In our first episode of Dental Marketing Mastery, we lay the foundation of your dental promotions: knowing your market!

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Podcast Transcription:

Mark: Hi Howie how are you today? This is Session 1 of the Dental Marketing Mastery Series. And this is the first installment.

Howie: Yeah! Great! I’m looking forward to it. Let’s do what we do best which is run our mouths.

Mark: Yeah Right? Run our mouth and back it up with some experience and a little bit of common sense and a lot of money and a lot of testing and let’s get it out in the open in here. The Session 1 is going to be…well we were challenged. We were told we were going to have a numbered series. And um…almost everything in dental promotions has a prerequisite. Another words you have to know something else before I tell you what is next.

Howie: Right. Right.

Mark: So, we struggled to come up with number 1 or topic for number 1 because there are many firsts that are first of knowledge that you need to understand before the rest of what we say makes sense.

Howie: Exactly, and I think, I think when we took a look at it we said what is the most fundamental of the fundamentals.

Mark: Right.

Howie: What do we have to know first…and Viola! What people need to understand what kind of market they are looking at or into for their dental promotions.

Mark: Right

Howie: What does it look like in an overall sense.

Mark: Right

Howie: And that’s where we get into this, “there are two halves.” There is a top half and a bottom half. Right?

Mark: Right. Yeah, that…before you go and market anything, before you go advertise or promote anything, it doesn’t matter if it’s dentistry or mouse pads or Bic pens or cell phone covers…it doesn’t, you have to understand your market. And we just see an enormous mistake being made all over the place all over the country in dentistry. And their mistake is your advantage. Every mistake your competitor makes is a potential advantage for you. So here is the mistake they are making. Most of dentistry is making. Most of dentistry uses price primarily to drive a call to action. Would you agree Howie?

Howie: Absolutely. Yeah. The price we are talking about is a “deal” of some sort.

Mark: Right. And what is one of your favorite sayings Howie? For 26 years you have been saying this on stage in front of dentists. What is your favorite saying?

Howie: “If your offer is your best foot forward, you really don’t have any feet.”

Mark: Exactly. Okay if your offer’s your best foot forward, you have no feet. And, it is becoming more and more and more obvious and more and more accelerated by corporate dentistry

Howie: Right

Mark: The impressions, uh the advertising impressions that are hitting the street in America about dental services, I’d say 95% of all impressions, advertising impressions hitting the dental public are laden in price incentives. Wouldn’t you?

Howie: Yeah absolutely. And the caveat here is that you know were are not saying that’s not a viable market segment.

Mark: Right

Howie: It is. Somebody is got to serve that, that corner of the world. Do you, as a dentist?

Mark: Right

Howie: The practice. Do you want to, do you want to serve that? Well okay were going to, were going to tell you about the plusses and minuses of that.

Mark: Right. So yeah, so that’s the part of understanding your market and that’s why segment, that’s why this is segment 1. Because we’re going to cover other topics later on in this series. Let’s say we go into radio or direct mail or television. We start talking about internal dental promotions, websites, SEO, whatever.

We talk about those subjects, they are all going to come back and say or I’m going to come back or you are going to come back and say, “Well it depends on what half of the market you’re going after.” Are you going after the top half or the bottom half. So, so let’s now define for everyone for the series, from this point forward, the definition of the top half of the dental market is as follows: Moms who will not choose a health care provider for their family based primarily on a price incentive. That’s the top half of the dental up, that’s the top half of every medical market.

Howie: Right.

Mark: Moms who will not choose a health care professional for their families based primarily on price. Okay. That’s the top half of, in this case the dental market. The bottom half of the dental market are moms who will choose a health care provider for their family based primarily on a price incentive. There’s plenty of moms out there, it’s basically a 50/50 split. If you took the entire female population in the U.S. of child bearing years age ranges and you basically took them and split them right down the middle. Left and right.

There are your two halves of the market and if you asked the question, “Would you choose a health care provider for your family based primarily on price?” Half of them would raise their hand and the other half wouldn’t. So you just, you know take the half that is raising their hand put them in the bottom half and take the half that is not raising their hand and move them to the right half. So there’s your two halves of the dental market. And you have to go after each half differently.

Howie: Right.

Mark: You cannot go after, this is, well first. The first big mistake is dentistry thinking they have to have a price incentive for dental promotions. Now, Howie you started this company in 1989. That’s 27 years ago.

Howie: Oh my gosh.

Mark: I know. Um, you and us, we, having been proving for 27 years that you don’t have to have incentive laden copy or incentive laden audio or incentive laden video or incentive laden anything to get a phone to ring by a high quality patient into a dental office. We know that, our client’s know that, we’ve proven that for 27 years. But there is a reason why. There has to be a reason why 95% of all the impressions you see on the street that are advertising dental services has incentives all over them. Well, one, dentists don’t believe they can attract a new patient without a deal.

Howie: Right.

Mark: Okay, So the audience if you are dentist and you are listening to this, we love you but we are blaming you. It’s your fault you don’t believe it. It’s not our fault. We have been screaming this for 27 years. So it’s totally your fault but we understand why and now we get to why is 95% of the advertising impressions you see in dentistry incentive laden. And the answer is, is because…well there is several answers. The first answer is, is because it’s easy.

Howie: Right

Mark: That is…it takes no testing, no research, no market research. All you have to do is be the best deal in town. That’s not hard to do from a design stand point, from deployment stand point. You can get almost anyone to mock up, let’s say a 5 ½ X 8 postcard with a $29.00 new exam, new patient welcome special on it and mail them to everyone in your community. Almost anyone can do that, okay.

Howie: It doesn’t require a lot of creative chops so to speak.

Mark: There is no testing, there’s no nothing.

Howie: You slap it on a card and out you go.

Mark: Yeah. And that’s fine if you are selling vinyl siding or if you are selling those little fire pits for your patio. Or if you are selling, I don’t know…power washers. Alright. I’m sure there’s a market for the cheapest power washer or the cheapest snow blower or whatever. Alright, I’m sure there’s the cheapest paint or the cheapest almost everything.

In life, there’s the cheapest end of the retail spectrum. But in dentistry, it’s based upon mom’s protective, natural genetic protective instinct. It’s not based on amount of money, although that helps, it’s not based on her house value, although that helps, tt’s not based solely on her credit rating, although that helps, and It’s not based on her marketability index, although that helps. Bottom line is, is that the mom’s in the top half of the market are genetically predisposed with a slightly higher protective instinct for their family and they’re almost unable to choose a health care provider for their family based primarily on a price incentive.

Okay, that’s, what you’re dealing with. So, I’m going to get back to what I said before…We are blaming you…but, there’s a really good reason why you couldn’t recognize it. Because, I mean basically it’s the genetic instinct to protect and it’s unrecognizable. The only the way you could figure it out is if you did 27 years worth of testing on a dental market and an independent consumer research with thousands of people responding to the same questions over and over and over again. Before you finally figure out that half the market doesn’t want price incentives and the other half does.

Howie: Right. Now let’s point out something here. It’s not that price is of no concern to the moms in the top half, of course it’s a concern for everybody. But it’s not the primary concern. So it’s moms in the top half and by mom’s we generically mean women. They are the health care decision makers in this country and they have been forever and they’ll probably will be forevermore. So that group isn’t primarily using price as their main reason to call you. And that’s a good thing, if you want to target the top half of the dental market.

Mark: Right. So here we are and so we know that 95% of all impressions in dental promotions are used or are using price as a primary driver for a response. I think every dentist listening to this pod cast right now is shaking their head up and down because that’s all they see come through their kitchen table, on their TV or listening on their radio or if they google their competitors near them in their market. That’s what they say on those websites. I mean, basically that’s what dentistry sees. So now, now, introduce for the last few years, introduce corporate dentistry. With enormous dental promotions budget and it’s very clear what half of the market they are going after for dental promotions. For the most part they are going after the bottom half.

Howie: Right.

Mark: They’re going after fast, easy, phone rings, get them in the door. And I’m not saying that’s right or wrong. I’m just saying look around you. Okay. I’m not making this up. Alright. Those are the dental promotions you see coming out of the corporate chains. Okay. So if you are a solo dentist or a small group or a two or three doctor practice or what have you and you have to compete with this and you have a marketing budget…are you going to throw your dental promotions budget into that same pool they are.

Howie: Well yeah…and the really bad news is their pool, their pile of money, is a lot bigger than yours.

Mark: A lot bigger than yours.

Howie: That battle has already been fought and you’ve lost.

Mark: Right…you’ve lost that war. You’re not going to out spend them. You’re not going to out efficient them. And, you’re not going to out anything of them. Okay. Other than you can, you can out smart them. And this is why this first segment is so incredibly vital to your understanding of the rest of the podcasts that we produce for you.

The whole top half of the market is almost completely ignored. Now our company generates about 14 million impressions a month, on behalf of all of our clients. So you take all of our clients in aggregate, add up all of the things that we are doing. All the internet, the direct mail, the radio & television, all the print, all the everything, the social media, everything that we do for our clients and you add up all the impressions you going to come up with around 14 million impressions a month. That’s just our little company with a few hundred customers, with a few hundred clients. We are the only one’s doing this.

So, if you are going to be smart, if you are going to compete especially with the solo dentists who are promoting solely based only price and now the corporate chains coming in and promoting based on price. You have two choices…you can either, okay, be even cheaper than they are , try to get those phone calls before they get them or you can look at the top half of the market and say, “Wait a second, those are the people I want anyway.

I don’t want a whole bunch of shoppers coming into my practice all of the time, I don’t want to kiss that many frogs, I don’t want 2 out of 8 to complete their treatment and I don’t want 1 out of 8 to stick to my re-care. I want good quality new patients to pick up the phone and dial my practice.” Now, that’s the opportunity I spoke about before.

Everyone’s mistake is someone else’s opportunity. If everyone in your local market or almost every dentist in your local market is promoting using deals, deals, deals, deals. They are actually alienating the top half of the market. Those moms, and we know this through statistical testing, those moms tend to tune those practices out. They identify them quickly because of the offers and they tend immediately make a decision not to use them. They don’t know why they are not using them. And they are not that in tuned with their instinct. They just know they’re not going to choose them.

Howie: Right.

Mark: So, if 8 of your competitors in your dental market are postcard deal, print ad deal, radio deal, TV deal, internet deal and all the people in your community are seeing deal, deal, deal, deal, deal, 50% of those moms aren’t going to choose them. All you have to do is speak to and speak correctly to, that’s the key, speak correctly to, the top half of the dental market. If you do that, then 8 out of 10 will go through with treatment. 8 out of 10 will stick with your re-care. And those are the types of people that refer the same kind of people with like kind values for the health care they choose. We are not talking about…these aren’t CEO’s and supermodels. This is Jane Q soccer mom. Right Howie?

Howie: Yeah

Mark: There is no cosmetics and flowing hair, you know in any of our work. None of that exists. Okay.

Howie: The reason it doesn’t exist because it doesn’t work.

Mark: It doesn’t work. Right.

Howie: If you want big cases, huge cases, long lasting patients that come in over and over again and refer and have the wherewithal with the paperwork, you don’t actually get that kind of case by advertising just the purely high end cosmetics. That has its own pitfalls. Alright. The really big cases, the really nice patients come from the so called “family” market. And that’s moms or women in the top half of the market who won’t use you based primarily on price. Another caveat with this is…okay so let’s just go after the top half.

Great, great, great idea! You have to realize a few things…it’s going to take you longer to build momentum. Because you are searching the end of the pond that is very much more particular. They don’t care about the deals, in fact, the deals turn them off. So it just takes a little longer to tap into that market. If you throw your line in…Mark you have some really hot statistics on this. You have been tracking this for years.

Mark: Yeah

Howie: What is the ratio there?

Mark: When you are using price incentives you can start to get…well actually if you use price incentives, especially aggressive price incentives and you hook price incentives with insurance and you go after the financial side hard with mom. Moms who are particularly interested in that financial side, that’s an immediate response. If you have an offer that is going to expire in a three weeks it’s an immediate response. Right? Okay. You can make price incentives immediate volume responses. That’s the good news. The problem is…that’s where the good news ends. Okay. Because these are shoppers. Guess what they are going to do the next time they need a dentist.

Howie: Right

Mark: They are going to look for the next thing they get in the mail or on the TV or radio or whatever. The internet, some Groupon, club that they are a part of. That’s the mindset. So don’t be surprised if you are kissing a lot of frogs at the treatment plan level and you never see these people ever again in your re-care. It’s just a balance. I’m not saying all shoppers are like that. There is no such thing as all. All the mom’s in the top half are not great patients and all the moms in the bottom half are terrible patients. That’s not what we are saying.

We are just saying that you have understand what part of the half of the market you are promoting to. You have to craft the message properly to speak to where their head is at. Not where your head is at, not what you want…what they want. Especially with the top half. With the top half, even if you do have an offer, you have to bury it. You have to minimize that. I know this sounds 100% completely opposed to almost everything you have learned in Marketing 101.  Okay. But we have millions in testing and we will tell you, you know we will tell you that we have wasted one of the two and half million dollars in testing on trying to make the top half simpler.

Trying to make the designs fit what we learned in Marketing 101 class. And the reality is…the reality is that with the bottom you just have to give them a deal, give them a convenience and show them a google map. With the top you have to give them 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 reasons to choose you. You have to mix services, technologies, conveniences, public relations assets and you have to mix them in such a way that there is a good balance so that when that mom in the top half looks at that piece or listens to that ad or sees that on the website or wherever you are promoting your dental practice, you have a greater chance of speaking to her at a level that will interest her in at least 1 out of the 8 or 10 things.

Howie: Exactly

Mark: Remember, you don’t’ have price to use. Price is a crutch. Marketers use incentives because they haven’t figured out to do it any other way.

Howie: Exactly.

Mark: Okay.

Howie: Exactly.

Mark: We figured out the other ways to do it. We have the recipe books. So, what we are telling you is…is if you understand what you are getting into. If you are going for dental promotions to the bottom, promote to the bottom properly, target them properly, deploy them properly and you will get a good result. But understand that the ROI on the bottom is eleven times less than the top.

Howie: That’s what I was getting at. How valuable is the top half to dentist versus the bottom half.

Mark: Right there is two numbers, two primary numbers. ROI…the answer is it’s eleven. The difference between the bottom and top is eleven times. So the top is eleven times, will generate eleven times the ROI in an average practice, with a dentist with an average scope, with an average staff, with an average everything, everything is average on the spreadsheet.

Right down the middle is eleven times greater the return. But the return isn’t the only thing you consider because when you promote to the bottom you also have increased costs. You have increased opportunity costs because 8 out of 10 exams end up nothing because they don’t come back for their treatment. You end up with an increase administrative costs because 8 out of 10 on your recall lists are never coming back. But you are still going to follow up with them. You are still going send them an email, you are still going to send them a text. Someone in your office is still going to try to call them. Somebody is going to try to get them back in your practice at least 5 times before you finally give up.

That costs money, okay. So, it’s not just the eleven times over ROI. It’s also with the top half of the dental market you don’t have an increase in costs, you have a decreases in costs. Okay so it’s both…its decrease in costs with eleven times better the return. Here’s the problem though…the problem is going after the top and as Howie mentioned before…it takes longer and dentists don’t like that first year. Right? You know how we have a first year client Howie? And we are always like, “I hope at he makes it to the second year.” Right?

Howie: People love us in the second year.

Mark: We have hundreds of clients that have been with us for more than 10 years, right? But if you get them through the first year and we tell the all, “we say look, this is going to take a little while, this is what’s going to happen, this is the number of calls you’re going to get, this is the how many new patients you are going to get, your average revenue per patient should be right around this. If that all happens in your first year you’re golden. You don’t have to go anywhere else for your dental promotions.” So, anyway. So that’s the top half of the dental market. That’s the bottom half of the dental market. That’s what to expect from each as far as a return and costs.

The bottom half is getting hammered by almost every dentists in the country. The top half is largely being ignored. If you are a dentist listening to this and maybe you tried this or tried that or tried this for a while and it stopped working. I would just caution you to go back to the basics and see what kind of a message you were sending. If it was a message filled with offers and your offer was going out with another 17 offers from other competitive dental practices. That might be the reason why you are seeing a decline in your return. Howie can you think of any another top half, bottom half characteristics that I’m missing here?

Howie: Well, no…but I would like to just restress this. Is that going after the bottom half is a perfectly viable market segment to go after.

Mark: Well, yeah.

Howie: Yeah, but the dentists that contact us and interact with us over the years, they aren’t particularly interested in that half. Those are the people who come to us and that’s the people we have been serving for many, many years now. And there is a reason. They have finally figured out that what they were doing wasn’t working. If throwing enough stuff at the wall and it didn’t stick, they’re tired of it now.

Mark: Right

Howie: Something that would get them the patients that they would love to see in their chairs.

Mark: Yeah and we get a lot of…especially now, we get a lot of requests from dentists who have just completed their implant courses or just completed their sleep apnea courses or they just got Invisalign certified or what have you and they are adding services to their market, to their service mix. And they don’t really know how to reach out to their community and get patients interested. Right? We never ever go to the bottom half of the market with those. Can you remember? Have we have ever gone to the bottom half of the market for dental promotions of additional services and a dentists just fall. I can’t remember. We almost always go to the top half of the market.

Howie: Yep. That is good first basic introduction to our series here. Where can a dentist go to find this series Mark? Where are we going to be? We are going to be on our YouTube channel,, and those places.

Mark: Oh yeah…We are going to be on our YouTube channel, probably on Facebook I would imagine. Dental Web Content, Facebook, NPI Facebook. So yeah you will probably hear this all over the place. And if you do listen to this, send us some feedback. Reach out to us on our page on our podcast page. Reach out to us on our Facebook pages. Or whatever…just send us an email. Tell us if you think this is valuable to you, tell us if you don’t think this is valuable to you. Tell us if you think we are crazy. Or do you think we are all washed up because we have been doing this for 27 years. Tell us whatever you want.