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A Dental Marketing Case Study – A Fee For Service Story

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Take a moment to look at this chart. If you could start your career right now, would you be ok with this outcome?

We realize, this is only the money part. So, let’s add some variables.

  • Three day work week.
  • Four day weekends.
  • Ample time for family.
  • Ample time for other business interests.
  • Ample time to take the CE needed to help even more patients.

This is a very important story. This is very important because WAY too many dentists believe this is not possible. Way too many dentists believe insurance and corporate chains have ruined their chances at establishing and growing a profitable fee for service dental practice in the US. This story proves it is possible. And, NPI supports hundreds of these types of dental practices. Read on……..

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Initial Exam/Diagnosis/Findings

Presented as a small (4 chairs) general practice in what many would consider a quiet, lazy, suburban/rural town nestled in a river valley almost equidistant from Harrisburg, PA, Baltimore, MD, Gettysburg, PA, and York PA.

Practice was purchased in 2002. The former owner ran a fee for service practice.

Challenges:

Challenge #1

Dr. Cockley has a secondary degree in design. You might not think this would be a challenge. Read on.

Challenge #2

With a practice purchase, there is always a period of time before existing patients trust the new dentist and accept new treatment. This was a slight challenge with this case.

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Assets (We had many):

  1. We had an owner who took the time to listen & understand.
  2. She was contracted with a consulting firm from day one (Paragon).
  3. She was in a 1:4,000 market.
  4. She is a leader. If something on the practice side needed to be tweaked in order for more new patients to flow through – it got tweaked.
  5. She is a tireless social media content machine. Where she can, she supports her cause by spreading the good word throughout her various social media channels.
  6. She spends a great deal of time, energy, money on the patient experience. The practice gets scheduled facelifts (new paint and décor), has a gazebo with fresh flowers, brings nature into view via multiple bird feeders, squirrel feeders, and hummingbird feeders. Patients are surprised when ducks and chipmunks come by for a visit. The whole patient experience completely dispels the new patient’s perception of what a dental office should be like.

The Treatment Plan (Marketing Plan)

As a whole, our marketing plans have two basic underlying fundamental characteristics. We always apply the doctor’s budget in a media which poses the LEAST risk with the greatest chance (predictability) of generating the greatest distance between cost and revenues realized.

Step 1

Properly targeted, designed and deployed direct mail campaign.

Step 2

A practice website. Recipients of the mail would now have a place to go, to do more research on the practice, before calling to make an appointment.

Step 3

Website position optimization: We wanted to stake a claim on a Google search for just about any reasonable dental topic related consumer search in or near her practice.

Step 4

First Impression Video for the website and social media. Now that the mail was driving traffic, and the website was processing the traffic, we wanted to improve conversion by putting Dr. Cockley front and center on her website so every visitor instantly “met the dentist”.

Step 5

Online scheduling: Dr. Cockley was one of the first in our stable of clients to implement online scheduling.

The One Bigger Challenge

Remember our #1 challenge? Dr. Cockley has a second degree in graphic design. That itself was NOT the challenge. The day she was going to make the decision to approve or disapprove of her mailer design, she called our president, Mark Dilatush on the phone. She was upset. You could hear it in her voice. She had heard good things about NPI from colleagues. She wanted to trust our work. But the mailer design (remember, this mailer was a KEY part of her overall plan) was just TERRIBLE! She hated it. She pointed out all of things she felt were wrong, from a design standpoint. Here is a short list of her concerns.

  • We are trying to say too much!
  • It is too crowded!
  • There is hardly any open space!
  • I wouldn’t read any of this, it is overwhelming – I would just throw it away!

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She was legitimately upset. Literally every lesson on graphic design she learned in college, was violated with NPI’s mailer design.

Put yourself in her shoes. Would you have approved it?

Mark understood. We get that kind of response all the time. Mark told her she should print it and deploy it. To HER credit (a monumental leap of faith for someone with a graphic design degree), she agreed.

Read on for what happened……..

This is what happened after she approved everything

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One heck of a career so far….

The orange graph line is her consulting groups best case scenario career growth revenue path (7%/yr).

Can you detect the slow, steady, stairstep, gradual growth from mid 2007 on? That’s when NPI started handling the bulk (budget wise) of Dr. Cockley’s marketing.

She turned a $25k/year budget into $25k/MONTH increase in production & collections! That’s pretty exciting!

Do you remember the really bad recession between 2008 and 2009? Look at the graph. She didn’t participate in the recession. The dental industry as a whole, lost 18% during the most recent recession. This dentist didn’t lose anything. She still grew.

You can also see the exponential ROI build in 2010 and 2011. This is the result of being consistent with your marketing.

A word about East Berlin Smiles from Mark Dilatush
(President of New Patients, Inc.)

Dr. Cockley gets a LOT of credit for this success. NPI had a part in it, but this is a great example of a harmonious effective marketing firm/client relationship. Once we got past the approval of the initial mailer design, it was full speed ahead with everything else.

I’ve never met a more naturally giving dentist than Dr. Cockley. She and her team travel all around the world on mission trips, helping the less fortunate. She is constantly working to elevate everyone who works for her. Even the décor and the calming tone she sets in her office comes naturally, from a place of giving. She and her team have done 5 mission trips. Two to Vietnam, two to Belize, and this year to Zambia.

There is never one thing which creates an end result like this. Too many dentists don’t think this is possible. Not only is it possible, we have a hundred or so clients doing it! Not exactly like Dr. Cockley of course, but in their own city, their own way, with their own assets and their own challenges.

A message from Dr. Lori Cockley, to all the dentists out
there who are reading this case study.

I spend as much time working ON my practice, as I work IN my practice. I see too many colleagues putting low to no priority on the marketing budget and marketing plan. Attracting new patients and the type of patients you want, is the biggest priority you should have!

You can be the best trained dentist in the world, you can take 200 hours of CE each year, but what’s the sense if you can’t benefit the most people?

Put aside a healthy budget. Be consistent. Get some people to give you good direction. Let them do what they do. You do what only you can do. Keep feeding it. Never stop.

You have a vision.

We have a team to get you there.

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