1-855-321-6786

Category Archives: Marketing

dentist and lady

Marketing “Why My Practice” to Consumers

One of the biggest challenges facing dentists is how to set themselves apart from the competition. Every dentist has met graduating criteria, state licensing, and practice standards. To make matters worse, insurance companies continually market to consumers (who don’t understand quality dental care) that all dentists are the same. To counter the stereotype and attract patients, dentists need an “identifiable” purpose built around what patients really want, and make it their message.

 Identify Your Purpose

Purpose statements aren’t Mission Statements explaining an area of focus. In contrast, a Purpose Statement explains Why we exist, our personal motivation, but not our goals. Without an articulated Purpose, marketing inside and outside the practice lacks a distinct message.

An example of a purpose statement that connects the heart and the head comes from Greg Ellis, former CEO and managing director of REA Group, a leading online real estate ad agency: “…to make the property process simple, efficient, and stress free for people buying and selling a property.” Other examples include the financial company ING: “Empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business”, the insurance company, IAG: “To help people manage risk and recover from the hardship of unexpected loss”, and General Electric: “GE people worldwide are dedicated to turning imaginative ideas into leading products and services that help solve some of the world’s toughest problems.”

 

“An Extraordinary Business

Starts with Extraordinary People

Extraordinary People Start with Purpose”

Jesper Lowgren, business author

According to Simon Sinek, continuously sharing our Purpose with like-minded consumers, “Solidifies your brand with whom you share your values. When you share the core beliefs of your business with like-minded people, a natural connection is made. People whose beliefs are in line with your own automatically retain your business as part of their community.  More importantly, because your business feels right, these clients will become walking advocates, sharing your business with other like-minded people in their network. The result is a natural, self-sustaining growth of business. No matter how much technology has entered the marketing world, the most powerful form of advertising will forever be word-of-mouth.”

Putting your Why into Practice

Identifying a purpose that consumers are looking for is the first step to answering the question, “Why?” Extending it through your employees is next. For that to happen, we need employees who not only share our purpose, but execute on it daily: “We provide ‘X’ to more easily help our patients improve and maintain their dental health.”

  • Make sure you have the right employees
  • Have meetings to craft a Purpose Statement about Why your practice is important to patients
  • Collaborate on the best ways to deliver the experience your target market wants
  • Jointly set performance standards for executing your Purpose
  • Meet regularly to objectively assess performance measurements for the practice (you and your employees)

Once your office is clear on what your Purpose is and how to fulfill it, it is time to tell the world who you are and why they need to know. This is the kind of practice differential branding that resonates with those looking for what you offer. Make it stick.

Visit Simon Sinek’s exceptional You Tube video on the topic of “Why” we do what we do, which applies not only to outbound marketing, but also internally.

purpose image

Marketing, “Why My Lab”

One of the biggest challenges facing laboratory owners is how to set themselves apart from the competition. Every laboratory has or has access to the same materials and digital technology. To make matters worse, digital technology has made most restorations “good enough” to the point they are often difficult to discern. This has dentists, under consistent fee pressures, asking, “Why pay more when ‘good enough’ costs less, and that is all insurance companies and patients are paying for?” Today, labs can either raise the bar on service & knowledge, or compete on lowest price and turnaround times. In either case, there is so much competition, that no matter the decision, the lab astute lab owner will go one step further and “identify” a business Purpose and its message.

Identify Your Purpose

Purpose statements aren’t Mission Statements explaining an area of focus.  Mission explains what we do and for whom, our Vision is about us, and our Principles speak to how we will conduct ourselves. In contrast, our Purpose Statement explains Why we exist, our personal motivation, not our goals. Without an articulated Purpose, marketing lacks a distinct message.

An example of a purpose statement comes from Greg Ellis, former CEO and managing director of REA Group, a leading online ad agency for real estate: “…to make the property process simple, efficient, and stress free for people buying and selling a property.” His outward focus connects with the heart and the head and emphasizes serving customers and their needs by putting employees in customers’ shoes. Other examples come from giant companies such as the financial company ING: “Empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business”, the insurance company, IAG: “To help people manage risk and recover from the hardship of unexpected loss”, and General Electric: GE people worldwide are dedicated to turning imaginative ideas into leading products and services that help solve some of the world’s toughest problems.”

An Extraordinary Business

Starts with Extraordinary People

Extraordinary People Start with Purpose

Jesper Lowgren, business author

The philosophy is simple: continuously share your Why (motivation) with interested, like-minded dentists. Doing so, “Solidifies your brand with whom you share your values. When you share the core beliefs of your business with like-minded people, a natural connection is made. People whose beliefs are in line with your own automatically retain your business as part of their community.  More importantly, because your business feels right, these clients will become walking advocates, sharing your business with other like-minded people in their network. The result is a natural, self-sustaining growth of business. No matter how much technology has entered the marketing world, the most powerful form of advertising will forever be word-of-mouth,” writes Sinek.

Putting your Why into Practice

Identifying a purpose that dentists are looking for is the first step. Having it felt by and extending through your employees is next. For that to happen, we need employees who not only share our purpose, but execute on it daily: “We offer X to help our customers take better care of their patients more profitably,” In considering that the job of a technician is to help their customers restore and maintain health, the Purpose Statement offered above is on target, but can be modified for your lab.

  • Make sure you have the right employees
  • Have meetings to craft a statement about why your lab is important to dentists and patients
  • Collaborate on the best ways to create what your target market wants
  • Jointly set performance standards on how well your Purpose is being executed and experienced
  • Meet regularly to objectively assess performance measurements and that of your employees

Once your lab is clear on what your Purpose is and how to fulfill it, it is time to tell the world who you are and why they need to know. This is the kind of branding that resonates with those looking for what you offer, and your differential. Make it stick.

A Great Video on “Why” 

Visit Simon Sinek’s exceptional You Tube video on the topic of “Why” we do what we do, which applies not only to business marketing, but also internally to employees.

https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en#

What’s happening to Dentistry, Why, and What to do about It

There was a time when people would say, “All you need to do is hang your shingle, and you’ll have it made.” Nobody predicted today’s exorbitant cost of a dentist’s “shingle” and the smaller ROI it now brings. The story of old has crumbled, and as the Brazilian lyricist and author, Paulo Coelho suggests, we need to tell a new story to bridge the gap between that which is, and that which should be.

 Facts: What is Happening

Private practice dentists, and those supporting them, are losing revenues. Outside interests, mainly insurance companies and DSOs (dental service organizations), are forcing changes to benefit themselves at the expense of the other 90% of the dental industry and sometimes, the patients they serve.

Outsider influence has raised the cost of a dental education to as much as $400,000, while its value has in many cases, plummeted. Sky high debt and inadequate education has made entering private practice upon graduation, largely impractical, and supports the growth of DSO practice models. Meanwhile, insurance companies are lowering the number of procedures performed and their reimbursements. This has caused average annual income for dentists to drop 22%, from 2009 to 2014, currently sitting at the 1995 income level. This has caused each private practice to lose annual revenues in excess of $100,000. If that amount were invested each year for 15 years, a 45 year old dentist would earn about $30,000 per month at retirement (5% annual growth, before taxes).

Facts: Why this is Happening

Dentists and their organizations have allowed these changes to occur, and in some cases, supported them. Good clinicians see patients as people who need care. Outsiders see them as the headwaters of the revenue stream, and the earnings they bring as low hanging fruit in a fragmented industry with no barriers. Influencing the mass market in ways that individual dentists can’t, consumers naturally form attitudes and beliefs shaped by outsider messages and brands.

Below is a link to typical DSO information being distributed. Individual dentists need to confront this  with an equally powerful, but more complete, rendition:

Wisconsin Dental Board Legislation

We are not opposed to DSO practice management services. Neither is state dental board oversight. Like us, state dental boards are interested in protecting patient welfare in all practice models, as they do now only in private practice settings, or, supposed to. The linked article provides no proof to support assertions that DSOs routinely save patients money over private practices. Further, complaints filed  by several state attorneys general would assert otherwise. Unfortunately, nobody is calling this out, publicly. We intend to on the grounds that patients deserve protection in all practice settings.

DSOs have the right to exist, but not the right to practice dentistry without a license. If they are not practicing dentistry without a license, why should they care about falling under state dental board regulation? 

Why is the DSO lobby opposed to that?

Why is no one in the public spotlight asking that question?

How is being regulated by state dental boards anti competitive?

 The Response: Take Action or Do Nothing

Trends from doing nothing are clear, and personal losses (above) astronomical. The question is, “What can we do?” The obvious first step is to organize. Only when organized will newly competitive opportunities surface.

If you are a dentist, laboratory owner, distributor, or manufacturer, now is the time to get busy.  The same mass marketing tools being used against us could be working for us. Together, we can take advantage of everything the internet offers (including social media marketing), and add public relations, pressure legislators and regulatory agencies, and develop new business models in direct competition for market influence, including insurance.

To change the trend line, we need to pull in one direction, for one purpose: Educate and attract consumers as informed patients. The good news is, consumers only want the truth, something traditional care is in the best position to provide. More good news: Accomplishing this is easier than in the past. Research shows that consumers want genuine information they can trust. No patient deliberately chooses to be misled or mistreated, yet it happens daily to hundreds, perhaps thousands while the industry remains silent. Ethical care is a key marketing advantage, but only if we make it one.

Great stories untold die in obscurity.

We have a great story to tell,

But only if we are willing to tell it.

 

“We believe big visions need big stories to match…We believe in the power of collaborative community, and the choices you can always make to change your story. We believe in messages that make people feel inspired and connected to something greater. We are truth-seekers teaching a new paradigm of story.Michael Margolis, CEO and founder, Get Storied

 This is Our Story to Tell

Through professional marketing and a consumer website, OPT-In Dental Advantage is the only dental organization telling the story about the value of traditional dental care and the dentists who provide it. We employ professionals for website SEO, SEO support for our members’ web pages, bi monthly consumer blogs with SEO, and more recently, a national public relations campaign, managed by Braithwaite Communications, to brand the image of traditional dental care and present our story to consumers, nationally.

We invite dental professionals and companies to join us in making the advantages of traditional dental care known, and preferred. Please help our voices to be heard through stories consumers want and need to hear. Contact us today.

Please visit our website, OPT-In Companies, or call us at 855-321-OPTN (6786). It’s time to be a part of the solution.

hand in dominoes

Private Practitioners Raising the Competitive Bar, Changing the Trends

National Public Relations Campaign Underway

Thousands of consumers are selecting a new dentist each day. Because they can’t measure quality, their decisions are based on hopeful trust. Because consumers are often drawn to brands, private practices with weak brand presence are losing patients to large regional brands, representing more than $100,000 in lost revenues, annual . In response, a public relations campaign is being launched to help private practices compete more effectively.

Developing the Consumer Message

The first ever, Private Practice, national public relations strategy session took place on November 12, at the corporate headquarters of Braithwaite Communications. The three hour meeting, sponsored by OPT-In Dental Advantage, identified consumer concerns, why they exist, dental industry strengths and weaknesses, and storylines to be used. At the start, efforts were made to keep all messages positive. However, after sharing their own negative dental experiences, the Braithwaite team decided that too many bad things are happening too often, and that consumers need to be made aware of not just what to look for, but also, what to avoid. The discussion topics included potential advantages and disadvantages of different practice models and philosophies, insurance transgressions and competitive opportunities, and new structures to promote OPT-In member labs’ and dentists’ strengths over competitors’ weaknesses.

An Industry-wide Challenge

By the end of the meeting, enough storylines had been identified to keep the public relations campaign rolling for several months. In the meantime, OPT-In Dental Advantage members have received financial support from manufacturers, distributors. OPT-In dental laboratory members are playing a key role,  and are also earning manufacturer support, with many seeking ways to address the same problems. Dental laboratory owners are essentially in the same boat, in that, what happens to private practitioners happens to dental labs. Currently, OPT-In laboratory members, listed here, are the only dental laboratories investing in their private practice customers.

Storytelling, an Important Advantage

Braithwaite will be weaving stories for release through major news outlets that will help consumers understand the importance of seeking dental care in trustworthy settings. The importance of storytelling was highlighted in an article published in the Harvard Business Review, online. In the article, Keith Quesenberry, a researcher at Johns Hopkins, states, “People are attracted to stories because we’re social creatures and we relate to other people.” The article also points out, stories can open doors to emotional decisions that are closed to cold facts. We can use “data” to influence thought, “but it doesn’t inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul,” states author, Harrison Monarth. The team at Braithwaite will be providing this expertise through national outlets such as, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, etc.

An Industry Working Together

Time is of the essence. With the number of non Medicaid dental patients remaining flat, revenues lost to competitors, and patient loyalty, are difficult, even impossible to regain. Additionally, patients need to be educated about the real cost of insurance company tactics to deny care and benefits. Addressing these issues, the OPT-In national public relations campaign is being launched because enough dentists and lab owners made it possible. Through broader cooperation, manufacturers, distributors, dental technicians, and dentists could accomplish even more, faster.

For more information, visit our website, OPT-In Companies, or call, 855-321-OPTN (6786).

branding

The Truth about Building your Brand

Branding

What is brand power?

Apple iPhones sell like crazy. In fact, the Apple brand has created a community of users that is the envy of major companies around the world. Why is that? Their phones aren’t actually better than others. Apple operates from a belief system, they stand for something that generates raving fans, while competitors just make cell phones. That’s brand power. How do we translate what we know about Apple to our own brand?

Whatever consumers see and believe about you is your brand. It tells your market what you stand for, what you believe, and how you should be perceived. Your brand, just like Apple’s iPhone, should set you apart from others who do what you do.

Establishing a brand is more important for a dentist than for big corporations. Large companies can spend a lot of money marketing unique products. In contrast, services offered by dentists are largely indistinguishable, and would require a large advertising budget to attract attention. For the most part, your local competitors market themselves as being identical to you, a Family & Cosmetic Dentist. Your brand should sell your uniqueness.

But I have a logo!
Many believe a brand is a logo, but a logo is only a graphic representation of your brand. In fact, some branding professionals believe logos are overrated. This is especially true when they don’t project an “image” expressing a story. When used properly, C. Whan Park, director of the global branding center at the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business, points out they can be effectively used by emboldening their name, e.g. IBM, presenting a friendly image, the duck from AFLAC, or simply provide a meaningful visual, such as used by Apple, a bite from the Apple (maybe that fell on Newton’s head to spawn ideas). However, Park cautions, “We also do not suggest that brand logos themselves automatically create meaningful positive associations between a brand and consumers.” Very often, the logo needs to be reinforced with a clever tagline and advertising.

How do I create a great brand?
What would your patients say about you? Would it be a generic answer, or, would they be a raving fan? “Oh, Dr. X is a good dentist,” doesn’t describe a brand. A better response would be “Dr. X is the most thorough dentist I have ever had, always devoting time to explain everything. I always feel that they really care about me. That’s a dentist you can trust.” After you identify your brand attributes, identify every patient contact point, and make sure they are creating aligned patient experiences.

Another aspect of establishing a brand is having an area of expertise that targets a specific market. For example, if you want to attract denture patients, focus on comfort and chewing. Theodore Levitt, a former Harvard marketing professor once wrote, “People don’t want a ¼” drill, what they really want is a ¼” hole.” Focus on being an expert in offering what people really want, and then package it in your branding message.

How important is branding online?
Neilson research indicates 61% of consumers will search online for services. According to branding expert, Debbie LaChusa, visitors to your website “…don’t have the opportunity to come into your place of business, meet you, and experience your business environment and personality in person.” Your website should separate you from other dentists in your area. To make a good first impression and establish trust, graphic design and content need to immediately connect with a visitor’s concerns. You must quickly, and effectively tell your story

Summary

Take the time to identify your strengths and target market. Then, create a brand message that resonates with the consumers you are trying to attract. Work with your team to incorporate outstanding brand experiences into every patient touch point. Your patients will trust you, become raving fans, and spread the word.

 

megaphone

Building Competitiveness, Meeting the Challenges

Be Noticed

Even though consumer attention is in short supply, we need to be noticed to be more competitive. With the competitive landscape stacked against private practitioners, awakening consumers to the advantages they might offer is a tall order. For many dentists today, being noticed for the right reasons is the challenge.

Your Competition is a Triad of Insurance Companies, Dental Chains and Unethical Offices

Three Challenges Facing Private Practitioners and,

What to do about them.

Challenge #1

Insurance companies have lumped dentists together in nondescript lists for consumers to choose from. Consumers think all dentists are the same and should charge the same low price set by insurance. How do you convince patients to trust you and your fees more, and the insurance company less?

Challenge #2

Large Dental Chains are stealing about $150,000 in revenues from each private practice, annually, How do you attract new patients to your practice instead of losing them to better branded competitors?

Challenge #3

It has been alleged that patients are being deliberately mislead, daily in the name of better deals. But nobody is telling patients what to look out for.   How do you help consumers understand why your practice is different and trustworthy?

How to Get Noticed

The Triad survives for two reasons: uneducated consumers, and, unorganized dentists incapable of educating them. The Triad influences consumer attitudes on a large scale, tells consumers what they want to hear, and makes you pay for it. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

OPT-in Dental Advantage is helping dentists like you be noticed for the right reasons. We are educating consumers daily about the value of ethical private practices, and the potential risks of misplacing their trust.

We separate ourselves as being trustworthy because our members vow not to Break Laws:

  • Running sham practice ownership schemes.
  • Using non dentists to design treatment plans directly or indirectly.
  • Diagnosing conditions that don’t exist.
  • Performing unneeded treatments.

We also educate consumers about routine violation of:

  • State insurance codes and good faith statutes
  • Professional Ethics and to look out for sub standard care

 Laws are being Broken

Because Nobody is Forcing the Issues,

The Public is at Risk,

And not being Protected

 

If you want to win a battle fought in the desert,

Take away the enemy’s water supply.

 

How should you respond?
The public is loath to be defrauded and assaulted. With OPT-In Dental Advantage and, our national public relations campaign promoting private practice, you will be noticed for the right reasons, help educate consumers, and make breaking the law less profitable.

For more information, visit optindentists.com, and, visit our consumer website, optindentaladvantage.com, or call 855-321-OPTN (6786)

 

Private Practice Dentists take matters in their own hands

Private practice dentists, and dental labs, are saying, “Enough is enough.” They are tired of patients being taught that dentists and dentistry are all the same, big clinics are cheaper and better, and that insurance companies create quality care. With too much to lose, OPT-In dentists and laboratory members are launching the first ever, Private Practice National Public Relations campaign.

Scheduled in 2015 for late fall-early winter, the public relations firm, Braithwaite Communications, is being contracted to support private practice with brand-building content in national news outlets such as, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, CNN, etc. According to Dr. Dean Mersky, founder of OPT-In Dental Advantage,

“Today, insurance companies and large corporate dental chains are unilaterally, influencing consumer decisions and attitudes. Meanwhile, private practitioners, with no representation, have no voice to help consumers understand the limitations of insurance, and the real differences between practice models. That’s about to change!”

Adopting, “Put up or shut up!” OPT-In dentists and lab members are funding their own National Public Relations Campaign, with additional financial support from dental companies.

Along with promoting private practice dental care, Braithwaite will also address detrimental insurance practices. PPO and lab fees are too often stagnated at 1998 levels, a time when the average car cost half of today’s $34,000 (USA Today). After 4 years, that’s enough to pay tuition for one child’s entire college education. To address this, the public relations campaign will educate patients on what to believe and what not to believe about their dental insurance, and how the wrong decision can negatively impact their health. They will find this information on our consumer website, OPT-In Dental Advantage.

 

Over the next two years, we must work together, dentists and lab owners, to ensure consumers understand the importance of finding a skilled, trustworthy dentist.

It is well known that wherever consumers go, so goes revenues. According to one OPT-In lab member, located in Florida, “Private practice dentists are losing patients, daily, to other clinical settings, and insurance continues to burden profitability for us all. I’ve seen too many dentists forced to sell or face bankruptcy. Finally, we have a collective answer to make us stronger and more effective. We’re supporting our dentists 100% in this effort!” To view the list of OPT-In Laboratory members supporting private practitioners visit OPT-In Lab Listings.

More lab and dentist members are needed to assure this campaign reaches the maximum number of consumers, and continues to grow successfully. Please take time to learn more about how you can join in this effort and help patients understand the truths about different practice models, the games insurance companies play, and the advantages that can be found in private practice. You can make a difference. Dentists should visit OPT-In Dentists. Dental laboratory owners should visit OPT-In Dental Labs. Dental corporations should visit OPT-In Corporate Partners.  Or, call 855-321-OPTN (6786).

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Henry Ford                                                                                                                             

OPT-In Dental Advantage member, Dr. Shad Lewis, Reading, PA: “We are the only experts in dental care. If we aren’t willing to take responsibility for our profession, who will? If we aren’t willing to protect patients, to whom will they turn? Whose responsibility is it, if not ours? Please join us in getting the message out, and getting the job done.”