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Patient Attraction Episode 844
Welcome back for day two, “Driving” Your Dental Marketing. This is July of 2016 and this is
day two of our look.
Yesterday, we had a chance … I covered a lot about what’s going on with corporate dentistry and new graduates, with corporate dentistry overwhelming a lot of market areas in terms of advertising dollars, just saturating, I call it Gladiator Marketing.
I talked about new graduates coming out of college, I talked about the old guard of dentist that are having to lengthen their time in practice because either the market hasn’t cooperated with them, all the retirement is not looking so good with where the market’s been lately, overlaid with the great recession that we came out of. A lot of guys had four, five years that they planned to be their last four, five years and they weren’t where they needed to be, so they’re practicing for another four, five years to make up for it.
That’s the industry as a whole with dentistry. That’s really where I see a lot of dentists going.Today I want to talk about what’s going on in terms of marketing in this space. I want to talk about what dentists are doing here actually in practice. What is the private fee-for- service dentists doing to attract more and better patients to have a fee-for- service practice. So many dentist these days are having to turn to insurance or having to sign up for every insurance company under the sun because they don’t know any other way to get out there and make a living. The days of the 90s when you could literally just hang your shingle out and patients just flooded in, well unfortunately, that’s not the case any more.
I wish it were, my dad sure does, course he’s done really well, even through the recession, he continued to grow because he had a great marketing system. He had great systems in his practice.
A lot of dentists that were able to just practice dentistry for all those years without having to really invest time into the marketing and into the business side of the business, the business side of the practice, now with the huge amounts of competition, they’re getting pinched out. What SmartBox, what my company does, is we’re the guys that help the little guys beat the big guys. We’re the guys that the little dentists call. When I say little dentists I really … We work with guys all the way from $750,000 a year up to $5 million a year. We’re the guys that help dentists that want to do fee-for- service, that want to be a cash-based practice, whether it be a silo or a niche-based practice with implants.
We work with a ton of doctors that are killing it with Invisalign. We’re doing dentures. We work with a lot of specialists out there in the space that want to go direct to market that are tired of the good ol’ boy system of waiting for referrals to come in. They realize that, hey, all these GPs, they’re not making referrals anymore. They’re not making referrals anymore because they’re doing it themselves. They want to go direct to market. These periodontists and prosthodontists want to go out into the market and find the patients because that’s the only way they’re going to stay in practice.
You’ve also got the healthcare standards of this country that are changing. Six states right now have already approved past legislation for an intermediate dentist. In other words, in the medical field, you’ve got your nurse practitioners that are not really a doctor but they’re not really a nurse either. They kind of float in that middle space. Six states right now have approved that in the dental field. That’s what you’re going to see. You’ve got the affordable healthcare act, Obamacare as it’s dubbed, coming through that’s going to widen availability of healthcare. As you widen it, you’re also going to lower the amount of care that everybody can get. If you’ve got 500 dentists in a city, instead of having 10,000 patients to treat, now you have 50,000 patients to treat, well, that says it all for the level of care that all those new patients are going to be getting. Care has to come from somewhere.
I know that all my friends that are doctors and dentists, they are not telling their children to go into medicine. I think that’s probably the most damning statistic of it all, is … This is … I don’t have a study behind this. I don’t have any statistics or unbiased information to give you on this, but I can tell you that I’ve got a lot of dentists, a lot of doctors, MDs that are personal friends or acquaintance of mine, and they’re all saying the same thing. That is, “Don’t go into medicine. It’s not the medicine that it was when you graduated.”
I think that’s the scariest thing of all is they see the change coming down the pipe. These guys I’ve talked to, whether they’ve got 10 or 20 or 30 years left to practice before they can retire, they’re scared about the future, they’re scared about how they’re going to practice and thrive for the rest of their career, but they definitely know enough that they don’t want to see their children go into medicine.
There’s so many good fields out there that are going to be … and provide a better living for a family than going into dentistry and medicine in the 2020s and 2030s and 2040s. It’s going to be very corporatized. It’s going to be very systematized. You have your corporate dental centers right now that have your proverbial bean counters over top of the practicing dentists. The non-dentist bean counter supervises the dentist in corporate dentistry to make sure they get their quota. I think that says it all about the level of patient care that we’re going to see as a
result of all that.
They’re going to be oversold on what treatments are necessary. They’re not spending time with patients. Like I said yesterday, I’ve got a couple of friends that are dentists at one particular practice and they both said that they actively strategize on how to get the new patient in the waiting room versus another associate dentist do the hygiene check because it doesn’t hit their quota. They can’t hit their quota doing hygiene checks, so they have to actively strategize back and forth with how to make the other one do the hygiene check and they get the new patient. I just diminishes patient care, that’s all it does.
What are … When I mentioned at the offset, we’re going to talk about what are these fee-for- service practices doing to maintain their cash-based status, to fend off these Delta Dental Insurance carriers that they don’t really give a shit about patient care. What is the private fee-for- service dentist doing to maintain the practice that they had back in the 90s or 2000s, or maybe even 2010? I see a lot of guys, unbelievably, I see a lot of dentists that really took a hit to their practice back in the 2007, 2008 years when most will agree that the recession started. I see a lot of dentists that actually had such a practice built up that they didn’t really take a hit to their practice until ’11, ’12, or ’13. They weathered the storm of the recession because they had such a cash-based practice built up, but then when the people with cash really started to get tight, that’s when they finally started to see their numbers fall,’11, ’12, ’13, ’14.
Now, as a result, they’re looking for, “How can I build this back up? How can I go to market? How can I go to my market area? Where are these cash-based patients hanging out? Where are they? I can’t find them. I put an ad out in the newspaper and all’s I get is these patients that call in and want to signup for Medicare and Medicaid, or whatever it may be.”
Really, the secret lies, what I found is working with dentists for the past two decades is that if you want to attract value, patients that appreciate value, if you want to be a high-end practice, if you want to be fee-for- service, if you want to be cash-based, if you want to attract patients that are looking for that model of care, then you have to exude that, right? If you’re Burger King and you want to sell people on the fact that you can get them in and out of your drive-thru in two minutes or less, then you find a way to cook your hamburger in two minutes or less. That’s what you get. The sacrifice is, well, it’s not a very good hamburger, for one, and it’s probably not very healthy for you too.
Well, if you’re a dentist and you want to attract patients that want value, that appreciate you sitting down with them and spending time with them, and delivering superior quality care, and genuinely they want somebody that’s going to care about them, then you have to exude that in your marketing. You have to speak the language of what those patients are looking for.
How do you do that? Well, you don’t do it by putting on the back of your postcard, “All insurance accepted.” You don’t do that by putting on your website, “We accept Medicare and Medicaid.” When you do that you are subconsciously telling those patients that not only do you accept all these insurance and you accept Medicare and Medicaid, and by virtue of saying you accept Medicare, you’re going to attract Medicare, Medicaid patients. Patients that have a preconceived notion about, “What is Medicaid, or what is Medicare, what does that office look like? More importantly, who are the patients that I’m going to have to sit next to?”
This is basic human psychology. We all want to be around to people that we can relate to, that we think are like we see ourselves. If we think of Medicare and Medicaid and it’s not where we see ourselves, then we’re not going to do it. By putting that you accept Medicare and Medicaid, you’re literally repelling the real type of patient that you want. Literally repelling them. They’re never going to call your office.
I see a lot of practices that have some internal turmoil. Since we’ve started listening to every phone call that comes into our practices in January, we’ve got unbelievable amounts of data. We’ve got 500 or so practices across the United States that not only do we know every dime of marketing that they’re spending for the past years, but for the past six months, we have data on where those calls came from. We have data on how many calls their front desk appointed, how many calls their front desk didn’t appoint, and then ultimately, how many calls their front desk didn’t answer.
Scary enough … I mean, I’m working with practices that are doing … I got several that come to mind … That are doing three, or four, or five … I got a practice amount to cross over $7 million a year, that last month, June of 2016, last month … This is a $6.6, 6.7 million practice that didn’t answer 27% of their phone calls during business hours. 27% of their phone calls, of their new business, new patient phone calls, because we’re using a bat line system with them … 27% of those phone calls during business hours weren’t answered.
This is not unique to this particular practice. This is across the board. Unbelievable to me how many phone calls are not getting answered. Practices that these doctors swear up and down that there’s somebody on the phones 24/7. We see 15 or 20% of the phone calls not answered.
In fact, probably the craziest statistics that I can give you, from six months worth of this data is that out of the 500 or so clients that we’re listening to, we only have two, only two of them actually answered over 90% of their phone calls last month.
Only two of them. Not 2%, two clients actually answered over 90% of their during business hours phone calls last month. That just blows my mind, because you can have somebody bad on the phone. You can have Susie up front that maybe she hasn’t had any training in a while and her skills are diminished. She just needs a little refresher, right? She just needs a little pick-me- up, a little training to get her back on the path to get her answering and appointing these calls well. Man, if you don’t answer the phone, you might as well be taking that marketing money and just flushing it right down the toilet.
It blows my mind how many of the calls aren’t being answered. We’re showing our doctors these statistics and it blows their mind too. It’s unbelievable that nobody ever expected this to be the result of our data. I fully expected to find out that a lot of practices need phone training, and that’s something we’ve been able to help a ton of practices with is maximizing the number of appointments that their staff is appointing with those phone calls. Through our new phone curriculum or mystery calls and everything that we’re doing on that front, but to find out that so many calls are flat out not being answered, that’s like walking out into your backyard in sticking a shovel in the ground and just finding a pot of gold. It’s that easy. You just have to pick the phone up and answer it. Even if you’re bad at appointing patients, you’re still going to appoint half of every call you answer, right? Even if you’re horrible at it.
We like to see our practices at 80-90%, that’s our milestone. Jeez, 50% of anything is better than 0% of nothing, right? Or 100% of nothing, or however that expression goes. It’s been a phenomenal journey for us to not only help these practices with their marketing. To be able to show them,”Hey, we can use our Patient Attraction System™. We can generate these phone calls into your practice. We guarantee, we have our $10,000 guarantee that 100 new patients next month are going to call your practice. Now, we’re also going to listen to those phone calls and we’re going to rate your staff on actually how many of those calls they answer and appoint, and we’re going to present you with that data. We’re an end-to- end solution for new practices, for new patients, for new patient attraction. We do it all from start to finish. Literally, we can take a practice, handle all of their marketing, handle their phone training, and literally, they show up and their butts in the chairs from the work that we’re doing with practices.
It’s been phenomenal to have been … we’re the only company, I don’t know anybody else that does it in the entire dental or marketing industry that not only does the marketing, and does the phone training, and guarantees the results, not in hits and clicks terms, but we offer a $10,000 money back guarantee if we don’t deliver the number of new patients that we say we’re going to deliver. There’s nobody else in the industry that even comes close to having the amount of confidence or the amount of data in what we’re doing.
The practices that are killing it right now with fee-for- service, with being a cash-based practice, these guys, they’re the experts in their market. If you want to attract new patients that are looking for value, that are looking for a dentist that’s really going to care about them and treat them the way they want to be treated. They don’t want to white-knuckle it in the chair like they did back in the 70s. You got to be the expert. You have to appear to be the expert. You got to have social proof.
The most powerful thing that you can put on your website and use in your marketing is your existing patients. Let them do the talking for you. There’s nothing more powerful than your existing patients giving you a raving testimonial. I don’t mean a testimonial like, “Oh, Dr. Johnny, he’s so great. I’d never go to any dentist other than him.” I mean a testimonial that really gets to the pain, the problem that they’re having.
Probably the person that puts it best, my friend John De Sousa, phenomenal marketer, and a thought leader, he talks about the reverse testimonial. The reverse testimonial is where you actually start the testimonial off talking about the pain and the problem that that person had as they went through their journey.
The psychology of it is really that when you have a new patient that’s going down this path of trying to find a dental provider for them, they’re going through these same problems and pains in their head. They have a pain, they can’t chew, they can’t eat the foods they love. Now they’re searching and they’re looking and they’re going through this discovery process. When you have a patient that gives you a reverse testimonial that follows the thought process that they actually had as they were searching, you’ve got a message there that is super relatable. Your prospective patients relate to the pains and the problems more than they relate to the outcome that you’re trying to deliver. You’ve got to orient your marketing to be understandable and relatable to your prospective patients. You do that by talking about the pain and talking about the problems that you fix, not so much about the solutions that you offer.
Where I see a lot of dentists get off track with a lot of implant and a lot of Invisalign® offerings, a lot of niche, discretionary dentistry is they spend too much time talking about their credentials, they spend too much time talking about the outcome, and they don’t spend enough time talking about the problems and the pains that lead a person to make the decision that then generates the outcome. They can’t chew, they can’t eat the food they love, they’re embarrassed to smile, they have to take their denture out to eat, they carry their teeth around in their pocket.
I remember Grandpa, right? He carried his teeth in his pocket. He had a jar of water next to the sink that he kept his dentures in when he went to sleep. Nobody wants to die with their teeth in a glass. Nobody wants to think of themselves lying in their caskets with dentures in. That’s just not a pleasant thought. That can be a hugely motivating factor is to be able to tell people, “Hey, listen, if this is you, if this is your pain, if this is your problem,” now let’s spend 60 or 70% talking about the pain and the problem, let’s spend 30% talking about the solution. What’s the solution? Well, the solution is this All-on-Four. You can permanently fix teeth. The solution is this Invisalign. Your friends won’t even know you have braces and in 6 to 12 months, you’ll have beautiful, straight teeth.
Oh, by the way, we can help you with this. The last 10% is you coming in like Superman with a cape on, showing them that you are the person to solve their problem.
Now, they know you understand them and you understand their problem. They know that you’ve got a solution that can help them. Then you swoop in and you save the day and you say, “Hey, call my office. We can do this for you.” You have to think like a patient. If you have a pipe burst in your ceiling and water’s pouring out onto your head and you call a plumber, and the plumber says, “Well, what kind of fitting do you want me to bring out? Is it iron or pex or PVC, what is it?” You’d probably tell that plumber to screw off and you’d go call another plumber that understood that what you really had was an emergency that he needed to come out and fix. You don’t really care what kind of pipe fitting or … you don’t really care what kind of repair kit he brings out, you just need him to come out and fix your problem.
That’s what patients want. They don’t want to understand all the differences. They want to know you’re the expert and that you can take care of all their problems.
You got to be the expert. That’s the secret. How do you become the expert? Well, you write books. You become a prolific author. You have video testimonials of your patients that are raving about all the great work you did, about how you were able to save their life, or how you were able to change their life with the power of dental implants, with Invisalign, with whatever it is that you do. You’ve got to let your patients do the heavy lifting and do that story about how what you did led to this outcome which is where they want to go.
The patients, they don’t want dental implants, they don’t want Invisalign. That’s the product. What they really want is to know that you can deliver the outcome. When they have that confidence, now you’re the expert. When you’re the expert, they’re going to buy from you.
I think that really covered the topic of today. Yesterday we hit on the “Driving” Your Dental Marketing with respect to graduates, with respect to where the dentists are right now in terms of competition. Today, hit a little bit more on that, finished up that thought. Talking about marketing and becoming the expert. Tomorrow, we’re going to continue. Tomorrow’s day three of our four-day look at “Driving” Your Dental Marketing.
I’ve got some really awesome content tomorrow that we’re going to touch on, so stay tuned. Check in tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be releasing the next video.
Keep moving forward.