In this episode of Dental Marketing Mastery, Mark and Howie talk about the one thing that can make or break your dental practice advertising: design.



Podcast highlights:

  • Proper margins, fonts, graphics, picture density, size
  • What will customers say? Does it matter?
  • What are the professional standards that should be met?
  • The design philosophy that has worked for us for the past 26 years
  • How to incorporate benefit-driven design into your dental practice advertising
  • Incorporating emotional concepts
  • Making the most of your marketable attributes
  • How to properly rotate ads
  • Design 101 vs. dentistry design
  • The importance of teasers
  • Logos — how important are they really?

Podcast Transcription:

Hello, and welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery series. This podcast is brought to you by and New Patients Incorporated. I’m Howie Horrocks, the Founder of New Patients Incorporated, along with me once again, as my friend and partner and the President of New Patients Incorporated, Mark Dilatush.

Howie: Hello, Mark. How are you doing?

Mark: Hey, Howie? How are you? It’s podcast day and time, huh?

Howie: Wow, who love these podcasts?

Mark: Yeah. Actually, it’s, you know, I’ve been writing my whole career. And, man, that’s hard. You know, it’s a lot harder to write than it is to put a microphone in a computer in front of you and just have a conversation with your buddy.

Howie: Yeah, yeah.

Mark: Anyway, okay, so today’s topic is design.

Howie: Oh, yes.

Mark: This is near and dear to Howie, my partner, my friends’ heart because he is a creative half of this company. For those of you who know Mark Dilatush, touch me, you’re probably laughing right now and saying ‘Why does Mark even have a microphone if we’re going to talk about design?” Because I tell everyone, if I designed what you are going to advertise it with look like a six year old ruler with a green crayon. And that is actually factual. That’s true.

Okay so, I’m not a designer, and I can write I can write on business, I can write, I can write on this on dental practice marketing topics, I can write fairly well there. But I wouldn’t know what to write to attract a dental consumer. That’s my buddy. Okay, but so, here’s what we’re going to do today or for this session, is I’m going to tell you how incredibly important design is. And I’m going to tell you from a statistical level, which is my department, that is where my head is always at.

So how important is design, design and will make or break every dental practice advertising you ever do for the rest of your career? statistically, it will absolutely the variance between an effective design and an ineffective design, the cost of variance is 100%. Okay, so and very few things in life where you get a variance of 100%. Black or White, okay, there is no gray area, if you have a bad design, it’s bad. Okay? And it’s going to cost you all of your money. Yeah. One person is going to call you Okay, so

Howie: There’ll be no ROI.

Mark: There is zero or negative ROI. So that’s how incredibly important design is. Now you say, well, how do you test design, and I’m going to tell you. F the purposes of this conversation, this 30 minutes that we get to share with you, let’s just keep it cuz there’s different ways to design and all media types. So, let’s just make it this conversation about either dental office websites or external mailers. Okay, because you know what, you’re kind of if you’re doing right, you kind of design them the same way.

Howie: Yeah, exactly.

Mark: Right. Okay so, here’s how, here’s what you measure. When you measure effectiveness of design, you measure things like size, fold, scroll, margins, font, size, font, color, graphic, picture density, word density, versus word dentistry and sides. All of those things for each topic.

By the way, if you didn’t listen to the last podcast, there is a there’s a marketable attributes score card, at our new website,, if you go under Resources, free downloads. There’s a piece I know, I sounded like I just that was a question. I think it is a question, but I’m pretty sure I’m right. If you go there to the free downloads, you’ll see it it’s called marketable attribute scorecard.

And what I mean by testing all of those within design is each one of those subjects is tested within all those design parameters. When we build websites and mailers, over 27 years of doing this, so if you test every one of those new. Test them over that period of time, you get a statistical measurement of what works, what doesn’t work. And so, and here’s why we’re having this conversation, because, but not just why, but one of the reasons why is because when we build a design, some of our customers, or some of our prospective new customers who asked for a sample will say, I don’t know, man, I don’t like it. Right now.

Howie: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Mark: Okay so, now I’m going to hand the microphone for the most part over to Howie, who can tell you why. This, I guess it’s us stay today kind of a style works.

Howie: Yeah

Mark: Go Howie.

Howie: Well, actually, we kind of touched on this in a previous podcast, or was it an article I can’t remember, but about what the dentist likes and doesn’t like. And in fact, what we like and don’t like, and we kind of dispatched to the that, that whole topic, and set it aside and replaced it with?

Well, as long as it doesn’t violate professional standards, it doesn’t matter what you like, it matters what the consumer responds to. So that that if you start your design process, from that point of view, you’re going to be much more effective. And if you but if you let your personal preferences, interject or the preferences of your staff, or your spouse or your janitor, you know, you’re going to run into trouble.

Because almost everybody has their own ideas about what makes good dental practice advertising. I’ve got my ideas Mark Scott, his and, and really, it comes down to the good ideas are really the ones that the consumer responds to. So, with that groundwork, I’m going to attempt to explain how New Patients Inc and how Dental Web Content have arrived at their design philosophy over the years and it goes back Mark mentioned the USA Today concept. That’s kind of what we have called this over the years. For a long time. It was proprietary, we just sort of kept it to ourselves, but not anymore. It’s in. It’s in her last book and we want to get the word out about it. Because it’s, it’s a good approach to design

Mark: and entertaining every piece of content on too.

Howie: Yeah, exactly. And so, what do we mean by that? Well, some of you oldsters in the audience may remember, going back to 1974. That’s when the newspaper USA Today first appeared on the scene, okay. And it was very different. In fact, the little stands that they sold it from looked like TV sets, which was entirely intentional. It was it was the newspapers attempt at trying to catch up with the television age. And because TV was capturing most of their audience, and it was going away. And the venerable publications like the New York Times, and, and just newspaper after newspaper having trouble attracting revenues.

So along comes this upstart USA Today. Well, fast forward just just 10 years after that, and it has become or it became the fourth largest English language newspaper on that planet. Even though it was USA today. Okay so that tells you something right there tells you a lot.

So, you know, we took a look at that. And we thought, you know, there’s a there’s a modeling possibility here that we need to look into now. She looked at the newspaper at the time, it was very different for wall had color. No other news, newspapers had color. Are you kidding me? And it also took advantage of what we would call the short attention span, although I don’t I think that’s mislabeling that what they did was they presented the story, in what I call a vignette, a short version of the story that focused on just the vital information that the consumer, the reader might want.

Mark: Keeping the reader wanting more,

Howie: yes, that’s right. And many of the stories started on the front, but they continued after the fold, it’s called that, you know, further back, which expose the reader to more dental practice advertising. So that was, that was another reason they did that. And there are many other parts about this. I don’t want to too long about it. But that’s sort of where we got this version of design. We want to present here. Here’s the problem that consumers have here. It’s not a problem. It’s a question. There are two questions. First question is, what are you going to do for me? What’s in it? For me? We all know that. The second question is, why should I choose you over the 37? other choices that I have? Very good question. You have to have a good answer.

Mark: And several good answers.

Howie: Yeah, exactly. Our answer has been, you know, you need a boatload of answers. And you need a benefit driven benefit explained benefit for each service, or, or any anything that you do, you need to build your design so that it is a six lane, eight lane nine lane superhighway to your front door. Not a little bike path. Okay so, you need to give people many reasons to choose you. Not one. How’s the price? Not too as in another price?

Mark: But price break? Number two?

Howie: Yeah. But build it around benefits? What will this do for the consumer? Who’s reading this? or looking at it on the web? And why is it that they should choose you and your practice? Now, if you give people 10 reasons to choose you, probably only one or two of them, might even relate to them or their families? That’s enough. That’s enough.

Mark: Right

Howie: And we build our are designed that way to present in short, impactful vignettes, each benefit that you bring to the table as a dentist.

Mark: Yeah, I can I can go into our websites. I mean, if you go to our website, and are not our website, but our client websites, you’re going to see a pretty familiar pattern, the pattern is, is to establish understanding of the process problem. Do you snore at night?

Howie: Right is snoring dangerous?

Mark: Right? Right? Are you afraid of traditional, you know, braces, or whatever, okay, in other words, you connect with the reader by establishing an agreement that their problem is really a problem. Okay, then you present the solution to them? Well, we can fix x using why. Right. And then at the very bottom, you make it real easy to find out if they’re a candidate, if you think you’re a candidate for why Come on in for a complimentary console. And you know, whatever, we’ll take a look. Okay, so your web page, really, from a consumer friendly standpoint, for those services needs to be about, I don’t know, half a scroll. doesn’t need to be long.

The concepts are, these are the emotional concepts and connecting with the consumer, the emotional concept is agree with the problem. establish that you now you both know that the visitor has a problem, state the solution that you can provide and make it easy for them to come in and see if they’re a candidate. Right?

Howie: Yep.

Mark: I mean, you don’t need 67 pages of information to do that. What you want to do is have the person travel through the emotional steps, you want to control the emotional steps. So at the very end, where it says it’s really easy to find out, if you’re a candidate call the seven numbers, you want them to call the seven numbers.

It’s about how he said at the very beginning, it’s like this is about this is about attracting this is this is not education. Okay, Um, but no, the vignette, piece. Man, you can play that out with every medium, where you have the space that you can do that. Now, here’s the trick. Maybe this will be a good segue Howie, in design, discussing design is what if you don’t have the space to talk about nine things? What if you only have the space really to talk about one? Like, radio?

Howie: Right

Mark: Right. Yeah, me in a medium where you can’t get all vignette crazy. Okay.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: How do you? How do you design for a medium like that?

Howie: Well, yeah, you know, that’s, that’s the key thing in any dental practice advertising is you’ve got real estate, okay? So, the real estate might be a eight and a half by 10. Might be blah, blah, whatever the design is, or it might be a website page, or it might be 60 seconds on the radio.

Mark: Right

Howie: Okay, so that’s your real estate, for radio. So how do you present? It’s like, a good menu of topics. When you only have 60 seconds? Well, the answer is you can’t, and you shouldn’t even try. What you need to do is create, pick the five most marketable attributes of your practice five, and you make each spot about one thing

Mark: Here we go, right. And together, they become your, your, your menu of vignettes,

Howie: exactly. So you have five in a row, and you just go 12345-12345-12345, that says the advantage of being of giving you the opportunity to present more than one reason why people should choose you, and also gives you the opportunity to, to explain the story of the practice, over this length of time. And, you know, if you’re just going to run sedation spots, for example, then the public’s going to end up thinking that’s all you do. Or, gee, if I go to him, he’s gonna knock me out. And I don’t want to be knocked out. So, you you’ve got to spread out your marketable attributes over a series. And it’s a miniseries really, like you see used to see on TV.

Mark: Sure.

Howie: And that’s how you do it with radio.

Mark: Yeah, and you can say really the same thing for maybe a print ad, like, like this month, we might want to put a print in in a magazine about sleep apnea next month, we might want to put it in there about Invisalign.

Howie: Exactly

Mark: right. The month after that might be about subject x or y or z or whatever right

Howie: Right

Mark: So, there are mediums there, where you have the space, like mail or web you have well depends on how you do your mail, if you do postcards, you don’t have any space. If you do larger than, you know, like a brochure type of a mailer, you have the space there. So, there’s promotion mediums where you have the space to talk about, let’s say, 567, or eight of these vignettes, 567 or eight reasons to choose you. Things like radio, or television, or print media. You really don’t have the real estate, so you have to rotate singular messages. Make sense? I hope it makes sense to everybody because that’s a I hope we just saved dentistry. $27 million? Really,

Howie: I think we did

Mark: these are these are very expensive lessons to learn. Right? Um, but now within design. I will tell you that the normal, like if somebody’s listening to this went to design school, and they listened to their design one on one teacher and their design one on one teacher came up and said, I’m going to now teach you the general rules of design. They are keep, it open, keep it airy, airy, lots of white space. Don’t say too much. Keep your word density at an absolute minimum. Use lots and lots of money. lots of pictures and visuals. Blah, blah, blah, right? Howie

Howie: right

Mark: Okay, how does that work for dentistry?

Howie: Big flop

Mark: Big flop. So.

Howie: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with that. And the part of its correct. Part of it is right, you have to be clear, and you can’t have too many words. Except, and unless those words are the right words.

Mark: Okay.

Howie: Right. You can take you can take a topic, and you can write 700 words on it. And it’s not going to matter to somebody who’s not interested in the topic to begin with. So, it doesn’t matter to you 700 words or seven words,

Mark: right

Howie: Doesn’t matter,

Mark: right.

Howie: But to a person who is interested or can be perhaps persuaded to be somewhat interested in what you have to say about your dental practice, they’re going to want to know all about it

Mark: yep

Howie: or as much as they can about it. With real estate that you have. This makes your copywriting essential, because you can’t write a bunch of boring words about how great you are.

Mark: Right

Howie: You have to talk about how how great they can feel and look, and how much better their live lives will be. If they get this problem x solved. Right

Mark: Right. Right. And it’s it. This is great Howie, this great conversation. Because we previous podcasts, we talked about the internet, we talked about, look, there’s online dental practice advertising, and there’s offline promotion, and you should never do just one or the other, you have to do both. And we just now in this podcast discussed mail, and we discussed the vignettes, the idea of presenting 678 910 or more things about you for the reader to choose in a mailer. Then doing the same thing on the website in the mailer is a vignette. And the only place they’re going to get additional information about whatever service x is go to the website.

That’s why we promote the website all over the mailers. Right. So, they work within that design philosophy within the vignette design philosophy or the USA Today philosophy of design. Those two pieces work like peanut butter and jelly. I mean,

Howie: Yeah,

Mark: Like peanut butter and fluff, I am still

Howie: We see that all the time we send out

Mark: Right

Howie: Daily for clients, of course we track it like, like it was our own money. You see, we see their website hits go up,

Mark: right

Howie: Where do you think they’re coming from?

Mark: Right, exactly. So that’s, I mean, that’s it so what you want to do is if you’re going to do offline, and you’re going to do online, and obviously you’re going to do them sign on time, simultaneous and you should and if you’re going to do them consistently and you and you have this USA Today design philosophy behind your external mail and your website, it becomes unbelievably powerful when you carry the message through so in with your design with your mailer, if the if the vignette say this, this, this, this and this, they need to be available over here on the website, when the person goes from your mail or to your website learns more and calls from there. You agree. They have to be easy to find on their website.

Howie: Absolutely.

Mark: Right.

Howie: front and Center. Yeah,

Mark: front and center. Right. Okay so, so yeah, I mean, that’s design in a nutshell. Um, I can I can tell you some don’ts. This will be a funny, but we’ll leave this for the end.

Howie: Okay,

Mark: um, I can tell you the design question that I I shudder from. They are designed questions about logos.

Howie: Oh, boy.

Mark: There you go. Now here that’s a designer saying that. Okay. here here’s not really well, a copywriter saying that. So, here’s, here’s why this is just friendly advice. It’s probably not going to make you any money as a dentist. But it may save you some time. Dentists get all hung up on logos. And well what is a logo? Give me the definition of logo.

Howie: Well, it comes from logo type, but it basically means what a visual expression of your brand.

Mark: There you go. Okay, so having said that Mark Dilatush from NPI is going to tell you everybody listening to this that none of you are branded. The definition of brand ending for a dentist is when you start seeing patients that are referred to you from people who aren’t even your patients.

Howie: There you go.

Mark: And I bet that none of you are getting those yet. So, I bet you none of you are branded. Now I also understand that the word branding is way overused, okay, especially from people who design logos die. So, logos are normally step two, normally a doctor will name their practice, john or Jane Q. Smith, DDN. Whatever. DMD DDS. Okay, great. So, there’s your practice name. What’s next, I gotta draw a picture. I gotta have a logo. So, they go out and they hire somebody else or somebody else to design a logo for them. Well, right behind the logo design, ar 15 projects that are actually going to get your phone to ring by actual patients. The logo that you’re designing has never in the history of dentistry ever generated one phone call. Do you agree with that? Howie?

Howie: Well I admit that we’ve never actually tracked that

Mark: Right.

Howie: Anecdotal evidence, but yeah, I’m behind that

Mark: Come on people.

Howie: So I call because I really like that little sailboat in your ad.

Mark: Yeah, right.

Howie: That’s lead.

Mark: It’s never happened. Well, maybe. Okay, I will concede that it may have happened. And I really want to meet the person who would happen to

Howie: Yeah, that guy or that gal, I want to I want to meet them,

Mark: I want to see their logo to outside of you having a magic logo, like magic bees, right? Just go get something you like, make sure it’s in more soft tones of colors, make sure women won’t be offended by it just whatever, mountains rivers, I will, it doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter nearly as much as you think it does. So that’s my message to you. And here’s my secondary message. Never ever, ever let a logo design stop all the other projects that are going to get your phone to ring.

Howie: Right

Mark: Do not let that happen to you. Okay, because that is that’s where mark and Howie sit in the corner of their office. And, you know, pull their hair out. Because here we have all these other projects lined up and ready to go. We have to drop the logo in and the logos taken four months. The doctor is calling us and saying I still don’t have any new patients and we have the same you still haven’t approved your logo. Right? So, um,

Howie: yeah

Mark: don’t go too crazy and logo design. That’s my message.

Howie: Yeah. That sounds like a good place to end off for today.

Mark: I agree. We will be back in a week with another podcast. Thanks for listening.

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