Episode 70 – Authentic Marketing That Grows an Investment Grade Practice

“Talk about what you care about. Being authentic attracts the people who are like-minded.”  ~ Victoria Peterson

When it comes to marketing, dentistry is late to the game. 

Many of you may not know that it was in fact illegal to market dental practices until the late 1980s. So its no surprise that so many dentists struggle with marketing their practices. 

But that’s also why marketing is one of my favorite topics: authentic marketing is absolutely essential for building an Investment Grade Practice that will attract the right patients to your practice. After all, if you want to work on “train wreck” cases, you don’t want to be pouring your money into attracting patients who only want discounted teeth whitening. 

They’re not the right patients to be filling your schedule with, and you’re not the right doctor to meet their needs. And that’s OK! The great thing about building an Investment Grade Practice is that you get to work on the patients who bring you joy and job satisfaction. 

So join me today to start crafting how to tell your story, leverage the media available to you, and start attracting those like-minded people who will help you build your Investment Grade Practice, by understanding:

  • The difference between shotgun, authentic, and authority marketing
  • Google algorithm updates that will help (or harm) your marketing efforts
  • Best Practices for integrating media and messaging


Regan 0:00
Hi Doctor, Regan Robertson, CCO of Productive Dentist Academy here and have a question for you. Are you finding it hard to get your team aligned to your vision, but you know, you deserve growth just like everybody else? That’s why we’ve created the PDA productivity workshop. For nearly 20 years, PDA workshops have helped dentists just like you align their teams, get control of scheduling, and create productive practices that they love walking into every day. Just imagine how you will feel when you know your schedule is productive, your systems are humming, and your team is aligned to your vision. It’s simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. We can help visit productivedentist.com/workshop that’s productivedentist.com/workshop to secure your seats now.

Victoria Peterson 0:46
So here’s the thing I know you know this, but I know you still do it, running a $29 special has never attracted your ideal patient. Yet, we do it in the early stages of the practice, because we’re trying to build up volume. So especially if you’re from scratch, high volume, low-value marketing, that makes sense, but once you hit 1200 patients a record and your clinical competence is rising amongst all your team members, then it’s time to start telling your practice’s story, your authentic story.

Narrator 1:23
Welcome to Investment Grade Practices podcast where we believe private practice dentists deserve to get the lifestyle today while building an asset for tomorrow. Join your host, Victoria Peterson, to design the practice of your dreams and secure your financial independence. Let’s get started.

Victoria Peterson 1:47
Welcome back to Investment Grade Practices, this is the fourth in a series of going through the IGP scorecard. If you haven’t done so yet, check the show notes, there is a link where you can take your IGP assessment to see how you rank in each of the four quadrants of building an Investment Grade Practice. So the first quadrant we talked about was building a cultural Northstar. If you miss this episode, go back do not pass go do not collect $200 without a winning team centered around your mission and your core values. life just gets hard. Go back and look at that one. Number two asset building, you got to know where you want to go in order to get there. So do you know your financial freedom number? Have you started talking to your CPA and financial planners? Have you taken advantage of a free practice valuation so that you know you’re on track to hit your financial freedom number and you know the value of your practice today? That’s what you want to focus on growing not just production and collection value. Last episode, we talked about practice optimization and we looked at it from the lead indicators. What are the behaviors and systems that we set up in the beginning so that we hit the KPIs or benchmarks that we set? Today we’re talking about one of my favorite topics marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, I love marketing so much that when I was at the University of Georgia way back when Herschel Walker was there, thank you very much, marketing was illegal for dentists. Yes, that’s right. That’s how old I am. It wasn’t until the late 80s, the mid-80s that they lifted, advertising sanctions on professionals.

Victoria Peterson 3:26
So doctors, lawyers, physicians, dentists, chiropractors, there was none of that marketing. In fact, it was just scandalous when they did allow marketing, and someone would put their name in bold letters and the yellow pages, and then maybe the next year they put a red square around it. Some of you know what I’m talking about and then to get my clients in the 90s, late 90s to even send out a quarterly paper newsletter to their patients felt ostentatious, like pushy. So we have come a long, long way in marketing where it is not taboo. In fact, it is expected and we budget up to 8% for it. So what is the difference between what I call shotgun marketing kind of general marketing, authentic marketing, and authority marketing? So each of you will be in a different phase. If you’re young in your practice lifestyle, you’re probably doing general marketing, using stock photography and stock, stock copy really just kind of an off-the-shelf website that says here’s our services and keywords and blah, blah, blah. Google’s actually changing their algorithms and they are going to start dinging you for that stock photography, so if you haven’t started taking authentic photos of yourself, your team, your patients, your community on a regular basis, I’m going to encourage you to do that. That automatically starts putting you in the realm of more authentic, genuine get-to-know-you-tight marketing. So here’s the thing, I know you know this, but I know you still do it, running a $29 special has never attracted your ideal patient. Yet, we do it in the early stages of the practice, because we’re trying to build up volume. So especially if you’re from scratch, high volume, low-value marketing, that makes sense. But once you hit 1200 patients a record, and your clinical confidence is rising amongst all your team members, then it’s time to start telling your practice’s story, your authentic story, this is who I am. If you’re into ducks, I mean, talk about ducks, have duck calls in your waiting room, feel free. If you’re into rock and roll, put guitars on the wall. Take it as far as you want to take it as long as it’s genuine and it’s true and it’s interesting and I know in the beginning, it can feel a little self-centered. I taught, I chatted with a doctor recently that I wanted to have a, make a video for attracting employees and I said, “Could you make a one-minute video that said, we’ve got an opening for dental assistant.” Now this doesn’t happen very often. Our average team tenure is five to seven years, but if you are someone who is detail oriented, who can think on their feet and who genuinely loves people, we’re looking for you and he said, “There is no way I will make that video. Absolutely not as my coach, we argue about this, I am not going to make a video,” and I said well, did you know that by expanding your team and opening up that next operatory it would bring in another $480,000 this year and of that 480,000 Since your overheads already met, you’re going to keep 300,000 EBITA, and if you keep 300,000 in EBITA, that means your practice is worth another 1.5 million. I said, “Do you want to make a video,” and he said, “I think you just gave me 1.5 million reasons to make a video.” So video is such a strong medium for telling your story and I think the reason we’re uncomfortable doing video is that we just don’t know what to say and we’re so afraid of being tongue-tied. Now I’m a professional speaker, and I get tongue-tied, I get nervous, I get scared. In fact, you see me podcasting, you don’t see a video on this. I don’t you know, I didn’t do my hair today, I, we are conscious and self-conscious about these things. So let’s get you prepared to do authentic marketing because it really does matter. If you want to see the type of patient that you were uniquely qualified to see. So go back to your cultural Northstar and if you’re working with our coaches, and you’re working with our marketing department, chances are you will you’ve gone through what we call on creating your guiding principles package and you have these things, but really get connected to, remember the culture Northstar podcast we talked about, who is your ideal team member? You like describe them? What are they like, you know, are they happy? Are they funny? Are they playful? Do they make patients feel at ease? Are they proactive? Are they detail-oriented? Are they professional? I want you to go back and like really get connected to the key characteristics, maybe your top three that you want to show up all the time and then I want you to do something really fun. I want you to google yourself and go to your Google My Business and look at the reviews and start reading the reviews and see if those words are showing up and also make a note of other words that might be showing up kind, caring, compassionate, gentle. I was so afraid and they made me feel great. I was working with a doctor in the Maryland area and I love their mission, they said, “We love helping transform shakey. apre, apprehensive patients into confident healthy people,” and when I heard that I went, “That is the coolest thing ever and I went in to look at their Google reviews and sure enough, the patients say, “I was shaking like a leaf. I was so scared to see the dentist and they made me feel at ease.” That’s what we’re talking about for authentic marketing. Are you being who you say you want to be? Because when you do patients pick upon it. It’s not like you’re saying, “We’re being professional here.” They just know that you’re professional. So really anchoring the core values and the key characteristics and everything you do you talk about it morning huddle, how are we being this today? Who will we extend care to today in that way? You start living it, and it starts showing up on your reviews and then you start having a theme that you can play off of right? You start, you can build a tagline that every time people hear, right, Nike, just do it, like they got a tagline. That’s the potential of authentic marketing and here’s what I can tell you is with that, you start getting repetition, and you start getting known for something and in marketing, repetition is everything. Frequency, how frequently someone hears the same thing, trumps dollars any day. If I had to drop 10,000 mailers one time, or I could drop 1000, mailers, 10 times, I would take the 1000 mailers spread out over 10 months, you get a bigger return. The, that’s just how marketing works. So that’s my tip for you today, is the first step in creating authentic marketing is to go back to the cultural Newstar. Think about the values, think about the behaviors that you want showing up in the practice. Go check your reviews and see what’s actually showing up. You might surprise yourself by looking at your reviews, you might say, “Hey, I want to get even more of this,” and have a conversation with your team about how you find your favorite patients saying your favorite things. How do we do more of that? Going deep, and that also not only helps you externally, it helps you with referrals and asking for referrals and asking for reviews. When you show up authentically when the team believes in your clinical proficiency when the patient journey is mastered, then you’ve earned the right to ask for referrals and you start growing the practice from within everything feeds upon itself. So at the beginning of this series, I said we’re going to, we’re going to take the monkey off your back, essentially, that if you felt tired and exhausted as a leader like you’re carrying the whole thing by yourself that you’re just on this merry go round waiting for it to stop. The way to make the leadership merry-go-round stop, the way to get out of decision fatigue and energy and exhaustion is to help your team grow with you, to create a self-govern team and you do that by first getting clear about who you are. Build the cultural Northstar. When you have the cultural Northstar and you’re moving in the same direction, start working on optimizing your practice. You know, look at the behaviors that need to show up so that the benchmarks are met. Don’t let the numbers you know, lead the team, let the team lead the numbers. Then bring all of that goodness into your authentic marketing. When you have those things set, and you know your financial freedom number, it’s so much easier to put your time effort, and energy and building assets rather than just living on cashflow, hoping that you have enough. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of four condensed what is an Investment Great Practice. How do I build it? Again, we’re gonna put our survey monkey link up, you can go and take this quick quiz to see where you’re at and it is my sincere desire that five years from now your practice will only be sellable. It’s going to be investment grade.

Narrator 14:09
Thank you for tuning in to this episode of Investment Grade Practices podcast. If you find value in this episode, help us spread the word by passing it along to a dental friend subscribe and give us a Like on iTunes or Spotify. Learn more about building your Investment Grade Practice at productivedentist.com Today

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