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From Word-of-Mouth Marketing to Wall Murals with Dr. Max Zaslavsky

Articles, Practice Life

Based in the Oakland Park community of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Dr. Max Zaslavsky is someone I genuinely admire. 

Max’s prowess in word-of-mouth marketing, the innovative interior design of his dental practice, and the authentic connections he cultivates with his patients have earned my utmost respect. This man transcends conventional norms, focusing on building a patient base and intricately weaving a close-knit community—an essential aspect of relationship-building that most dentists overlook or ignore. 

Intrigued by Dr. Z’s unique approach, I sat down with the man himself to delve into the depths of his extraordinary marketing tactics. Most of all, I was interested in his story.

“I’d like to see you try.”

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the dental industry hard with lockdowns and safety restrictions, forcing us into a dance of uncertainties, operational adaptations, and economic repercussions. Max found himself in the throes of chaos like the rest of us, and when his landlord tried to pull one over on him and double his rent during this turbulent time, the straw broke the camel’s back. 

At this point, Dr. Max was still in Fort Lauderdale, albeit in its northern area. For the pay his landlord was demanding, Max knew he could buy an entire building in South Florida and build an office inside it—something to which his landlord said, “I’d like to see you try.”

After two failed attempts to purchase property, the third time was the charm. Dr. Z pulled up his anchor and steered his ship southward into downtown Oakland Park, a thriving hipster area that served as an extension of the Wilton Manors area—a significant locale for the South Florida LGBTQ+ community. This relocation destination that Max chose was absolutely intentional: The LGBTQ+ community of South Florida was one that Max had built a strong network with over the span of the last decade, starting during the 2009 recession—but we’ll get to that in a bit.

In Oakland Park, Dr. Z bought a shell of a building and started construction. Again, this was all happening during the height of COVID-19, which wasn’t exactly the prime time for this kind of project—prices increased by at least 30% for some materials, while constant delays meant waiting 18 weeks just to get windows put in. For Max, these were obstacles and risks worth taking—he was looking at the forest through the trees and willing to play the long game in this process.

Charted territories.

It didn’t take long for Max’s practice to set sail in South Florida—thanks to his unconventional marketing efforts more than a decade earlier (I told you we’d get to it!). 

As I said, Dr. Z’s previous practice wasn’t far from his current location. And, during the recession in 2009, goings were arguably even more challenging than they were during the 2019 pandemic. At that point, Max worked with multiple Chambers of Commerce in South Florida to put out advertisements, but his efforts weren’t as effective as he wanted them to be—it was a tough market, after all.

However, a turning point occurred when Max decided to get involved with the Pompano Beach Chamber of Commerce. That’s when he encountered local strip club promoter Maryanne Moore, whose insights forever altered Dr. Z’s perspective on niche marketing. It’s also when Max had an epiphany—realizing that the LGBTQ+ community and strippers were less affected by the national downturn. Their income proved to be more resilient, as LGBTQ+ individuals often had fewer financial responsibilities (not as many children), and the cash-centric nature of the strip club industry maintained a consistent demand.

For some dental marketing campaigns, a good dose of humor is just what the doctor ordered.

Naturally, Max and Maryanne became fast friends. So long as she gave him the thumbs up, Max could use his humor to whip up some catchy flyers for her strip club clientele. His witty copywriting boasted funny slogans such as, “Lose your clothes, not your teeth.” Dr. Z would offer special discounts for her customer base, and the two developed a friendship while new patients flooded through his practice doors.

It wasn’t long before Max was introduced to Scott Holland, the publisher of Hotspots Magazine—one of the most prominent LGBTQ+ magazines in South Florida. Max and Scott effortlessly connected, sharing a natural chemistry fostered by their shared upbringing in Brooklyn and common Jewish background. 

As witty as ever, Dr. Z ensured his humor shone through in the marketing. They began with the tagline “We’ll Make Your Teeth Straight… Even If You’re Not” and then evolved to other slogans. He laughed about how he and Scott “pushed some boundaries,” with one whitening slogan reading, “The whitest teeth your boyfriend will COME across.” 

By the way, Max and Scott have remained friends for 14 years. In fact, Dr. Z was honored that he and his wife, Lauren, were recently featured as the “token straight couple” in the Valentine’s Day edition of HotSpots Magazine.

Max is a perfect example of the power of authenticity in professional networking.

To compliment his knack for relationship-building, Max has fostered a unique atmosphere in his dental practice by treating patients as family rather than patients. 

If a patient tells Dr. Z that they’re a big fan of meatloaf or chicken cutlets, Max or Lauren will cook a specialized homemade dish to surprise them at their next appointment (FYI: Lauren’s better at the meatloaf, but Max claims the cutlet crown). And if a patient says they like a particular spirit, Max will give his “Patient of the Day” a fine bottle of booze. 

Dr. Z definitely isn’t your traditional dentist—he’s not sitting his patients in the chair, exchanging a bit of idle chitchat, and just getting down to business. He’s a much more thoughtful breed than that, not to mention that he also has an altruistic side: Engaging in volunteer work at local hospitals, actively participating in the VA Community Care Network to offer dental care for military personnel and disabled individuals, waking up at four in the morning to join Honor Flight in escorting veterans through war memorials in Washington DC—the list goes on. 

There’s no question that Max is compassionate and caring down to his core, and much of it stems from his personal relationships. Between a little brother from his fraternity whose mental health was adversely affected by the Persian Gulf War and his father suffering from health problems that would’ve been preventable with the proper health care, the man is truly on a mission to be a positive force in the world.

You get what you give.

Stories like these underscore the depth of Dr. Z’s relationships with his patients, where he’s constantly creating a lasting impact on the community he serves. But for Max, wearing his heart on his sleeve and being close to his patients doesn’t just make for excellent word-of-mouth marketing—many of the folks Max takes care of are some of the most influential people in his network. 

For example, one of the military reservists Dr. Z did some cosmetic work on is now a secret service agent, working first for President Donald Trump and now for Biden. Another patient owns one of the world’s largest tow truck manufacturing companies. Dr. Z. considers himself fortunate and deeply appreciates the friendships and relationships he has cultivated, having had the genuine opportunity to learn about these individuals throughout the years. They come in as patients, but—as guests of his dental practice—they leave as friends and family.

Max’s heartfelt personality extends beyond relationship-building to the very design of his dental office, which has evolved into a canvas for artistic expression. There, themed rooms are adorned with graffiti art by various local, up-and-coming artists he’s discovered on Instagram or at events.  It’s a quid-pro-quo situation where he compensates these artists for their work while they can showcase their talents—and signatures—on his walls. 

From my point of view, it’s just another example of Max’s powerful, unconventional marketing: Beyond aesthetics, he has cleverly turned these walls into a selfie haven, enhancing the patient experience and creating a memorable atmosphere.

We need more “nice guys” like Dr. Z in dental marketing.

Max confesses that digital marketing is his “Achilles’ heel.” While he’s aware that he’s not fully tapping into a saturated pool of potential customers by not investing more in social media, he champions quality over quantity. 

That’s because, in the end, Dr. Z advocates for authentic relationships and patient-centric care—steering clear of traditional, high-budget strategies—and I can’t blame him. After all, some digital marketing companies can prove to have a whole lot of hype with nothing behind them.

Max’s transparency, honesty, and altruistic approach to dentistry are why he aligns so well with Dental Lifestyles Magazine’s ethos, where we aim to portray our fellow dentists as real people rather than money-grabbing tooth fairies. Folks like Dr. Z embody the belief that true success in dentistry surpasses clinical expertise—it’s about the connections forged and the communities we serve.

Bio:

Based in the Oakland Park community of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Dr. Max Zaslavsky is a whiz in word-of-mouth marketing, innovative practice design, and building authentic patient connections.

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