In 1989, I started New Patients, Inc.
I got into the dental marketing game because of a book. A friend sent it to me. He worked in an ad agency as a copywriter. (Thanks Bill). The book turned out to be the marketing classic of all classics – Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, by Al Ries and Jack Trout.
Over the years I’ve read it 9 times.
How do you get into the consumer’s mind?
The book is about how to get your marketing message to stand out in spite of a hail storm of other messages. It’s about how you create a space for your company in the minds of the consumer who are already inundated with thousands of marketing messages every day.
If you don’t occupy a place (position) in the consumer’s mind, you won’t get chosen. Nobody shows up.
The book read like a novel to me. I couldn’t put it down. A marketing book that was a page turner?
I know. It’s strange.
Or I am.
Learning from the best
At that point I began my education in earnest. Yes, I went to college. I was a Liberal Arts major. But my real education came from Ries and Trout, David Ogilvy and most especially Gary Halbert.
Ries and Trout went on to write a dozen bestsellers about Positioning.
David Ogilvy was considered by many to be the father of modern advertising. He was a legend in the ad world.
Halbert was probably the world’s greatest copywriter. I devoured everything written by all of these men and was honored to have worked personally with Gary Halbert. He became my mentor.
Gary taught me copy writing
There was no one better. I swear he could sell anything with just the printed word. His work didn’t need visuals or much design. He simply told you a genuine story and at or near the end of the story you would pick up the phone and order whatever it was he was selling.
He made millions as he made others even more millions.
To sell my first book I wrote an 8 page sales letter based on what he had taught me about writing compelling copy. I sent it to him. He made exactly two small, (but important!) edits and let me know I was his best student ever. His prediction was I would sell a boatload of books. He was right.
Marketing exclusively for dentists
I began to pick up a client here, a client there, mostly by word of mouth. Soon I had quite a diverse group of clients. I created ads for a plastic bag company, a grocery store scanner company, a prominent sports figure, two software companies and several chiropractors. Even a lawyer or two.
Eventually I ran into a dentist who needed more new patients. I helped him. He referred another dentist. Soon I realized that I wanted to focus only on dental marketing. No more lawyers! (Just kidding! Don’t sue me). But was there even a need for this?
Evidently, there was
Dentists didn’t learn anything about business or marketing in dental school. For instance, if you even mentioned advertising they took you out back and shot you! Advertising for dentists was actually illegal up until a 1972 Supreme Court decision lifted the ban. Even after it became legal there remained a stigma within the profession. Advertising was considered by some to be unprofessional. In addition, when I started, there was virtually no continuing education about marketing for the dental professional.
The decision is made
All of these factors made my decision easy. Here was an opportunity where I could apply what I had learned from the real masters of marketing. In time I could get really good at it, build a great team, and make a positive impact on people’s lives. I could do all of this while serving a profession that was not really being served by anyone else.
And besides, I liked dentists. I still do. Yes, it’s strange.
Or I am.