Patient retention problems? Dr. Kevin Coughlin (14 dental practices — whip smart) and Jerry Jones distill what it takes.
Nothing for sale…just PURE training.
Patient Attraction and Retention Strategies, Resources & Coaching for both Start-Up & Mature Dental Practices
For over two decades and for the last 15 of those years, I’ve put into practice both in my own dental office and 100s of others: Leveraging new patient offers to induce a patient (or convince) to make an appointment as a new patient.
And, I’m not alone.
Two of the most successful dentists in America agree. In a conversation on DentalTown Founder, Dr. Howard Farran’s podcast, Howard and Heartland Dental Founder, Dr. Rick Workman, agree. In the podcast, Rick and Howard start out their conversation about their first encounter:
Rick Workman: Destin, Florida, first annual 1992, March of 1992. That weekend changed my life and you had a big part of that, and I mean that sincerely. I have got some notes here, but you taught me about the value of the location versus a doctor park. You taught me internally lit signs, hammered us to death on that, and you also introduced us in your first book about the notion of economic incentives, that with someplace between taboo or non-cool, but you just pointed out that it is not about that, it is about whether you want people to come in to your office or not. Because if you do, that is what you have got to do. You made a difference in my life.
Howard Farran: Well thanks Rick, that means a lot to me. And with the economic incentives, I think one of the problems with that is they are very different with women than they are with men and women make 90% of the appointments. I mean, I have never used a coupon in my life. I couldn’t imagine sitting on the front room floor cutting out a coupon to save a quarter on Folger’s Coffee. I mean, but they make 91% of the appointments and they turn in 90% of all of the coupons.
Now, here’s the rub…and go figure, but not all “coupons” or economic incentives are created equal.
In fact, the wrong one, timed improperly, can destroy a practice by generating the wrong calls at the exact wrong time.
The right one can generate all the new patient calls you could ever want.
Here are just a few considerations you should make before you ever decide to advertise or market your practice:
– What is your offer and why? Is it a free exam? Is it a $99 exam? Does it include a cleaning? A whitening offer? WHY is it that offer?
– Who is the target market you’re after?
– Where does this target market hang out? What do they read, watch or listen to?
– What kind of offers are they receiving now from other dentists or service providers?
– What proof can you offer that yours is a great practice?
– Why should they (your target market) listen or watch or read your offer or ad?
– What’s in it for them?
These are just a few questions to ask yourself before you ever embark on running an ad, hiring a marketing firm or ad agency (like JJD, for example).
Plundering ahead without answers to these questions and asking yourself WHY at least 2 more times once you provide an initial answer, will likely yield failure.
Just reading this qualifies you for a no-cost and no-obligation 1:1 consultation with one of my personally trained Jerry Jones Direct Member Ambassadors.
Ask and you’ll also qualify for a no cost Marketing Audit and Review, personally conducted by me, a $997 value, which will reveal the hidden opportunities and threats in your practice, right now. During these 1:1 consulting sessions, it’s not at all unusual for us to uncover massive income opportunities that can immediately grow your practice.
Call today: 503-339-6000, or, submit your information here with your request!
I recently sent this email out to my Members of the ClearPath Society here at Jerry Jones Direct. See if you might find value… No wait, I challenge you to not find value 🙂
Imagine this headline in the Health section of your local newspaper,
More on that headline above when you finish this email and read the attached article. But first…
If you have a social media presence or email list or both, what I am about to share with you is great 3rd party, unaffiliated endorsement of what we do to help our patients/Guests in our dental offices. But it’s far more. You’ll see what I mean here in a minute.
If you do not have an email list or a social media presence, this is a great demonstration of where having those can pay off…BIG TIME. And quickly.
(Contact me or your MA separately if you want to enhance either your social media presence or your email lists for your practice and you should want to – you’ll see why in a minute.)
And, one last comment about “owned media:” Whether you have digital media you can leverage or not (twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.), you have a mailing list of your patients, so you do in fact have a way to contact them, it’s more cumbersome, yes, but frankly, it’s also possibly more effective for what I am about to share.
(By the way, this is important enough that I set aside time from completing the May Practice Profit Insider™ so I could hammer this out to you…)
Alright, pay close attention:
In the June 2017 issue of one of my favorite magazines, Men’s Journal, you’ll find an article titled, “Oral Hygiene.”
This article is PURE GOLD I tell you!
Here are some ideas to generate a potential ton of free publicity which = more patient gettin’ and keepin’:
There is so much more you can do than just these big five. The idea is to leverage the gifts the media gives us! So often, we let these opportunities pass us by, and well, if you want to get more and keep more of your Guests, doing something with gifts like this is what’s required!
Hope you enjoyed this little training and take it and run with it. BTW, I can already tell you who will from history. And, who will, within 24 hours, be featured on local media, or, have a great shot at it because they take advantage of opportunities just like this.
One last thing…if perio is your game, be sure to check out our Periodontal Disease Management Program in the CustomerHub, and, the Periodontal Disease direct mail piece that is available to you as well. That direct mail piece alone has a $20,000+ value, all day long, if you were to have me recreate it or create something similar from scratch.
The article I reference above, when you read it, will reveal why I used the reference to ED (erectile dysfunction) in the headline…
By Guest Author, and JJD Certified Partner, Matt Prados of GotchaLocal.com
There are many reasons to pick your domain – the URL name which points to your practice’s website. And in fact you should probably own a few domains.
You should of course own yourbusinessname.com. But sometimes yourbusinessname.com is a terrible domain name for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and/or Adwords.
For instance, a website I recently saw was healthysmilesdc.com it was the yourbusinessname.com for Healthy Smiles Dental Center. From an Adwords point of view, if you see this domain in an ad it does tell you it’s a dentist, it doesn’t tell you where it is, and since DC stands for Doctor of Chiropractic, you could could confuse some.
From an SEO stand point Google though, even with one of the most advanced algorithms ever written, is like a 4 year old child and likes simplicity. So all the same things that would stop someone clicking the ad will also stop Google from ranking it high in the search results.
A recent case study for Wellness Springs Dental of Salem, which was converted from Softouch Dental a few years back in a re-brand went from softouchdentalsalem.com to wellnessspringsdentalsalem.com. After having ranked #1 for years suddenly started dropping. We applied all the standard SEO practices when it was softouchdentalsalem.com and we applied all the standard SEO practices in the transition to wellnessspringsdentalsalem.com, but Google just kept letting the site drop in the rankings for “dentist salem Oregon.”
So what happened? We still had “dental” and “salem” but we went from 8 to 14 characters before the words “dental” and “salem” to almost double. Also softouch is a very popular dental name sometimes with 2 t’s but still popular, google identified this. ‘Wellness Springs’ has nothing to do with dentistry from a 4 year old’s perspective. This also was an issue.
We had the opportunity to acquire an aged domain http://dentistsalem.net. This is a great domain because it has the word “dentist” which is better than “dental” and it has the word “salem” both at the beginning of the domain AND it has no other words. Additionally it is AGED meaning it was not just created today, it had been registered for more than 6 months, which is a HUGE bonus.
Within 30 days of changing the domain we had recovered a nice chunk of lost rankings we had slipped from #1 all the way to the bottom of page 2 over the last 6 months and nothing we did seemed to help until we changed the domain. Back on page 1 rapidly climbing into the top position.
Additionally when looking at it from an Ad in Adwords point of view, if a person is in Salem and searches for a dentist and sees a domain that says DentistSalem.net they immediately think, “Hey that is what I was searching for!”
So I highly recommend that you own yourbusinessname.com AND dentisttown.com or dentisttown.net or similar. I recommend buying the .com whenever possible. I recommend buying an aged domain whenever possible. I know that a new domain is ONLY $10 and that an aged domain can be thousands but think about it as an investment if YOU own dentisttown.com, no one else can. That is great defense, and if you get 1 more new patient a year for 10 years because of that domain that cost you $3000 and your average patient value is low at $1500, you still make 5x’s on your investment. I know every one of you would sign up for a financial plan that stated invest $3000 today and it will be $15,000 in 10 years…
Marketing is strategic investing for immediate and future returns in your business.
Making Your Phone Ring Period.
Helene Sanders, the COO at Wellness Springs Dental of Salem (WSD), our dental office franchise “flagship,” is fond of saying, “Never say ‘never’ and ‘always,’” so perhaps I’m coming on a bit strong in this case. But, I’m using a little poetic license here to get my point across. And, the big point is: Test your new Guest/patient offers regularly and often.
It’s dangerous and costly to get stuck on one offer and buy into the fact your prospective patients or Guests won’t notice you’re using the same old come on in your ads day in and day out. Your marketplace’s needs and wants change, as does their tolerance of “same ol’, same ol’.”
You see every prospective Guest has a different self-identified need or want. They have secret desires they’ve left unshared with others, suppressed you might say, and are walking around with only a vague idea of what would make them happy or what they truly want in the way of dental care. Most in fact, don’t care. That’s proven out by less than ½ of the population going to the dentist. So, it’s not until your new ad with a new test offer shows up with a major pattern interrupt when they might recognize it and say to themselves right before calling to schedule, “That is for me!”
This is also when having the ability and resources to test multiple offers in multiple cities all over the US really makes a significant difference in the overall effectiveness of your new Guest advertising and marketing. Few practices, if any, have the ability to test multiple offers at one time on the same scale as we do here at JJD. Having that massive testing platform gives us the unique ability to shortcut the testing process when it comes time to help you identify what will work best in your unique market.
The majority of new Guest offers I see today are one of or a variation of these:
These are all mostly uncreative examples of a single or bundled “service” or a free offer. Anytime I have a client comfortable with free, who understands the math, I like using free. Why? It lowers the barriers of entry, which is typically cost or the unknown cost of getting treatment or even learning about one’s dental challenges. However, if not constructed with the proper ad copy that positions the offer the right way, it can attract patients or Guests (at WSD, we call our patients, “Guests.”) who’re not really ready to move forward with treatment, but just want to know how bad things are, or, to take their records to another dentist that charges full fee for exams and x-rays. Of course, you and I both recognize that as a colossal waste of time and money for both parties.
So, if you are going to run low-cost or free offers, it’s imperative you invest time and thought (or money) into understanding the psychology behind “free” and “low-cost, low-barrier of entry” offers. More on that in a moment.
Over the years, I’ve developed copy that positions both your practice and the Guest’s mind, properly, to understand that the low barrier (low price) is part of a process and necessary to get them over their fear of price and pain. Our ads give a “reason why.” That’s one of the keys to making low-price introductory offers work well over the long run.
Frankly, offering crowns, ortho or implants on introductory discount pricing without a reason why that preserves the true value of the service, is an enormous mistake. It’ll devalue every service you attempt to offer that patient from that initial appointment on. Instead, I’d suggest reading more about this in Dan Kennedy & Jason Marrs’ book, NO BS Price Strategy, to really understand this dangerous game of low prices. There is a time, place, delivery mechanism, ad copy and a market (your avatar Guest) where this works, but most screw this up completely, so do get advice, before you fall flat (or after, if you’re stubborn like me).
So, what’s my favorite new Guest offer? For the time being, it’s the one we’re using at my dental office:
$39 Comprehensive New Patient Exam (Save $181).
Add a simple cleaning for an additional $79 (Save an add’l $39!)
For many years, it was, “Here’s $100 to Solve Your Dental Problem, Now!” And, we’d give every new patient $100 off their first visit, no matter what it was for.
We’ve had major success with “free comprehensive exam,” too. In fact, we’ll be using that again here shortly to quickly build up our new doctor’s practice. Free is powerful in the right circumstances, with the right ad copy. Now, you might be wondering,
In the first one, where I have separated the exam and cleaning, it’s intentional. We quickly find out who of our new Guests has an understanding about the value of regular care. Plus, it gives our new Guests something they want: CHOICE. If you can let your new Guest know they are in control from the moment they call, that’s a good thing. You want them to feel empowered to choose to add that cleaning or not. Yes, we disclose and discuss the perio issue, and, you should, too, anytime you’re offering a cleaning as part of a special to attract new Guests.
It has also increased our new Guest first visit value. Instead of $39 or $59, or even $99, we’re getting 80% of our new Guests choosing both parts of the offer: exam and cleaning. That takes our first visit revenue to a minimum of $118.
Understand, these are offers only and not the full ad. They are what ads are built around, not complete ads. In the ads we create and run at my office and for JJD ClearPath Society® Members, we do not shortcut the creative process. These “offers” are accompanied by additional ad copy/language, and design strategies that properly position both the offer, the office, the doctor and the experience the Guest will have. Most ads miss this and blow it completely. (This tip alone is like GOLD if you use it!)
There is nothing like more new Guests on the books than you can handle, to take care of a lot of problems in practice – including financial challenges. You can screw up a lot of things in business if you have a large, consistent flow of new Guests.
When you’re ready to put proven, professional, tested ad copy and marketing processes in play to increase your new Guest flow in your office, just reach out.
Our new clients all start out as and remain Members in JJD’s ClearPath Society®. Consider the numerous benefits at the site, and join today!
Or, if you’re ready for an entire practice makeover, a new culture, new training, a continual “coaching” or consulting relationship, your best years ever, and more, I’d suggest my dental office franchise, Wellness Springs Dental®, which includes Membership in JJD’s ClearPath Society®.
My business partner and I have a saying: Unless your dental office is like Cheers – where everybody knows your patients’ names, that yours is, “just another dental office” and no different than Big Chain Dentistry. It’s just another place to pay big money and experience pain – or at least that’s what the public might well believe. As simplistic as it may seem, your guests’ names are the first part of forming and maintaining a long-term, solid relationship.
I’d plus this point with another – unless you have a sound, easily communicated USP, or Unique Selling Proposition – you’re easily pigeonholed and likely put in that particular place where the public has identified you belong whether you want to be or deserve that positioning or not.
The public forms an opinion of your practice – from the way it looks, where it’s located, who works there and what patients say when they leave – whether you want them to or not. And, whether it’s what you want them to think or not.
If the public’s perception of your practice isn’t what you want or hoped it would be, then only you can change it. Only you have the power to “fix” an incorrect, inconsistent or unwanted perception. And, it start with something as simple as forming real relationships with those writing you checks.
Back to USPs. Ask yourself:
“What makes my dental office unique and TRULY DIFFERENT? What makes what we do so much better than any other dental office? What do I offer that others can’t or won’t or don’t?”
To help you make some headway: The most common and infamous USP recited by marketing geeks and entrepreneurs like me is Domino’s from the 1980s which put the pizza chain on the map and made it the largest pizza business in the world, and one of its owners, Tom Monaghan, one rich dude. It was: Fresh, hot pizza in 30 minutes or it’s free.
That USP makes a big, bold audacious promise: it frames a reference of an exact time and has an exacting benefit if Domino’s didn’t get it to you when promised.
How many dental practices do you know that even promote or have a USP? I can’t think of more than a handful. How many have an easily identifiable guarantee in their USP?
Here’s mine for Wellness Springs Dental of Salem: Gentle Dentistry for Moms, Dads and Kids, in a warm, caring environment…We’re confident you’ll be thrilled with your new patient visit or it’s on us!
(Please don’t use mine; it’s unique to my dental office and my dental office franchise and could invite legal problems.)
We developed this knowing whom we want to attract: Parents and Kids. Why? If you can get the kids in, you can attract the parents. They have the money. This is nearly the entire marketing plan for McDonald’s restaurants outside of owning prime real estate at intersections.
It’s not a USP that took minutes to develop either. The best ones are not easy to come up with and often take hours, even days of refinement to get it just right based on feedback from patients and testing in advertising. Your USP should remove risk and doubt from your prospect’s mind and make a grand promise you can live up to/deliver.