In our second installment of Dental Marketing Mastery, we go further in depth about the two halves of the market and explain what you can expect from these folks, what type of dental marketing strategies work best for each segment, and how to target.


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Podcast Transcription:

Howie: Welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery Series. Another in our series of podcasts. My name is Howie Horrocks from New Patients Incorporated. And that guy with the other microphone is Mark Dilatush, he is the President of New Patients Incorporated.

Mark: Hello everyone.

Howie: Yeah, I think what we are going to do is quickly recap what we covered last week in our podcast about the two halves of the dental market. Mark do you want to recap?

Mark: The two halves of the dental market we can probably spend 5 podcasts just talking about the statistics behind how mom makes her decision on a health care provider. But we won’t bore you with all the statistics and details and all the research and all the testing. But we will tell you is, it’s about half. It’s actually like 48% and 52% but about half of the dental market mom, half the moms, will choose a health care provider for their family based primarily on the communication stimulus of a deal.

In other words, price and price only. In other words, “Here is my deal. Come on in, try me out as a dentist.” About half of the moms will respond positively to that. The other half absolutely, positively will not and actually you may be alienating the top half of the dental market if you are using a lot of deals in your dental practice marketing. That’s what we talked about last week. That subject is the top of the pyramid of understanding in the mastery series. Without understanding that, almost every other question you ask yourself about what you should do with your dental practice marketing dollar becomes confusing.

So you really have to walk away from this series with the knowledge that when you advertise your dental practice, no matter where it is…the US, Canada, Australia, Ireland, England…it doesn’t matter we have done testing in every one of those countries. You are still dealing with a 50/50 proposition. You are dealing with a 50/50 market and you need to do it right. And I know that’s what everybody listening wants to do. Nobody listening is listening because you want to do advertising wrong. You are all listening because you want to do a better job of marketing your dental practice. So this is a prerequisite.

You have two halves that you are working on. Now this week, we are going to go into what the characteristics are of each half. In other words, “What should you expect if you promote to the top. What should you expect if you promote to the bottom.” Then we are going to talk a little bit about you specifically. What situation are you in? How much money should you allocate to the bottom? How much money should you allocate to the top? Then if you are going to allocate money externally of your practice to promote your dental practice, how do you target each half and how do you communicate to each half? So those are the subjects for this week or for this installment.

So let’s jump right in and go through the result characteristics of each half. I want to remind everyone of one of my favorite guys in the world and his favorite quote. Howie, while I pour another cup of coffee, will you go through your favorite quote of all time.

Howie: Well there are so many to choose from. When we talk about offers?

Mark: Yes, yes. You’re offer quote.

Howie: Many dentists get very very concerned about their offers, what kind of deal they put forth and it really comes down to this. It’s kind of silly. It isn’t that it’s not important, it’s just not very important in the overall scheme of things. So, I always tell the dentists, “If your offer is your best foot forward. Then you really have no feet.” What that really means is…don’t be so damn concerned about the offer.

Mark: Right, right.

Howie: Initially they can get the phone to ring. But in the broad scheme of things, you really don’t want to promote price to the top half of the dental market.

Mark: Right, Thank you. That’s what I was looking for is that no fee quote. Here’s why and this is the perfect segue to what to expect. So we have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds, probably thousands of clients over all the years who have used our stuff for their dental practice marketing. Most of it worked. Some of it didn’t. That’s just the nature of marketing.

But, over all those years, in all of those countries, with 14 million impressions a month that we put out on the street with all those tracking numbers and all that data coming in. Here is what we know to be true…we know the bottom half and this is really important, knowing what to expect before you spend money on marketing…it’s kind of like being a genie. It’s like being a magician, it’s knowing what’s going to happen. There’s no mystery, right? That’s wonderful.  It’s a wonderful place to be. So if you are going to promote your dental practice to the bottom of the market, moms who will choose a health care provider based primarily on price.

Here’s what you can expect…You can expect short term increase in phone calls. You can expect a good solid volume of phone calls. You’ll enjoy the volume of calls. You’ll enjoy how much your phone rings. You can expect a slightly higher missed appointments, new patient no shows. You can definitely expect to kiss a lot of frogs. In other words, a small percentage, a lower percentage of these responders will actually follow through, accept your treatment, refer others, and stick to their re-care. And you can definitely expect that your re-care percentage on the back end of the business…your compliance is going to go down. When your compliance goes down, your administrative costs goes up because somebody in your office is tasked with the job of following up with all the overdue re-care appointments.

Well, if your re-care compliance goes down and you are paying a person to follow up with them, what you are going to end up with ultimately is you’re going to end up paying more for that person and you’re going to be getting a less result. Okay? So that is what you can expect. You also expect and this is really important. The bell curve, I hope everybody listening understands what a bell curve is. A bell curve is when your results go up and they reach a plateau, the plateau is the top of the bell curve and then after the plateau, results starts to go down and they fall down to the bottom again. That’s what a bell curve is.

There is a very defined, prominent bell curve when promoting consistently to the bottom of the dental market. That bell curve is 29-33 months long. So if you consistently promote, this is pretty classic, if you mail postcards to your local market on a consistent basis and those postcards have deals on them, you will rise to the top of your apex of your bell curve rather quickly. But I can absolutely, 100% guarantee you that in an average market, between 29-33 months, 28-34, somewhere in there, that top of that bell curve is going to start to slide and its’ going to slide quickly.

In other words, at that point in life you will be spending the same amount of money for a drastically smaller response. Those are all classic, classic characteristics of the impact of promoting dentistry to the bottom of the dental market.

Now, let’s contrast that to marketing your dental practice to the top half of the market. The top half of the market typically generates, you might not like this, but it typically generates less volume of phone calls. If you think about it, there’s no enormous call to action other than the benefits of the dentistry you provide. You are probably not going to put, “call now and get a free egg sandwich,” on a mailer if you are promoting to the top of the dental market. So, the call volume actually goes down, but the quality of the interaction and the quality of the new patient goes way up. Now, your new patient no-shows are almost zero if you go after the top half. The average revenue per patient in the first year is three times greater. In 12 years it will be eleven times greater.

So the ROI billed, the exponential ROI in the top half of the market is extraordinary. It’s eleven times greater than the bottom half. You will kiss less frogs. The doctor schedule will start to schedule out because you will actually being doing dentistry to people who need it. Your re-care person, whoever follows up with your re-care will now become your best friend and they will be happier at their job position because more people will be coming in on your re-care. You hygienist will be more productive and so on and so forth.

So the bottom line here is…is if you are right now tired of kissing frogs, tired of new patient missed appointments, wondering why you can’t keep hygiene filled, pissed off at your hygienist because they not as productive as they could be and you don’t know what your business administrator is doing with your recall list.

Chances are, that if you are promoting to the bottom half of the dental market you actually caused the problem. Okay? We see this all the time. I’m apart of probably 50 dental forums, either on Facebook or Dental Town or Nexus or whatever these groups are. And invariably, once a month a dentist logs on and complaining about no shows. Invariably, it comes down to one of two things, they pre-appoint everybody and are surprised when everybody doesn’t keep their appointed time and/or they are also promoting their practice based on primarily price bringing in shoppers. Those shoppers, here is what you don’t know about those shoppers. The shoppers are going to pick a different deal next time.

Howie: That’s exactly right.

Mark: They picked your deal this time. What’s going to stop them from picking a different deal next time? So we aren’t saying all of them. C’mon…nothing is absolute in marketing. But, for the most part, everything I just said, the characteristics about the bottom and top half of the market are true. I know the business analytics are true because I see them. We know the impact in the ROI numbers are absolutely true because we have been tracking them for years. So, here’s why this is so incredibly vitally important for everybody listening to understand because everybody on this podcast has a choice.

You have 3 choices. They are…”I want to use my marketing budget to go after the bottom half of the market.” “I want to use my marketing budget to go after to the top half of the market or I want to do both simultaneously.” The third one is the advanced user. They go to the head of the class, but there is a lot involved with that. There is a lot of detail, there is a lot of things that you have to do just right in order to not to mess with your own results. Okay, so those are the characteristics of the top and the bottom half. Now we go to the question…”which half should you go after?” That’s a very personal question based on your current capacity.

We cannot answer that question for everybody who is listening to this podcast. I can tell you this…outside of the most constricted marketing budget that you can ever even contemplated, in the most dire circumstances…let me give you an example. This is actually not an uncommon example. A start up dental practice went into business with $10,000.00 in marketing money, thought it was enough. Expelled it or burned through 10 grand in the first 2 months, ends up with 16 new patients. Now what do they do? Now, they come and they say, “What should I do?” “How should I market my practice?” Only in those circumstances would we ever recommend pouring money into the bottom half of the market without pouring some money into the top. Almost every one of our marketing plans is all top or a combination of top and bottom.

Our marketing plans, when they are a combination of the top and bottom, it’s because the top, we can predict the top is not going to generate the patient volume that the doctor is going to need because the doctor has a large amount of capacity they need to fill. Maybe they added chairs, maybe they added a new dentist. Maybe they added hours to just their own schedule. Whatever. For whatever the reason the doctor’s capacity expanded and now it needs to be filled and it needs to be filled in a short period of time. In those circumstances we will promote to the top and the bottom simultaneously, fully understanding that when we hit capacity or when we get close to capacity, we are going to pull the money from the bottom and reallocate it to the top.

Howie: Also important to know…when we promote simultaneously, there are entirely different messages to each. We don’t send the same thing to the lower half that we do to the upper half.

Mark: Right, which, gets us to targeting and communicating. Which are our last two pieces of our podcast. So, targeting…this is an interesting topic. We could probably spend and we probably should actually Howie. We should plan to spend one of these 30 minute podcasts on the intricacies of targeting and the characteristics of each media type. There are tons of dentists out there right now who are pouring literally millions of dollars into passive, untargetable media types. You can’t target the internet. You can target Facebook…sort of. You can’t target Google. You can’t push your website to a targeted audience. There’s no other media type out that you can do such a refined job of targeting…than mail. The cool thing about dentistry is that your dental practice is basically a local business.

You serve 90% of your customers probably come from within a 15 miles radius of the center of the roof of your building. I’m sure there are some that come from 60 miles away but the vast majority of your patients come from a 15 mile radius. We joke all the time in our seminars that if we wanted to find left handed midgets within a 6 miles radius of your practice we can find them because we can target them. We can go into the database, which has almost a limitless selection criteria and we can target to only and this is the key, only use your marketing dollar to present your communication to people who will most likely be a good match for your dental practice.

I want you to think about that last paragraph that we just said. Your other choices with your advertising dollar is to throw them all over the world and hope that that the target segment finds them. That’s expensive as heck.

Howie: That’s like radio or TV…they don’t call them broadcasts for nothing. You spread your message out way too far and to so many other people that are ever going to be patients of yours.

Mark: Right. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have radio clients and that doesn’t mean we don’t have TV clients because we do.

Howie: True

Mark: But the vast majority of you, what you really want, is you want to reach out to the local households who will be most likely a good match for your practice and talk to them, talk to them, talk to them…and they will respond. Now, the only media type you can do that with, effectively or as effectively is direct mail. So when we talk about targeting…who are we targeting when we go to the top half and who are we targeting when we go after the bottom half.

Well, here is the way we do it…not a secret. We use a service called Epsilon or a company called Epsilon. You may recognize them as Equifax. You may of thought all along that Equifax made money on giving free credit reports. If you think about what I just said it doesn’t make sense…nobody makes any money providing free anything.  Equifax is the largest provider of direct mail lists in the world. That’s what they make money on. They have an incredibly large surf criteria database. If you order enough volume of mail lists from them you are invited to go inside the vault. Obviously, we do enough business with them.

So we go inside the vault and we say, “Alright here is what I want…here is Dr. Smith’s office address. I want you to find me the top 40% of the local market. I want 15,000 targets and I don’t want you to find me anyone below the top 40% and when I say the top 40% I mean top 40% in the following 4 categories…geography…closest to the office, a thing called marketability index, credit worthiness and household income. I want all 4 those criteria met and I want all 4 of those criteria within the top 40% of the entire available population. I do not want anyone in the bottom 60%” So if I was going to mail to the top half of the market that’s where I would mail first. Do you agree Howie?

Howie: Absolutely.

Mark: If there’s 10 houses on Maple Street and you know that 4 of them qualify to be good patients and 6 of them don’t. Why in the world would you waste your money mailing to the other 6?

Howie: You wouldn’t.

Mark: You wouldn’t. Now, how would we go after the bottom and the top simultaneously? We would target the top 40% for the mailer design to go after the top half. Now the mailer design for the top half is not a postcard. You don’t go to the top half of the market trying to present to them the benefits of the dentistry you provide with the space of a thimble.

Postcards have no space. They have just enough space to put Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and a couple of deals. You have no room on a postcards to present, make your case, talk about the wonderful benefits of the dentistry you provide that half of the market would be interested in if you would just talk to them about it. So we would target the top half, the top 40% in those categories and we would use to communicate with them a tri-fold, a quad-fold…if you got one in the mail you would say, “Wow! This is a really nice office brochure.”  You would look at it and you wouldn’t think it was a postcard and you certainly wouldn’t think it was cheap. Now the bottom half of the market we would target differently.

We would probably target that middle 30%. Somewhere between 20%-30% up to 50%-60%. We would target that middle consumer in all the same 4 categories…distance, marketability index, credit worthiness and household income. Now, here’s why…we don’t want to send the deals to the top 40% because those moms for the most part do not want to see the deals. And you the owner of that dental practice don’t want alienate the top half of the market because eventually all of your money is going to be spent going after them. So you don’t want to give them the impression that you are the cheap dentist in town. Okay…so don’t.

Target appropriately, set up your communication appropriately and send them the appropriate message. The middle, you don’t want to send them those tri-folds. The middle part of the market will respond really, really well to those deals. You don’t have to talk to them about the benefits of the technology or your services or your conveniences. You don’t have to talk to them really about hardly anything other than to let them know…here’s a google map, here’s my name, here’s my website, and here’s the two or three offers we have for new patients we have this month. That’s all you really have to do. How much of a rocket scientist Howie do you have to be to promote to the bottom half of the dental market?

Howie: Not much.

Mark: Not much…Right. It’s really not difficult.

Howie: Even I can do it.

Mark: Yeah. Even we can do it. So marketing your dental practice to the bottom half is really, really, really easy but you have to be really careful that you don’t alienate the top while you do. Right? So let’s just say you are in a situation where you say, “You know what? I need some quality new patients but I also need volume to fill my schedule at least temporarily while my new associate comes up to speed.”

Let’s say, well that’s a perfect example. You send your postcards to the middle. You send your tri-folds to the top. And, you get 12 calls from the middle, 8 calls from the top. You get a nice blend of volume quality and pretty soon when your capacity fills up you can slow down and mail them to the middle. Push that money or that marketing investment more over to the top. Makes perfect sense. It’s like a throttle, it’s like a volume knob on a radio you just turn it up and turn it down. So anyway, let’s see…we recapped the two halves of the dental market from our first podcast, right?

Howie: Right.

Mark: We went through the result characteristics of each half. What you should expect from each half if you used your marketing dollar to after them. We talked about targeting each half. We talked about targeting in general actually and we talked about how most media types are not really targetable or certainly not as targetable as mail. Mail is the ultimate targeting machine. And how to communicate to each half and what to communicate to them with. Either a postcard or a brochure type. I would even go Howie, I would go as far as…we have customers who their practice is at a certain point. They’re happy with the capacity, they’re happy with the revenue’s…but maybe they are in their 50’s and they want to do more cool dentistry, right, the fun stuff.

Howie: Yep.

Mark: We have clients like that. We have a ton of clients like that. So what we do in those cases is we target the top 10% and we send them 8-page magazines all about the practice. That’s another way you can use mail to minimize your expense and maximize the possibility of a great return. Now magazines, they don’t hardly get any volume of calls…maybe 10 or 12 per drop. But the average revenue per patient off of them is astronomical, so you really only need 1 to cover an entire year or year and a half magazine campaign.

So anyway…so those are the two halves of the dental market, what they mean or could mean to your practice when you make a decision on where you use your marketing dollar. How to target them. What to send them. It’s not a simple as you think but then again when you think about it and talk about it, it’s not really complicated, it’s logical in its nature. Got anything else to add Howie?

Howie: No I don’t. I think our time is up for this week. I hope whoever is out there listening on whatever channel you are listening to us on will come back again and listen some more.

Mark: Alright we’ll talk to you next week.