I want you to forget everything you ever learned about marketing because you are about to enter a new world that can transform your practice into a $1 or $1.5 million per year powerhouse.
You are about to learn a precise system that lets you get about 1,000 or 2,000 people with the money and the desire for your dentistry…such that 50 or so each month call for an appointment and become major new cases for you. Not emergencies. Not strapped young people without means, but cash-paying patients who want crown and bridge, veneers, and other high-end dentistry.
But first, let me lay my cards on the table. My system only goes so far—my methods only work if you have both the clinical skills and the ability to sell the dentistry.
I am assuming that the reason you are doing, say, $100,000 in monthly production and not $150,000 is that you lack enough patients who can afford your dentistry. I can solve that problem for you, as you will learn in this article. But I can’t improve your case acceptance skills and I can’t improve your front desk staff’s skills in warming up new patients and getting them to come in.
For the last 2 years, I’ve been helping 250 professionals get patients from the Internet. In this article, I will tell you what I’ve learned and how you can do things that are different and powerful…so powerful that only a few dentists in a given locality can effectively use them because there won’t be any more of these patients left—you will have all of them…because you will have The List. Let me explain.
Illustration by Brian C. Green
LIST BUILDING IS THE MOST POWERFUL SECRET
The major secret of amazing practice marketing is building and working your own list. List building recognizes that patients each have a sales cycle. Today’s patient was thinking about changing dentists for the last 18 months but only now comes in. If you build a list and keep coming back to each person again and again in the right way, they will call you and become your patient when they are ready. That could be tomorrow, or it could be in 18 months. But it will happen. And the whole list will represent a most valuable asset—a continual flow of high quality patients who want big cases they can afford.
On the other hand, if you don’t build a list, you are practicing drive-by marketing. What’s drive-by marketing? It’s marketing that asks for the order. Postcards and ads and pay-per-click that ask people to come in for treatment.
Here’s what’s wrong with drive-by marketing. Let’s say you mail something that offers people in your area a coupon for a free cleaning. What are the chances that you will reach 100 people and that any of them are ready to change dentists? And let’s say you do reach one in 100 who comes in. What are the chances that he or she will be a patient who will want to spend $22,000 with you on your best cosmetic and restorative dentistry? Not great.
As you can see, drive-by marketing attracts emergencies…people who need
a filling fixed…a high ratio of no-shows. Yes, it will sometimes produce a good patient, but is it really worthwhile?
MOST ADVERTISING IS A WASTE OF MONEY
No wonder so many colleagues have found most advertising is a waste of money. They are advertising wrong. They are going for the kill, practicing drive-by marketing, instead of building a list and then working that list. Don’t make this error. Instead, build your list! And upon reflection, it will be evident that list building has 3 benefits.
1. It gives people a chance to get to know you and like you and trust you.
2. It lets people get ready in their own time…
and according to their preferred modalities (reading, hearing, watching video…)
3. It shows people who you are, sets the stage for your high-end work. It is the honey that attracts the right kind of flies.
So now the question is, what vehicle should you use for list building? I suggest that you mostly use email.
TWO KEYS TO DOING EMAIL RIGHT
Email is almost free. It goes directly to your prospect and is not intercepted by a family member or an office manager. Emails can use text, video, audio, photographs, blog entries. E-mail is multi-modal.
We have all heard how different people have different learning styles. Some people learn better by reading, some by hearing, some by seeing. But what is less well known is the importance of context to learning styles. Some people relate better to a video at a particular time, even though their normal preferred learning style is reading.
I love reading. But I also love to watch television. And I am listening to an opera right now as I type this article. By going multi-modal, you will appeal to a broad range of your list at different times of their day.
Email can offer different modalities and therefore appeal to each person’s learning preference at that very moment.
Once you’ve realized the power of email, you then have to avoid the most common mistake that 99% of your colleagues make and that will kill your email marketing results. Don’t write your emails in stilted language. Don’t use wri-ting that is canned…drab…
boring…corporate. If you are going to do that, forget list building.
Instead, you must adopt an intimate tone in your e-mails…you must write from the heart. Write like you talk to a friend. And here are 2 secrets to writing great e-mails, secrets that are worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Secret number one is to hire a very talented and expensive copywriter. Or, use secret number 2—instead of hiring someone, simply dictate your emails and get them transcribed. Don’t edit them much. You want your emails to sound just like you talk. Your emails will be ultra-effective at building the intimate heart-felt tone that patients respond to.
HERE’S HOW TO BUILD YOUR LIST
As we have seen, your marketing begins with list building and relies upon informal, friendly relationship-building emails between you and your patients. So now you are asking, how does a dentist build a list in the first place?
In the old days we would rent mailing lists. But you know you can’t rent email lists. There is the CAN SPAM law that curbs email abuse. And besides, your prospects have to open and read your email. It’s easy to delete emails without reading them. You have to write to a receptive list. And no rented list will be receptive to you. On the Internet, you have to build your own list. And that means you have to have more than one Web site in order to build that list, because logically, you can only sell one thing at a time on a particular Web site.
One Web site can sell people on joining your email list. But it can’t sell them on coming in for an appointment. Another Web site can sell people on how wonderful you are, but it isn’t going to sell them on joining your list. You need multiple Web sites, each with a purpose.
1. A brochure Web site for people who are referred to you.
2. A Web site to get people to join your list.
3. A Web site that contains fresh new articles, video and audio, constantly changing, that presents a fresh story to people who are on your list.
Let’s look more closely at the role of these Web sites and how they can build your practice.
Web site No. 1 is your brochure site. It’s all about you and your team. It talks about where you are located and what types of work you do. In the old days this was a brochure. Now it’s a Web site but it’s no different. I call it a brochure Web site. What’s the purpose of your brochure Web site? When people get your name from a friend or family member, they read your brochure Web site. In other words, it is designed for already warm leads. It isn’t there to be found on Google. It isn’t there to build your list.
Web site No. 2 is a Web site that is optimized for search engines. You want a person looking for a dentist to find Web site No. 2, and then to join your list. Internet marketers call No. 2 a squeeze page. They find your squeeze page and they join your list. That’s it. It has no other purpose. Why should someone want to join a dentist’s list? Be-cause they get something they want in return. It’s always that way. So a good squeeze page offers something like a valuable free report, or an email course, in return for the person’s email address. It can offer any number of things but it should offer information, which costs you nothing, and not coupons for a free cleaning, which cheapens you and is ineffective anyway, as we have seen.
Web site No. 3 is your ongoing contact Web site. This is a Web site that changes frequently. Fresh content all the time. Videos. Audios. Articles. Web site No. 3 should be your blog. But you should be posting to it at least several times per month. When you email your list, you can link to your recent blog content. See how these work together, your list and your blog?
Let’s return now to the question of how people will find your squeeze page and join your list in the first place. How can you build a list of, say, 1,000 patients, so maybe 50 new ones come aboard each month?
There are many ways to get people to your squeeze page. You can advertise through postcards or letters or newspaper ads. These ads ask prospective patients to visit your squeeze page Web site. They don’t offer your dentistry. You can also market online to get people to visit your squeeze page. You can advertise pay-per-click and you can use search engine optimization methods. Search engine optimization involves getting high quality Web sites that talk about dentistry to link to your squeeze page. We call these “backlinks.” Quality backlinks will bring your site to the top of Google more than anything else you can do.
So, that’s the picture of how you can make gobs of money on the Internet. Build 3 Web sites. One a brochure site, one a site to get email list sign-ups, and one a site that has ever changing content.
Does this sound really hard? It doesn’t have to be. You can find someone to set up and run this for you. Why not outsource the whole thing? Then you sit back and the phone rings and you get rich.