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Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of Fast Thoughts on Dental Marketing. I’m your host Colin Receveur. On today’s episode we’re going to cover different methods that you can use to automate your dental practice’s marketing and your follow up and your referral system, so that you can free up staff time in your office, avoid the human error of forgetting to follow up and to really streamline things in your practice. The major takeaways from this episode, this is going to be a very meat and potatoes episode, I’m going to show you a lot of real ways to jump in, automate your follow up, automate your referral system, automate your marketing in your dental practice so that you can keep your name in front of your prospects until they’re ready to move forward with case acceptance. Like I said, I’m going to be showing you the exact ways that we do it with our clients and make some suggestions on different pieces of software to use and how to implement it, and what you can do today in less than 30 minutes to get started.
The reason for these podcasts is to educate dentists on the technology and of course the availability of patients on the internet. Finding those new patients, attracting those patients, especially the ones in the niches, whether it is implants, dentures, sleep apnea, Botox, cosmetic dentistry or even just general bread and butter type dentistry. So let’s jump right into the podcast.
One of the biggest time sinks of what I see a lot of dentists doing right now is they have a spreadsheet or they have a big dry erase board in their staff lounge or office, and they’re keeping track of patients that have come in or have called or you have done consults for. You’re keeping track of where they are in what stage of the sales process, what pieces of material you’ve sent them, what letters you’ve sent them, have you made the two week follow up phone call, have you made the four week follow up phone call. It’s a very complex system. The biggest problem with those systems is they’re prone to human error; your staff gets busy, your staff is sick, you have staff turnover, stuff doesn’t get done. The system that you once had implemented and your staff were trained; now you’re not. Now that follow up, now your internal marketing that you’re doing, that referral system that you had going has plopped and it’s dead in the water.
The first thing I’m going to show you is how to automate your follow up. How to keep your name in front of your patients without taking a minute of your time; all done automatically. If you have a website, everybody has newsletter signups on their website but the problem with newsletters signups is they’re not interesting. Oftentimes the website just says here sign up for our newsletter, enter your email address. The signup rate for those is very, very low and the reason is they’re boring; there is no incentive really for a prospect to sign up. You might get some existing patients to sign up because they know who you are and they know what you’re about, but for a new patient that doesn’t know you to sign up for a newsletter is rare. They might get spam, the quality might be low, there’s no carrot that you’re dangling in front of them to get them to opt in.
The method that we often use is writing a free report. We ghost write mini free reports for our clients, anywhere from 10 to 25 page range on a variety of topics. We’ve written them on sedation, on sleep apnea, on implants, dentures, the miracle of dental implants, Don’t Die with Your Teeth in a Glass, You Don’t Have to Live with Your Teeth in Your Pocket, Stop Snoring, all kinds of different topics. The purpose of the free report is to give your prospects that carrot, that enticement to give you their email address or their postal address. Once of course they opt in, they give you their email address, you instantly send them automatically, and I’m going to show you how to do that, you send them this free report. But the contact doesn’t end there.
Once you have their email address you can now send them a letter or a postcard or a text message if they’ve given you their cell phone number once every couple of weeks for years after they have made contact with you through your website. There are a number of different pieces of software out there that can accomplish this. There’s AWeber.com, there’s ConstantContact.com, there’s MailChimp.com. We use InfusionSoft which is a very robust system and has very, very complex set of solutions and technology that is much more than any dentist needs, but we use InfusionSoft for our business. When we’re setting up for our clients we actually use part of our InfusionSoft application which allows dentists to benefit from that kind of robustness, that kind of power without having to pay the big fees associated with actually getting their own InfusionSoft app.
When you buy with AWeber or ConstantContact or MailChimp or InfusionSoft, you can set up these preconfigured sequences. What you do is you go in, you log in, and you can specify okay, when a person opts in right now I’m going to send them this email that has this attachment, this PDF attachment or this free report. Then on day 25 I’m going to send them this follow up email. Then on day 45 I’m going to send them this follow up email. Day 65 I’m going to send them this follow up email. Etc. This is something you can implement on your website in under 30 minutes. Go and get signed up for an AWeber account; I’ve worked with AWeber for years, they’ve always had a great product. ConstantContact.com has a great product as well, I would heartily recommend either of them. Go get signed up. They do all the work for you, there’s no coding, there’s no HTML. You sign up, you create your new sequence, you click Edit to write your email and you click Save when you’re done and then you say I want to send this out X number of days after this person opts in to get my free report. You can, right now, start building a list and start building your tribe through email systems.
Another tactic we use is to give prospects an idea of really what you’re giving them. You want it to have value, you’re not just giving them information, you’re giving them tremendous value in your free report. We will often create what looks like a book on the website, just a little picture of a book, of the eBook or the free report that we’re giving away, just so that a prospect can visualize it. We’ve found this to have a big impact on how many people opt in. There are a lot of different places to do it. We do the graphics work in house. I know I’ve in the past used a place called KillerCovers.com; they do a tremendous job, KillerCovers.com. They will create your eBook for you. Basically it’s a graphical representation of what your book could look like if it went to print. Put a little picture of that next to the opt in so on your website you create a little place that says opt in to get our free report, The Nine Secrets of Dental Implants or The Miracle of Dental Implants or How to Chew Comfortably and Eat the Foods You Love Again, and you have a little picture of the book next to it and right below it you have a box where they can put their email address in. They opt in and then AWeber automatically sends them this free report and starts dripping them with updated information.
One of the big questions we get is what do I say to them? What do I possibly have to send them once a month with more information in it? The answer is you want to send them something that has value. You want to give them a lot of information because when you’re able to educate your patients you’re going to set yourself up as the expert, because they are looking to you for your knowledge and your expertise. Once you have set yourself up as the expert you have now begun the process of dominating your market area. If you begin to develop a mailing list, you have developed some materials, a free report, autoresponders to keep your name in front of people.
One of the marketing gurus that I follow, last week he said that “people sort their mail over the garbage can.” I thought about it for a second and I thought that’s true, that’s how I sort my mail. I get it out of the mailbox, I walk to the house, I stand next to the garbage can and I sort it. Before I even go into the house I throw away what looks like trash. That approach is the same way people go through their email inbox. People sort their email with the Delete button, and if your subject line and your content, if you don’t have a good rapport built up with people and your subject line isn’t compelling in your email you just don’t stand a chance that that person is even going to read your material, let alone call you.
Educational based marketing is tremendously effective at bringing in patients, educating your patients, avoiding the pram that usually happens in the consult room. If the education begins in the consult room your patient is getting overloaded with information, they’re getting flooded with too much to comprehend. You’re trying to educate them, you’re trying to show them their options, you’re trying to sell them and close them in a 30 minute or an hour setting. If you move the education forward, show them their options, show them what’s wrong and why it’s wrong and how to fix it, then when they come in to your consult the only thing you’re talking about is price, will it hurt and how long will it last; the three primary questions that your patients are asking in their heads about your procedures. Then you’re able to hit the emotional points that will trigger the sale. That’s what you should be focused on in the consult, all about the emotion of what’s going on in their life, in their mouth.
We’ve been doing a lot of the Swift Kick critiques lately and one thing I’ve noticed on many, many, many dental websites is a lot of them have video. Now it’s often a lot of template video, which is the same thing as having a template website, but oftentimes in addition to being template video you have video that is strictly educational oriented. Not educationally oriented from a perspective of developing a relationship with your patient or your prospect, educational from a procedural standpoint. In other words almost an informed consent type education.
The World Wide Web has exploded in the past three or four years. The internet’s really been around for 10 or 15 years, but up until 2007, 2008 we didn’t have YouTube, we didn’t have Wikipedia, we didn’t have WebMD; these behemoths of information on the internet, these super information sites haven’t existed until the past three or four years. Consumers are very aware of this. I saw a statistic yesterday; 72 hours of video are added to YouTube every minute. 72 new hours of video are added to YouTube every minute; it’s just incredible. Consumers can practically self-diagnose themselves. Your patients can go online, they can read Wikipedia, they can read WebMD, they can Google search, they can go on YouTube and find videos of whatever they need to find, from repairing their car to building a house to fixing their teeth. If your videos on your website are geared towards that same kind of information you’re missing a tremendous opportunity to connect with your patients.
It’s not the procedure that your patients are interested in. Showing a patient on your website with a video how a root canal works or how a crown works, how you prep for a crown or how you prep for porcelain veneers. Showing a patient a video of how you do that does not move you any closer to case acceptance. The reason is the three main questions the patients are asking: will it hurt, how much does it cost and how long will it last. Showing a patient how you prep for a veneer or crown does not answer any of those three questions. It doesn’t tell them how much it will cost, it doesn’t tell them if you’re going to charge them a fair price or not, it doesn’t answer the question of will it hurt or will you hurt them, and it doesn’t answer the question of will you do it right. Just because you see a video of how to build a house doesn’t mean you can go out and build one. Just because you get on YouTube and watch a video of how an engine goes together doesn’t mean you can go and become a master mechanic at Ford. Just because you have a video of prepping a crown on your website doesn’t mean that the patient has any faith that you’re going to do it right and it’s going to last.
By only focusing on the procedural aspect of your procedures, of your treatments, you’re missing a tremendous opportunity to answer those three questions, to connect with your prospects at a much deeper level. Your videos should be educational, you should be telling patients that if they’ve been turned down for dental implants in the past that you have the solutions for them through bone grafting, through different implants, through a CAT scan that you have right in your office. You know, if you’ve been to a doctor before and he told you that you need a CPAP machine for your sleep apnea we have the solutions for you. You can come in here and we can make you an oral appliance that is like a small retainer that you wear in your mouth. If you’ve been to the doctor before and he has tried to tweak and tweak and tweak your partial and it’s still uncomfortable and it still rubs and it still hurts, come see us, we have the solutions for you.
Your patients aren’t interested in knowing how you do a bone graft or how a different sized implant works. Now there is a small percentage that is going to be extremely detail oriented and is going to want to know those kinds of details; we’re talking 5%. 95% of your patients don’t have any interest in how an implant screws in or how you do a bone graft or how a sleep apnea appliance moves your jaw and depresses your tongue. That’s just not what a patient is interested in knowing, and if they do want to know that you can simply explain it to them in a video that you make. Your video marketing should be geared toward connecting with your patients, humanizing yourself, beginning to develop a relationship and develop trust with your patients. The procedural aspects don’t move you any further toward them calling you and them accepting your treatment. And them writing you checks!
Develop video on your website that humanizes you, humanizes your staff. Put video on there that provides social proof of your patients that have come in and have had work done and are extremely happy. Patients want to know is it going to hurt, well who better to answer for a patient is it going to hurt than your existing patients? Patients want to know did he charge me fairly, who better to answer that question than your existing patients? Put a video camera in front of them and ask them; how did you feel about the cost involved? How did you feel about the investment? Patients want to know how long did it last, well again you can answer that question yourself but does it carry more weight if you answer it yourself or does it carry more weight if you have a patient answer it for you. We can all say great things about how great we are but when somebody else says it about us now it really has impact.
Turn a video camera on and put a patient in front of the camera and say how do you feel about the quality of your work? How do you feel about the investment you made in your mouth? I’m sure you had some cynicism coming into this procedure when Dr Smith said it would be pain free, how was the experience for you? Ask these questions and your patients will light up like a Christmas tree when you do that. You can check out some of our other podcasts and other videos here on our website and we go into great detail into how to have a successful video shoot, how to do your dental video testimonials, your reverse testimonials so I’m not going to dive into that too much here on this podcast. I think podcast 002, maybe 003, we dived into that pretty deep.
You have to enter the conversation that’s going on in people’s minds. Patients aren’t interested in the process of dentistry anymore than most dentists are interested in the process of how an electronically fuel injected motor works in a modern vehicle. Sell your services by educating your patients and your prospects on the type of information that they want to know. The buying decision by and large is emotionally driven; does it hurt? How much does it cost? And how long will it last? Those are really intangibles, you can’t put them in a wheelbarrow, and if you can’t put them in a wheelbarrow it’s generally emotional.
We often justify our emotional buying decisions with logic, but the buying decision itself is emotional. If you can educate your prospects, if you can inform them of what options are available, and then tell them what options are best for them and leave them all in their court to choose, for example do you want to go with a traditional denture? Your palette’s going to be covered, your lower denture is going to have difficulty chewing with some foods, your upper denture, the palette will be covered and you won’t have any taste or temperature on your upper palette. Do you want to go with an implant supported detachable? Or do you want to go with the permanent fixed? Show them the different options that are available and what you can do for them. The advantages and disadvantages of each.
A well educated patient can make a choice amongst a couple of choices. Don’t give them ten choices. There was a very interesting book I read a while back, The Paradox of Choice, get it on Amazon, it’s a very good read on the consumer mind and how if you give people too many choices they don’t choose. The Paradox of Choice, it was by, I want to say Barry was the author’s first name, I can’t remember his last name. Barry Schwartz? I can’t remember his name, but The Paradox of Choice was the name of the book. Offer your patients these choices; a well educated patient can make a decision amongst two or three options.
How you educate them? Education is not a one stop shop. You can’t educate the patient over the phone, you can’t educate the patient only in the consult room. Education is a process that not only do you have to serve the food to the patient, but that patient has to eat and digest the information. People process information at all different speeds, some people you can dump a boat load of information on and they process it very quickly and they can calculate a make a decision from it. Other people do not process information quickly; you have to give it to them in small portions that they can consume and digest on their own time. By creating automatic follow up systems, by sending them emails once every couple of weeks, sending them a postcard in the mail once every month or two, sending them a text message, you’re going to develop a connection with your patients for you. You’re going to start that relationship with them, because all these communications are going to say Hey Sally, Hey Johnny, it’s been two weeks since you requested our free report, I just wanted to check in and send you a little bit more information about dental implants.
You’re giving them a continuous feed of information that they can process and digest and learn more about the dentistry and the services that you offer. The more educated, the more informed your prospect is the better consumer of dentistry they’re going to be. What you’ll find is that while a patient is sorting their emails over the delete button, or over the trash can, just like with direct mail where your best return on direct mail is on the 4th and 5th time that you mail out to people, your best return on an email sequence is going to be the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th email that you send out to people. We’ve had some email systems we’ve set up, email sequences that we’ve seen the best return from the 9th and the 10th email that we send out.
It’s all about branding. It’s about repetition. People see your name once or twice, they get a free report from you, and they’re not really interested, they delete it. Maybe the 3rd or 4th email they skim a little bit over and they say oh well, this guy’s got some good information, I think I’ll listen a little bit more and see what else he has to offer. 5th or 6th email, now they’re realizing that hey, this guy’s sending me a lot of stuff, he must have a lot of information, he must be a pretty smart guy to be sending me all this stuff. He’s sending me an email once a month, he sent me a handwritten letter in the mail, I’m going to show you some ways that you can automate handwriting your letters, very, very cool technology.
Now your prospect has seen your advertisement in the newspaper, they went to your website, they got a free report from you, they got six emails from you and in my book How to Stay in Front of Your Patients Until They’re Ready to Buy I talk about different studies that have been done, specifically by the National Sales Executive Association which found that medium sized transactions of around $2,500, 90% of those sales are closed on the 5th to 12th touch that the salesperson has with the prospect. Some dentistry is going to fall under that, some dentistry is going to fall over that threshold, but keep in mind I said the 5th to 12th touch. The 5th to 12th time your prospect hears or sees something of yours or gets a letter or an email. 5 to 12 times of that, 90% of sales are going to close. That’s powerful; if you’re giving up, if you’re only doing a single mode of advertising, if all you have is a newspaper ad that runs once a week and you don’t have a website, or you have a website but it doesn’t have any automatic follow up, it doesn’t have a free report, it doesn’t have any video, your prospects might only be getting a bite or two and never calling you. You’re missing a huge percentage of sales on the back end.
There’s a pretty cool company called SendOutCards.com that we’ve worked with, and what SendOutCards allows you to do is to automatically send out postcards and letters to your prospects. Something even cooler is that you can send in a handwriting sample of your handwriting and they will create a font that looks identical to your handwriting. You type on your keyboard what you want the letter to say, and when SendOutCards prints it, it prints exactly in your handwriting, it’s incredible. And even cooler than that, we can automate, with InfusionSoft and SendOutCards, we have developed a bridge between InfusionSoft and SendOutCards so that we can do that automatically for you. If you want to send out an email week two, a postcard week three, maybe an email week five and then you want to switch and send them a postcard, we can automatically set all that up to send to your prospects without you ever lifting a finger.
That is something you can do as well, I don’t know if AWeber and ConstantContact have that kind of integration, I know we have that with InfusionSoft right now, but something that you can do with technology is sending your prospects a handwritten card, signed with your signature on it, which looks exactly like your handwriting. It is your handwriting; you send them a sample. Incredible advancements in technology.
I talked a little bit earlier in the podcast, I said automatic referral system. Well let me tell you how that works. With InfusionSoft and with SendOutCards and with automated marketing, you can keep up with your prospects. A prospect comes to your website, they opt in for a free report and now you send them emails once a week or once a month for the next year or two. On the other side of that, say you have a prospect that’s come in and completed treatment for orthodontics, maybe an implant case, maybe a sleep apnea case, whatever it might be, bread and butter dentistry even, and you want to thank that prospect for their patronage. You of course want to find out if they have any friends that may need that kind of work too. We all know birds of a feather flock together. You can use AWeber or ConstantContact or InfusionSoft with SendOutCards to automatically send them emails and postcards once every three months forever thanking them for coming in and getting treatment at your office. Maybe they’ve come in and they’ve had a large implant case done; you can send them gifts in the mail automatically through SendOutCards, send them letters and say we really appreciate your business, if you have any friends that have trouble chewing or don’t like their dentures or are embarrassed about their smile we’d love to help them. We’ll give you a $200 gift card and we’ll give your friend $200 off if they mention this postcard when they come in. You’ve literally created an automatic referral system that you can keep your name in front of your closed patients as often as you want, generally we say once every two to three months is a fair number. It’s not too often that it’s intrusive or annoying, but it’s just enough that you’re always there on the tip of their mind. Once every two to three months you’re sending them a postcard or an email, maybe you send them a Starbucks gift card, maybe right after treatment if you have a large case size you send them a package of Omaha Steaks. The possibilities are endless. Designing your system has endless possibilities. The point is you want to thank them for their patronage, thank them for their business, their trust in you, and find out what friends they have that could use a similar treatment.
You can use these automatic follow up systems for the front end to grab patients and hang on to them, you can also use them on the back end as an automatic referral system to keep your name in front of your patients until they’re ready to buy.
That’s really the two major takeaways, SendOutCards, AWeber, ConstantContact, InfusionSoft; I would strongly suggest you check out the companies and give them a try. If you have any questions feel free to give us a call, we’d love to help you automate your marketing and free up your staff and get you guys focused on what you really want to be doing with your staff, which is patient care. As a gift for anybody that’s stayed on until the end of the podcast, I’d like to invite you to get a copy of one of my books, I mentioned it earlier in the podcast, The Dentist’s Guide to Social Media and Drip Marketing, How to Stay in Front of Your Patients Until They’re Ready to Buy.
The URL you can get this at is WhyPatientsDontBuy.com. You can go there and get a copy of our book and it’s going to show you, it’s about a 100 page book, 80 pages I believe, and it’s going to show you all of the details about what I’ve talked about here, examples of drip marketing campaigns, everything you need to know about how to ramp up your drip marketing, your follow up, your automated follow up, how to create these systems, how to implement them. As I said, they are super simple to create. If you’re not a technically oriented person, if you’ve got a son or a daughter or a grandchild, even a member of your office that is mildly technically inclined, it’s not something that requires any kind of coding or HTML or programming or anything like that, it’s all very point and click friendly. It’ll set all this up for you and you simply click another button and it sends it to your webmaster and your webmaster puts it on your website for you. It’s literally that easy.
I would invite you to check that out, make sure you also subscribe to our podcast. There’s a little RSS feed up at the top of you can also subscribe to us on iTunes and there’s a button up at the top for iTunes as well. Until next week, Colin Receveur here saying keep moving forward.