An esthetic choice

Anyone landing on the website for Marisa Zenha’s practice based in Porto, Portugal, for the first time might be forgiven for being a little confused. There is not a single white coat in sight and instead the practice staff on the welcome page look ready for an evening at the opera. How does this elegant and esthetic visual approach square with a highly successful practice that specializes in oral rehabilitation and esthetic dentistry, specifically oncological rehabilitation, temporo-mandibular dysfunction and orofacial pain and anaplastology? Read on to find out why Marisa Zenha, a businesswoman, surgeon, teacher, volunteer and mother, has taken this bold and unusual approach to positioning her clinic towards her patients.

The landing page on your website is visually very attractive but does not hint at the services you offer. What made you take this approach?

When defining our digital persona we all seek to be a little different, more visible, more disruptive and valuable to those around us. Both in my personal and professional life I always try to be transparent and genuine, I can’t be any other way. Maybe this less typical approach in my digital channels reflect Marisa as she is – conservative enough but out of the box when needed.

It really is a way of being and not an attempt to be cool at any cost. We all have more or less esthetic ways of expressing ourselves. In my case I tried, together with my marketing team, to design digital spaces that are totally “me”. This is not to say that other clinical websites or digital personalities are wrong. There’s room for everyone, but it’s also wonderful that we can all be different. For my friends, patients and potential patients, I seek for an honesty and balance to help people on their journey to reach me.

This decision was made consciously and we knew that the effort we applied might be difficult to understand. It took weeks and months of planning and producing content for our clinic and dentist website. But for me it was more than that: it was and is a part of me and that’s how people recognize it.

How do you relate this approach to the expertise you offer?

All the processes created in my company (clinic) have my personal imprint. From my dental medicine treatments and services, to the content produced daily. I always wanted to excel in disruptive, sensitive and human communication to bring people into my more personal universe. The fact that I invested in photo sessions with the best photographers in the country and approached the most renowned stylists in Portugal have allowed me to do something that is as tailor-made and unique as haute couture.

The feedback from patients and followers is very positive. In terms of short-term results, I cannot say that they exist, but a careful and differentiated image allows for a higher profile in the market. My personal website, divided into personal, social and clinical content, has been a pleasant surprise. The contact form, which has no direct commercial purpose, has ended up becoming a new channel for attracting new business. The weekly articles, where I share my views on various current affairs, as well as life experiences, have also garnered a lot of interest, achieving above-average metrics. These results, in a short period of time, have been a great learning experience and a way to inspire new challenges.

I am grateful to the whole team that accompanies me daily. Without them, I confess, it would have been impossible to grow and reach the place where I am today. I am fortunate to be surrounded by incredible, highly qualified and very professional people. Having my feet on the ground but also my head in the clouds was important at every stage of our digital strategy. When I wanted to cross the line with crazier ideas, I always had someone to support me or block me with different perspectives. This is what growing together is about and also, to an extent, reflects life.

You are very active on social media; how has that worked for you?

From very early on I realized that digital communication would be an important part of my journey as a dentist and entrepreneur. Before my practice was set up I was already looking to produce content that connected my followers to my professional reality, I think it was one of the main factors that led me to a greater connection with my patients.

With the advances in digital platforms and social networks, there was a concern to keep my communication skills aligned with the new trends and above all with the social media algorithms so that my strategy would be efficient. Since opening my clinic, something that used to be for leisure has turned into an important asset in attracting new business for my company – therefore my responsibility for it has increased. I now have a team specialized in digital marketing and healthcare, which has allowed me to organize my time better so I can work to a fixed publication schedule. My main responsibility has been to ensure time for content production, from capturing storytelling photos or informative videos. In parallel with social media management, our team works on optimizing performance using paid media strategies to generate leads in the  short- and medium-term. This service is essential to feed the agendas of the whole team while working an important part of the conversion funnel with “awareness”. With a group of services running in parallel we are able to generate organic and paid results, helping to grow the company every year.

My most valuable tips are:

Manage schedules to make time for marketing – without dedication to every sector there can be no promise of growth.

Always be real/genuine and don’t pretend to be someone you are not. Users are increasingly educated and demanding.

Content is the jewel in the crown – good content will always be valued and allows for differentiation from direct competitors.

How have patients reacted to the website and blog articles?

A large proportion of my followers pass on positive feedback, those who know me better say it’s “my face”. I’m happy to know that most of the people around me understand and process my message correctly.

Still, I suppose there may be those who do not appreciate it, and I don’t consider them to be wrong. They are just different profiles and I have to respect and learn from them, to improve,  if necessary.

I aim to make my blog articles in the digital channels also a part of me. Almost every week  there are articles covering different areas, some more socially oriented, others more culturally or scientifically oriented.

Whatever the topic, I always lead with my vision and my reading of the facts. For some topics, I also make suggestions and give tips to those who also recognize me as an influencer. It’s important that this more digital dimension is also used to help people – that’s also my purpose – otherwise I wouldn’t talk about topics like fires or make book suggestions. Everything in life must be balanced.

Have you found direct advantages to marketing your practice in this way?

Without a doubt, I am very proud to say that I do not regret anything and, better than that, I am happy with the decisions I have made, even if it often increases media exposure of my social life. There are many advantages to applying digital marketing best practices to my industry. For example, the proximity and connection with patients, even before they are seen by me in my office. For those who are already my patients and also follow me, it is a way for them to follow and appreciate my work. A satisfied and informed patient is an asset for life. Another advantage is the fact that social media interactions promote greater reach; publications are visible to some people who  are not yet following me.

Overall, with cohesive strategies, time and resilience, it is possible to leverage a project in  dentistry from zero to infinity and achieve the longed-for return.


Marisa Zenha
Dr. Marisa Zenha is the CEO and Clinical Director of Clínica Zenha. She works in the specialty areas: oral surgery, oral rehabilitation and esthetic dentistry, specifically oncological rehabilitation, temporo-mandibular dysfunction and orofacial pain and anaplastology. She is an ITI and WIN Member, and a lecturer on the Lisbon Implantology Week intensive implant course.
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