In this episode, Mark & Howie discuss the importance of starting to work on a marketing plan for your dental clinic for 2020 now and not waiting until January! They discuss some important aspects of marketing that should be reviewed or updated, budget allocation, and more.

Preparing Your Marketing for 2020

Podcast Highlights:

  • The Over Capacity Trap
  • Upgrading Your Website
  • Line Up Your Marketing Assets and Liabilities
  • We’re Bullish on Dentistry
  • Dental Marketing Budget Allocation

Podcast Transcription

Hello, and Welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery Series. This podcast is brought to you by and New Patients Incorporated. 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 to our Dental Mastery Marketing podcast. I’m here in Vegas. This is Howie Horrocks. And we’ve got our good buddy, Mark Dilatush out there in Jersey. How you doing Mark?

Mark: I’m doing just fine. I do not live in a microwave. So I’m doing finer than you are. I know it’s hot there. Now. It’s been hot and sweaty here as well.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: But that’s the summer months, we get to relax and do podcasts.

Howie: Yeah, it’s so hot that the girders on the new Raiders stadium are melting.

Mark: That’s okay. That’s all right. What are we doing?

Howie: Yeah, we’re going to talk about preparing your marketing for the year 2020.

Mark: Wow. 2020?

Howie: Yeah

Mark: Yeah, good. You know, time flies.

Howie: Yeah, no kidding.

Mark: You know, Time. Time flies. Wow. Okay.

So we normally get people ready for their following year, based on our data insights for how we see the offices that we, you know, that we help. We see the data for all the offices that we help. So it’s pretty easy for us to, you know, see the indicators, it’s not difficult at all.

And, for the most part, I’m going to say 95% of the people that we help are doing well. I mean, dentistry itself is on a rebound. So we expected them to do well, I’m not saying it’s all our fault. But you know, dentistry is on a rebound.

So between 2008 and 2014, somewhere in there ‘15. You know, dentistry was still kind of either going down or just trying to find a bottom. And now we’re in the middle of a third year, fourth year of a recovery and dental practices are, actually, most of them are becoming overheated.

The Over Capacity Trap

So, if you’re a rabid fan of these podcasts, you’ve heard Howie and I, especially me, rail on the dangers of being over capacity. How to recognize it first and how to get yourself out of it second. We do that not because we want to, you know, repeat ourselves, but because it really does damage to the work that we do. I mean, dentists trust us with their marketing budgets. And when they’re over capacity, the marketing budgets still don’t go as far as they could, right?

Howie: Right. And they don’t have any place to put their new patients.

Mark: It’s one of those things where you don’t know what you don’t know, right?

Like, the doctor doesn’t know that the lady would have scheduled if there was an opening next week, but there’s no opening for two weeks, so she went somewhere else. The dentist never knows that.

Howie: Yeah, exactly.

Mark: That lady is never going to call that dentist and tell that dentist that’s the reason she made that decision. Right.

So it is a big deal in 2019, it’s actually in my entire career, I think this is I don’t think I’ve seen more overcapacity in my entire career than 2019. It’s, um, I’m not gonna say it’s an epidemic.

Howie: Yeah, I agree.

Mark: But I have to say, for everybody listening to this, um, you know, if a new patient can’t get in and primetime, within eight work days, you have a problem. And so take a deeper look.

Howie: Right.

Mark: Okay, I’m gonna have to go through the whole scenario now.

But that’s the first thing you do to plan for 2020 is to make darn sure you’re painting 120% of the last month’s new patient volume into your schedule for next month. So that as you grow, you have a place for them to go. So that you’re not constantly booked out. And you do that every month, 120%, 120%, 120%.

And yes, you’re going to hit a month where you have to fill whatever, three or four prime time appointments. Boo-hoo, right. I mean, it’s not going to kill you to fill a prime time appointment. Everybody wants that prime time appointment. So it’s not hard.

Don’t let anybody on your staff tell you it’s hard to fill a prime time appointment, I’ll just call them liars.

Anyway. So just keep doing that through the rest of 2019 and that will really help you prepare.

And again, this is only if you’re still in growth mode. Right? If you’re growing capacity, or if you’re into maybe gonna bring on an associate, or maybe you’re going to bring on a whole dentist or maybe you’re going expand hygiene.

Or maybe you want to grow into maybe bigger cases, right? Maybe you ratchet down general dentistry marketing.

Howie: Right.

Mark: Maybe you want to ratchet up the niche dentistry marketing.

No matter what your situation, no matter where you are in your career. It always pays to stay on top of this capacity issue and manage it appropriately. It’s not hard to manage, just a couple of numbers, it’s no big deal.

Anyway, so that’s the first thing you do is measure your capacity. Take the next two or three months to get it fixed. You know, before 2020 hits.

What else did we do, what else? What else became wildly popular in 2017-18-19? 2017? Reviews. You know, if you haven’t fixed that issue yet.

Howie: Oh yes, of course.

Mark: That’s one of your priorities for 2020.

Upgrading Your Website

If your website is four or five years old, and you know, looks like the technology that built it is four or five years old. 2020 might be the year that you redesign. Just get it done, get it refreshed.

About every time you trade in your iPhone, you should probably have a new website. Okay, maybe a little longer than that, right.

Howie: Or your android.

Mark: And, you know, it’s not financially prohibitive anymore. The website is actually kind of like, it’s like Central Station in New York, like Penn Station in New York, where all the buses and all the trains and all the subways stop.

That’s your website. That’s where even offline traffic goes to your website. 60-70% of them go to your website first, when they call you. Almost all your online traffic goes through your website, so that that becomes something that you want to keep very refreshed.

So do that next.

Howie: And you’re right about that. You’re right about that. It used to be hugely expensive to redo or upgrade a website. That’s all changed, hasn’t it?

Mark: Yeah, no it’s not expensive.

Right, it’s not stressful. It’s not detail oriented. It’s not.

Technology evolves over time. And, you know, obviously, you know, we’re about as high tech as you get so, we evolve our tech over time. It really, really makes it more efficient, and with the efficiencies come cost savings, right. And with those efficiencies also comes stress savings.

You know, now you don’t have to really worry about all those emails and domain renewals and hosting renewals and SSL renewals and all that stuff. You know, we have systems to help us with that. Anyway.

So, 2020 might be you know, you have to do your own an assessment, or you can always call in here to an advisor and get on the phone with you and assess what you have. But you might want to assess or reassess, umm really that key central component to your whole dental clinic marketing plan, which is your website.

We’re on the phone all the time. We’re on the phone all the time here with folks. And they’ll say yeah, my website is, and we go and look at it, and there’s, you know, there they are, the patients, you know, reclined in the chair, Dr. masked, gloved, loupes.

And it’s just, we see this stuff constantly, it’s almost, and it’s actually more common than not seeing it. Is seeing a consumer scary picture in the exact place the consumer does not want to be right now, right? is reclined in your dental chair.

Howie: Exactly.

Mark: You’re putting it right up front and center on your website.

Howie: You’re reminding them of that sound, you know the Z.z.z.z.z.? Which is exactly what they don’t want to hear.

Mark: And the smell of enamel dust, right?

Yeah, anyway, we’re getting into the dirt here, but reassess your website, okay?

Because these things, like reviews, can hurt, can stop you from getting new patients. Websites can stop you from getting new patients.

Here’s another one that, for many of our leading edge clients, became popular years ago – online scheduling.

If you know or have any connection to me whatsoever in social media, or on some of the dental forums. You know how much of a vocal proponent I am of LocalMed™.

Howie: Oh, absolutely.

Mark: If you understand why, I see the data.

Okay, then you can say to yourself, “Hey, man, I haven’t done it yet.”

But maybe 2020 or maybe the end of 2019, maybe I should actually look into this thing.

You won’t be the leading edge dentist in your market, because I can almost guarantee you, there’s more LocalMed users in your market than just you. But you also won’t be the last. You won’t be the last dentist to offer online scheduling to not only to your patients, but to your newer patients.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: So there’s three things right now that you can assess on your own.

Do an honest assessment of your website. And if you can’t, like if you did it, or your spouse did it, and you can’t judge it on your own, you know, our advisors will take a look at it. Actually, they can run a competitive analysis of your website against the other dentists in your market too, and just send it to you.

Line Up Your Marketing Assets and Liabilities

Anyway, you know, do an analysis, do an assessment. Here’s what we call it, we call it: assets and liabilities.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: What are my marketing assets? Being number one or number two in Google reviews, awesome asset.


Okay, if you’re number three, you need a little more work. If you’re not there, you definitely need work. If you’re not showing up in Google Maps, or Google Places or no listings below there.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Get to work on that.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Right. If your website is stale, old, cheap, whatever, then then we’ve got to – that needs work.

Basically, this is like a self-assessment that we’re asking you to do. To prepare you for your marketing for 2020.

Because nobody has an endless marketing budget. No dentist in the history of our company walked up to Howie or me and said, “Here you go, here’s an AMEX black card with no limit. Do whatever you want.”

You see how funny that sounds? Like no dentist ever does that right. So, everybody has to live within a marketing budget. Everybody has to take that budget and basically prioritize it.

So, this self-assessment is important toward that prioritization. You know what, Howie.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Let’s, might be time to take a break.

Howie: Yes, let’s do. Don’t go anywhere. We’ll be right back.

We create gorgeous dental websites, they are easy to navigate and responsive to whatever device the consumer is using. You will always be proud to show off your practice website others. We’ve also removed all of the hassle out of building, maintaining and updating your practice website. Your website will be automatically upgraded every three to four years at no extra charge. We also pay your hosting, SSL and domain registrations. While you always maintain ownership. For more information, visit

Howie: Alright, we are back. And we’re talking about preparing your marketing for 2020.

Mark: So self-assessment, umm all right.

Now, those are the assets that you likely either have, are working on or need to work on.

So let’s go through what you were doing in 2019 and how it turned out.

If you’re not a client of ours, then you may not have a dashboard that shows you your calls. And you may not get a cross reference if you’re doing offline promotion like we do. So you have to really, be honest with what is working for you or not working for you. If it’s working for you and it’s within your budget do not change it.

We’re telling you this as a marketing firm that could easily sell you something that we do, but we’re telling you don’t. If you came to us and said “Hey, man, this is really working for me.” We would not change it.

Howie: Oh, absolutely not.

Mark: That’s insane. That’s the definition of insanity.

Okay, you don’t take something that’s statistically working and change it.

You just do more of it. Right?

It’s kind of like, it’s kind of like playing roulette and you know, double zero just came out. But you also know that it’s going to come out next time, too. Right?

Wow. Yeah. But if I just do more, it’ll work twice as well. Right?

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: So, don’t swap anything out.

Howie: And that is a good point, though. Because that can become confusing. When you’re trying to analyze it, you’re thinking something isn’t working when it is because you have bad data, or it gets wrongly, incorrectly put into your practice management software.

So you know, a working marketing effort could be disguised. It could, conversely, you know, could go the other way too. You think it’s not working, and it is. You think it’s working, and it isn’t. So that’s where good data comes in.

Mark: Yeah, we have a client that, um, he’s a friend client, right.

And none of his marketing ever works. And, the reason is, is because none of the sourcing, none of the calls, none of the cross references are ever valid because he has a referral reward policy in his office.

So, isn’t it amazing that every new patient that comes into his office was referred?

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Isn’t that amazing Howie?

Howie: That’s unheard of.

Mark: That’s unheard of, right. It’s a statistical anomaly, okay.

And I affectionately told him I said, you know, Dr. Smith, I’ll say, I said, “You’re never going to be happy with marketing ever. Because of this referral thing.” You give your staff dollars to refer people of course, everyone that comes in that’s new is going to be referral. So anyway,

Howie: Yeah. Oddly enough.

Mark: Oddly enough. It’s just amazing how that worked out.

So anyway, okay, we digress.

Let’s, move forward to we did self-assessment. And if you want, the advisors here can assess and give you a report if you want.

Okay, so that’s reassessing 2019. That’s where you are now.

We’re Bullish on Dentistry

Now, where do you want to go? This is where we tell you if we are bearish or bullish on dentistry, moving forward.

And those of you who have been with us through these podcasts. This is I don’t know a 100, I have no idea how many podcasts this is. But we’ve been we’ve been communicating to dentistry what we see coming.

And during the recession we pulled everybody out of niches. We pulled everybody out of elective dentistry, grabbed all their money and said “No.” Pulled it all back into family dentistry, the core staples of dentistry.

And honestly, we wouldn’t let them out of there until maybe like 2015-2016. Last year, we said, you know, you can put maybe 10 or 20% of your marketing budget into elective. Now, what do we mean by elective.

So let’s just actually, let’s just use numbers. Let’s say it’s a $60,000 a year marketing budget. So $1.2 million practice. 5% of 1.2 million is $60,000. Let’s say the doctor, it’s a single doctor practice and it’s so close to capacity. And they have you know, they have their website, they have LocalMed, they have their reviews, or in other words, their assets are lined up. They’re working pretty well. And, you know, they’re doing pretty good in their market.

And the doctor comes to us and says, you know, this bread and butter dentistry is great and all. It makes for a busy day. But I really like to do more X. The dentist listening to this can fill in with whatever you want. It could be implants, sleep apnea patients, sedation, it could be cosmetic.

Howie: Cosmetic, more cosmetic.

Mark: Whatever you want x to be okay.

What we’re going to tell you is that looking forward, even though this has been a rebound. The most encouraging piece of this rebound has been the stabilization in housing prices. The fact that our leaders haven’t pushed us over that edge again, in order to overheat the housing market. But housing prices are stabilizing, credit markets are stabilizing. People can go out and get credit again, they can actually tap their credit cards and eventually pay them off with home equity.

So which is where we used to be, remember 2003-04-05 and ‘06, that’s where we used to be. Okay, we were just doing too much of it too fast. Okay.

So anyway, so we’re pretty bullish on dentistry, we don’t think this rebound is going to stop.

Budget Allocation

And for all of our clients who are at that point where they’re close to capacity, bread and butter dentistry, they’d like to do a few more big cases. And instead of working more hours, or bringing another dentist in or, or maybe in combination, they want to do more big cases, more fun cases. Then, you know, we’re probably going to say 20-25% of your whole budget could go toward that niche. Maybe even up to 35, 40 depending on you know, the situation.

If it’s a solo dentist, then it’s not much of a risk if 60% is being spent on bread & butter dentistry and 40% is being spent on whatever niche the doc or niches the doctor chooses.

So, from a budget allocation standpoint, we’re bullish on dentistry. We don’t think it’s going to stop, we actually think it’s going to continue, obviously, we don’t control it. But we don’t see any indicators that tell us that it’s going to stop. We see all indicators saying this is going to continue.

Now for the aggressive dentists out there. Um, you know, this, this may be your expansion time, either second office, add chairs, and expand hygiene.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Maybe another associate, another office, you know, this may be a real good time to jump in.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Into that portion of the market. Because it is, I’m not going to say its red hot, but it’s certainly in the middle of a rebound.

And I, we, don’t think it’s going to stop in 2020, we think it’s just going to continue.

So having said that, then you know, you would you would look at your marketing budget. And you probably wouldn’t leave it at the 4 or 5% it’s at now. You might want to add a quarter point, maybe a half a point of a percentage point. Um, you know, just to make sure that you can fill whatever expanded capacities, you know, you happen to create for yourself.

Either way, it’s on a case by case basis, because if you’re going to start up a brand-new practice, then you know, your budget is based on something different than a percentage of revenue anyway.

So, but bottom line is 2020 is when for those of you practicing back in, ‘04, ‘05, ‘06 and ‘07. 2020 is going to be not going to be that great. Everybody’s not going to want porcelain that walks into your office next year.

But there is a market there’s a much larger and broader market for elective dentistry now than there has been since March of 2008. So it would be a good thing for you to take advantage of when you’re planning dental marketing for 2020.

Howie: Yep. On that optimistic, uplifting note, we’re going to call it a day for this podcast.

Mark: We always run out of time.

Howie: We’re certainly glad to have you out there in the audience. And we hope you’ll join us again next time. 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