same with your content.
- Make sure every social post is clear and serves a purpose. Whether that purpose is to educate or to get people excited about a procedure, it doesn't matter.
- Post a lot of videos because those usually capture a lot of attention from your followers. Those videos can be smile reveals, instructions on post-op care, or even demonstrating how a procedure works (as long as it does not involve blood). Get creative.
- Decide what you think people want to see, and get it out there.
- Get your patients to tag you in their posts when they are excited about the way a procedure turned out, and you will be surprised at the results you might see through social media.
Adam Smith is co-owner of Oxford Dental Care and has personally consulted with more than 70 dental practices across the United States and Canada. He worked as a consultant and a data analyst with Dental Intel, where he fell in love with the statistics and business aspect of dentistry. Adam has a background in online marketing and website development, and works with a few select practices on their marketing on a referral basis only. He also runs a dental marketing Facebook group where he provides tips to dentists to improve their online marketing. If you have any questions, he can be reached at email@example.com.
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Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Apex360 e-newsletter. Apex360 is a DentistryIQ partner publication for dental practitioners and members of the dental industry. Its goal is to provide timely dental information and present it in meaningful context, empowering those in the dental space to make better business decisions. Subscribe to the Apex360 e-newsletter here.