In this episode of Dental Marketing Mastery, we discuss the differences between dental promotion in a rural area and an urban area. We also discuss what dentists should do if they are neither rural or urban, but more in between.



We also now have a mail bag! If you have a question that you want us to answer on our podcast, email [email protected], and we’ll address your question on the podcast.

Podcast highlights:

  • Geographic differences
  • Media type differences
    • Dental internet marketing
    • Dental internal marketing
    • Dental direct mail marketing
  • What to do if you’re in between rural and urban areas?
  • Natural obstacles vs. man made obstacles
  • Competing with other dentists in these settings
  • Mediums available in rural that are not available in urban, and vice versa
  • Understanding how all practices are unique
  • Understanding the WHY of dental marketing

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, are my friend and partner and the President of New Patients Incorporated, Mark Dilatush.


Howie: Hello, everybody. Welcome again to our podcast. This is Howie Horrocks and I’ve got my good buddy Mark Dilatush on the other side of the line here the other side of the country.


Howie: How you doing? Mark?


Mark: Hey, Howie? How are you?


Howie: I’m good, man.


Mark: I just got back from Mexico.


Howie: Mexico.  How was it?


Mark:  It was warm.


Howie: Yeah. Unlike where you are now,


Mark:  Unlike where I am now. It was it was very sunny. It was very breezy.


Howie: Yeah,


Mark:  There were many…the aroma of tanning oil was all over the place.


Howie: Yeah. So not to mention that Margarita’s and


Mark: yeah, Margarita’s and yeah, local – we call that local fare.


Howie: Local fare there you go.


Mark: Yes. So know Mexico. I’m sure misses me but you know, have to get back to work.


Howie: Yeah. Let’s, let’s talk about something that that has come up recently, actually. Urban versus rural dental promotion. And if your practice is located in rural or urban and it’s got to be probably one of the other.


Mark: Well, it’ll be good. It’ll be good for people in tweener markets to


Howie: Yeah, tweeners


Mark:  Tweeners! Yeah. Before we start, though, let’s we got it with Howie and I are getting emails to our direct email addresses which by the way, [email protected], Howie’s email addresses [email protected] So if you ever do need to get a hold of us, I mean you have our email addresses, but and for these podcasts. We’re getting requests for subject matter for us to cover through our private not private through our work email addresses.


So let’s establish Josh. [email protected] That’s the mailbag. Actually, you can go put a sign on his office Howie


Howie: Yeah


Mark: Mailbag works here.


Howie: Yeah


Mark: So, Josh, Josh is going to assemble all the questions and categorize them. And if there’s duplicates, because there’s almost always duplicates, so and then we’ll prioritize them. And then we’ll make new podcasts out of your own questions. So it’s [email protected], is where you would email a request. So what’s up? We’re on urban versus rural.


Howie: Yeah, yeah, the different. First of all, are there differences in the marketing approach a practice might want to take? And what sort of avenues do each does each setting provide?


Mark: Alright, so the answer, the first question is, Are there differences? The answer is yes. But everybody needs to understand that. Even if there’s two rural practices, there’s going to be differences between their dental office marketing plan as well. I don’t think I’ve seen 100% identical marketing plans. Ever. I mean, that would be unbelievable.


Howie: Yeah, you know,


Mark: mathematically almost impossible to come out with an exact duplicate dental promotion plan for two different practices. So yes, rural to urban. Absolutely. There’s differences. There’s differences in the media type you would use, there’s differences, the analysis is the same. you analyze the market area, you go out and you look for the top, let’s say 40% of the available market. And you look to see how far out you have to go to reach them. When I say far out, I mean, geographically, right? Okay. So in a place like Redmond, Montana, you might have to go out 83 miles.


Okay, really seriously to find, you know, let’s say 15,000 viable targets for dental practice to promote you. I’m in a place like Manhattan, you won’t even have to go three quarters of a mile to find 15,000 people right to promote you.


Marketing Foundation: Different Marketing Media Types


Now, there are definitely differences in the media types that work well. urban versus rural, rural versus urban. So let’s, let’s start out with all the media types. Let’s start out with what we always start out with which is internal is going to work equally in urban settings as it will.


We see no difference in the referral brochures we build, in the office video loops, all the stuff that we build for our client practices that have to do with promoting the dentistry they provide to their existing patient base, there’s no difference and how it works rural to urban. But that’s normally where we start every client is we make sure that they’re putting a certain percentage of their budget in internal every month or every year. So once you go beyond internal promotion, you have to go external, the practice on the internet.


The weight of the internet goes off the more urban you get. Does that make sense?


Howie: Yeah, the importance rate


Mark: the importance rate, right?


Howie:  Right.


Mark: Actually, when we say importance rate, we mean the risk, the risk does not go up, the risk goes down. So this kind of opposite. Let me back up a second. The more urban you go, the more you will invest in your internet strategy.


Howie: Yeah,


Mark: The middle America and rural you’re still going to invest in the internet. There’s just not as many people searching for dental services using their phone or their computer as you think they are in Redmond, Montana. Okay. So it won’t be as much of a priority there as it would be in say Manhattan.


Okay, so yes, the answer is absolutely there’s a difference in the dental office marketing plan. There’s a difference in investment there’s a difference in risk. On direct mail, we do probably more direct mail than any other humans on the planet when it as it pertains to dental promotion. And, uh, we will tell you that the closer you get to a densely populated urban center on the less predictable mail gets. And we know the reason why, the reason why and this changes from market to market so if you’re in a big city, don’t assume you shouldn’t do mail. Have it analyzed first.

Okay, but we know the reason why is absentee owners, absentee owners of those homes, whether they’re single families, condominiums, apartment buildings, what have you, um, places like Manhattan have an astronomically high absentee owner Rate. And they have people at the door. The door man  in many of these buildings, who are told by the occupants just throw everything away. That’s not first class. Right. So in an urban center, like Manhattan, our marketing plans would change dramatically. In…shessh..anywhere else? Well, maybe I would say, we’ve had negative experiences with mail in Manhattan, I’m going to say downtown financial district of San Francisco,


There are places that we’ve had. Our expectations weren’t met. When the mail dropped in those areas, we trace it back to absentee owners, if the absentee owner rate or if the owner rate is above 60%, you’re fine. But if you’re in an area that’s below 60%, you’re probably going to run into the same issue with no matter what mail you throw out there. Because many of these people have the buildings and they just tell them to throw everything away that it’s not an envelope. So anyway, so yes, in that manner, mail changes. Um, yeah, on the internet side, because we did internal, we did mail when we’re talking about the internet. Those are the three foundation corners of that’s it. That’s your foundation, your marketing foundation for your practice.


Internet Marketing


Mark: One from the internet standpoint, would I be as excited to put online scheduling on Dr. Smith’s website in Redmond Montana,  as I would if they were here in Central New Jersey?


No, no. Okay, I’m  much more excited. Knowing that the dental website is going to get whatever two or 300 unique views a month anyway. Right? rather than a website that’s going to get 20 unique views a month. Okay. So yeah, so almost everything changes in a marketing plan from rural to urban. Now, the majority of dentists who are listening to this or somewhere in between, they don’t live in Redmond, and they don’t live in Manhattan.


Howie: Right,


Marketing Budget Allocation


Mark:  They live in hub-spoke town, America, basically. And what they’re promoting to is probably, on average, a four and a half to six and a half mile radius around their practice. And likely what they should do is allocate 10% of their annual marketing budget to internal 25, maybe 30% to online, and probably the remainder to properly targeted offline dental promotion to drive online traffic, just like every other company in the world does. So that’s where most of our listeners are, they’re in that they’re in that tweener zone. Okay, but there are the extremes and marketing plans absolutely change urban to rural, you go to urban, remember, you may look and say, Wow, it’s only three quarters of a mile to find 15,000 high value targets. Yeah. But there’s 999 dentists in that three quarters of a mile.


Howie: Yeah. You’re not the only one targeting them.


Mark: Right. Exactly. And they’ve got, you know, at lunchtime, they’ve got trucks going down CENTRAL AVENUE with a gigantic sandwich billboard that’s, you know, says, Call this number and get your teeth fixed now. Right. And you don’t Okay, so? Yeah, there’s good news and bad news from for the doctors in the urban centers. We would absolutely allocate, over allocate to the internet. They absolutely should be scheduling online on their website. They absolutely are all fighting for Google reviews and the best ones. Okay, you’re all in a big war in the urban centers of the country? I would not, unless the analysis came back and convinced me that it would be worth a shot, I would not do mail in a densely populated urban center with a high rate of renters. I just wouldn’t do it.


However, in Florida, where the snow birds go, I absolutely would. And we do increase the volume of mail. During the months that the snowbirds arrive somewhere know, November, December, sometime shortly after Christmas, I would double or triple the volume until April or May before they go back. So there’s another change. And that’s not necessarily urban versus rural. That’s absentee renters and owners versus when they’re actually there. So yeah, almost everything changes with almost every dental office marketing plan that we build and implement.


On I’ll tell you something else, you know, young dentists start now, purchased practice, versus long standing 20 year practice who’s tried this and tried that with their marketing. Every one of those marketing plans is going to be different. And largely, not because of where their practices located. But because of their available budget.


Howie: Right? Pretty much everything doesn’t?


Mark: Exactly, yeah. So people say, Well, what would you do? And then we send them we Oh, here’s what we would do. And then they kind of blow up. It’s like, “Oh, my God, why are you telling me this?” Because that’s what’s going to work? Okay. You didn’t say, “Tell me what I should do. Oh, and make it, you know, make it $35?” You didn’t ask me that. You said “What should I do?” So we know, when we do marketing plans, we seta mark. It’s, it’s as if Howie and I own the practice.

So, if an urban Dentist email or fills out a client survey at our website, and they fill out the 55 questions, and we build a marketing platform, and we say, okay, you know, good news and bad news, here it is, here’s the analysis. That’s not such good news. You know, there’s 999 dentists in the next three quarters of a mile, you know, sorry, but we didn’t buy the practice. You did, right. So we have to be the bearer of this bad news. But in the end, the doctor is getting exactly what Howie and I would do if we were in exactly that practice. That’s exactly what we do with every marketing plan we build here. Right? 


Howie: Yes


Mark: And you know, and they’re all different. They’re really, they’re, all we have a doctor right now is going to go through a, I guess Delta Dental is out there. Pissing dentists off. That’s what it seems like they’re doing


Howie: Oh yeah,


Mark:  They’re sending out notices in certain states, right. So there’s another reason why a marketing plan will be different in that some states, it looks like delta is forcing everyone to take on their lower tier fee schedule, in order to be part of their program. And a lot of dentists are, you know, hey, dental delta has half their practice, and they’re wondering what the heck they’re going to know they’re going to do next year.


Howie: Right. We’re getting a lot of questions about transitioning out of insurance acceptance, and how that’s done.


Mark: Yeah, exactly. So there’s another scenario.


Howie: Yeah


Mark: So you know, when we came up with this topic, or we were asked this topic, “Hey, what’s the difference between urban and rural?” We took it seriously, because there is definitely differences. I mean, normally urban areas, here’s another difference. In urban areas, you tend to have more…You tend to have more man-made barriers to your market, things like roads,


Howie: Yeah


Mark: Interstates


Howie: Yeah,


Mark: Big patterns. You might be in a downtown area that is absolutely a ghost town at six o’clock at night. On rural, you end up with a lot more natural barriers to your market, things like oceans, rivers, and mountains. And tunnels, you know, we get people from Pittsburgh, who send us client surveys, I’m like. I have to look at the analysis report like 12 times just to make sure that the market is not across an interstate because, I don’t know if you…I don’t know if anybody listen to this ever traveled through Pittsburgh. But there’s interstates all over the place and the interstates are all connected through tunnels. And then there’s what they call it “Three Rivers Stadium” for a reason because there’s three rivers. Okay, so there’s mountains, tunnels and rivers. And they’re all bisecting the dental market. So, um, anyway, there’s another reason why.


Howie: There’s on the rural side of things. There’s also a big difference in available mediums. For example, you wouldn’t necessarily even consider yellow pages in the urban area. I mean, that’s forget it. However, that’s not the case in rural areas.


Mark: In some of them. Yep.


Howie: In some of them, it’s still a very viable medium. Also, you have the local newspaper?


Mark: Yeah, believe it or not.


Howie: People still read it.


Mark: Absolutely.


Howie: In the urban areas, especially. So whereas in, in the urban areas, you’d stay away from, you know ,the Seattle Times or, you know, it would be a big waste of money. But yeah, there’s more opportunities in the rural area, there things are a little slower and slower to change. So you can take advantage of mediums that you couldn’t in, in the urban areas?


Mark: Absolutely.. So is there a difference between urban and rural marketing plans? The answer is yes, we’ve given you probably a dozen or so differences by we also come back and we say, but there’s differences in every marketing plan.


Right. And so as you listen to this series, it’s really more important for you to understand why the differences are what they are not necessarily the big category differences, right? I think, I don’t think anybody from Redmond, Montana, really cares about a marketing plan for Dallas, Texas.

What you want to know is, what does it mean to you? What’s the difference For me? That’s me being you the listener. Okay. And then I totally get it. Right. So hopefully, what you got from this podcast and all of our podcasts, at least this is what we try to share. is tthe is why, like, Why are there differences in rural and urban and what are they? And how can I apply them to my practice, if most of you are tweeners , and you’re not in the extreme, you’re not in Redmond, Montana, and you’re not in Manhattan, then you can take little bits and pieces of this podcast and apply them directly to your practice.That’s our hope anyway. And if you have any questions, you send them to [email protected]


Howie: Right, yeah. And you realize, mark that we’re going to get a bunch of emails from Redmond, Montana.


Mark: No, I know. I don’t even know if I’m in Montana. But.


Howie: Anyway. Well, thank you all for listening once again. And we’re going to sign off now. But we look forward to seeing you again next time. Thank you.


Mark: Bye bye.


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