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Patient Attraction Episode 845
Welcome to another edition of the Patient Attraction Podcast. This is a special series that I’m going to do like the old days, driving in to the office, about 15 minutes, you can expect.
We’re covering “Driving” Your Dental Marketing. The state of everything from where the private practitioner is, to the new graduate, to the retiring dentist, to the dentist that wants to grow and take it to the next level, to the guy that’s just trying to sustain the value of his practice so he can transition.
Today is the third day. We’ve covered a lot about where dentistry is and where it’s going. We hit on how you can be a fee for service dentist yesterday. How you can control your fees. How you can attract large elective case dentistry.
Today, I want to talk about what you can actually do to be the expert, to attract the cases that you want into your practice, repeatedly, systematically, with a patient attraction system that can do this for you, 24/7, 365. I want to talk a little bit today about how we do this with our dentists.
First off, building a patient attraction system, it’s not shotgun marketing. It’s not the kind of marketing that a lot of dentistry used to, where they threw up a website, where they threw out a Yellow Pages ad 20 years ago, where they used to shotgun this marketing against the wall. Then, they would just get hordes of new patients in.
Unfortunately, the world has changed and the reality is … the reality that we have to accept, realize that the market changing, marketing changing, dentistry changing, none of this is your fault. Nobody did this to our profession. It was a cumulative change brought about by time. If you look at any industry, things evolve over time.
My wife’s a pharmacist. When she first got into the industry, she first started at Walgreens 11 years ago, 12 years ago actually, now. The old guard, I call it, the old pharmacists were complaining about having to give immunization shots and do health checks. All this stuff that wasn’t what these older pharmacists had been used to doing.
This is the same thing that is happening now in dentistry. The old guard, times are changing. My wife was accustomed to doing that stuff. She has no problem doing it. What do you today? Today, you walk into Walgreens, you have a take care clinic. You walk into just about any pharmacy out there, you expect that you can get immunization shots. You expect that you can get your blood pressure taken, or get a little health care check-up, or get a prescription for the flu when you have it.
The next step from here, and this is what I’m sure my wife is going to put up resistance about, is they’re actually changing the model of the pharmacist to be the prescriber, not the dispenser. In today’s medical environment, the doctor is actually the diagnoser and the prescriber, and the prescription goes to the pharmacist where it’s then dispensed.
The model that we will have in 25 years where the doctor diagnoses and takes a diagnosis of high blood pressure, of asthma, of whatever they get diagnosed with, to the pharmacist and the pharmacist prescribes the right medicine for that diagnosis.
A lot of pharmacies … Walgreens is going through a phenomenal reorganization where they’ve bought out Boots Alliance, merged with them, whatever you want to call it. They’re also changing the way their pharmacies fundamentally operate where they are actually putting the pharmacist out in the middle of the store. It’s going to change the interaction levels with the pharmacist where pharmacists are no longer just a person behind the counter that dispenses drugs. They’re now the face of the pharmacy. They’re out in the floor, 360 degrees, surrounded with … Patients can walk up and interact with them, talk to them. They have more access to come out onto the floor and look at over the counter medications. It’s going to fundamentally change the way that pharmacies and pharmacists operate with the public and with their clients, and customers.
This is the same thing that’s going on with dentistry right now. Dentistry is changing, and how you are perceived by your patients has changed. None of it’s your fault. None of it is you’ve done something wrong, and your patients have changed. These are things that have changed over the last 30 years. We have to accept the reality of where we’re at. We have to change. We have to adapt to survive. To sound willy-nilly scary about it, we have to adapt to survive, to continue practicing the way you want to practice, and your profession.
Let’s make no mistake, there are thousands upon thousands of fee for service dentists that I know personally in the United States right now who are growing. Thousands. Thousands of them. There’s many more thousands of those fee for service dentists, they’re only operating in the niches that they want to operate in.
I’ve had dentists that do nothing but start 50 Invisalign cases a week. I’ve got dentists that do nothing but place 750 or 1,000 implants a year. Those are the rock stars. Those are the guys that really have it wrapped up, and they understand what the public wants and how to deliver to them what they want.
Really, we’re all in a service-oriented business. We’re in the business of understanding what our patients, what our clients want, and delivering that to them. If we’re not delivering what our clients or patients want, then we’re not going to get them coming back to us for more business. This is fundamental to how we all operate. If we, SmartBox as a company, decided that we were going to change what we delivered and we didn’t … If we don’t deliver phone calls like we claim we’re going to deliver, if we don’t deliver 100 new patient new phone calls a month to our Elite level dentist, we’re not meeting the expectation that we’ve set, and our dentists are not going to continue working with us.
That is the expectation. You have to understand what your patients want. You have to understand that what they want is service. They want convenience, and they want service. They want a one-stop shop. They don’t want to run all over town.
I had a great question the other day from a general dentist who was concerned because he was getting into the elective case arena. He was starting to do these cases that traditionally, specialists had been the ones to do. You’ve got the prosthodontist, that’s the quarterback of the team. You’ve got the periodontist, and you’ve got the general dentist that does the restoration. You got all these different people that are engaged with doing a large restorative case.
This general dentist called me up and said, “Colin,” you know, we talked for god, probably an hour and a half. He called me up and he said, “How do I compete with these specialists that have more training than I do?”
I said to him, “You don’t have to. You don’t have to compete with specialists. Most specialists I know are horrible at marketing. They don’t understand. They don’t get it. Patients aren’t interested in the clinical nuts and bolts of how you’re going to do your job, or your margins, or what materials you’re going to use, and all this stuff.
What they want to know is ‘What’s it going to do for me?'”
They don’t care about that fixed prosthetic over a removable prosthetic. They don’t care a hill of beans, as they say here in Indiana, about it. What they do care about is that the fixed prosthetic, they can just literally bite into an apple, or chew up a steak, no problems, never take it out, never have to clean it. It’s fixed, it’s done. It’s over, and it’s as solid as 90% of your original teeth versus a removable prosthetic, you got to take it out and clean it. It’s about 60 to 70%, the structure, the rigidity of your original teeth were.
Oh wow! You just explained it to him. Now, the patient gets it! Now they understand what they’re dealing with. A lot of specialists that I work with, they think that just by way of being a specialist, that the patient understands that. It’s not that these specialists are dumb, these are some of the brightest people I’ve ever met. They don’t understand their clientele. They don’t understand their patients.
Where traditionally these specialists got all their business by referrals, it’s much different to gaining new patient by referral than it is to go out into the marketplace and to attract that patient into your practice. When you have a referral … Read ‘Influence’ by Robert Cialdini, best book you’ll read this year. When you have a referral coming in, somebody has passed the trust baton to you. You’re in a relay race, and that baton is the trust that the patient has in the provider. That general practitioner has passed that baton to you. You are now the expert. You instantly have achieved expert status when you get a referral from a general practitioner, from whoever.
When you get a referral, you are instantly elevated to expert status because that is by virtue of what has been done. They have referred to you. The person that referred to you was already seen as the provider, the expert, the doctor. Now it’s been passed to you. Now you are the expert. Doesn’t matter what you say, as long as you don’t screw up your case presentation, or your plan with that patient, they’re going to move forward. It’s done. It’s over. You ought to be closing 80, 90 percent of your referrals that come in the door, probably higher than that.
When you have to go direct to market, when these GPs that are out there … Let’s say you’re a specialist, these GPs that are out there, they’re doing their own Invisalign now for 80% of the cases. They’re doing their own implants for 90% of the cases. A lot of them, I see a lot of these savvy doctors that are really making a lot of money. They’re placing their own implants, they’re doing the surgical side, because why pay an oral surgeon 10 grand for an All-on-Four when you can keep all 25 grand for yourself? Why split the pot half in half?
Yeah, there’s a few cases that you’ve got bone loss, and you’ve got to … If you want to bone grafting, you don’t want to do bone grafting. I’ve got a few GPs that are putting zygomatic arch implants in. It’s crazy to look at the x-ray and see those things in somebody’s cheek, but that’s what they’re doing. A lot of dentists refer those out, to be honest, but the point is you have to understand your patients. You have to understand what they want. Patients don’t want to drive around to five different providers, and go to the hospital to get their CAT scan, and go to the prosthodontist to get the football plan, to get the quarterback to line everything up. Then, go to the GP to get the restoration, and then go to the oral surgeon to get the implants placed. Then, go to the periodontist to get the gingivitis treated. They run all over town to get their treatment done.
Be a one stop shop. Be one place a patient can go, they can get all their treatment taken care of. You got the CAT scan. You got the surgical side. You got the restorative side. Even if you don’t want to do the surgery, bring a surgeon in. Pay a surgeon to come into your office. There’s plenty of them in your market area. You can attract a large percentage of new patients that are looking for comprehensive care if you simply do it in one place, and you let the patients know up front that you do it in one place. This is a strong, strong marketing angle that your patients really want. They don’t want to run all over town to get their treatment down.
Write this down. They don’t want to run all over town to get their treatment done.
Come to my office, we can do it all in one stop, one location, even one visit in some cases. That right there is your unique selling proposition. You take that, you don’t have to run all over town. We can do all your dentistry in one location, sometimes even in one visit. That is powerful. That is the statement that you put on the top of your direct mail card, on the top of your website, on the top of your yellow pages if you’re still doing Yellow Pages. Wherever your marketing, that is it, right there.
When you can talk to your patients at that level, you’re going to attract the patients you want, because the message resonates with them. You’ve just given them a message that they understand, that resonates with them, that is immensely powerful for the pains that they have experienced. I guarantee you, every patient that walks in your door that needs more than $5,000 worth of treatment has already been to at least two offices and they’ve not moved forward with treatment.
Now, it could have been because they didn’t trust the doctor. It’s a huge factor, especially if it’s not coming by referral. The first thing you have to do when that patient comes in the door is start building trust. Every time that you do something that doesn’t hit the patient’s expectations after they walk in your door, after they schedule that appointment, that’s a strike against you. You’re 15 minutes late getting into the appointment, that’s a strike against you. Your front office staff calls Susie ‘Ashley’ because she forgot their name when they were checking them in.
You look disorganized, that’s a strike against you. The doctor walks in, and he seems distracted, that’s a strike against you. That patient is judging in their mind if they feel comfortable moving forward with treatment.
Something I hear from a lot of older doctors is they say they used to have patients come in for the free consultations all the time, and they don’t have patients come in for the free consults anymore in the same quantity. They say, “What’s changed? Why don’t patients want to come in for a free consult anymore?” It’s not that the free consult is worthless now. It’s that patients have this thing called the internet, so patients don’t have to come in for a free consult to get to know you, get to like you, and get to trust you. This is the job of your website. Your website’s not there to automatically schedule appointments for you. Your website’s not there to accept payments from patients.
Your website is there, … and I’m going to use the dreaded word, I’m going to use the word that every dentist, when I say, they hate it. They hate to think of themselves in the sales industry, but that’s the reality. We’re selling ourselves. We’re not selling used cars. We’re not pushy salesmen, but we are selling ourselves. We do have to elevate our perception to that of an expert. When you elevate your perception to that of an expert, you are, by virtue, selling yourself.
You’re telling the patient why the treatment that you’ve proposed is in their best interest.
Write that down. Sales for dentists is selling the patient on why the treatment you propose is in their best interest. That is the meat and potatoes of what you as a dentist have to do. You have to elevate yourself to that of an expert. If you’re going to direct to market, you have to work at it. You’re not getting a referral, so how do you do it? Well, it all starts before they ever call your office. Your website has to ooze confidence. Your website has to ooze expert status. You have to be the man.
You have to have 2 dozen testimonials, preferably at least half of them in the form of a reverse testimonial. If you don’t know what a reverse testimonial is, Google it.
A reverse testimonial, Sean D’souza, a brilliant man that studies marketing and psychology. I’ll give you the synopsis here. A reverse testimonial is where you start off the testimonial with the pain, with the problem. You start the testimonial off with Susie saying, “I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to bite into an apple again.” “I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to chew that steak again.” “Man, before I came to see Dr. Miller, I had given up. I never thought I was going to be able to eat the foods I love again, or chew again. And, I tell you, when I first met Dr. Miller, I was a little skeptical. I didn’t know if everything he was saying could actually be done.”
This is the process that a prospect follows when they enter into an engagement with you, when they begin talking to you. The first is disbelief. The first is a little bit of disenchantment. The second phase is a little bit of skepticism. The third phase is excitement. It’s that blind trust when you hear something too good to be true, but you actually believe it can happen. Then, the fourth phase is your fulfillment. It’s where you actually provide what you said you’re going to do. Then of course, the fifth phase is the excitement, the refreshing ability for that patient to look in the mirror and go “Wow, he really did it! I can’t believe it!” They’re fulfilled. That’s how patients think.
When you structure a testimonial, a video testimonial, in that way, you’re going to have the most compelling story that you can deliver to your prospective patients.
That’s what you have to have on your website. That’s what you have to have in all your marketing. Transcribe your videos, use excerpts, put them in audio form, put them in video form. All patients want to read testimonials differently. Don’t deliver them all in the same way. Video is the most powerful. Audio is the next, with the picture. Text is the least powerful, but they can still be very powerful text excerpts when done correctly.
Avoid the testimonials that say, “Dr. Miller’s just a great guy. I love him, I love his staff.” That has no value. That’s a pick me up testimonial. That’s something any doctor can get that. Everybody has somebody that loves them. Those testimonials don’t carry any weight for attracting niche dental patients. Listen, you don’t have to go out and do a three-day video shoot like our Elite clients do, and gather 30 or 40 testimonials, and 50 videos of the doctor, and walk away from the shoot with 100 videos to get started in attracting niche dental patients, large elective case dental patients.
Please, don’t think that because you grabbed a flip cam out of your office drawer and you held it up, or you grabbed your iPhone, and you shot a couple testimonials, and you put a couple text excerpts on your website, and then you didn’t attract any implant cases in the next 30 days, that it doesn’t work. The problem is always in the system.
If you had a great front office staff, but all of your assistants in the back sucked, do you think patients would come back? Answer’s no, of course. Of course not, of course not. If all the treatment side of your practice was horrible, that patient’s never coming back. I don’t care how nice Susie is at the front desk, and this is the same way in your marketing. If your website’s fantastic but they get on the phone and they’re horrible, they’re never going to schedule. If your website and marketing is fantastic, but they walk in your office and you don’t represent the values, and the mission, and the information that you put on your website, they’re not accepting treatment. You’ve got to have consistency throughout what you’re doing.
This is one reason our Elite level clients love working with us is because we handle all of their messaging from beginning, literally until they’re a butt in the chair, scheduled. All the way from their advertising, and marketing, their website, and their marketing up front, all the way through actually listening to their phone calls, rating them and reporting on how many new patients they scheduled from the website’s marketing and the online marketing. Then, delivering to them those new patients that their own front office scheduled in a form of a report at the end of every month. That’s the kind of value we deliver.
You have to look at the kind of value that you deliver. What is your unique proposition? Do you have a book? Do you have testimonials? Do you have other information that’s going to make you appear as an expert, that’s going to make you be the expert in their minds? Do you have a shock and awe package that you send out to prospective patients before they ever come in to position yourself as an expert. If you have patients coming in for an implant consult, you need to be dropping a shock and awe package on them a few days before they ever step foot into your practice.
If you don’t, here’s what’s going to happen. Write this down. If you don’t shock and awe your large elective case patients before they show up, you’re going to get patients that show up and expect their insurance to cover it. “Does my insurance pay for this? What portion does my insurance cover? I got Delta Dental. What portion do they cover?” If you don’t shock and awe your patients before they come into your office for that large elective case treatment planning, they’re not going to move forward because they don’t understand that it takes money. They don’t understand that insurance doesn’t cover a lot of this. They don’t understand that this is a life changing event for them, potentially. Potentially. They don’t understand any of that because you haven’t explained it to them.
What happens is, they show up, you end up talking to them for 2 hours, and doing a 5, or a 10, or a 20, or a 50 thousand dollar treatment plan. Then, they get to the end, and they get to the financial side, and it all falls apart because that was their core expectation for coming there is that you could fix it and they didn’t have to pay for it. Everything you just did, you just wasted two hours of your day for a prospect that doesn’t have the ability to move forward. They don’t have the ability to move forward. That’s the reality of it.
Wanting to or wanting not to is secondary to having the ability to or not to. If your prospects flat out don’t have a 401k, they don’t have any money in savings, they’re just broke as a joke. They don’t have two nickels in their pocket to rub together. You just wasted two hours of your day on a prospect that is worthless. You wasted two hours of your day. You shock and awe your patients, you’re going to lose a percentage of them before they ever get into your office. But, the ones that do show up are going to be highly, highly qualified because they get it. They understand. You’re on the same page with them. That’s what the shock and awe does.
Testimonials, expert status with the book, shock and awe packages, these are the kind of things that you have to be doing to be the expert in your niche, in your market area, to attract large elective case patients.
Listen, tomorrow is the fourth day in our four-day series on “Driving” Your Dental Marketing. This is where elective case dentists have to be in today’s market area, if you want to be thriving, and growing.