Our Founder Howie Horrocks and CEO Mark Dilatush discuss the best offers to include in your marketing campaign in this podcast.
One consistent mistake we have noticed dentists make over the past 30 years is they think their offer is the most essential part of their marketing.
This is a misconception. In fact, offers tend to attract the bottom part of the dental market, which we know is roughly divided in half. There is the top of the market and the bottom of the market. As dental marketers, we have spent our careers targeting the top half, because that’s where the better-quality patients live.
To maximize the business of dentistry, you need to focus the majority of your marketing budget on the top half that will not choose a health care provider based primarily on price. The majority of the women out there will react positively to a price offer on a marketing piece, no matter what that marketing piece is. However, these patients will yield a meager return on investment or no return at all in the long run.
You should give patients more than one reason to choose you that isn’t based on your offer alone. At NPI, we maximize features such as services, amenities, technologies, public relations assets, etc. There are a million reasons to choose a dental office other than price. We are trying to get them to consider all those first, until the very end.
When they get to the very end, if we haven’t closed them already on a new appointment, then we might make an offer, but our offers are usually not aggressive.
Sometimes, the offer does not even benefit the client. It could be some along the lines of, “We will donate your new patient exam fee to the local SPCA here.”
You use offers to drive patient volume; you eliminate, or mitigate, offers to drive practice revenues.
Now, let us break that down.
If you want a high influx of patients to your dental practice, you can add an offer to draw them in. However, when your focus is on high-quality patients, fewer patients that can really pay your fees, and you aren’t focused on the number, you don’t need an offer to draw these patients in.
An offer is not a guarantee that a patient will stick with you. The following month, they can quickly jump on a better offer from your competitor, and the cycle continues.
Bear in mind that we are not saying offers are bad, not at all. There are offers you can use to get more phone calls. Just understand the impact of each offer and the market that you’re trying to go after.
At NPI, when we use offers, specifically to drive volume. We are cautious to only promote that messaging to a specific market segment of the local population. We do not present that message to the entire population. By promoting the message to the whole population, you alienate the top half of the market who are not keen on approaching a dentist just because of an offer.
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. I’m Howie Horrocks. Here in Vegas. We’ve got our good buddy Mark Dilatush, the Chief Executive Officer, out in New Jersey. How are you doing Mark?
Mark: Good, good. We’re gonna get thunderstorms today.
Howie: Oh, yeah
Mark: That’s good. It’s been like 1,000 degrees with 1,000% humidity. And we’ve had no rain. So, yeah.
Offers. Good or Bad?
Howie: All right, we’ll move this along so that you don’t get caught in a thunderstorm. Today, we want to talk about offers. There’s been some chatter about that in various forums.
Mark: Yeah. And you’ve spent your career, not your whole career, but a good portion of your career discussing, negotiating with, contemplating, arguing
Howie: Yeah, yeah mostly that-
Mark: With dentists over their offers. Right?
Howie: Right. It has always amazed me over, 31 years now, that dentists think that their offer is the most important thing about their radio spot, or their mailer, or their magazine, or whatever we’re doing for them. The truth is, it’s not.
In fact, offers tend to attract the bottom part of the dental market, which we know is roughly divided in half. Top of the market, bottom of the market. And, you know, we’ve spent our careers targeting the top half, and because that’s where the better-quality patients live, correct?
Mark: Right. It is confusing to the layman, it is a confusing subject, you can get more new patients using offers than you can by not using them.
Howie: That’s correct.
Mark: It’s 51% to 48%, that’s the US female population. That’s how it’s divided. So, if you were playing a slot machine, or blackjack, you would take the 51%. Right, because if you keep playing eventually, you’re going to win something.
Choosing the right half of the dental market
The problem is the business of dentistry. In order to maximize the business of dentistry, you really need to focus or ultimately focus the majority of your marketing budget on the top half, on the 49.6, or the 48.6% of the market that will not choose a health care provider based primarily on price.
Mark: And when we say primarily on price, almost, if you’re a dentist or anybody who works in a dental office, the picture in your head should be those large jumbo postcards with Starburst – Starburst – Starburst – Starburst, and there’s four different offers for you to become a new patient at the dental practice. And you probably get like four of those at home every month.
Mark: There’s no real differentiating information on them, between the four that show up at your house every month, other than maybe color,
Howie: Or they’re nearby, maybe.
Mark: They’re nearby, right, or their map has a balloon that’s closer, or whatever, right. So, we know that 51% of the women out there will choose or will use some kind of a price offer, they will react positively to a price offer, that is a call to action on a marketing piece, no matter what that marketing piece is.
The problem is that those patients, and this is just data, will return 11 times less the ROI over the lifetime of the patient. They will always increase your opportunity costs. And it’ll increase the overhead on the backend. And so let me take a couple of seconds to explain that opportunity cost is how many people that come in for a comprehensive exam, actually go forward with treatment.
Well, with people who choose a dentist based largely or solely on a price, or a deal, your treatment plan acceptance goes way down. If somebody chooses you for almost any reason other than a deal, your treatment plan acceptance goes up. So, that’s the opportunity cost because most dentists don’t make money on an exam. You know, even if they charge a couple hundred bucks for an exam, no dentist is going to sit there and do just exams all day because they’ll go broke. Their overhead will consume them and there’ll be an out-of-business sign on the front door.
So, on the back end, shoppers tend to find their dentist the next time using the same criteria. They wait for a postcard to show up, see what deals are on the postcard and potentially choose a different dentist when it’s time for re-care, which most of you pre-appoint. And somebody in your office has to chase these shoppers around to see if they’re going to stick to your practice or if they’re going to choose a different dentist the next time.
Howie: That costs money.
Mark: That’s right, that costs a lot of money. So, we’re not saying – let’s, let’s be very clear that we’re not saying not to use offers, this is where it gets confusing. And this is where our methodology gets called into question. Where they’ll say, but Mark, your thing, whatever it is your mail piece, website, Google ad, whatever we’re using to promote, that has an offer on it.
And in some cases, it will, many cases it doesn’t. But in some cases, it will. And there’s always a pattern behind us using offers with clients who are, you know, they’re trying to grow their practice, but they’re not trying to start a new practice or add an enormous amount of capacity to an existing practice. In other words, they just need a good solid flow of good quality new patients every month, we almost never lead with an offer. In other words, it’s almost never on the homepage, or cover or in the first two or three folds of a website page.
Give them more than one reason to choose you
But we will potentially sometimes have an offer buried all the way down at the bottom. And this is purposeful, because we’re trying to get the reader, the visitor or the recipient, whoever it is the audience are, trying to get them interested in one of 9 or 10 other reasons.
Howie: Yeah, marketable attributes.
Mark: Right, you know, I mean, it could be anything could be services, and amenities, technologies, public relations assets, there’s a million reasons why you would choose a dental office other than price. We’re trying to get them to consider all those first, until the very end, when they get to the very end. If we haven’t closed them already on a new appointment, then we might make an offer, but our offers are usually not aggressive.
And sometimes our offers don’t even benefit the patient. Sometimes they’re just, you know, we’ll donate your new patient exam fee to the local SPCA here, it may not even benefit the patient.
Mark: So, the offer, you can use the office offer to accentuate your public relations image as well. So, this podcast title was, you know, ‘What’s the Best Offer’. We apologize up front for misleading you and using that as clickbait to get you to listen to this podcast. But after all, we are marketers and that’s our job. Right Howie?
Howie: Another, another point Mark, if I might, is that very often even if we start out with an offer, say on a mailing piece or something like that, we caution the dentist. We say just keep track of this. How many people come in, came in, just because of the offer? And you’ll find – not very many. And in fact, what we do is we say watch out for that because the next time we go to reprint we’re going to take that offer off because you don’t need it.
Mark: Right that actually happens.
How offers can be damaging
Mark: Because in our world, working with dentists. Dentists are focused on what should my offer be. Because in their world, in the dentist’s world, they’re already familiar with their marketable attributes to the point that they think they’re second-hand knowledge.
Mark: Like services, amenities, technologies. Like you’re already aware of those things, you already know how important they are, you already know the value of those things. So, you are preconditioned to not emphasize them. Actually, the only thing about your advertising you’re not familiar with is your offer.
Mark: Okay. Everything else that we brag about, you are already an expert in, okay. You’re like this, so you automatically think that the most important thing in your marketing is your offer. And it’s actually one of the most damaging things to your business. Okay.
So, it doesn’t mean that NPI doesn’t use them in their work. If we have a client, that’s a start-up, if we have a client that’s adding four up operatories to a four operatory practice and basically doubling their capacity. If we have a client that’s adding a second or third associate, we’re adding days to their work week, of course, we have to at least temporarily drive volume.
Use offers to drive volume. Delete offers to drive revenues
So, you use offers to drive volume, you eliminate them to drive revenues. Let’s slow down. And we’ll just say that, again. You use offers to drive patient volume; you eliminate offers to drive practice revenues.
We should put that on webpage somewhere Howie.
Mark: That pretty much, so.
We get challenged on it. Well, they’re not really challenging us, but they’re challenging on open dental forums. They’re challenging this premise that you can actually get the phone to ring without using offers everywhere.
And it’s just simply, it’s just simply not. It’s just all of our phone calls come through a central system for all of our clients, and they number in the thousands. So, we have empirical evidence that you can get the phone to ring by dental patients without using an offer to get them to dial the phone.
We especially well, in many markets, you can get the phone to ring without saying anything. And a classic example is a call only ad on digital. There’s a reason it’s called call only because the only damn thing you can do with it is call, okay?
You can’t do anything else. You can’t learn anything about the dentist, you can’t figure out if they take your insurance, you can’t do anything else except for use your phone to call that dentist, right then. Works great for emergency ads, by the way. Anyway, so we’re getting this, I think maybe this is starting to sink in a little bit, Howie after what? You’ve been doing this for 31 years.
Mark: I’ve been doing this for 15 or 17, or whatever, however many years.
Howie: 18, I think.
Mark: 18. And you and I have been screaming at the rooftop in our books, in our seminars. We actually wrote books, you can download them, they’re free. You can go learn what we’re what we’re telling you.
I think it’s starting to sink in. I knew eventually that the more dentists that pulled from the bottom of the market, the more difficult it was going to be for them to continue without spending more money for less result.
It’s all about “witch moms?”
Mark: Okay. One thing I can tell you about a mom in the bottom half is that she can definitely become a mom in the top half over time, she can be influenced to the point where she doesn’t choose a health care provider for her family based on price.
You are never going to get a mom from the top to go down. It’s just a genetic instinct to protect, she’s not going there. Not only will she not choose a dentist, she won’t choose a podiatrist, a chiropractor or any kind of health care. She will not choose a health care provider based primarily on a price incentive or a reduction in price for the initial exam. She just won’t, will not and it was just a matter of time before enough dentists use price to alienate the top half of every dental market in the country.
Which opened up an opportunity for the dentist who goes: “Wait a second. Yeah, that’s right. All those four postcards I get in my house. Every month, they basically all say the same thing. They’re just green and blue and yellow. And the doctors and their addresses might be different. But they all basically say the same thing. You know, come in because of this deal, this deal or this other deal.” And those promotions have been mailed to everyone in the market, because most dentists are using the cheapest form of mail, which is hurting them.
That’s more for a different podcast.
Howie: Yeah, yeah.
Mark: But they’re basically alienating the top half of the market, which ultimately, once they are at their capacity, that’s the exact half of the market that they’re going to want. They’re actually convincing that half, the top half of the market that they’re the deals dentist. And that’s the only impression that half of the market has of them.
Mark: And they have no other reason to choose you. And they’re not going to choose you if you keep hammering them with deals, they’re going to purposely not choose you. And that’s a terrible thing to spend money on. Because ultimately, those are exactly the moms you’re going to end up wanting to come in.
So, the title of this podcast was, you know, “What are the Best Offers”. There are good offers, I think, I think we have enough evidence that whitening offers have played themselves out in most US markets. I think some of that was consumer driven whitening products that you can get at the grocery store. I think that probably nullified the value of free whitening offers. There’s always the limited exam or you know, limited price exam, reduced priced exam, right. I think we get asked that question more than almost anything.
Howie: Also, consultations.
Mark: Yeah, free consults.
Howie: Would you as a dentist be willing to spend 25-30 minutes with the patient talking about whether they could benefit from implants or sleep apnea treatment? Of course, you would. Because those are big ticket items.
Mark: Am I a candidate for x?
Mark: Consult, just an initial look-see.
Howie: Yeah, it’s not an exam.
Mark: Right not an exam. It’s also an initial time for them to get used to your location, your parking, the person at the front desk, who greets them. The view, the whole environment, the whole atmosphere of your practice, which is what, which is, you know, extremely valuable in acquiring and retaining new patients.
Mark: So, complimentary second opinions are very useful in very competitive markets. Hyper competitive, like under one to 900 markets or one to 800 markets. Complimentary second opinions can work and work well. They also work really well on digital, Google Ads specifically.
So, there are offers you can use to get more phone calls. Just understand the mindset of the person who’s calling you. 48.6% of the market are moms, females, who will not choose a health care provider based primarily on a price point or a reduced price point, ever. There’s nothing you can do to convince them to do that.
And then there’s, you know, 51.4%, who will and we’re not judging them, we’re just, that’s just the difference in people, I guess. Right?
Mark: And then 51-point X percent will.
Just understand the impact of each offer, the market that you’re trying to go after. When we use offers, you know, specifically to drive volume, we are very, very careful to only promote only use that messaging to a certain market segment of the local population. We do not ever present that messaging to the entire population. Okay?
That is a mistake. That is just a straight up, flat out statistical proven mistake, so it won’t bite you in the butt now. But four or five years, six years down the road, you’re probably going to be saying, “God, I wish I could get more, you know, some higher quality new patients that cared a little bit less about their insurance deductible and a little bit more about their mouth.”
Trust me, you’re going to say that if you just send deals to the entire population for a long period of time.
Howie: Yeah, exactly.
Mark: So, offers, Howie, what’s your famous saying about offers? We’ll close with your famous saying.
Howie: Well, “if an offer is your best foot forward, then you have no feet.”
You’ve got nothing to stand on, if that’s the only card you’re playing. So, take that to heart.
There’s an opening for you!
So, what we’re suggesting is, now that you’ve seen and witnessed for yourself, all the other dentists in your local market, making these mistakes, knowing that they’re alienating the top half of the market. That’s an opening for some of you.
Go after the top half of the market and not be that dentist. Be a different dentist but different with different messaging, right?
Mark: And bury your deals, bury them to the end, all the way at the back all the way at the bottom. You might capture a couple extra patients, but the ones that you get that reacted before that offer, those will be your best patients.
Well, there you have it, my friends. Thank you for joining us once again, and we hope you tune in next time. Until then – Happy dentist-ing.