Competing in a saturated dental market

Competing in a Market Saturated with Dentists

Is the competition around your dental practice too thick? Is it difficult to consistently attract the type of patients you want?

If you’ve answered yes to either of those questions –our latest podcast will be valuable to you!

In our podcast, Mark and I discuss how to compete in a market that is already saturated with dentists. We discuss the importance of watching the marketing bell curve, consistency and which marketing tactics to focus on. After 30 years of exclusively marketing for dentists, we have seen the practices of many clients flourish while competing in saturated markets. Yes, even fee for service practices.

Podcast Highlights:

  • How Can You Compete in a Market That is Already Saturated with Dentists?
  • It’s not just about money
  • Don’t continually re-start the bell curve
  • Measure, adjust expectations, then what?
  • You must have online AND offline promotions
  • Result tracking is a must

Podcast Transcription:

Hello, and welcome to the Dental Marketing Mastery Series. This podcast is brought to you by New Patients Incorporated. I’m Howie Horrocks, the Founder of New Patients Incorporated. And along with me once again is my friend and partner and the Chief Executive Officer of New Patients Incorporated, Mark Dilatush.

Howie: Hello, everybody.

Welcome once again to our Dental Marketing Mastery Series podcast.

We’ve got our good buddy out there in New Jersey, Mark, how you doing?

Mark: Hey Howie, good.

We just moved into our new bigger offices and, you know, the usual technical challenges with doing things like that, but all’s well.

Howie: I love having a satellite – we’ve got a satellite office in New Jersey.

Mark: Yes, we do.

Howie: That’s cool.

Mark: Yeah, pretty cool.

Howie: All right. Today, for our listeners out there, by the way, thank you for tuning in.

How Can You Compete in a Market That is Already Saturated with Dentists?

We’re going to talk about how to compete in a market that is already saturated with dentists. And that could apply to a whole lot of you out there, I think.

Mark: Yeah, most of you likely feel like your area is more competitive than you would like. So, unless you’re in eastern Montana, you should probably listen to the rest of this podcast.

Howie: Especially if you’re here in Vegas where there’s a dentist on every corner. I’m not kidding.

Mark: Exactly, there’s a dentist on every Terrible Herbst carwash.

So, all right, so what do you do if you know you’re in a very competitive market? How do you compete? How do you do that?

All right, so the first thing you do is you measure. We can do that for you. You can just go to our website and click ‘Get Started’ or set up a 15 minute phone call or whatever. We can tell you how competitive your market is and build a plan to attack it.

But without doing that, I’m sure you still want to know what our process would be. So, the first thing we do is measure. Let’s find out what we’re up against. That’s always, that’s always the best starting point. The second step is really, up to the dentist.

It’s, it’s, you’re going to have to realize what that actually means. And you’re going to have to adjust your expectations of the return on your marketing dollar or at least how long it takes you to generate a robust return on your marketing dollar.

Because the honest to goodness truth is, is, a doctor patient/ratio is just a measurement of supply and demand. The supply and demand, this isn’t something that you can easily, simply and quickly promote your way through.

Your going to have to do 90% of what you do, as far as promoting your practice, and you’re going to have to do it correctly. So, the step one would be measure step to adjust your expectations so that they are realistic.

It’s not just about money

Howie: Yeah, that’s a big one. Too many times dentists go into this thinking that they can conquer a competitive market just by you know, I don’t know, dumb luck. Or, or, pouring lots of money in it. And they’re not realistic about what they’re up against. They don’t know whether they’re about ready to climb Mount Everest or if they’re just going to ski down an easy bunny slope. So, it’s important to know this.

Mark: Yeah, it’s important to know what you’re up against. And sometimes when we tell dentist what they’re up against, they get angry at us.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: But the truth is the truth.

Howie: It’s like a patient does to a dentist. ‘Oh, you’ve got decay.’ ‘Oh, – what??’ They’re pissed off about it.

Mark: Exactly. My last dentist didn’t see it, I’m going back to him.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: So, yeah, so, we’re kind of, we’re – we basically just tell you straight up like, look, this is what you’re up against, this is how we need to attack this market.

So, the first step is to measure, the second step is to adjust your expectations. You will get there. Let me temper this by saying; we work in markets that are like in 1 to 300. Were there’s only 300 human beings running around for every dentist who works there.

Okay? If we can succeed there we can succeed anywhere. All right. So, it’s not a matter of if it’s going to work. It’s – that’s really not the question. The question is, how long is it going to take to work? And that’s where the dentist struggles because they really want, and they search and yearn for instant gratification, right?

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Well, one of the keys to penetrating consistently, effectively with a good robust ROI, one of the keys of penetrating a very competitive market is time. You need time to impress, you’re gonna have to impress people!

When we say impress, we mean “deliver your message to” that’s what we mean, okay? You’re going to have to impress the same people, like 12, 15, 20 times in a competitive market. Where in a non-competitive market, you might get away with five to seven. Okay?

So, that’s what you’re, that’s just the reality. The reality is, is that this is going to take a little more time and in many cases more time than the doctor is willing to accept. Some are not willing to recognize and here’s what happens. They’ll call around and find some dental marketing firm somewhere that tells them what they want to hear. And they’ll do that for a year and then jump to the next one and then jump to the next one and then jump to the next one.

Well, that’s not a solution either, because you’re still not getting what you want. You could just spend those three years doing it right and ended up where you wanted to end up.

So, so, measure, adjust your expectations. And realize that penetrating a dental market that’s overly and/or grossly competitive, is simply going to take longer. It will work, it will work, but it’s going to take longer than either you are willing to do, willing to accept or maybe not.

Maybe you do realize, ‘Hey, wait a second.’ You know, that’s an old saying Rome wasn’t built in the day and they even made a fable out of the hare and the tortoise, right? Well, this is where you want to be the tortoise again, okay.

Howie: Right

Mark: You know, let the hare run around like a moron, right. And just a tortoise just stays on the road goes nice and easy, nice and steady, nice and consistent. Proper targeting, proper messaging all the right people all the time, never missing a beat. He just keeps on going down the road. And don’t you know, who ends up crossing the finish line first in the fable. Right?

Well, that’s the same thing here. This is the tortoise and the hare. There are times to be the hare. I’ve actually, I’ll tell you the time to be the hare. The time to be the hare is when you open up a brand-new practice in a 1 to 44,500 and you need to take that market before the next dentist discovers it.

Okay, if in those circumstances, you just you over overcommit, two volumes and volumes and volumes and volumes until you can’t even see that many patients, right? Just to try to capture more than your fair share of the market before another dentist comes into town. Because you’re probably not the only dentist that recognizes the 1 to 44,500 – I’m pretty sure. There’s a pretty long list of dentists that would like to open up right next door to you.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: So, let’s get back to the competitive market for a second.

Don’t continually re-start the bell curve

Howie: Well, one other thing, Mark, that I think we should point out is one of the bad things that happens when dentists do as you describe. Where they’re, you know, they start with this marketing company, they go to that one, on and on and on, is that they’re continually restarting the bell curve.

Mark: Right.

Howie: Over and over.

Mark: Right. Right.

Howie: Okay. So, rather than letting the benefits of the ascending and flattening out of the bell curve come to them; they just start new ones over and over and over again. And in any marketing effort, you’ve got up front costs. Nobody’s going to print anything or put you on the radio without getting paid. Right?

Mark: Right.

Howie: So, you’re going to, you’re going to, you’re going to receive all of these bills up front. And then if you just walk away and try something else, well you’ve got the same bills to pay with the next guy.

Mark: Right

Howie: The next marketing firm.

Mark: That’s a good point Howie. Yeah, that’s a

Howie: That’s self-fulfilling.

Mark: Yeah, it is. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Right?

And it all, it all goes back to statistical reality and expectations. If you’re, if you know the statistical reality and you face it head on, you can, you will, you will be successful. You just have to understand what it takes to penetrate a market like that.

So, okay, so we have our we have our statistical reality. We have our expectations set, one and two.

Measure, adjust expectations, then what?

Number three, what’s number three?

Number three is you’re going to have to be more diverse with your marketing budget than let’s say a dentist in the 1 to 2000 market. Let’s say you’re in a 1 to 600 market, you’re going to need to be, you’re going to need to have a little bit of money on internal promotion, a little bit of local public relations.

Maybe you’re going to need to assign someone in your office, the queen of your social media and have that person engage every local families Facebook group humanly possible. You’re going to have to invest a little bit, you know, in your website each year, a little bit in your local optimization, a little bit in your organic optimization. Maybe, maybe mail, maybe some you know, Google ad campaigns. Your marketing budget is going to want to be multifaceted and consistent.

That does not mean you have to spend more than 5% of your annual collections. It means that your budget needs to be, whatever it is, needs to be multi-pronged and very consistent. Now, the reason we say that is because in a in a very competitive market, well in all markets but especially a very competitive market, the emphasis on getting patients who are searching on the internet for dental services gets a bit higher.

See offline, radio, TV, all forms of mail. Offline promotion reaches out to people who didn’t necessarily, aren’t necessarily looking for dental services right now.

Right. Your goal there is to introduce new information into their brain. So, that at that moment or a moment in the future, when they need a dentist or dental services, they don’t search. They just call the number right off the radio, off the TV, off your mail or what have you. Okay, the whole idea behind offline promotions is to skip that whole shopping part. Like when they go to the internet and search, right?

You must have online AND offline promotions

So, but in a really competitive environment, you can’t really rely on just online and just offline, just traditional, just digital, you know. You kind of have to do a bit of both because you’re going to want to introduce that new information offline, but you’re also going to want to be there and be available somewhere on that first search screen.

When, when the local patients are in, you know, they’re actively searching for dental services, right? Um, you know what, how we let’s take a break here.

Howie: Okay, that’s good idea. Hold on, everybody. We’ll be right back.

What is NPI Click? npiClick is the digital marketing division of New Patients Incorporated. We build and optimize Google ad campaigns and Facebook campaigns. We build and manage practice websites, we handle Local Search Optimization, as well as, Web Position Optimization. You name it, we do it. We’re really good at it. Imagine that now you can focus on patients while we get the phone to ring.

Howie: Okay, we are back talking about how to compete in a saturated market.

Mark: Yeah, competing in a saturated market.

Okay, so we went through numbers, money, you know, understanding really what you’re up against. We, we went through expectations, how to set them in your mind, you are going to be successful, it’s just gonna take you longer than you think. Okay.

Um, the next one we talked about was being diverse. So, you’re going to allocate a little bit of your budget to internal, a little bit to maybe social media, maybe you pay somebody in your office to be the social queen. And you’re going to spend a little bit you know, spend a portion of your budget offline and a portion of your budget online.

So, diversity in your marketing budget. Being available to people who are actively looking and introducing new information into the most, into the most qualified households. To get them to choose you before they even search online, those two things work hand in hand to create a really good result.

And you have to be consistent with it. It’s not really something you can start, stop, so on and so forth.

Result tracking is a must

So, which brings us to, if you’re going to do this in a competitive market, and you’re going to be diverse in your approach, in other words, multi pronged attack, you’re going to be there when they’re searching. And you’re going to be on their kitchen table or on their TV or radio when they’re not searching.

If you’re going to do that, then that actually creates the – a very large need to be able to measure and measure everything that you’re doing. The more diversified you are with your marketing budget, the more diversified and the more accurate your tracking needs to be.

Which I think it was our last podcast, how we talked about flying blind or not flying blind. And we talked about being able to actually see like, Okay, how many calls did I get from my Google Local, you know, or my, my organic. Or my social media, let’s see how our, our social queen is doing right. How many did I get off my mail? How many did I get off my Google ads?

So, that especially in a grossly competitive market, those new patient calls are gold. And we already know…

Howie: Yeah

Mark: Moving forward, we have, if we already know it’s going to take us longer to generate that robust ROI, the more gold those calls are.

Because if we can identify what’s working awesome, we can emphasize it within the budget. Right?

And the, and the dashboard tells you. The dashboard says, okay, we thought we were going to get whatever; eight calls a week out of this thing and it’s only generating four. But this other thing that we thought we were going to get two or three calls a month from is actually generating eight. Right?

Wow, what an incredible thing to realize in a competitive market. Right?

Howie: Right, you can you can move the budget.

Mark: Exactly

Howie: Right. You can move, move the budget around and support the winners.

Mark: Exactly. Yeah, dump the duds and hyper inflate the winners.

And I’m almost certain that every other dentist around you in that competitive market has no clue what’s working and what’s not working.

Um, another way, another way that you compete and win in a hyper competitive market is by sheer volume, sheer muscle. Okay, in other words, if it’s offline, radio, TV, especially mail, double your volume.

Once it starts generating momentum and your end up with whatever the number is five, eight new patients a month, 10, whatever the number is. As long as it’s statistic – statistically significant and you’re generating a two and a half or three to one, double it, okay, because your results are just going to double. Okay?

It really is, it really does become math at that point. Once it proves itself out, it becomes like math, right?

Same thing with digital. Once we know what the acquisition cost of a patient is, and once we can trace through to the revenues. Normally that takes about three to four months right on a digital campaign. If you still need more new patients, then it becomes math, you just add to the budget.

In other words, if you’re getting 10 new patients a month from whatever, 2000 a month and you want 20 new patients a month. Well, guess what you have to do, you have to spend 4000 a month. So, it really does once it gets traction, statistical traction, it really does become very much like a volume knob on a radio.

And, and, I’m not going to say for every market in the US, but I’m going to say way over 80% of the dental markets in the US; once you can prove it out online or offline, increasing volume gets you a direct relational increase in result.

Okay, they’ve obviously there’s that there’s obviously there’s limits okay, but very few of our clients exceed the outer limit.

Howie: Yeah, and increasing volume might mean, for instance in mail, might be increasing your footprint. Might be increasing the volume of, you know, the number of times they receive the mailing that sort of thing. The same thing with radio. You might have to go out farther.

Mark: Yeah

Howie: to somebody else’s ZIP codes, or the next County, etc.

Mark: Right in digital. I can tell everybody, you know, our clients have a budget each month, let’s say, whatever, $2,000 a month on digital, and we almost never hit it.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Because our job is not to hit it. Actually, our job is to have people spend less and get more. Okay?

So, if we can get them to spend less and get more and never go over budget, typically they’re pretty happy right?

Howie: Yeah Right. Holy grail.

Mark: With, right. With digital though there’s a limit there’s a limit to the number of searches local people. Let’s say within a reasonable drive radius 10 miles of a dental practice, there’s a limit to the number of dental related searches online in a given 30-day period.

So, a lot of times what happens is, is once it’s optimized, and the cost per click goes, you know, is better than what everybody else in the markets getting. What ends up happening is, is what we thought was going to consume $2,000 and budget doesn’t. And it consumes whatever, 1500 bucks.

Well, now there’s $500 left over in the budget. And the next logical thing to say to the dentist is, well, what subject would you like us to do next? Because we can start doing the next subject with the extra 500 because we’ve already maxed the first subject that we’ve begun promoting for you.

So, it’s, it’s really interesting how it works.

Let’s just review, so if you’re in a competitive market and you want to compete, you’re not going to move, you’re not going to sell your practice, you’re not going to become a lawyer. Right?

You’re going to be staying a dentist. Okay?

So, if you’re going to stay, and you’re going to compete. Let’s, let’s just take a one-minute review, and then we’ll, we’ll end the podcast.

You have to know what you’re up against. So, you have to measure the supply and demand of your market, we can do that for you. It’s not a big deal.

Then you need to know what that means. How do your expectations need to be adjusted? Because if your expectations are too high, you’re going to keep throwing money at the wrong things. You’re going to keep, like Howie said, investing in the top, in the beginning of the bell curve. And then you’re just going to keep moving from place to place to place to place. Searching for that almighty holy grail marketing thing that’s going to penetrate a grossly competitive market in one year, and you’ll never find it because it doesn’t exist. Okay?

So, what are your expectations? What – where should they be realistic, within, you know, within reason. So, measure then expectations then diversify.

So, then you look at Okay, what, what are you spending your marketing budget on right now? Are you over emphasizing offline? Are you over emphasizing online? Are you under emphasizing social? Are you over emphasizing social? Whatever that you’re using your marketing budget for? It really needs to have some investment in all of those areas in order to penetrate a grossly competitive market.

Then we talked about measuring. Especially when you first start to find the things that are working better than you thought and to keep your eye on the things that are not working as well as you thought. And when I say you, I mean your marketing firm, your marketing firm should tell you about what you should expect within about 10%; they should be able to tell you.

Anyway, you should be able to see that on a daily basis, and you should be able to monitor it. And you know, with the help of the people who are helping you tailor and continue to morph your marketing budget year over year, so that you’re spending money on the things that are working. You’re not spending your money on things that aren’t working, that stuff should be kind of obvious. Like daily or weekly or monthly, simply by looking at a browser. So, that should be really simple for you.

And then we also discuss volume, okay, volume wins. You know, it’s amazing, you know, your doctor will come and say, ‘No, this is where it this, this works good. I’m at whatever three and a half 4% of my revenues and I want more new patients, but I don’t want to go to 5% of my revenues. I just want to leave it at 4% of the revenues.’

And we say ‘well, you know, we’re out of magic beans, okay?’

The best thing that you could do seriously is to take something that’s already working and do more of it. If you think about marketing in general, the hardest part of marketing is when you first start before you prove it’s going to work. After it starts working, that’s the fun part. That’s when you know it works. Okay?

You just add more money to it within reason. Obviously, with digital campaigns, you can’t do it forever it there simply isn’t that many people who search for dental services in your market. But with offline you can as long as you’re within the radius you’re targeting the right people, you absolutely can do that.

So that’s how to compete in a grossly competitive market. Probably sounds complicated, and, and honestly, there are some complications to it. But it’s certainly, it’s certainly not impossible, as long as you have.

Howie: No, it’s doable.

Mark: It is absolutely doable. So, don’t, don’t depress over it. How’s that?

Howie: There we go. Well, thank you out there for tuning in and listening to us again and we hope to be in touch with you later in the next podcast. All right. Bye now.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our podcast today. You can get all of our podcasts on iTunes, Stitcher, and, and on our website,

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