Access To The Masters Founder Frank Wolf, DDS asks ADM President Daniel A. ‘Danny’ Bobrow, MBA how to optimally allocate one’s marketing dollars.

Dr. Frank Wolf: Let’s move on to question number five. With so many marketing options
available, how much should I allocate each month for my marketing, and how do I choose what marketing strategy to use?

Daniel Bobrow: I mentioned earlier a marketing investment for a new practitioner of $25,000 to $50,000. Your investment amount will obviously depend upon your situation. I will say that I believe that one pillar of an effective dentistry marketing plan is an ongoing direct mail program.

They should also have an on-hold message system. When someone calls an office, and is placed on hold, what do they hear? Silence? An out of tune radio? I don’t know if you’re going to like this, Frank, but I’m going to put you on hold for a few seconds so our listeners can hear what mine sounds like:

Have you thought about how many patients your practice puts on hold each day? Are they hearing a radio station’s programming or even worse, dead air? A professionally produced and
regularly updated on hold message ensures your current an prospective patients are reminded
that your practice is not only caring and professional, it’s also an actively engaged member of
the Community. A professional on hold production lessens perceived hold time and gives your
Team Member to prepare to speak with the most important person is their world: your newest

Ours is a four-minute looping message and four minutes is probably adequate for most practices because you don’t want to keep callers on hold for more than sixty seconds. Most patients aren’t calling the office that frequently anyway but, if they do, having a four minute production makes it likely they’ll hear something new each time they call.

For those of you – while we’re on the subject of on-hold messages – who may be saying, “I don’t put my patients on hold.” that’s not necessarily a good thing for a couple of reasons. It’s certainly not good to keep patients on hold for too long: if you do, callers will become impatient and feel neglected. That said, and to repeat, a professional on hold solution is a tool to help ensure the Team Member/Call Handler is able to give the caller her undivided attention. I know that your Team Members are busy running around wearing a
bunch of different hats, which is why it’s nice to give the person answering the
phone a chance to collect himself or herself by saying, ONLY AFTER THEY’VE ESTABLISHED RAPPORT, CONVEYED EMPATHY AND EXUDED ENTHUSIASM, say “Would you mind CALLER’S NAME if I placed you on hold for just a moment so I can get to a quiet area and give you my undivided attention?”

The specific ways in which we use this technology to increase the effectiveness of scheduling new patient appointments is beyond the scope of our chat today, but people can learn more by visiting The Art Of First Impressions website.

As we already agreed, Frank, every touch point with a current or prospective patient is an opportunity to market effectively: we believe we should capitalize on every opportunity.

Dr. Frank Wolf: One of the strategies we employed was when somebody would call, we’d actually put them on hold purposefully so the caller would actually be able to hear the message. Again, it was setting the tone or setting the stage for the type of service that this person would experience once they stepped in to our office.

Daniel Bobrow: Exactly.

Dr. Frank Wolf: Because there’s a lot of information that could be shared with a caller in a
very short period of time, even in as few as 30 to 45 seconds.

Daniel Bobrow: That’s right. At the very least, it also lessens perceived hold time. I put
people on hold and ask them afterwards to tell me how long they were on hold. They typically guess about half the actual hold time!

Dr. Frank Wolf: Another benefit, too, especially with a new caller, a shopper even. What it
does when you put that caller on hold is it allows the staff person a few seconds, half a minute, even a minute, to gather his or her thoughts, get the appropriate forms and scripts in front of them so they can be prepared to really completely focus on that caller. So it buys you some time. The on hold message certainly gives you the flexibility of buying you time, giving
you an opportunity to get organized and focused.

Daniel Bobrow: That’s an excellent point. Psychologists even have a name for this phenomenon: it’s called breaking state, which essentially amounts to a ‘time out’ when both caller and call handler have an opportunity to take a deep breath, relax, and essentially ‘reboot’ the conversation.

Dr. Frank Wolf: And really put 100% of your energy and service to that person.

Dr. Frank Wolf: Let’s continue with how much one should allocate each month for marketing You had indicated earlier that you’re recommending somewhere between $25,000 to $50,000.

Daniel Bobrow: That’s for a new practitioner and then the rule of thumb, which again, is a
wide range, is 2% to 10% of annual production.

Dr. Frank Wolf: Okay. And the point that I want to drive home is I think a more powerful
question is: How many new patients do you want to generate each month?

Daniel Bobrow: Absolutely.

Dr. Frank Wolf: Because marketing ones practice is ultimately a numbers game. If
you want to realize 50 new patients a month, there are strategies you can employ that will give you a very good return on your marketing dollars to generate 50 new patients. And I’m talking quality patients.

Daniel Bobrow: Right. Absolutely. It’s an excellent point. You can even go back further
and ask: How do you know you want 50 new patients? In other words, and we can talk about this more later, what is a patient worth to you? The goal may be financial. The goal might be to fill excess chair time, etc. It’s simple to say, “I need this many patients.” To determine how much to spend or how much you can justify investing requires you come up with what that would translate to in terms of return on investment.

Dr. Frank Wolf: Yes. And I think a lot of my colleagues make the mistake of being penny
wise and pound foolish, where they don’t want to spend any money. They want to spend as little money as possible. “I want to spend as little as possible on my staff. I want to spend as little as possible on my supplies and equipment. I want to spend as little money as I can on my marketing.” I think that is counterproductive, and quite damaging to the financial
health and vitality of any business.

Daniel Bobrow: Absolutely. But it’s understandable, in part because measuring the forgone income of not investing in a given marketing tactic is much more difficult that measuring the cost to implement the strategy. If you recall your statistics class, it’s what is termed Type I and Type II errors – the cost of incorrectly accepting a losing strategy vs. the cost of incorrectly rejecting a winning one – the former you can measure easily, the latter you can’t, because you never know what might have been.

Dr. Frank Wolf: I don’t think there’s any better investment a business owner can make than
investing in his or her own business, both in people resources, and most certainly marketing dollars.

Daniel Bobrow: You want to invest wisely, but it is an investment. Again it’s understandable why people have that mentality – it’s exactly why the FDA rejects drugs or makes it hard to accept them: as I said, it’s easy to measure the costs of doing something, but it’s difficult to
measure the lost opportunity of not doing something.

by Danny Bobrow

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