In part 2 of “Preparing for Next Year,” we go over your dental marketing assets and liabilities. What is helping? What is hurting? How do you tell?

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Podcast Highlights:
  • Dental marketing assets you don’t want to overlook
  • Committing to listening to calls
  • Amenities, public relations, meet the dentist
  • Website checklist
  • The three pillars of your marketing foundation
  • A sample marketing budget

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 to our podcast once again. We’re glad to have you, aren’t we Mark?

Mark: Hello, Howie. How are you?

Howie: I’m good.

Mark: I’m in New Jersey sipping on my coffee. It’s 135 degrees in October in New Jersey.

Howie: Nice, isn’t that weird? Because, you know, here in Vegas, I just basically shut down the furnace or the AC for the season.

Mark: Oh, did you really? Oh, good. So, it’s cool on the west coast and a little warm on the east coast. That’s not? Yeah, well, we’ll take that change.

Howie: Yes, we will.

Mark: So, we are now in Episode Two of our how to prepare for next year series. On we readily admit we have no idea how many episodes are going to be in this series. We want to give you as much detail as we can in little snippets about 20, maybe 30 minutes at a time, give you some homework. Basically, the bottom line is we want to share with you what goes through our advisors’ minds.

As they evaluate the prior clients prior year performance, evaluate the investment in whatever the outcome was, evaluate their assets, evaluate their liabilities and funnel, the marketing budget dollars, whatever is available. Whether it’s low, high, middle, whatever, whatever is available, flow that resource toward the items, the projects that are most likely in the coming year to generate high quality new patient, either phone calls or online appointments. That’s a summary of this whole series.

But we have to give it to you in little bite sized chunks. Because if we go too fast, you won’t be able to do the homework. So we’re going to, in the first episode we went through mostly budgeting some pitfalls, you know, we cautioned you not to get bored, you know, just changing something that’s working, oh my god, you’ve probably spent your entire career looking for something that works. And changing it just because you’re bored of it doesn’t make any sense. Yeah, you know, raising or lowering our you know, what your budget should be, whether you’re at 1.5 mil, or below or over 1.5 mil, on how to measure your budget and the results against the capacity, how to measure your capacity. And we talked a little bit about result tracking, which is going to be a segue into today’s episode, episode number two.

So, in episode number two, we’re going to continue on a little bit with result tracking, because we want you to part of preparing for next year. And again, no matter when next year is. By the way, if you’re listening to this in June of some year in the future, you don’t have to wait till January to make changes whenever you want. Okay, so anybody, any year, you want it to be any year you want, right, so with the result tracking, I mean, that’s a big part of setting up your marketing plan to get a greater result. I mean, that’s an enormous, that’s a huge part of it. And it’s largely too almost universally overlooked. And it’s largely to almost universally assumed that what you’re looking at is true and those are both mistakes.

So, let’s give you a little homework, right off the bat here. And say that for the next year of your marketing, you’re going to assign a call tracking number to every media type that you have that consumes more than 10% of your marketing budget. I don’t care if that’s two lines, four lines, eight lines, I don’t care how many lines it takes. You want call tracking lines, on the items that you’re spending money on. And you’re going to commit yourself, this is to the dentist listening to this for at least two or three weeks, you’re going to commit to yourself to listen to every one of those calls.

The good, the bad and oh my god, the ugly, okay? And even the ones and we want you to realize how many people are hanging up. How many perfectly good new patients are hanging up on your voicemail. So, you have to commit next year to taking at least two weeks of your…doctor’s you don’t have any excuse. It’s only going to take you 15, 20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes to listen to these phone calls.

Howie: Yeah. It is time commitment.

Mark: Right. We’re not asking you to learn golf. This is a lot easier then learning golf. Okay. So that’s one way. Another way to do result tracking is if you do any form of dental direct mail marketing, chances are the company you’re doing your direct mail through has your mail list, because otherwise, how else are they going to deliver your mail and you have a new patient list. So, you can request I know you can request a Voss New Patients Inc, but I’m assuming that you can request of the other company to cross reference the mail list with your new patient list. Okay, because what you see in your practice management software, as far as referral sources, is off by a factor of 70%.

Howie: Oh, yes.

Mark: In most cases, I mean, it is so far off. It’s ridiculous. So, you so you’re going to commit next year, to doing the result tracking correctly. Um, and it’s going to open your eyes, and it’s going to make you make some changes. And these are good changes for your business. Okay, so that’s, that’s the first thing we wanted to talk about in Episode Two. And that’s your homework.

So now we can move to the next thing that we think of when we’re setting up a future plan. Our clients tend to stay with us year over year over year we have, we’re actually going to go into the ADA next week, and we have a client, I think she’s actually on our I think she’s on our booth. She’s been with us now for 21 years, right? So amazing.

Anyway, this is part of the process that we go through each year, the whole idea when you if you own a dental practice, and you’re going to apply a marketing budget, and it’s going to be a consistent marketing budget, whether you’re doing great or things are slow, or you go through the worst recession in, well, ever you know, it doesn’t matter as long as you’re, if you’re going to maintain that consistent marketing budget, you’re going to want that budget to create what’s called dental marketing assets.

Let me give you an example. At a marketing asset here, here’s the probably the most common one, the most common marketing asset, everyone on this podcast, or most 90% of the people on this pod listening, um, is a dental practice website. If you purchase the practice website last year, or the year before, or even the year before, it’s probably still fine it’s probably still serviceable. Right? We’re not judging it. I will, if you want me to, but you probably won’t like the answer.

But that’s for a different podcast. But seriously, if you have a if you have already invested marketing budget dollars into a website build, and it’s very serviceable, and it reflects the services amenities. Technology, public relations assets, you have a place where the visitor can actually meet the dentist, maybe meet the team, your good, that’s an asset, that’s something that your marketing budget doesn’t have to spend money for next year. That’s what an asset is, it’s something you’ve already bought and paid for. Okay.

Howie: It can also be a liability too can’t it Mark?

Mark: Oh, Howie, thank you, yes, it can also be a liability about every four to five years, it’s a really good idea to redo your dental practice website. I’m not saying you know, a gigantic undertaking, I’m just saying like a spring cleaning, okay. It’s like kind of going from the iPhone six to the iPhone seven, or the iPhone eight or whatever, whatever phone you use. Web sites are never done they just evolve over time. But for the purposes of budgeting for next year, you need to determine whether or not your current dental practice website is an asset or a liability.

Now you do this in this framework. Ultimately, everyone listening to this podcast will need to have a secure foundation set up for their marketing in order to be successful long term in order to be successful for seven years, nine years, 11 years or even, you know, 21 years, right? The foundation of the marketing has to be set up properly, you have to have a good solid dental practice website, internet presence, you have to have it, that’s just one corner of the triangle.

Another thing you have to have is good, solid, consistent, but not overly done dental internal marketing to your own patient base. So that they refer and so that they understand the breadth and the scope of all of the services you offer, not just what you did for them today. Okay, you always put money into dental internal marketing, always every year. And we’re going to get into that when we go through budget allocation. So, you have your dental internet marketing, you have your internal and everyone listening to this, and this is where probably half of dentistry is going off the rails right now.

Half of dentistry said I’m going to put all my money in the dental internet marketing. And they forgot about how every successful company that sells on the internet drives traffic to their website. They forgot about offline promotion. So I want everybody to think for a second. Okay. The last 89 television commercial you saw, encouraged you to go to WWW dot whatever the advertiser’s website is dot com. That’s an example of, a classic example of offline communication, driving targeted traffic to a website property. You have to, you’re the third piece of the foundation triangle is properly done offline local targeted promotion.

Now, there’s several ways you can do that. But those are the three: internet presence, internal systems and communication with your existing patient base and a consistent producing offline, local targeted media type. Okay, 99% of the markets in the US that means mail. That’ll be your best bang for your buck in most markets. But all of you listening to this need to have all three.

So, when you’re looking at your dental marketing assets, you go, “Okay, well, I got my website. I got it from Bob, two years ago. It still looks nice, it updated. Maybe I’ll send them some new pictures of my new assistant, I forgot about that she started in the middle of the year. I haven’t updated her bio yet. But besides that, I don’t have to put any money into my website, because I bought it a couple years ago. Okay, that’s an asset. All right, great. Let’s move let’s keep going down the road.

Internal communication. Well, I mean, we have a service that we do our texting and emailing and stuff to, you know, we send them newsletters, confirmations, recalls, things like that. That costs us, you know, a couple hundred bucks a month or so. And you know, but you know, that’s an asset. Okay. It’s also a budget item. So, you subtract that from your overall budget.

Then you go to your offline, many of you listening to this, who are our customers, you probably already have successful offline promotion, and you’re sitting there going, Okay, well, I know what that costs. So I can do the subtraction from my total budget and come up with what’s left over. So, you say, all right, so I have these three things. These are dental marketing assets, I know what they cost. Now I have let’s just use them round numbers. Let’s say I have $17,000 left for the year. The next question, the next obvious question is, what do I do with it? Right?

Howie: Right.

Mark: Now, you want to take a break Howie?

Howie: Yeah, this would be an appropriate time.

Mark: This is like a cliffhanger.

Howie: I know.

Mark: This is like HGTV when they say, you know when they say we want to see your new house, your fixer upper. Right. Oh, my God, I can’t wait.

Howie: We’ll be right back to tell you what’s next.

We hope you are enjoying our podcast. Let me ask you do you have a roadmap for your marketing? Why not let New Patients Incorporated do it for you. Our marketing plans have been proven effective for over 27 years for hundreds of practices across lots of different countries. We will give you the marketing data for your area, a marketing budget. We’ll show you how to allocate your budget. And then we will show you the proper deployment strategies for each medium. Click on the header where it says a complimentary marketing plan when you go to WWW dot New Patients Incorporated.

Howie: Okay, we’re back. So, we were talking about what is next. Foundation set up. What are you going to do now?

Mark: I know. Okay, so we have $17,000 left over in our annual budget. We have our internal referral systems in place they’re producing, we have let’s say I don’t know, let’s say we have a reception room loop that we’ve already invested in. It’s already teaching all of our patients about all the services that we offer, and all the conveniences and technologies we have. Okay, that’s great that’s already in place. You’re lining up all your dental marketing assets, we have a website, we’ve already paid for it. I subtracted all the things that I’m already going to commit to spending my money on next year, and I have $17,000 left over what do I do Howie?

Howie: Yeah, well, one thing you could do is take a look at how your website is positioned, and perhaps invest some more money or start investing in dental search engine optimization. Right?

Mark: That would certainly be one of the things that would climb up to the top of the consideration list. Another one might be how many how you doing with Google reviews?

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Are you number one in your market? Number 27? Do you not exist? Cause dental consumers act almost identically to furniture shoppers, when they’re looking for dental services after a Google search, or this is important, or after they’ve received an ad of some other type through an offline media. In other words, let’s say they saw an ad on TV. And they just want to check you out. So, mom types in your domain, or types in the name of your business. Or types in what she’s looking for, sofa. And up comes all the local sofa providers, and all those local sofa providers have what? Google reviews? And where does mom’s I go?

Howie: Right to the reviews.

Mark: Right to the reviews. Right? It’s what she does when she’s looking for a dentist near her. Same thing. Same exact thing. Okay. So, you might now just gonna sound ridiculously self serving because we provide this but you might want to review how your reviews are being generated and where they are ending up. Because Howie and I will be the first ones to tell you and we have from the highest mountains everything besides a Google review matters less.

Howie: That’s right.

Mark: Okay, so Facebook “meh,” Google “ye haw”. Okay, so if you’re gonna, if you’re going to remember this podcast, or the point of this podcast is Google reviews equals “ye haw,” Facebook reviews equals “meh.” And if you’re in California, Yelp reviews are important. Okay? If you have a review platform, or some software that’s designed to get you positive dental reviews, and you log on right now and look and see you only have four whatever you’re using isn’t working. Okay? The ultimate objective is Google reviews.

Now, is that an asset? Or is that a liability? If you have a few, but you’re not near the top in your local market, it’s a liability. If you’re not in the top two, or three, whatever money you’re spending on your other advertising is being degraded. Because mom won’t consider you, if she looks at your reviews. And they’re not up to up to par with the rest of your competition.

Howie: You know, another way the review might be turned into a liability is just it’s so onerous for the patients to figure out and do and nobody in on in the office wants to really, you know, sit down at the kiosk, and you know, maybe they lost their login it, it could turn into a real nightmare. So, so the ease of how you get your patients to talk about you online, is a big part of that marketing.

Mark: Right. If you can improve that, that becomes an asset. And the good news against the budget is that’s very, very, very affordable against the budget to fix. Okay, so there’s an up there’s, there’s an example of something that could be a liability. Or you could be the dentist in your market that has 127 Google reviews and the nearest dentist you has 19. Well, then you know what, you already have an asset, you’re already doing a great job, you’re already kicking butt. You can check that off marketing asset, check.

And you don’t really need to invest any more money in that you’re already kicking butt. Right? Okay, so that’s how you measure that. Okay, website, SEO, Google reviews, another investment that you might want to consider, which again, is not prohibitive against anyone’s budget is connecting your website visitors with your practice management software. If you’re a fan of this podcast series, I’m not going belabor the point. This is the next, you ever heard the phrase, “next best thing since sliced bread?” Okay, this is sliced bread.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Okay. This is this is the next best thing to dentistry as you know, I don’t remember anything like this outside of electronic insurance claims. I really don’t, I don’t, I don’t remember anything this impactful since that time in dentistry, that’s what 25 years ago. I guess. So. Anyway, another, it’s not I’m not going to say that it’s a liability if you don’t have online dental appointment scheduling, I’m not going to say that because I don’t believe that that’s not true. I will say though, that it can be an instant asset. And I absolutely will tell everyone listening to this, that it will absolutely add new additional new patients for the advertising dollars you’re currently spending or you will spend next year so for that reason.

You might say, I’m going to keep my eye on that and maybe out of that 17,000, you know, I might pull a couple grand to do a year to do online dental appointment scheduling. Okay, I might do a couple grand a year to do the review and dental reputation management. Okay. Now we have $14,000 left. Right. So, here’s an idea. If the dental internal marketing is working, and there’s more internal projects to do, if the mail or the whatever offline promotion you’re doing is working. Why wouldn’t you do more of those?

Howie: Yeah, you could expand your footprint for example in your mailing.

Mark: Exactly right. A lot of people when they have some room left over in their budget, they go “I gotta come up with something brand new, something nobody’s ever seen before something completely unique.” No, you don’t. No, you don’t, okay?

Howie: Or they blow it on a, you know, a vacation.

Mark: What you need to do is go okay, I if I want c, a plus b equals c, right? And if I’m doing c now, c plus additional assets equals d, right? So, if you need more new patients, and your capacity isn’t filled yet, and you’re spending x dollars and you want x plus result, why would you start with something different? Why wouldn’t you just continue to do more and then do more of what you’re doing.

Now, there’s always a ceiling, to all of those like you can’t do. I don’t know you can’t do more. You don’t want to over saturate radio, you don’t want to over saturate mail, you don’t want to over saturate there, there are limitations. But very few of you listening to this podcast, have budgets robust enough to push those limits. Okay, so one overlooked, almost universally overlooked option you have, if you have room left over in your budget is to simply do more of what’s already working. That’s like more volume of airtime, more volume of mail more, whatever.

Another thing you can do is for instance, dental PPC campaigns, I mean, we have, you know, we have a whole department devoted to this. And, you know, if you have 14, let’s say we have 17 leftover, and we did two for the dental reputation management, two for online scheduling leaves us 14,000 leftover. You know, you have a pretty good fund for PPC campaigns. If you want to go after some niche services or some niche service patient types, or maybe you want to be or maybe you really need the volume that. You know, being the emergency dentist in town, you know, talk to us about that a little bit more, or go to our Facebook forum and open up a discussion about it. But there’s another alternative.

You could do SEO to your website, maybe start a PPC campaign, maybe add review and dental reputation management, maybe add online scheduling this year. And then now let’s go a whole 12 months from now. We do all the same calculations, revenues up a little bit, percentage of the marketing stays the same. Got a little bit more money to work with, you’re going to do better job of measuring everything. You now have more dental marketing assets.

Next year when you’re sitting down to do this, you’re going to go review rep management, check, online scheduling, check. I don’t know maybe you did SEO and the SEO is working great. And you’re getting monthly reports to show you where you’re kicking ass, check. You can go check, check, check, check, check. And sooner or later, what’s going to happen is this whole annual review of your marketing is going to take you like seven minutes. Really, it’s not, if it’s working, you just go, check. The only time dentists should stress about it really is when it’s not. And when you have to come up with something different. Right?

So anyway, that’s, that’s episode two, episode two is all about lining up what you consider your assets. Looking at the liabilities. In other words, where are my opportunities? When we say liabilities, what we really mean is opportunity, right? Where’s the opportunity in my market space for me to use my budget resources to its best use? To me that’s an opportunity shouldn’t be a liability. Line it all up and apply it to whatever budget you have leftover. And do it in a priority order.

Now for many of you, your budget is going to determine the priority. I mean, it’s easy for me to sit here and go I’m going to do 9000 radio spots. It’s only going to cost $180,000. Right? The whole conversation is over. Yeah, it’s done. We’re done, right. Your, your, your specific marketing budget, your specific list of dental marketing assets, your specific list of liabilities or market opportunities are all different. And what we’re trying to teach you here is to go look, be the investigator that we are. When our clients come to us and say, “hey, you know, here’s what we did last year, here’s what we want to go next year, here’s my capacity, what should I do”

Be your own investor, and go look and see other avenues, what other options are available to you within your budget. Y’all have a budget, you just, you know, today just did the calculation. And hopefully now you can line up your dental marketing assets and liabilities and make some at least initial decisions because your decisions may change as you listen to more these episodes, but.

Howie: That’s right. Well, thank you all out there in our listening audience for tuning in. And we’re going to close down for today. We’ll look forward to speaking with you here again soon. Bye now.

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