Dr. Frank Wolf: Okay, question number six.

How soon should I start seeing new patients after I begin
my marketing program?

Daniel Bobrow: Okay, the payback period question. That’s on every dentistry marketer’s mind. I keep using the term investment because that’s what marketing is, not a quick fix or a get rich quick idea.

Marketing is actually a “safe” investment: as with most safe investments, it requires time to build momentum. The good news is the payoff should continue for as long as you own the practice (and even after, in terms of the higher sale price you can command). That said, the sooner you start, and the more you’re able to invest in a quality dentistry marketing strategy, the sooner you’ll see the results.

For instance, I think when we first started working with you, Frank, and
this is a good example. I think we were mailing to about 200 people a month, right?

Dr. Frank Wolf: Yes. My very first direct mail program was 200 pieces a month for only four months.

Daniel Bobrow: If you’ve got a fraction of a percent response rate, that’s less than 1 person.

Dr. Frank Wolf: I remember being dissatisfied with the results. I was disappointed.

Daniel Bobrow: I remember too.

Dr. Frank Wolf: And I think what you and I both learned is that frequency and volume are two essential factors to success with direct mail or for that matter, any marketing tactic.

Daniel Bobrow: Right, which isn’t, obviously, to say that more is always better. We go through a complete Actionable Intelligence Marketing process, where we identify the marketing opportunities. I’m based in Chicago, and if I had a dental practice right where my office was, I wouldn’t want to market to the entire Chicago land area, even if I had an unlimited budget, because that would be wasting my money.

To be effective, you want to engage in a methodical plan that’s conceived on the basis of rational analysis, and identification of marketing opportunities, that are implemented consistently, and evaluated periodically.

You don’t just “wind the clock, set it, and forget it.” There may be mid-course corrections. You’re going to be receiving feedback. In fact, someone once said that all marketing is test marketing.

We work closely with our clients to periodically evaluate the results and see if any mid-course corrections are indicated.

Dr. Frank Wolf: Right. There’s a lot of feedback that is necessary to test. And fortunately, you and I have spent many years working together and one benefit that the listeners are going to get from working with you is they don’t have to go through years of trial and error that we went through: they can avoid the landmines that I experienced in private practice.

Daniel Bobrow: That’s absolutely right. This month marks 16 years [ADM was founded in 1989] that I’ve been working exclusively with dentists, and we’ve definitely learned a lot. We’ve made mistakes. The key is to learn from them. Then other people don’t have to make them.

Dr. Frank Wolf: And I don’t even view them as mistakes. Again, it’s just going out there and trying what works and what doesn’t work. There are new techniques that are constantly being availed in dentistry with clinical techniques, new materials, and you try them out, be it a composite or a resin or whatever it is, and you see what feels right. What works for you and what doesn’t. If it doesn’t work for you, you discard them, and the strategies and techniques that do work for you, you keep.

Daniel Bobrow: Yes. And it’s also important to do it right. I wrote a book called The State of the Art in Dentistry Marketing about 10 years ago, and I remember thinking, ‘This would lend itself well to marketing in print.’ So I contacted Dental Economics and I remember thinking, ‘Well, I think I’ll just buy a business card sized ad and put it in the classifieds, and if it works well I’ll spend more money on print advertising.’ Fortunately, I realized that I was falling in to the same trap my clients often do.

Dr. Frank Wolf: Which is?

Daniel Bobrow: Setting yourself up for failure if you don’t test and test it right. So what I did instead was to commit to three consecutive months of full page, four color ads. I spent $15,000 or $16,000 on it, and it worked. I had more people buying the book than I could keep up with. So now I was in a position of knowledge, and knowledge is power. Now, I was able to scale back the size of the ad to an island page, or change it from four color to two color. I was able to optimize my media buy, which worked out extremely well.

by Danny Bobrow

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