Two Dental Marketing Experts Walk into a Bar….

Are you tired of doing the same thing all the time? Do you want to attract patients who have grander dental ambitions than having a filling placed or their teeth cleaned? Don’t get us wrong, these are good patients, but do you want to have some really great cases to work on?

Listen in as Mark Dilatush and Howie Horrocks discuss how to attract bigger cases!

Podcast Highlights:

  • In Search of Bigger Cases
  • Where are you going to find them?
  • There are Riches in the Niches
  • Passive VS. Aggressive Marketing. What’s best?

Podcast Transcription

Hello, and welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery series. This podcast is brought to you by New Patients Incorporated, and NPI I’m Howie Horrocks, the Founder of New Patients Incorporated, along with me once again is my friend and partner and the President of New Patients Incorporated, Mark Dilatush.

Howie: Hello, everybody. Welcome once again to our latest podcast in the Dental Marketing Mastery Series. Hello, Mark. How you doing?

Mark: Hello. I’m doing fine. Actually we’ve renamed our series. It’s Two Dental Marketing Experts Walk into a Bar. Okay.

Howie: I didn’t know that. We have? Nobody tells me anything. I forgot. Okay. Okay. Wait a minute. I have to get into a bar first.

Mark: We’re just trying to get people’s attention…

Howie: Good. Okay. We’re going to talk about attracting bigger cases. Which is something most dentists want to do. I believe.

Mark: Well they do now about 2009, 2011 and 12 and 13, they would have done dentistry to the neighbor’s dog if the dog walked into their office because they were slow. Yeah. But uh, so let’s go through a history, a dental memory loop.

In Search of Bigger Cases

In 2001, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 was, man, it was a boon for bigger cases.

America had artificially increased home prices, Americans were able to max their credit cards, pay it off with home equity and start the process all over again. And amazingly, during that same exact time frame, every dentist in the United States became a cosmetic dentist.

Right? Overnight. Just overnight, right? We hope everybody knows we’re just having some fun here.

But the lessons here are real, they’re real business lessons.

When your patients have either more available credit, or, you know, more money in their pocket, they tend to buy more elective dentistry. Makes sense. And when that happens, dentists want their piece of the pie, they want to, you know, be, and for a lot of reasons, dentists, you know, when they’re in their late 40s, or mid-40s, to, let’s say, mid-50s. You know, most of them, we sit down with them and talk to them. And, they say “If I do another two surface composite I’m going to stab myself in the ear with a pencil.” Right? I mean, it’s like the most boring thing they could possibly do. They want to get challenged. They want to do more good, right?

Howie: They want the bigger, sexy, cases. The fun stuff.

Mark: I mean, you and I get bored at our business, doing what we do all day. Right? So, we understand it. So, there’s another reason why you might want bigger, more challenging cases. And other reason might be that you’re just a giver. And you love helping. Just helping people, you know, okay, there’s monetary rewards. And, and there’s ego stroking and rewards. But you know, helping people is probably why most of you even went into this field. So for all those reasons, the bigger cases and wanting to do more of the bigger cases makes total and complete sense. So let’s bring us forward now to 2019. Because, as we pulled out of this recession, by the way, dentistry lost about 18% of its total revenue during the recession, and almost everybody listening to this is a clinician, so if they lost 18% of their revenue during the recession that means some people ignored their teeth. And being the clinician that you all are you are aware of what happens when you ignore your teeth.

Howie: They go bad.

Mark: They hurt, and then they call and they become emergency patients. And now, what we’re living through now, basically 2016, 2017, 2018 and 19, is a statistical rebound from the 18 point loss. So during the recession… Now, I’m going to go back in time to 2008 2009 when Howie and I were doing our articles and our seminars, and we were doing podcasts, and we were telling all of our clients, get out of the niches. Get out of the niches. Go back to Family Dentistry, that’s where you’re going to, you know, that’s where not only you’re going to survive, but you’re going to grow through the recession. And most of our, all of our clients, listened to this because we direct all their marketing.

But we reach a lot more than just our clients. So we were trying to raise the flag. “Hey, get out of niches, get out of niches, go right back to Family Dentistry, that’s what’s going to save you during the recession.” And for a lot of dentists it worked, and they didn’t lose 18% of their revenues. The rest of the market did but they didn’t.

Well, now during the recovery what we’re seeing all over the place, are dental practices just slammed, they’re just slammed with volumes of patients, a lot of hygiene. And, in some cases, nowhere to put them. So there’s expansion, there’s new, you know, new opportunities, there’s new providers, so on and so forth. Then what you end up with is, “Hey, I think I want more and bigger cases now.” Okay. So it’s kind of come full circle, you know, over the last 10-12 years. Yeah, back in 2004. Everybody was a bondodontist right? And every patient who walked in had Porcelain Deficiency Syndrome.

And now amazingly, all of America, again, has Porcelain Deficiency Syndrome.

Howie: Or Titanium Deficiency.

Mark: And that’s fine. That’s it, that’s where your mind should be. Because when you’re maxed out, capacity wise, the only real way to grow, if you’re not going to expand your capacity, is have higher average revenue per patient and do bigger cases.

Howie: Right. And, and the patients these days, they can afford it and they want, they want their teeth to look good and they want to be able to smile again. Yeah. And they have more disposable income.

Mark: Okay, the housing prices stabilized somewhere around 2016, the middle of 2016. And we said back in 2008 that was going to be your marker for when you could start to allocate a certain percentage of your budget back into a dental niche. So you know what, this probably a good time for a break, Howie. When we come back, we’ll go through how we set up marketing plans to go out to get those bigger cases.

Howie: Don’t go away. We’ll be right back.

What is NPI Fusion Marketing ™? Fusion marketing is a highly targeted, highly efficient, and highly effective way to present the benefits of your dental practice simultaneously, online and offline, to only the most qualified new patient candidates, immediately surrounding your practice, what you get is a more consistent flow of higher quality new patients. If you are interested in Fusion, go to and click “get started.” We will build a marketing plan for your practice, which could include Fusion.

Howie: Alright, we are back. And we’re talking about how to attract bigger cases.

Mark: Yeah, we gave you this setup. Because there’s a lot of history here. Right. So we’ve lived through a couple of these. And Ok, so now you’re ready. You’ve got a nice, healthy family practice. Now, Howie what do you always say? About the family practice? Well, what do you say about big cases and having a big family practice?

Howie: Oh, yeah, yeah, I mean, you know, targeting a niche, or niches. That’s fraught with trouble when really, your patient base is where you’re going to get most of your big cases. Okay, and that’s sounds counterintuitive, you know, “oh, I want implant cases, I’ll just go out and advertise for implants, you know?” Well, yeah. But oftentimes, that doesn’t work. You know, the people that know you best are your own patients. That’s where you’re going to find the big cases.

It’s About the Niches

Mark: Well, that’s certainly the initial place that you would go and that’s, so step one, is internal. And so the next logical question is, well, what the hell can I do internally, and 99.999% of the time, when we take a look, the doctors not really doing hardly anything internally to promote the benefits of… we’re just using implants as an example. You can superimpose sleep apnea, Invisalign™, Six Month Smiles ™, you can use cosmetic dentistry, sedation, and you can just inject any, any niche into this conversation and basically say the same thing. Your existing patients really only know or remember what you did to them. And we will both tell you with 100% certainty that when you promote niches, you are not just promoting a service to a specific patient of record. You could be promoting a service to that patient’s mom, or that patient’s Dad. Where that mom that you’re talking to about the benefits of implants would fix her mom’s slipping dentures. And it just so happened last weekend that her mom was complaining about her slipping dentures, you see what we’re saying? Okay, so communicating the benefits. And again, we’re just using implants, as an example. Insert anything niche you want, doesn’t necessarily have to be… the communication doesn’t necessarily have to be direct with the end patient. But the patient can then take that information throughout her family and see if it applies.

Really through the rest of your career.

Okay, so Howie’s point about, “hey, communicate with your existing patients first” is 100% right on, because it’ll always be the lowest cost and the highest ROI. And for more dentists, especially with implants, the GP is going into placing implants, they kind of like to pick their cases at the very beginning just to make sure they’re doing everything right. And they’re comfortable with everything. So who better to choose your first few cases? You, knowing the dental history of your existing patients, right? So once you do that, let’s say you get 20, 30, 40 cases under your belt. Okay, now, if you want 100 cases a year, now you’re going to have to go outside of your patient base. Now you’re going to have to go direct to consumer, which brings up a really, you know, what’s our secret sauce? But what’s our recipe? When a dentist client comes to us and says, “Hey, man, I want to, I’m going to stay I’ll do this, the family marketing to keep my practice full. I’m not going to NOT do that. But I’d really like a few more big cases, what should I do?” And we almost always, I’m not going to say always because there is no such thing. But I’m going to say almost always we will take… and let’s just use implants, as an example, will take a niche, like implants. And we will split the budget 50/50%. What and 50%?

Passive and Aggressive Marketing

No, it’s online AND offline. And all right, there you go. So why would we do that? Because when you’re using marketing dollars to promote online, what you’re hoping for is to be in front of someone who’s searching for something. So they have a real or perceived need for dental implants, but they have a real or perceived need for dental implants at this moment, and they grab their phone and they do a search or they grab their laptop and they do a search or iPad or whatever. Okay, that’s a very passive form of marketing, it’s a very good form of marketing. Passive doesn’t mean bad, it just means it’s passive, you’re just kind of sitting there, just kind of sitting there waiting.

And when they type it in, you’re hoping that your ad shows up, or maybe your Google Local positioning shows up or your website optimization shows up in the organics at the bottom and you hope they select you. And they look at your website or the landing page, and they decide to call you when they make an appointment. So you’re waiting for them to have a need and find you. That’s what online marketing, for the most part, really is.

If you combine that with aggressive marketing, which is delivering a message to someone who doesn’t currently have a real or perceived need, they didn’t even ask you for it. But you’re educating them on the benefits of X. implants, sedation, insert niche here, cosmetics, whatever niche it is. And you’re selecting the audience very carefully, immediately surrounding your office so that you’re not wasting money. So you’re only delivering these messages to really only the people who are going to be able to benefit from them, afford them and be good patients in your practice.

Those are the two ways you capture the market on the passive end. And you funnel the market on the aggressive end toward you. That’s how you circle basically just… it’s kind of drawing a circle immediately surrounding your practice, say, okay, all of these potential new patients, I’m either going to capture them aggressively, or I’m going to capture them passively, doesn’t really matter. Either way, I’m going to capture them, they are mine.

Howie: That’s your universe that you will operate in for your entire career.

Mark: Exactly, that’s a great word. Your universe, that’s, that’s your, that is your universe, Doc. Okay, and that’s how you have to look at it. And that’s how you approach it, you don’t approach it just online, you don’t approach it just offline, you approach it using both simultaneously. And, and what Howie brought up before – you never stop communicating with your existing patient base, okay? That never, you’re, I’m telling you, you’re going to get more cases out of your existing patient base that you probably will, you know, going direct to consumer.

Okay. So, continue to go after your existing patient base, make sure everyone on the team understands that, communicating the benefit of X, even if the patient isn’t or isn’t going to benefit from it, or can’t depending on you know, their oral health or what have you or their needs, that almost doesn’t matter, because that person is in contact with 25, 35, 45 people within their social circle, 150 people, 200 people, 300 people, and they probably have anywhere from two to 20 in their family circle. And all of those people could benefit from these niches. So always, always, always, always pay attention to internal communication with your existing patients, it can be really subtle. It could be very, very much aware of the reception area loops that we produce. On a flat screen, they don’t even have sound it’s just “did you know? There’s a solution for slipping dentures, you know, did you know you can have a new smile in one day?

Just a bunch of “Did you knows?” okay, your hygienist, your assistant, your front desk, the doctors, they all have to be on this same communication style. In other words, everybody needs to understand, here’s what we’re offering, here are the benefits, here’s what we’re going to talk about. Here’s why. Here’s what we’re going to say. And here are the tools we have, we have this thing in the reception room, we have these email templates, we’re going to be posting some informative pieces on our social media, we have a new page on our website that talks about it, you know. So there’s supporting marketing things to help everyone along the way. So you never, you never ignore your own patient base. But when you go outside the office, absolutely 50/50 online and offline.

Do Both

If you know a dentist struggling to get their practice built, or trying to really do well with your marketing, trying to market a niche, something like you know, implants or any niche, almost every time you’ll find that they’re only doing either online or offline. They’re not doing both. And magically, when you combine the two, then if you sit down and think about it, that the difference between passive and aggressive marketing, you’ll sit there and go “Yeah, that makes sense.”

Why would I just sit here and wait for people? Why wouldn’t I go out and try to get them before someone else gives them a diagnosis? And tells them they need implants? And then they become a shopper? Then they go on Google looking for a deal? Why wouldn’t I want to get them before that happens? And the answer is you want all of them. You want them before they get to Google and shop and you want them when they are on Google looking for dental services.

I hope that makes sense to everybody. Because for some reason it flies under the radar. It’s a way for both of these online and offline promotions to work together. Just like every successful internet company, Amazon, Walmart,, Nike, I don’t care what online property that you know, even Facebook, every one of those promotes their online properties offline.

Howie: Yes, that’s exactly right.

Mark: Okay, so none of them just sit there. And you know, and if you look at offline ads, like let’s say, the easiest one is TV, or radio, it doesn’t matter. Every one of those commercials that you see or hear ends in the website domain. “Come visit” Or “come visit” Or come visit us at”

Howie: I get direct mail from Google all the time.

Mark: Exactly. So all you would be doing is doing what all the big successful companies are doing you’re just going to do it in a very small, as Howie pointed out, in your own small universe. That’s to your benefit.

So anyway, that’s how you go after niches and for those who are wondering what your budget allocation should be… depends on your practice position but you know, 25% of your total budget can go after niches 75 go after the staple family high end family market. And then use 25% of your budget to go after whatever, whatever niche you want. We want you to be happy as a dentist to and we understand how boring two surface composites can be.

Howie: Well, okay, that’ll about do it for today. We thank you all out there for listening to us and we hope you come back next time. Thanks for listening. Bye now.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our podcast today. You can get all our podcasts on iTunes, Stitcher, and And on our websites,, and