Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dental Marketing - How to set-up for 2013

How to set-up for 2013

In the previous edition of this newsletter, we explained 5 solid reasons why 2013 may represent the beginning of a rebound period for dentistry.

In this installment of the newsletter, we will explain how to get everything set up properly for the coming new year.

First step - Marketing Asset Inventory
There are two staple "must haves" for every dentist when it comes to properly and effectively promoting dentistry, and ultimately being pleased with the return on your investment. Those staples are: A dominant internet presence in your market (properly arranged website with dominant positioning on search engines), and, a properly targeted, designed, and deployed direct mail campaign. Neither of these promotion outlets have a risk ratio to your marketing dollar greater than 4%. In other words, there is greater than 96% chance these two mediums will work in your market and will provide a robust return (if done properly of course).

If you do not possess either of these staples to promote your dental practice, you now know where a portion of your 2013 marketing budget should go. If you do possess one of these, but not the other - you now know your priority marketing project for 2013. If you DO possess both of these staples, read on.

Second step - Statistical Tracking
If you do not already have these, in 2013, commit to embedding a remote call forwarding telephone number into your mailer, your website, and into anything that consumes more than 10% of your annual marketing budget. These call tracking numbers record every call and drop the results into a reporting website for you to view/listen. As the CEO of your dental practice, this gives you the control you are looking for out of your marketing. Imagine you are home on a weekend and being able to visibly see every call and listen to every new patient inquiry that came into your practice last month. Imagine being able to see the inquiries that came in during office hours - that were never answered. Or, the inquiries that came in that took 15 seconds or more for your staff to answer. You spend GOOD MONEY promoting dentistry the right way. Spend a tiny bit of money to make certain that when that phone rings - you and your team are doing everything they possibly can to convert that inquiry into a new patient appointment.

Third step - Leftover Budget
If you have enough budget in 2013 for a dominant mail campaign and a dominant internet strategy, and still have room in the budget for something else, your next moves (in order of risk) vary from market to market. If you dominate the internet and mail markets, there is a very good chance we are going to recommend exploiting the local print media market. But, we may recommend expanding the internet market by simply adding a mobile website. It depends what market you are in. If you are in say Seattle, New York City, Washington DC, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, or very near a big city with lots and lots of people - we are very likely to recommend a properly done mobile site. If your practice is more in the burbs to rural, it is very likely we would recommend allocating some money toward newspaper inserts.

Every year, you plan the following year's promotion. When you invest each year consistently (and do it properly), you end up with dominant positions in those mediums. Once you dominate a medium (like the internet or mail), continuing to dominate it requires LESS money over time. It requires far more money to initially establish a dominant position in a promotion medium, than it does to stay there. A classic example is the internet. Once you have a great website built and the initial SEO started - you won't have those promotion expenses next year.

If the mediums you already dominate are producing and the costs are dropping, you should have budget room in the coming year for additional promotions. Use that budget room to begin to establish dominance in the next medium.

Step by step by step, one promotion medium at a time. All tracked and reported back to you on a continual basis. The CEO (you) has total control.

How cool would that be?

As always, if we (NPI) don't handle your promotion for you, you can learn the most effective ways in our latest book. We also have 7 hours of online CE for you to learn from. Of course, if you'd like us to build you a marketing plan for your practice, at no cost or obligation to you, we can do that as well. Just click this link and share information about your dental practice. You will get your marketing plan emailed to you in 4 to 5 work days.

Got questions? Want to learn more? 

You can reach Mark & Howie at:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dental Marketing - New Patients Inc.

Effectively Marketing/Promoting a Dental Practice - from a CPA's point of viewFAQ's from CPA's regarding the marketing/promotion of the dental practice
by Mark Dilatush

What is a normal/customary annual marketing budget for a dental practice?
By “normal/customary” I will assume you mean a practice that's been in existence (and same location) for greater than 5 years. I will also assume you mean a “bread and butter family” type practice. For these practices, we encourage a marketing budget range. The range is 5% of TTM and 5% of goal revenues. As an example, a 600k (TTM) practice that has a goal of 700k should have a marketing budget range of 30k to 35k for the year.
Startups: The average general dentist will require 700 active patient charts to productively support a 30 hour per week schedule. The average acquisition cost of a “quality” (see below) new patient ranges from $80 to $120. If the practice in NOT going to use insurance participation (see below) as a marketing medium, the practice needs to acquire all 700 patients through external and internal marketing. 700 new patients within the first year times an average acquisition cost puts the first year marketing budget at 70k.
Transitioning Ownership: Dentists who are buying an existing practice can expect to lose a certain percentage of the existing patient base. At best, they can expect to minimize this loss at 20% of the existing patient base. In addition, existing patients who do see the new owner will almost always slow down their purchases of dental services during the first 18 months of ownership. This is the “getting to know you phase”. All of this has to be taken into account when determining the total number of new patients required to meet or exceed the new owner's revenue goals after purchase.
Insurance Participation – What's the real scoop?
Insurance participation in dentistry is nothing more than another available marketing medium. Our firm is neither for nor against using insurance participation as a marketing medium. We just look at it in a very straight forward business manner.
Insurance companies use their sales/marketing prowess to accumulate 10,000 to 20,000 local employees through the employer base. The insurance companies then “sell access” of the patient base back to the dentist for 72 cents to 88 cents on the dollar. This marketing medium represents a 12% to 18% marketing “cost” to the dental business. Since we've already established that you can successfully market/promote a dental practice for 5% of revenues (in 96% of the markets in the US ), you can see the true cost of using insurance to promote the dental practice long term.
Why do dentists participate with insurance or rely so heavily on participation for their new patient flow?
The short answer is, they don't know any better. As a CPA, I'm sure you recognize the business prowess of most of your dentist clients. Dentists are patient/clinical centric people. Very few understand or even want to understand business. Most dentists are also very risk intolerant. This is an important distinction.
Insurance participation is easy to do (you just sign up!)
There is no up front commitment (other than just being a dentist)
There is no up front cost (therefore, no perceived risk)
You mention “quality” new patient. What is that?
First, let me give you the statistical definition of a “quality” new patient. A “quality” new patient is any patient that matches or exceeds the average revenue per active patient that the dental office currently enjoys. I'll give you an example.
Example Practice: 500k annual revenues, 1000 active patients, average revenue per active patient = $500. A “Quality” new patient for this practice would be a new patient that brings in at least $500 within the first year.
IF a dental practice focuses their marketing/promotion toward higher “quality” patients, the first year return on investment will double every two years for a maximum of 6 years. Then, it will double again every 6 years.
Dentistry is a recurring revenue business (as I'm sure most of you know). One of your clients' biggest mistakes is marketing/promoting for volumes of new patients to fill the schedule. Here's the lesson to pass on to your clients. Volumes of new patients temporarily fill your schedule. Quality new patients ALWAYS fill your wallet.
What is doc/patient ratio?
The dentist/patient ratio in a given market area is the single biggest analytical tool used when formulating an appropriate marketing plan for a given dental practice. We also refer to the dentist/patient ratio when we explain what our expectations are from whatever marketing we do for a client. The national average is 1 dentist for every 1500 people. If a dentist is in a 1:600 dentist/patient ratio – that dental practice will indeed have a VERY tough time gaining quality new patient momentum. It's just supply and demand. It's economics 101. I'm sure I don't have to explain this to this group. This does NOT mean you can't successfully promote a dental practice in this type of environment. The majority of our clients are in tough competitive areas.
The other side (the fun side) of the supply/demand analysis is also found throughout the US . If we analyze a market area for a client and find a 1:4500 dentist/patient ratio, we KNOW we've got a great story just waiting to happen.
A case study: In September of 2006, we helped open a new dental practice for a client in upstate NY. Dentist/patient ratio in their county was 1:5800. We started with a first year budget of 90,000. Female dentist, husband (with an MBA thank goodness) is the office manager. In December of 06, their production hit $85k for the month. We have them projected at first year revenues of $1.2m in their first year. I am not telling you this because we get this type of result with all of our clients. We DO get this type of result with other clients in 1:5800 dentist/patient ratio markets. What your clients need to understand is the power of supply/demand AND the beauty of dentistry as a business model. It truly is a recurring revenue, return on investment building business model. In competitive areas, they just have to give it the time to mature.
I hope the answer to some of these questions help you and your clients better understand how effective marketing works. If you have any other questions at all, please feel free to contact me.
New Patients, Inc. 
Mark Dilatush 
VP of Professional Relations 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New Patients, Inc.
The marketing firm
exclusively for dentists
Corporate offices:
Oquendo Business Park
5935 Edmond Street
Suite 105
Las Vegas, NV 89118
Office: 702-221-2184
Fax: 702-252-3958
Pacific Time Zone

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Dental Office Marketing Company

Ask Them What They Want
Tell Them They Can Get It from You
DentalTown Magazine
By William Howard Horrocks

It has been said that when Sigmund Freud was nearing the end of his career he admitted that in spite of all the mysteries and questions he had tried to solve in his life's work, the one thing he was never able to fully understand was, “what do women really want?”

Maybe Sigmund should have done a survey.
A survey can give you an incredible amount of useful information you can use in your marketing efforts. Surveys can help you hone your marketing message so you can zero in on what people think and feel about you, your practice, and dentistry in general as well as a host of other topics. They tell you the reasons people chose you over the dozens of other dentists they could have chosen. Surveys tell you what your marketing message should be.
It's not always practical to go out and survey the public at large, that is, people on the street. That being the case, how are you going to find out what marketing messages people will respond to?
You ask those who have already responded - your patients.
The idea is; the marketing message that got your current patients to arrive will work to get prospective new patients to arrive as well.
Don't Assume You Know What People Want
Without a survey you might end up telling people things they couldn't care less about. For example, a client of mine thought that because he had all this high tech equipment like an intra-oral camera, laser, air abrasion, etc. that people would just flood in because he was so “advanced.” He wanted me to design mailings and other promotions that would highlight his “state-of-the-art” practice.
After surveying his patients I found out what they actually appreciated the most was that the doctor and staff were very friendly and treated them with warmth, courtesy and concern. They didn't really care that much about the camera and the other gadgets. So emphasizing the “cutting edge” aspect of his practice in his mailings and other promotions would have missed the mark and would have been an expensive waste.
Survey Secret
What you are actually doing with a survey is a very simple thing, yet it seems that not even the big Madison Avenue ad agencies or marketing gurus fully grasp its simplicity. Here it is in a nutshell;
The way to strike a responsive chord in your audience is to ask them what they want, and then tell them they can get it from you.
Here are some examples (by the way these are real life examples from my own clients).
Dr. Smith wanted me to re-design her Yellow Pages ad for the new year. So we did a survey on her patients and asked them what qualities they would expect a good dentist to have. The most given answer was - “he/she must be experienced and up-to-date.”
We also asked what they would expect from the hygienists and other staff. The most given answer - “I want them to be friendly and caring.” We then used that information to craft a marketing message and came up with the headline, “Where Can You Get The Most Up-To-Date Dentistry From Friendly, Caring And Experienced Professionals?”
The rest of the ad was built around and highlighted these themes.
Here's another. Dr. John wanted to find out what it was about his practice that his patients found different. In other words, what made him stand out from all the other practices? The most given answer - (survey says!) “I'm treated like family - not a number.”
So the theme for the mailing we did to the residents in the neighborhood was, “We Treat Our Patients like Family.” And we included testimonial quotes from patients that echoed this theme to really drive home the point.
Simple, isn't it? Ask them what they want, tell them they can get it from you.
Common Themes
Getting the doctor and staff to survey their patients is always first thing I do with a new client. I write the survey and have the staff hand one to each arriving patient. The patient is asked to fill it out and return it to the covered box on the front desk. (Covered to ensure anonymity). I usually try to get 30 or so completed surveys, though the more the better. Consequently, I have the results of literally thousands of surveys on dental patients from all over the country.
Marketing messages often vary greatly from practice to practice but even so, some common themes have emerged. For example, four years ago there was a fairly high percentage of patients in this country who were worried about getting AIDS from their dentist. Perhaps a silly notion, but they were worried just the same. Therefore the marketing documents (ads, mailers, etc.) that I wrote for my clients at that time would always contain a line about “advanced patient protection procedures” or some such phrase. The degree we emphasized this depended on the percentage who were worried about it. If it were a high percentage we'd make “sterilization” the main theme of the ad or mailer, perhaps even constructing a headline stressing cleanliness. If the percentage was lower we might have simply included a mention of it. But now, four years later, I've found this concern has all but disappeared. It rarely comes up any more, or if it does it's a very small percentage. So the “sterilization” message is not as much of a concern right now. However, a 60 Minutes hatchet job could change all that. That's why it's important to survey regularly.
What Do People Want From Dentistry?
Even though I encourage you to survey your own patient population to get their specific needs, desires and concerns, there are consistent themes that have emerged from the extensive surveying I've done. You can use these and be fairly certain that your message will not fall on deaf ears. The list below contains what I've found to be the most desired features people want from their dental health professionals;
1. Friendliness from doctor and staff (invariably this is the number one desire and has been for years)
2. Caring, concern and understanding from doctor and staff
3. Gentle, stress-free, as-close-as-you-can-get-to-painless dental care (even though it's trite, they still want to hear that you will be gentle)
4. Convenient location (close to home, work or near where they go frequently, such as the shopping center)
5. Clean, modern, up-to-date office
6. Insurance acceptability (even if you don't accept assignment they want to know that you will at least help them file the paperwork)
7. Payment options (credit cards, pre-payment discount, Norwest, etc.)
8. Prompt emergency care (do you make it clear that emergencies are welcome or do you discourage them by saying “emergency care available.”
    The word “available” makes it sound like you'll accept them but you really don't want to)
9. Good with their kids
10. Offers various cosmetic procedures such as whitening, bonding, veneers, non-mercury, tooth colored fillings
Notice that “technical expertise” or even “competence” aren't even on the list! Not that this is any reason to be sloppy or not do your best for your patients, but it is interesting that this is not a chief concern.
Note also that the top items on the list; friendliness, caring, concern and understanding, are human elements and have nothing whatever to do with crowns, bridges, root canals or expensive equipment. And not only that, these actions and attitudes don't cost you a thing yet they are the very best marketing you can do.
By regularly surveying you are asking your patients what they want. All you have to do is make sure you can deliver those things and then tell one and all they can get what they want right in your practice.
That's a message people will respond to.