We continue our series on how to prepare your marketing for the upcoming year. In this episode, we review dental risk management and lay out some deployment strategies.


Podcast Highlights:

  • Budget misallocations
  • Rotating services
  • Deployment costs
  • Avoiding the niche trap
  • The biggest myth about capacity
  • The numbers to look at when planning for capacity
  • Maintaining predictable results
  • Impressions

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: Well, hello, everybody. Welcome to our podcast once again. How you doing, Mark?

Mark: All right, Howie. How’s everything in a Las Vegas?

Howie: Oh, it’s just really peachy?

Mark: How far are you guys from getting a football team?

Howie: Looks well about 2020, They’re building the stadium right now.

Mark: No, I know. I saw that I saw the shell for that was

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: That was cool.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: 2020

Howie: The Raiders.

Mark: Yeah, I know. I know. I don’t care.

Howie: I’ll never lose my allegiance to my Seahawks though.

Mark: No, I know. I know. And I’ll never I’ll never not be an Eagles fan, so.

Howie: There you go.

Mark: It’s just going it’d be interesting to have. And you’re going to end up with two professional teams. And I bet you the NBA’s right behind it, so.

Howie: Yeah? Well, we’ve already got the Golden Knights for for a rookie hockey team, they’re second in their in their division, so.

Mark: There you go. All right, good. Anyway, so we have to continue.

Howie: Yes, our series.

Mark: Our series. We have to continue our series on preparing for next year.

Howie: Yes.

Mark: And the reason we don’t put a year on it like 2018, is because you do the same exact sequence of considerations every year.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: This isn’t just preparing for 2018. This is preparing for every other every year for the rest of your career.

Howie: Yep.

Mark: And we also want to point out because we had some questions about, do I have to start my, you know, my marketing planning for January 1? No, of course, not. Just because the earth has made a complete rotation around the sun, and does not mean that you have to start and stop your marketing plan on January 1, you have, you have our, you know, our encouragement to start. And, you know, to start your marketing plan, preparations at any time during any month, you just have to understand, it’s going to change, depending on depending on when you want to first implement and when you’re actually when your campaigns about to end so. And you’re going to learn why that matters.

But for the purposes of this series, we know we know a lot of dentists, at least all of our clients, they start and stop their marketing planning. They usually start around the middle of September. And the plan is usually in place by end of November, first part of December, and the first wave of deployment usually happens January 1, that’s just kind of a habit, right that a lot of our clients have gotten into. So we’re using this time frame this year, to help everybody go through the questions then that you have to ask yourself every year not just you know, not just for 2018, so.

Howie: That’s right.

Mark: So we left off at dental risk management. And I want to review in part three, we discussed risk management. What dental risk management basically is, well, okay, I have this budget resource x thousands of dollars a year. Where should I put it? What makes what poses the most risk to my marketing dollar, what poses the next most, and what poses all the way down to the least risk to my marketing dollar. And that is a huge part of risk management

When you’re determining what you do with your budget, and recently, well, recently, I’m going to say oh, probably over the last, let’s see the recession hit, that’s 2008. We got deluged by just hundreds of new clients. And I’m going to say that dentists started to misallocate their resources, I’m going to say around 2012, 2013. And this goes hand in hand with dental risk management. When you decide what you want to do with your dollar you are making a determination, “I am going to spend these dollars for this period of time for this purpose.” So one the ways you mitigate risk, Howie, is to talk about everything that you do, right?

Howie: Yes.

Mark: Okay. So you can mitigate risk. Here, let me back up. Here’s what’s risk: Talking about one thing forever.

Howie: Exactly. And if I might point out something here. Let’s give an example. I mean, Sedation radio spot.

Mark: Yeah, back in ’06. ’07. I remember, yeah.

Howie: And don’t get me wrong, we love sedation as a technology for your practice, it’s great. But the danger you run into is what we’ve labeled a niche trap or niche trap, however you want to pronounce it, you run the danger of putting money into one thing that you will become known for in your community. So in the case of sedation, it’s like, “Oh, well, you know, you don’t want to go see him unless you want to get knocked out.”

Mark: Right.

Howie: That’s all they know about you.

Mark: Right.

Howie: You know, that’s, that’s a danger, a real problem.

Mark: It is. Um, so part of risk management is knowing which media types are the least risky, to the most risky. That’s one part of it. Another part is, is what you’re, what you’re presenting to the public. If you’re presenting one thing at a time, that’s fine. As long as you don’t do one thing at a time for a very long period of time. That’s what Howie was just talking about. You will niche trap yourself. You never want to niche trap yourself ever. All the dentists in 2000 and 3, 4, 5, and 6 who niche trapped themselves into being cosmetic dentists in March of 2008 suffered the consequences.

Howie: They sure did.

Mark: They sure did. Alright. So, you never want to do that. So that’s part of dental risk management. Deployment planning is also part of risk management in that if you’re going to have multiple messages, which you should, or if your media type allows you the space to list multiple reasons to choose you, which it should. Then you need to know when to deploy these.

I’m going to say when because there’s lots to deployment planning there is when and how much. And at what cost. Okay, that’s what deployment planning is. So you always start at the budget. And you say, Okay, well, let’s say I have, I don’t know, $30,000 of my budget, and I haven’t allocated it yet. Part of dental risk management is “Can I, can I use $30,000 to penetrate this market within a reasonable amount of time with one or more messages?” That’s a very real, logical question. And this single question is what normally eliminates radio and television from 95% of dentists budgets.

Howie: Right. And probably billboards too and all the mass media.

Mark: Right. Yeah. Can you, can you allocate $30,000 to let’s say, television, locally? Yes, you absolutely can. Can you get enough impressions and enough traction on enough subjects for enough period of time, and in radio and television that’s 11 impressions, all right, per recipient. Okay. Is your budget robust enough to do that, to accomplish that? And the answer for 90% of you is, “Oh, hell no.”

Howie: Right.

Mark: No. The doctors that we have in radio and television are probably spending 6 to 7000 a month. Not 30,000, a year, 6 or 7000 a month in those media types. And all of them have tremendous internet presence, a ridiculously robust dental direct mail marketing campaign. In other words, they have everything’s already all set up for the radio and the TV to work at maybe that type of a, an allocation level. But 90% of you don’t have those things already set up. So radio, TV, and even honestly, even most print media, like magazines.

Um, they’ve, they’ve over time they’ve priced themselves out of your market, it’s very difficult for a dentist to get let’s, let’s use the same 30,000 you know, can I really get a full page ad in this trendy magazine that serves my local area for 12 months, you know, for 30 grand? That’s probably not, you know, and if you’re not the biggest, the baddest than the best, and you’re in and among 6, 7, 4, 9, other dental ads that are in the same trendy magazine? Hmm, why are you even bothering?

Howie: Yeah, that’s it’s just way too risky. Without the foundational steps first.

Mark: Right.

Howie: We’ve gone over many times.

Mark: Right.

Howie: Why don’t we go over them again?

Mark: Alright. So when it comes to deployment planning, you really have to conserve, and use that 30 grand, whatever that number is, you have to use that very wisely. And you you’re going to want to have impressions going out rather consistently because we, Howie and I have never met a dentist who said, “You know what, you know what I’d like, I’d like 50 new patients one month, and then like 8 the following month. If you could do 50 one month and then 8 in the alternating months, that would make me a happy dentist.” No dentist has ever said that to us.

What dentists what dentists want is they want an evenness, you know, good, a good healthy level volume, a good solid quality of new patient, but on a consistent basis. So if you’re going to plan your marketing and you have a budget to allocate, and let’s say it’s 30, grand, whatever you’re going to put out there is going to have to be able to be put out there monthly at a minimum.

Howie: Right.

Mark: Okay. This also dovetails into dental risk management. So okay, so here’s, for instance, let’s say we’re going to do 30 grand and it’s actually less than that. But let’s say we’re going to allocate 30 grand and some of that’s going to go to mail. And we’re going to mail 10 months of the year, not 12. We’re going to mail every month except for July and December in most US markets. Part of dental risk management is also understanding and deployment planning is also understanding where you live in the market you serve. There are people dentists in Florida, for instance, who get snowbirds. Snowbirds start flocking in about you know, Thanksgiving time. Now those markets we may mail in November in December, right.

Howie: Especially if it’s a niche type mailing, you know, for older folks like implants.

Mark: Yeah, might be a senior. Yeah, implants, dentures, sleep apnea.

Howie: What perfectly, perfectly good time to mail.

Mark: Exactly. So part of your deployment planning, excuse me, part of your risk management is deployment planning. Part of deployment planning is capacity and measuring your capacity. You want to talk about capacity when we come back from a break?

Howie: Yeah, let’s take a break and we’ll come back and continue this. Don’t go away. We’ll be right back.

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Howie: Alright, we are back. Thank you for tuning in today. We appreciate it. We were just about. Yeah, we were just about this to discuss capacity issues with your deployment, you know, along with the deployment sequence that you want to have in place for the next year.

Mark: Yeah, well, measuring capacity is ongoing. It’s not really something that you measure one time a year. For the folks listening to this who haven’t heard us say this before the max, you want to be booked out, the doctor, the max you want anyone waiting for an appointment is eight work days. So we run into this quite a bit, where the doctors feeling, might be even a client of ours, who’s feeling really, you know, sassy about how things are going. And their, you know, chess puffs out a little bit and they say, “I’m booked up for the whole month.” and we say “No, stop.” We’re messing up. So here’s why this matters within your dental risk management, within your deployment planning, is some of you may be thinking about expanding your capacity next year.

So the question you ask yourself, when you build your marketing plan for next year is, am I planning on any changes in capacity? If your answer is no, it’s no big deal, check it off. But let’s go through some capacity items here and maybe give you some examples of how this would change your deployment, your deployment planning.

Let’s say that the plan is is for an associate to start in May. And right now you’re booked out 5, 6 days, takes about, yeah, it takes about a week for a new patient to be able to squeeze in the schedule to see you, unless it’s an emergency, obviously, you get them in sooner. So you have a really nice, solid solo practice, it’s maybe kind of busting at the seams maybe. And you thought you know, I’m gonna go bringing in an associate for maybe two days a week, let’s see how this is going to work. All right, well, when the associate comes in, um, let me back up one step. There, there are three capacities, your dental practice, there’s only three, it’s a number of dentist hours, the number of treatment rooms and the number of operational hours there’s really, that’s it, there’s three, okay?

Anytime you expand or contract those any one of the three, you add significant stress on a marketing plan. Because remember, the dental office marketing plan was designed to bring in a fairly predictable result. But you change the rules mid mid stream, in May you said okay, I’m not going to have one dentist to fill the capacity for, this new dentist is actually going to add another 50% capacity to this dental practice. Because if the owner dentist was working four days a week, and the associate comes in for two days a week, two is half of four, that’s 50% capacity increase in this dental practice. Well, if you get the same number of new patients consistently, which your marketing plan should be doing, then you’re going to be really disappointed about the middle of June or July if you don’t plan for this.

Howie: And the associate is especially going to be disappointed. And that’s why these relationships often go sour.

Mark: That’s right. That right. It’s not, it’s always the same reason from both sides, right? The associate always tells us well, the doctor didn’t have enough patients for me. And the doctor, the owner says the associate, we had clinical differences.

Howie: Creative clinical differences.

Mark: Exactly. It’s always the same excuse, you know. So anyway, um, so when you’re doing your dental risk management, you’re in your deployment planning mode, and you’re looking at your capacity, you really do need to make sure that you plan from my budget standpoint, from a deployment volume standpoint, maybe even from and here’s, here’s a great example of how you might attack this situation. Remember the situation is we have a solo dentist, really nice practice, kicking along, maybe kind of growing at the seams, associates coming in in May. And the doctor just maintains a consistent marketing plan that’s helping, you know, grow the practice now thinking that the associates just going to step right in and magically, there’s going to be enough patience for the associate well, magic doesn’t work.

Hope is not a marketing plan. So we would rather plan for how many additional patients that new associate is going to need, you know, based on realistic numbers and statistics and volume, and so on and so forth. So as you build your marketing plan, you’re going to want to do that as well. Like if you’re currently enjoying 20, 25, you know, good solid patients new patients a month. And you represent, right now you represent 100% of your capacity, when that associate comes in representing 50% capacity, you’re going to need another 12, 13, or 14 additional new patients a month.

Just because you know what’s going to happen, the existing patients are going to choose you, the owner, they’re not going to want to see the new guy or gal, they’re going to want to see the owner. So you’re really going to need to up perhaps the budget, definitely the budget. But one thing you might want to do when you’re there is if you’re promoting to the top half for your patients, and you want to just get volume temporarily into the practice for your associate, you might want to promote to the top and bottom simultaneously with two different messages, not crossing, you know, not crossing.

Howie: Not going to the same targets.

Mark: Not going to the same targets just two different messages to the right section, you know, segment of targets temporarily maybe for 60 or 90 days, well, that’s going to add to your budget, right, that’s going to add to your expenses, you need to plan for that. Right? So anyway, we’re getting maybe a little bit deep for folks, but this is where, see these points in your career is where marketing becomes real challenging, right? Well, you can plan for these challenging times and it’s, it’s, it’s pretty neat that one if you plan properly for it ends up not being as much of a challenge. Right?

Howie: Right.

Mark: It actually works and works well. And, yeah, I mean, you know, within reason, it’s not 100% predictable, but it becomes, you know, much more predictable and and if you know what to expect and the associate knows what to expect, this brings us back full circle to our comments, our snarky comments from before, if the owner knows what to expect and the associate knows what to expect, and, you know, reality is pretty close to what those expectations were, you end up not having disharmony between the owner and the associate.

Howie: Right.

Mark: You end up having a you know, a relationship that that may last that may turn into a buy in, buy out arrangement sometime down the road. So anyway, I don’t want to get too deep on that subject. But, um, but yeah, dental risk management, part of risk management is deployment planning. Part of deployment planning is capacity, part of capacity change is either your owner schedule, operational hours schedule, or doctor additional doctor hours in the office.

Howie: Right.

Mark: Go ahead Howie.

Howie: I was just gonna say that another aspect of dental risk management, which we touched on is the the recognition that there are certain mediums that are just inherently more risky than others, the radio and TV mass media being much more, containing much more risk than mail. But also because of the costs involved, the those are more expensive mediums. And you know, you want to be, you want to be prudent with your marketing budget. Don’t, don’t just throw it all around. And then when it fails, you go I’ll try something else, and you throw a bunch of other dollars over there. That’s not that’s not paying attention to your risks. And it you know, you just waste money.

Mark: Yeah, then and one of the, one of the media types that dentists are drawn to, which is fine, because, I mean, we have a whole department devoted to it, but it’s PPC. So dental PPC is a pay per click campaign. And I, I think people don’t see the risk in it is, let me back up. I know the people who work in it, see the risk in it. But before they work in it, they don’t see that. In other words, they don’t see it until they’re there. Right? So, alright, so let’s go down the list. Um, dental internal marketing, a great dental practice website, good organic positioning.

We talked about reviews, dental reputation management, online dental appointment scheduling, we talked about all those things along with a properly done targeted offline promotion, 90% of the time being mail, as the foundation, that is now the foundation, if you don’t have that in place, your budget shouldn’t go anywhere other than those three things until you until you are I’m not going to say dominating in those three, but I’m going to say really, really comfortable.

Howie: Yeah, they’re producing well for you, before you move on to print and mass media.

Mark: Or dental PPC or whatever.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Right. You know, if you want to put three or four grand into Facebook campaigns and you know, boost up your social, go ahead. It’s no big deal, right? But what you want to do with your with your overall budget is allocate it smartly. And in the areas, it’s okay, if you want to take a flyer and do your own Facebook ads, or maybe you want to log on to Google and start your own dental PPC campaign. That’s fine. Go ahead and do it. But don’t use 90% of your budget for it. That’s insane.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Okay, so that is dental risk management, deployment planning. We’ve talked about deployment timing. And now I’m going to talk a little bit about deployment volumes. Because when I say deployment volumes, it’s how many things am I paying for? How many ads in the radio and how many TV ads? How many pieces of mail? And, how many, how much am I paying for a service, PPC word or phrase? How much am I paying to boost his Facebook ad? Right? What is my deployment volume? Because in marketing, volume is awesome. In marketing, costs per impression, is what you really kind of need to, it’s one of the key metrics that you focus on, how much did it cost me, to put that message in front of that human being, you can impress people via the radio, audibly.

You can impress people via the to the TV visually, you can impress people with things like mail, right on their, you know, kitchen table. You can impress people on billboards as they drive by, that’s what an impression is. Right? So how much did that impression cost? And that with impression cost, what value do I get from that impression cost. So, I know I’m getting kind of deep into the numbers right here. But there are many things out there that are outside of your budget, we discussed that earlier. I mean, radio and television for 90% of you are outside of your means. Um, it is amazingly inexpensive to mail. And it’s very predictable to mail because you’re only really mailing to the targets that you’re only using your budget for things to mail to impress the people that are most likely going to become great patients.

Howie: Yeah. And people you want in your practice.

Mark: Right.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Now you can pay for impressions on Facebook, you can you can fund, let’s say you create a really cool post with a squirrel and a nut, it’s fall, come and see your dentist and you want to post that and impress that on the nearby 9000 Facebook users immediately surrounding your office, you can do that. To that there’s a cost for that impression. Okay. Now, here’s where this gets interesting. And maybe a little next level thinking, but I’m going to take you there anywhere, anyway. If you are creating an impression that only talks about one thing, and you’re measuring it against something that creates an impression that talks about 10 things, you have to multiply the impression rate by 10.

I’m going to give an example. Remember that Facebook post, that Facebook ad that I said the squirrel, nut, its fall come see your dentist, whatever that kind of ad. And you want to push that out there and it cost you 12 cents an impression to push that out there to all the local people. Mail costs 58 cents. But that mailer says 10 things about your practice, not just one thing. Okay. So you have to take, you have to take the messaging, and the impressions together to create the ultimate cost. So when you’re looking at things to try and squeeze down your budget, try to get as many valuable impressions and impressions as you possibly can, whether it’s going electronically through Facebook, or dental PPC or some level of mail or whatever, whatever you’re trying to get out there.

When you look at cost per impression, you have to keep in the back of your mind that am I saying one thing, or am I saying eight or nine things? Because if I’m saying eight or nine things that’s eight or nine times as valuable as just saying one because Mark and Howie have already told me that if I keep saying just one thing. I’m just going to get those patients and those people are just going to think I only do that.

Howie: Yeah, and plus I’ll get tired of hearing that one thing and tune you out.

Mark: Exactly. Okay. So um, we hope I knew this was going to be one of the most confusing segments of this. It’s not, if anybody has any questions about this, we have a Dental Marketing Mastery Facebook group, just log on, ask to become a member. When you’re listening to these podcasts, if we’ve skipped over something too soon, or if we’ve made it confusing for you, please just reach out to us on that on that Facebook group and say, “Hey, man, you were talking about x. What the heck does that mean?” And then Howie and I and some of the staff will, we’re always monitoring it. So we’ll, we’ll chime in and and we’ll help you out.

Howie: Great. Well, thank you all out there in our wonderful listening audience. We’re done for today. We look forward to speaking with you 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.