Which dental marketing efforts are generating a return? How can you tell? In this episode, Howie discusses dental office marketing ROI, short term vs. long term returns, tracking, the marketing bell curve, and more!

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Podcast Highlights:
  • Finding out which marketing efforts created patients
  • Dental office marketing ROI can be difficult to track
  • Offline Marketing ROI
  • First-Level ROI
  • New Patient Lifetime ROI
  • The Radio?
  • Offline traffic drives online traffic
  • Referral sources
  • Call tracking
  • Referral chains
  • First-level ROI is short-sighted!
  • The marketing bell curve
  • Mail list cross referencing
  • Getting staff to accurately track source fields

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. This would normally be the time I bring in my partner Mark, and he tells you something about the weather in New Jersey or, you know, the latest country music performer he saw or bass fishing story or something like that, but Mark’s not here today.

He’s enjoying a well deserved vacation up in the state of Maine. And I mean, in the middle of nowhere, Maine, he’s got a, I don’t want to say vacation cabin, there’s more like a house on a beautiful lake up there, then it’s just beautiful. They’re in the ‘summertime’ in the winter, and everything’s frozen and under 10 feet of snow. But right now, it’s just gorgeous up there. So that’s where he is.

Today, you only have me. I want to talk a little bit about dental office marketing ROI, return on investment for your marketing, and why that’s important and how you might go about figuring it out. When you’re engaged in a dental marketing effort, you need to know if it’s producing a good return or not so good return. I mean, your basic question when a patient calls or shows up in your practice is “Why are you here?”

Actually, what you want to know is which of our marketing efforts did you respond to? Okay? I mean, isn’t that what you really need to know? I mean, without knowing the correct answer to that, it makes it really difficult to determine if your dental practice marketing is working or not. It makes it difficult to determine, you know, for you to decide if you want to continue to put your marketing budget toward whatever it is you’re doing. Or just abandon the effort and try something else.

Without this correct data, you could you could end up killing an effort that’s actually working, but you just don’t know it. Or you could continue to pour money into an effort that isn’t working. And you know, either way, it gets very expensive for you, right, if you don’t have this data, and talking about dental office marketing ROI can drive me crazy, because it’s almost never calculated correctly. In fact, I’m not even sure it’s possible to get it 100% correct.

All right. So, you know, don’t try for perfection here. But, you know, try. Now, what I’m talking about today relates to offline dental marketing. Okay, that’s marketing you do that does not employ the internet. See, with online dental marketing, you know, Google AdWords, when we when we do a Google AdWords campaign for a client, you know, the client and we have the benefit of a dashboard, and also Google Analytics. These will tell you where the call came from, and even what sort of revenue came into the practice, from that, that marketing effort. It’s really slick, and it’s really accurate. But you don’t have to depend on the patient in that regard, to ask them how they heard about you. It’s, it’s much more accurate than trying to trace offline dental marketing.

Let’s look at offline marketing, and how to how to figure your ROI there. Let’s say you spend $25,000 on a campaign. I mean, it could be a mail, radio, TV, you know, whatever. It produces x numbers of new patients over the course of the campaign. So you add up, the dentistry is sold and collected and subtract your costs and arrive at your initial ROI. Initial is the key word here, the first initial, if that number is unacceptable, you might, you might want to, you know, might feel justified in canceling the campaign. But what you have at that point is not the correct total ROI. It’s the initial ROI, first level ROI.

Not only is it not total ROI is not a not by a long shot. In truth, the dental office marketing ROI continues for years. Now, let me tell you why. All these new patients that you got from the marketing you just did, didn’t get all their dentistry done the first year, did they? Maybe some did, but many, maybe even most didn’t. So unless you close up shop, or make the man or they move away or die, the most of them will keep you as their dentist and continue to pay for many years to come. Right? Even if you completely finished their cases, they still go on to retire and you make money.

So now what’s the dental office marketing ROI? And then let’s make it even more complicated. Those new patients referred, you know, they’re going to refer we don’t know how many they’re going to refer. But we know it’s not zero. So how much dentistry will those referrals buy? And how much will they buy in the years to come? And then how about tertiary third level referrals and infinitum. Okay, now, what’s the ROI on your initial investment? Again, we don’t, we don’t necessarily know. But we know it’s not zero.

Other things that make it hard to nail down an accurate ROI. It’s when you have to depend on the front desk, or the office manager or staff member to enter the correct referral source into your practice management software. We see huge errors, they’re made all the time in doing it this way, including the most common error, which is to leave the referral field blank. Okay, there’s just nothing in it. Take a look into your PMS. And you’ll see what I’m talking about. And why is that; because there’s nothing in it really for the patient to give you the actual referral source. It’s nothing in it for them to remember it. They don’t get a prize. They don’t, you know, don’t get a discount. And then they just and it’s not because they’re hiding anything. They just have no reason to remember accurately.

They’ll tell you they heard about you on the radio, we get this. We’ve gotten this before heard about you on the radio. The dentist goes and when we have been on the radio for 15 years. So it’s they’ll tell you they heard that, you know, they searched you out on the internet when what they really did was receive your mailer or maybe heard your radio spot and then they went to your dental clinic website and maybe they scheduled online from your online dental scheduling tool, scheduling tool, so website gets entered into the referral field and the actual source was mailer or perhaps radio.

So, it’s, it’s inaccurate, you get inaccurate information from your patients. Here’s an example. Let’s call her Emma. Emma Smith. She hears your radio spot. She calls to make an appointment. The source field gets entered as radio. Okay, that’s correct. Six months later, she drags in her husband Barney because she’s tired of smelling his perio breath or something. And the source field is entered referral from Emma Smith. Okay, that’s correct. She did refer him. It’s true, but it’s inaccurate for marketing tracking purposes. The only reason Barney is there is because of Emma. And the only reason sje is there is because of the radio spot, or mailer or whatever it was. So for tracking purposes, Barney should be assigned as radio in this case, okay. We’re going to take a short break here. And I’ll be back in a moment. Don’t go away.

Hello, everybody. This is Howie Horrocks and along with me is Mark Dilatush, the president of new patients Incorporated. How you doing Mark? Hey Howie, how are you? This is the part of the podcast where we get to brag about our company. Yay. So sometimes it gets lost. And all these podcasts what new patients incorporated actually does. We have final know how many podcasts 75-80 one a week, well over a year. And all of you listen to these a half hour at a time and you might lose sight of what we do. So here’s the short answer. We do everything we’re talking about in these podcasts on behalf of our clients. Okay, we do the podcasts are there for our clients, of course just so they understand what the heck we’re doing.

But also for the doctors who are do it yourselfers. If you’re not a do it yourselfer, and you want someone to do this for you, newpatientsinc.com, there’s an icon and the dead center at the top of our homepage where you can get a complimentary marketing plan, a series of questions will need to be completed. And once you complete that, we will analyze your market area, develop a marketing plan and get on the phone with you discuss all the sections of the marketing plan just to make sure you understand a couple of things, what you’re up against, what your expectations should be, and what Mark and Howie would do if we owned your dental practice.

Howie: Alright, we’re back here, let’s see if we can make this complex, a little more simple. One way to avoid some of this, at least is to have a call tracking number attached to every marketing effort you’re doing. Then there’s the, then you don’t have to rely on the patient, remembering, you know, because it’s it’s often not right. And there’s also no need for you to rely on how the staff feels, about how the marketing campaign is going.

You know, you’ll get some staff will say “Oh, I get nothing from it”, you get other staff to say so “I think it’s doing pretty good”. But they don’t really know. You know. You’re still going to have to make sure the referral fields are entered correctly, even if you don’t have to any longer depend on the staff or the patient themselves. And that’s kind of a tough one.

Now, regarding secondary and tertiary referrals, ad infinitum. I suppose a case could be made that to use this example I just talked about, with Emma. The correct referral source being you know, when she referred her husband, Barney was actually because the practice did a great job and wow’d her so much that she convinced her husband to come in and get some work done. And then Barney got the same Wow, treatment. And you know, he told his coworker about your practice. So now which marketing effort got Barney’s co worker in the front door? Okay, was it Barney, was Emma, was it the practice? It’s complicated trying to follow the referral chains but here’s my point, no matter what you consider the answer to be there had to have been initial causation.

What does that mean? In other words, where did this referral chain start in the first place? Now, your key takeaway might be that it’s, I think, my opinion, it’s short sighted to only consider initial ROI when you’re trying to figure out if your marketing is paying off or not. But that’s what dentists often do. They only consider first level ROI and ignore or they can’t track. The later dental office marketing ROI that comes, you know, down the road.

Every dental practice marketing effort has a bell curve, you know, looks like a bell goes up, gets to the apex, and then it reaches the apex and falls off from there. And hopefully the top part of the curve will get stretched out for a good amount of time before it falls off. But it will fall off the real revenue pole where you make your money on just about any marketing never comes to the beginning of the bell curve. It just doesn’t.

Beginning is also where most of your expenses. No one’s going to print and send your mail or run your radio spots or print ads until I get paid. So you have this upfront money they have to shell out and then you have to endure the momentum build as, as this bell curve starts on its upward climb. Okay. So this causes practices often times to try this, try that, you know, for years. They’re unhappy with the initial ROI after a week or two weeks or a month. And they get nervous to start jumping from one marketing effort to another over and over. What they’re doing is continually starting new bell curves again and again. Rather than being persistent enough to get the benefit of the mid and later end of the curve, you follow up.

Now as an example, there’s a there’s a method that we use here in NPI that helps clarify whether a campaign is working on. But it only applies when we do mail campaigns. But this might be a good tip for you if you’re mailing with any marketing company or doing it yourself. This doesn’t apply obviously to online marketing, Google and that sort of thing. We know who we mail to on behalf of our client, because we buy the mailing lists, we know their names and addresses.

The practice keeps a new patient roster. They know the names and addresses of all our new patients. So we cross reference those two lists for a specified time period, say 12 months, a year. Now, this not only tells us the mail campaign produced a new patient from, you know, 201 Elm Street on February 2, but also produced three more from 201 Elm Street seven months later. That would be the first one being mom, followed later by, you know, two kids and the dad, right.

But often times, the practice management will software will only source the mailer. With the original new patient from February 2, not the three more that arrived on September 12. See the big gap in time. And this exact scenario happens with regularity. With every single mail client multiple times during the campaign, one client just recently thought he’d received 88 new patients. That’s what his software told him from the mail campaign, which was profitable. It was fine. But the truth was, is he actually received 144, which was very profitable. And he didn’t know it.

Now, he wasn’t thinking about canceling the campaign. But if he had been, he wouldn’t have realized the actual mistake he was making. And he would have missed out on the actual results. So there you have it, my friends, track your offline marketing efforts with a call tracking number. Don’t necessarily believe the patients when you ask how they heard about you. Depend on the call tracking; is more accurate. And also encouraged staff to accurately enter the referral field into your practice management software. Okay. And most of all, don’t ignore or, you know, don’t ignore the ROI build up that will occur over time you get one member of a family. There’s a very good chance you’ll get other family members over time. And they will keep paying you for years and years. And so will their referrals.

All right. Thank you so much for listening today. We’re really glad that you tuned in. Mark will be back with you and I next week. Goodbye 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.