Who are you, or rather, how is your practice perceived? In this podcast, we highlight how you can affect this perception through your dental patient marketing and other efforts.


Podcast Highlights:

  • The person at the grocery store
  • Why people don’t want to go the dentist in the first place
  • Views depend on demographics
  • The 50/50 split
  • The deals trap
  • “The cheap dentist in town”
  • Corporate dentistry’s effect on you
  • Why “what should the offer be?” is NOT the question you want to ask
  • The expenses of rebranding
  • The right mix of messaging
  • How to promote multiple services and avoid the niche trap
  • Using your website effectively

Podcast Transcription:

Hello, and welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery series. This podcast is brought to you by DentalWebContent.com 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, everybody. Welcome once again to our podcast. And I’m Howie Horrocks. My partner over there is Mark Dilatush. Hey, Mark, how you doing?

Mark: Hey, Howie, I’m doing good. We just, I finished my arc. And we’ve collected about half of the creatures.

Howie: Oh, yes. The big storm. Yes.

Mark: And you know, it’s actually, we have a skylight here in the office and the sun is peering out. So I think there is. Yes, there is some hope.

Howie: Oh, it is probably not a light at the end of the tunnel is probably more doom and gloom coming.

Mark: Yeah, maybe.

Howie: So anyway

Mark: What are we doing today? We’re going to do, I thought,

Howie: I thought one thing we could look at is how, how is a dental practice perceived? Or is how is your dental practice perceived by the public?

Mark: Oh, that’s a scary subject Howie. We don’t want to actually know that information. Do we?

Howie: Oh, maybe? Maybe not.

Mark: Isn’t that too scary? for our audience?

Howie: I know that you mentioned it. Yeah.

Mark: Yeah. It might be. Well, no, that’s a great, actually, it’s a great subject. Um, who are you? And I’m saying that to the audience. “Who are you, who are you to the person at the grocery store that’s not your patients? Who are you to the people in the community that don’t already utilize your dental, your dental practice? What do they think about you? Do they know anything about you? And they know anything about you? What is that perception?” Because they’re …What’s that? It’s perception is reality. Right?

Howie: Yeah. Yeah.

Mark: And in no place in the world is that more pronounced than, than in marketing and certainly, it’s clear in dental patient marketing. I mean, nobody really wants to go to the dentist anyway. So immediately, you’re perceived as something I don’t want to go do.

Howie: Right.

Mark: So now you have to take that. And you have to say, okay, out of all the things that I don’t want to do, what are some good reasons for me to go do what I don’t want to go do? Or what are some bad reasons to keep me from doing what I don’t want to go do? Really, I mean, this is this, this is perception, right? Okay.

Now, we’re dealing mostly with females, you know, the bearers and nurturers of children and families and they all have, you know, they have, um, they have a higher perception, you know, of dentistry. I mean, dentistry is a health care provider that takes care of my family, that’s a more of a good thing than a bad thing. Right? So maybe with moms or females, you’re at least at 50-50. Um, but how do they? How do they perceive you? What are you spending your money on when you’re advertising? And what message is going out there? And at what cost? Is the perception that you’re building right now, something that will cost you dearly, down the road?

Let me give you an exit example. Here’s a classic example. I had a mini argument with a dentist wasn’t even an argument, really. It was a, you know, I’m going to go after I’m going to go send a whole bunch of Postcards out I’m going to put a couple deals on it. And there was some conversation about what the deal should be. And I think I commented, I think I said what you always say Howie I said, “You know, if your offers your best foot forward, you have no feet.”

Howie: Yeah, right.

Mark: And if you’re using a postcard, you can’t promote your office, the only thing you have room for really is a male panel and a picture of Donald Duck or Goofy and an a call out to a new patient exam special that you’re running this month. So but beyond that, beyond what you shouldn’t do, what’s the perception you’re creating in the marketplace? And is the perception that you’re advertising the perception you ultimately want? When you put it in that framework, most dentists most not all, but most dentists would say, yeah, I’m not sure I want to be known as the shopper. I don’t want to be known as the cheap dentist in town.

I think right now I’m really emotionally tied to having a full schedule. But ultimately, I really don’t want to be known as the cheap dentist in town. Because you know, what, there’s a whole bunch of corporate facilities in my town that have already claimed that spot.

Howie: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s quite true. And, you know, dentists are often very concerned about, you know, if I, you know, what should the offer be? Or really, that’s not even the real point. Point is, should even be making one? And what kind of perception are you going to create of yourself when you when you do that.

Mark: Right.

Howie: And there are certain mediums like postcards that just almost force you into making offers and doing financial incentives. And it’s just endemic to the medium itself. So you might want to think about, you know, even what that does to your perception in the public is even using a medium like that.

Mark: Yeah, the, the top half of the dental market, the moms who won’t choose a healthcare provider based primarily on price or hard enough to get without spending five or six years convincing them that you’re the cheap dentist in town. Okay. Because eventually, six or seven years from now you’re going to have to unteach them and that unteaching or that rebranding of your practice, if you think postcards are expensive. Wait till you try to rebrand a perception.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Okay. That is that is incredibly difficult. You can ask BP they had that big oil spill in the Gulf. They’ve been spending millions ever since. Yeah. Okay. So, um, be careful. Be cognizant of how what the perception is of the local consumer. It’s okay, if you have a tri fold, or you have a postcard that has an offer, it’s okay. Okay. Just don’t, don’t let that be the only thing they know about you. That’s our point. Okay, make sure they understand a mix about you. Some of the services you offer, maybe some of the conveniences you have, on maybe some technology you have in the office that that they may not know about, trust me, there’s the depth of what the dental consumer doesn’t know about is the Grand Canyon times five, they don’t know anything about dentistry, right?

If you’re going to sell if you’re going to have an offer, if you’re going to try and use an offer to kick more people off over the fence, toward your practice, okay, but don’t make that the really the only thing they understand about you, or don’t make it the most prominent thing that they understand about you. Right. That’s always been our point.

I mean, we do. However, I don’t know, I would say probably 70% of our websites or our mailers or whatever, I bet, I think probably 70, or 80% of those have some kind of an offer on them, even if it’s for a complimentary second opinion. It’s still like kind of an offer. Right? Right. But it’s certainly not the draw. It’s not the primary design element. As a matter of fact, we purposely bury them so that the consumers can barely find them. And it’s always amazing to us at the end of the campaign year, when we’re reviewing numbers, the doctors say, you know, I think we’ve got to fix our offer, because nobody’s asking for it.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: And we just laugh. Right. So while you’re seeing patients are here, yeah. Good. They’re good patients, for the most part, right? Yep. They’re good patients. I said, Okay. Don’t worry about your offer. That’s the whole idea. The whole idea is to get them to choose you. For some other educational reason, besides your offer.

Howie: Yeah, we often in fact, tell them watch for that happening pretty soon. people stop asking for the whatever it is.

Mark: Yeah.

Howie: And that’s a sign we can we can take it off.

Mark: Right. Right.

Howie: But for the initial startup, it’s often helpful to have Yeah, just to get the phone ringing.

Mark: Yeah, I mean, there’s a balance on, but you use the balance to your favor, so as not to have the market perceive you as predominantly the cheapest dentist in town. Okay, so don’t we have a we have to go on a commercial break here, Howie?

Howie: Oh, yes, we do. We’ll be right back. Don’t go away.

Are you enjoying our podcast? Would you like to learn more about marketing your practice, then download our free book, Unlimited New Patients Volume Three, from www.dentalwebcontent.com. It’s under the Resources tab. truly understand the hidden mind with the dental consumer, reach them more effectively, and learn how to attract more than your fair share of the right new patients. We used to sell this for $167. We are now offering it to you for free. So check it out. Once again, it’s located at www.dentalwebcontent.com under the Resources tab.

Howie: Okay, we’re back.

Mark: Alright, so what are some of the other things avenues? Um, another way you can, you can unknowingly create a misperception about your practice is when you over promote a single service too much. When a single services too much of your dental patient marketing budget, or the number of impressions hitting the street are not in balance with the rest of the reasons to choose you. classic example.

About 10, 12 years ago, there was a sedation dentistry craze and sort of like bell bottom jeans, but only for dentistry. So you know, dentists everywhere had radio ads run in just endlessly sedation, Sedation will put you to sleep and put you to sleep. And pretty soon their markets because they did it so much. And because they poured so much money into those ads for such a long time. The our local market believed that You almost had to get knocked out in order to go there for dental services.

Howie: Right. And surprisingly large percentage of people don’t want to be knocked out.

Mark: Right. Yeah. Especially when.

Howie: They’re afraid of that. It’s more than the art of the needle.

Mark: Right? Exactly. especially women, especially with male dentist, right. Okay, so. So a lot of people listening to this probably just had the protons and neurons arc in their head. And they said, All right, yeah, I remember those days. I remember when we were doing a lot of sedation cases, but then I remember the really slow times after that. Yeah.

Howie: And don’t get us wrong. I mean, we love sedation.

Mark: Yeah, yeah, yeah

Howie: Offering is an arrow in your quiver, so to speak. It’s great, right. But what we’re talking about here is what Mark said over promoting it making it so that people think that’s all you do.

Mark: Yeah, it can’t just be your whole quiver. Okay. All right. So, um, and, you know, it’s great for that our websites, because websites, I mean, let’s face it, they’re not endless content. But for the most part, it’s kind of endless content mean, you can go too crazy with a website. But a dental office website is a great, a great avenue to list out all the reasons to choose you. And help that perception. If you’re another thing that people do is they do too much niche dental patient marketing on Google ads, or they do too much niche marketing on Facebook, PPI campaigns. I mean, we do these campaigns, this is, you know, but here’s my point, you have to balance them. With dental patient marketing that promotes all of the main reasons to choose you to the same consumer.

Like you would not want to sit here for the next 12 years only promoting Invisalign to your local market. Sooner or later, you’re going to run out of people who want straight teeth. And, and trust me, it’s going to happen before 12 years is up. But you’re going to keep paying that money for that advertising, hoping beyond hope that you get the original results you did maybe in the first three months that you started dental patient marketing. In other words, everything has a bell curve, right. Be very, very, very careful to balance the message out that you’re putting out there to the general public.

Because that’s the perception that you’re building in their mind. It’s not just about paying money, putting advertising out on the street, hoping the phone rings and hoping Mary at your office is there to handle the call and answers it properly. It’s not just about that, it’s about the entire message, it’s also about your future. I mean, we probably joked around a little bit too much about, you know, pigeon holing yourself, when you’re first opening a practice, or first take over a practice, you know, your money is not abundant. And you have to cut corners.

So you do postcard campaigns, maybe you do in every door, direct mail postcard campaign, and you just basically carpet bomb the entire area. With, hey, I’m here, and I’m a cheap dentist. And you keep doing that for years, because the phone will ring there’s just no doubt the phone will ring, okay.

But if you keep doing it and doing it, you’re hitting those same households, that eventually you’re going to want to hit with the services, amenities, technologies and conveniences that you do. Because you don’t want to promote to those moms as the chief dentist in town, they will never respond to you. So you don’t want to alienate those while you’re trying to build your practice.

In most cases, what we’re talking about here is targeting. You can target on Facebook, you can target on male, we’re just saying Be very careful with how you do this. Because we’re actually getting a lot of these rebranding jobs now. Hi, Mark, how you doing? Hi, my name is Dr. Bob. Yeah, I’ve been doing, you know, my mail here in, I don’t know, San Antonio, Texas and started my practice five years ago been doing postcards with deals on them. And you know, the conversation continues, you know, on and on, and on. I got, you know, five or six insurances, we’re getting pretty busy now producing 600 a year and kind of hitting a flat line, you know, the usual story.

And, you know, once I determine the back doors not wide open, I’m like, well, then this he, I mean, now you gotta focus your dental patient marketing down on quality, not quantity.

But now I have to have a conversation with this dentist. And that basically says, and you’ve been working against me for the last five years. You’ve been working against yourself for the last five years, the perception in that entire market is that you’re the cheap local dentist. And there is it’s going to cost you three times what you saved by doing those postcards to get out of that hole. I’m not saying you can’t, because we do it all the time. I’m just saying, be careful what the consumer perceives about you and take into consideration down the road. What type of a practice you’re trying to buy you’re trying to build?

Howie: Yeah, it’s terribly, terribly difficult to dislodge a first impression. What once that that forms in mom’s mind that you’re the dentist over here x. No, no, it’s really hard to get that perception changed.

Mark: You almost kind of have to change the name of the practice at that point. Right? You know, it was Bob’s dental now it’s Jim’s dental.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: And Jim doesn’t have any offers. And he talks about the services and conveniences technology.

Howie: Now he has a mustache too.

Mark: I know. Yeah right. Now he has a mustache, and his wife and kids look exactly the same. It’s amazing. So, um, anyway, we’re just we’re trying to get everybody to think beyond this month. Think beyond next month, think beyond even this year? Where do you want to be 5, 6, 8 years from now? and tailor your dental patient marketing accordingly? Um, you know, where there’s a you know, sometimes what’s the old saying, The tripping over pennies to find the trees or something I forget.

Howie: tripping over dollars.

Mark: Yeah, that’s it. Tripping over dollars to find a penny and I’m, I’m sitting here shaking my head having all these conversations going now? No, no, why didn’t you call this five years ago? Oh, my God, you know, and, but I understand I mean, you know, the abundance of dental patient marketing dollars pushes people in a certain direction, like I get it, I’m not, you know, but just understand what you’re doing. If you go into it with your eyes wide open, then you’re doing it to yourself knowingly. It’s not a surprise, and you’re going to be prepared for digging yourself out when the time comes. That’s all.

Same thing with niche in yourself with the single like implants, or Invisalign, or whatever sedation, whatever your whatever you’re promoting singly, either through PPC, or Facebook PPI campaigns, please make sure you do so in a balance, something has to be committed indicating to the community about your whole practice while you’re doing these other singular projects. Okay, don’t just do singular projects unless you have a rotation of seven or eight of them. And if you’re getting enough new patients from seven or eight singular projects in a PPC or PPI campaign, God bless you guys. Call me because I’ve never met you. Okay.

So, anyway, um, the overriding theme for today was, who are you? And we really like you to consider what the message is that you’re delivering, whether it’s in website, male PPC, with PPC, your ad, your Facebook ad, whatever. Who are you? And what is that impression? Or what is that perception going to build toward in the future? Is it going to build your practice toward where you want it to go? Or is it going to build away from where you want it to go? That’s all we’re asking you to do?

Howie: Yeah. Well, I think that probably wraps this one up for today.

Mark: That was fun one, Howie.

Howie: Well, yeah,

Mark: Somebody wants to had an in depth question. That was because I get those I get those questions. I get them all the time. You know, we’re stuck, we’re flat, we’re stuck. We’re flat. You know, and that’s what happens when you when you focus on the bottom half of the dental market and you do so the relentlessly for a period of time greater than let’s say 28 to 31 months and an average US market. I guarantee you you’re going to flat. I can tell you now, before you even open your practice, you’re going to flat.

Howie: Okay?

Mark: So don’t be surprised and call me and tell me Hey, Mark, I can’t believe it. I flattened my practice. Well. Yeah, you’re going to Okay, it’s an it’s an inevitability. I’m just know that going in, and maybe some of you will plan around it. And that would be great. Because that’s, that’s really what you need to do is have a nice mix. So anyway, yeah.

Howie: Well, thank you everybody, for joining us, and we look forward to being back with you again soon. Goodbye.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our podcast today. You can find more podcasts on our YouTube channel, on Stitcher and iTunes. Also on our websites, dentalwebcontent.com and newpatientsinc.com