In episode 3 of Dental Marketing Mastery, we further expand on the two halves of the market and answer the most important question: what do moms need to hear from you in your dental office marketing?


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Podcast Transcription:

Mark: Hey Howie! How are you today?

Howie: Really good man. Really, really good.

Mark: It’s sunny out here.

Howie: What are we going to talk about today?

Mark: Well, last week we talked about the two halves of the dental market and what our listeners should expect, both in the form of results and business metric impact if they use their dental office marketing dollars to promote to either half. Then we talked a little bit about targeting and you kind of have to talk about targeting when you are talking about the two halves of the market. So we gave an example: dental direct mail marketing. And we gave an example…okay, well you need volume of patients targeted more toward the middle and use postcards.

If you want a good volume of really good quality new patients you would target about the top 40% of the market with a tri-fold. And if you want big cases you would promote primarily to the top 10% with let’s say 8-page magazines all about your practice. That’s how you will segment the local market place. When we say, “Segment the local market place,” we don’t just mean to have those people read your postcard, read your tri-fold, read your magazine and just call. About half of the recipients will go to your website first and call from there.

Howie: That’s right.

Mark: But for the purposes of this conversation at this point in the mastery series, we really want to move our attention into what you believe as the audience. Do you believe that 48% of the females will not choose a health care provider for their practice (family?) based primarily on a price incentive. Howie and I have learned over all these years that dentists who never become our clients or never try what we have written. Now Howie, you have written 3 books, I wrote one of them with you. We don’t hold secrets. We tell people exactly what to do and how to promote dentistry without promoting primarily with price and for some reason dentists hesitate to do it.

Howie: Well, you know Mark, that’s a good point. The question you asked, “Do you believe that there is a segment out there about half that won’t choose a health care provider based primarily on price?” The reason that they don’t believe it I think is because they don’t see it. You know it’s all about price and they look at the corporate offices down the street and they look at the other competitors and what kind of marketing they are putting out and it’s all about price, price, price. So of course the dentist is going to think, “Well, yeah, I’ve got to go down the same route or else I’m going to miss out.”

Mark: “Yeah, I’ve got to do what I see all of my colleagues are doing.”

Howie: Exactly

Mark: Now let’s hold that thought for a second. In dental office marketing when does it make sense to do the same thing as all your competition? That’s a good question, isn’t it?

Howie: That’s a very good question.

Mark: It’s a very good question. Now I’m not going to say never. But I’m going to say that the times that you do that from a strategic stand point are pretty thin. Wouldn’t you agree?

Howie: Oh Absolutely.

Mark: Isn’t the idea to differentiate yourself?

Howie: Well that’s the bottom line with dental practice marketing. “Why am I different than the 14 other people that you can get a similar service or product from?”

Mark: Right.

Howie: The answer to that question and it has to be a damn good answer.

Mark: Or several answers and it doesn’t always have to be price. Right?

Howie: No definitely not

Mark: So why don’t dentists believe or why don’t some dentists believe? I have some exercises for you and I have some introspective that you can try on your own. I am talking to the audience here and not Howie, I know Howie knows this. But I would love for the audience, when you are in the presence of let’s say 3 or more females in their child rearing (bearing?) years or 30 and up. So females, more than 3 of them, 30 and Ask them the following question, “Would you choose a health care provider for your family based primarily on a price incentive?” And just listen for their answer.

I also encourage you to look at their faces because 2 out of 3 will look at you semi-insulted that you even asked that question. Those are the women you are looking for in your dental practice. The moms who would not choose a health care provider based on price. Now, we know they are out there because we have invested in exhaustive market research. In other words, it wasn’t our customers. This is a market research that we paid for. That somebody else did and they asked a wide slice of not only women and men. But men are pretty predictable. We knew what men were going to say about dentistry before we asked the question.

Howie: We are either on or off.

Mark: Right…yeah. Does it hurt? No, ok I’m good. I’m out of here. But, women… their selection criteria is very, very interesting to look at when you look at all the questions that we asked in the surveys and all the answers that were returned. It was 48/52. We weren’t surprised by it but it quantified it for us.

So if you take that little exercise and you ask those moms yourself, you are going to see the exact response that we saw in the market research that we’ve paid for. I’m going to ask you a couple of other questions. Anybody in the audience can go and look for yourself. “In your dental market area, in the area that you compete for dental patients, is there a thriving dental practice that largely fee for service?” The answer is…yeah. The answer is yes in every dental market in the country.

In some places, the answer yes times 2 or 3 or 4. Well, if all mom cared about was price, how could there possibly be a fee for service dental practice in your community? How is that even possible? Now we are not saying that everybody listening to this should go fee for service. We’re not the judger. This is not judgment day.

If you participate with 1, 2, 5, 7, 11 insurance plans…that’s awesome. However you want to do it. However you want to get to where it is your going, is fine with us. We are just saying, think about the consumer for a second. Think about what’s around you. Think about how all of your competition is advertising their practices. Look how it’s the same. Look at the race to the bottom of pricing that they are all participating in and you may be as well. Is that healthy for you? Is it healthy for the dentist? And, is it healthy for the patient? Probably healthy for the insurance companies, wouldn’t you think Howie?

Howie: Yeah, yeah. There is a little bit of a debate on whether it’s healthy for the profession.

Mark: Right, Right. I think destroying pricing powers will be good for insurance companies. But we won’t go there.

Howie: No, no.

Mark: I want you just to look around you and say to yourself, “yeah, really, how can that other dental practice over there, how can they survive fee for service or maybe taking on 1 client? How are they so busy? How come they have multiple doctors? And, how come there parking lot is full? How did that happen iIf all women cared about was price.

Howie: Right. There is a whole segment there that is not being talked about or thought about much.

Mark: Right. Okay, let’s get back to why dentists might think that all women care about is price. Well, you have to turn that question around and ask yourself, “Why is almost every question I get asked about price? Why is every phone call have something to do about my insurance coverage or what are your fees for one of the new patient calls for my practice?” Mark and Howie must be wrong. Because I know almost every new patient…all they ever ask us is about…where we are, hours of operation, how much its cost when they come in and does our office take their insurance. Wouldn’t you say that’s pretty common for all dental practices Howie?

Howie: Yeah, I would. I have been listening to that and so have you for 26 years.

Mark: Right. Basically there is no such thing as “everything is the same.” But that’s a real common theme among dentistry and people that work at the front desk of a dental practice. That’s what they hear all day long. So, Mark and Howie do not blame you for believing that all mom cares about her insurance coverage and how much her exam is going to be. And we don’t blame you for focusing on the exam to be and making it $39.00 and putting it on a postcard with Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse and mailing them out through EDDM which is totally untargeted. We don’t blame you for doing that. We totally understand why you believe that. Now we are going to break the cycle. Let’s tell you why mom feels that way. She feels that way because no one is teaching her about the dentistry you provide…Silence.

Howie: She woefully uneducated.

Mark: She is woefully uneducated. Now, if half the moms in your market won’t choose based primarily on a price incentive and the same half of those moms are the type of moms that go to webmd and do a bunch of research before they get almost anything done medically. Right? And those moms are starving, thirsting for healthcare information or the benefits of the dentistry you provide…guess who wins in your market if you are the person providing that information? You do.  Because everyone else in your market is promoting dentistry based primarily on a price incentive.

Howie: Right and your audience doesn’t see it on television. They don’t hear about it on the radio.

Mark: Does the ADA promote it?

Howie: Not lately.

Mark: How about insurance companies? Does Delta promote the benefits of dentistry?

Howie: No.

Mark: Nobody does. So, this is a very, very important point. The only reasonable conversation that mom, even in the top half of the market, can have with your staff the first time they call is really limited to the two things they know about. Right? How much is your exam fee, because I’m going to have to pay it when I leave and do you take my insurance. Right?

Howie: Right.

Mark: Because they don’t know anything else to ask because nobody is giving them anything else to ask. You know what’s really telling and this duck tails in perfectly. We have client’s that let’s say they are something…a tri-fold. Let’s say they are mailing a tri-fold and the first year we always put some kind of an incentive in the mailer.

Usually we bury it in the lower hand right corner. It’s usually a free second opinion or a cosmetic consult or implant consult…something like that. And invariably the doctors, our clients, in our second year we are redesigning the piece and updating it. They will say, “You know Mark and Howie, I’m not sure I put the right incentives in my piece.” “Why do you say that doctor?” “Because no one asking for them.” We laugh just like Howie is laughing right now. We just laugh. And we say, “Isn’t that the point? Isn’t the point of promoting your dental practice to get people to call who are actually interested in dentistry?” That’s the point. So, before you embark on effectively applying your dental marketing budget to your local community.

You have to understand the two halves, you have to believe there are two halves. You have to believe that dentistry has done just a terrible job at promoting the benefits of your craft. I mean, you all went to school for 6 years and probably took hundreds of hours of CE. All the time away from your wife and/or your husband, your kids, hobbies and all that stuff. The only person that knows about it is you and 151,000 other dentists. The consumers don’t know. That’s your opportunity. There’s a value to that.

Howie: If you can be one or one of a group of dentist that promote the benefits of dentistry. In other words, what do they get and stay away from the talk about price and cost and all of that kind of stuff. Just explain what you do and how good you are at it and why they should come and see you for these benefits. You will be miles ahead.

Mark: There is a formula to doing this correctly. We actually have a spreadsheet that we are more than willing to share with you. We call it the Marketable Attributes Scorecard. If you want that…send an email to Josh. [email protected]  Just ask for the Marketable Attributes Scorecard. The Marketable Attributes Scorecard is separated by basically 5 main categories…Price, Convenience, Technology, Public Relations Assets, and Dental Services.

Under each main category are all the things you do, all the technologies you have, all the conveniences you offer, and all your public relations assets. And all of those are given a score…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. When you build a message, whether you are building radio, television, mailers, you can’t do it with postcards…you can do it with tri-folds, magazines, websites definitely, social media, okay…there needs to be a balance when you are talking to the top half of the market. That balance is on that Marketable Attributes Scorecard. The Marketable Attributes Scorecards actually controls the balance of your message, statistically oriented to the bulk of the top half of the market. What you never want to do is overstate one message. Right Howie?

Howie: Right.

Mark: What happens when you do that?

Howie: For Example, If you just going on and on and on about your marketing sedation, which is a fine service…You might get into what is called a “Niche Trap.” People will think that’s all you do… if you go to that guy he is going to knock you out.” You don’t want to harp on one single area of your practice.

Mark: Right. What the top half of the market really wants to hear from you is a blend of services, price, conveniences, a smattering of technology and a smattering of public relations assets in every message you give them, if you have the room. Let me give you some media types where you will have plenty of room…tri-folds…plenty of room, magazines obviously…plenty of room, websites, plenty of room. Those three are where you have the room to have a complete discussion so that mom is thirsting for more information. She can go to your website get the rest, call you from there and become a new patient.

The media types that are constricted are T.V…. short length, radio….short length, print ads…and short length social media. you’re never going to put that big of a post on Facebook. So, those are short snipit media types, right? So if it’s a short snipit media type, what you have to do is you have to make sure that you rotate your messages within each one of those 5 main categories. Again, those 5 main categories are price, convenience, services, technologies and public relations assets. Like I said…[email protected] would be happy to email you the spreadsheet. The spreadsheet…It’s the spreadsheet our designers use when they go and build whatever they’re going to build for our clients. You can use the same spreadsheet or give it to your designers.

Howie: A very short way to look at it is that that marketable attribute sheet is what mom needs to hear from you in a nutshell.

Mark: Right. You’ll never get all the things on the marketable attribute sheet in one presentation. It’s totally impossible. But, that’s why they’re scored. What you try to do is you try to create a piece with the highest score. The scores come from the market research we did and the importance that general public placed on each one of those items on the spreadsheet. For instance, you’ll be surprised to find out that dental services was actually rated 4th in the main categories. Most dentists are very surprised by that. Price of course was #1, 2 was technology, 3 was convenience and dental services was actually #4. When you look at self-directed advertising by dentists, normally what you see is the long laundry lists of services. Right Howie?

Howie: Right

Mark: People send us their advertising and go “what do you think?” And we look at it…I’m laughing but they almost all do the same thing. They create a laundry list of pain, they put their name on it and they put a google map on it. Right?

Howie: Yeah

Mark: It’s all about services.

Howie: Yeah that’s right. It gets depressing after a while.

Mark: It does. When the same practice offers same day dentistry. They CadCam in the office and it’s not even anywhere in their dental office marketing because they are listing all of their services. Invisalign, implants, whatever…that’s what the dentist is interested in selling.  But what mom needs to hear from you is a little more mix…technology, convenience, price, services, public relations assets.

Howie: Here’s what we want the consumer to do when they see anything comes from your office. We want them to look at it or listen to it or watch it and say, “you know…this looks like a good practice. They look like they are up to date technologically, they look bright and happy, they look like they want me as a patient. I can get my husband’s snoring taken care of. I can get Ortho without having to go elsewhere. All of these things. All of these reasons to choose you…that’s what they want. Then they pick up the phone…actually they usually go to your website and they read more about what they can get. Those are the benefits of modern dentistry. And you can offer it.

Mark: Yeah. That’s what the mom’s in the top have do. The moms in the bottom half see your deal and they call you. That’s what they do. They get a postcard and they call you. That’s why it’s different. That’s why you have to give both halves the different message. And, that’s how you craft the message. Again, if you want to have your people follow our recipe book, Josh will be happy to email it to you. So let’s recap. Let’s bring this to a close.

This is our third in our Mastery series. The first one we define the two halves. The second one we gave you the characteristics and what to expect if you promote to both halves. We talked a little bit about targeting in that second one. And in this one, we’re hopefully getting you to think or feel about what you are seeing in your own marketplace and begin to believe that even in your marketplace there really is 48% of those women who will absolutely not respond to a price incentive to choose a dentist.

If you believe that…now you are ready. Now we are ready to get into the meat and the bones of dental marketing mastery, which is going through all the media types. What to do, what not to do, how to do it and all of the subordinate strategies to each one, which we are going to do in future installments. So, Howie do you have anything to add.

Howie: Well, I am looking forward to doing a lot more of these. We are going to be having these on increasing number of channels like YouTube and iTunes. I think we are up on iTunes already. So, any dentists out there who wants to let your buddies know what you have been listening to, let them know. We sure would appreciate it.

Mark: Yeah, you know what? Actually I would like to add to that. If you have any questions or specific things that are happening to you that we could use a mini topic. We not going to use it as a main topic as a Mastery series topic but we will use it as an example topic within one of the segments. Just email [email protected] and give him your topic. This is like a call-in radio station. We’ll give you name credit and everything and we will be happy to give you our expertise.

Howie: Alright…Thanks for tuning in this week. We will be back shortly. Thank you!