3 Problems With Marketing We Heard From 175 Offices [VIDEO]

Why is marketing hard for dentists? Can’t it be easier?

Shannon interviewed 175 dentists and office managers and shared her findings with AADOM.

Discover the 3 biggest problems these offices have with marketing. And how you can quickly turn them into profitable opportunities.

In this QuickCast, you’ll learn:

  • The 6-step roadmap to having a systemized strategy and profitable practice
  • The effortless way to inject cash into your practice
  • Tips and tricks to making the new patient experience faster
  • Quick wins for building a thriving team and patient culture

Watch the video above and read the transcript below:

John: What’s going on, AADOM nation? Happy Tuesday.

I hope everybody had a wonderful Thanksgiving and is now back in your workout regimen for whatever it was that you ate and getting healthy again, right on the heels of the holiday season.

Excited to be back with another QuickCast.

So, funny story: We have done several LiveCasts, podcasts, and QuickCasts with the Roadside Dental Marketing team over the years, and it’s always a pleasure doing that.

I’m very honored today to be with Shannon Mackey, who is the owner of Roadside Dental Marketing.

And Shannon, it’s very interesting because from time to time, we talk about this AADOM nation and about people in a dental practice never knowing that you might start as a dental assistant or as an office manager or a hygienist, yet find yourself owning a company one day.

I think you know a little bit about that. Just a little bit?

Shannon: Just a little bit, a little bit, yeah! That was my story.

It’s funny how I would just say my two passions are dentistry and marketing – I’m kind of a weirdo.

I started out as a dental assistant in 1987, and I was this scrawny little assistant telling the dentist how to market their company: “If you wanna be a cosmetic dentist, we need to do this and that!”

You know, it just kept going on and on and on. It kind of kept growing, what I did in the practices I think.

Especially for office managers, we hear a lot of those stories, stories of the evolution to how they got to be able to manage the practices – and the practices that they’re managing, usually they’re very accomplished practices.

Take the people in AADOM – they are pretty much the best of the best. They really care about what they’re doing and they’re very skilled at it. I’ve never seen anything like that outside of AADOM.

It’s just the talent – the talent and the heart. It’s the, “Let’s go! Let’s do this!” Love it! Love AADOM nation.

John: So, there’s a couple things.

A very astute marketer (which you are) always puts together a good title. And so the title of our livecast today, which definitely got my attention and the attention of the others, is “Three problems that you all at Roadside have seen from the marketing challenges and issues of 175 practices.”

Now, the three is common, right? Like a lot of times people use “three” for their titles. But I thought it was kind of interesting that you chose 175 practices.

Maybe we’ll get to that at the end and you can tell me the rationale for that – or maybe it was just that you got to 175 and you stopped, and you thought, “this is enough?”

But I know you wanna share with everybody what you’re seeing out there in dental practices and some of the challenges that they’re having around marketing.

So I’d love to have you share just a little bit about that with everybody today.

Shannon: Yeah, I love this topic so much. I think that it’s my personality to scratch my head and say, “What does this really mean?” Though you kind of have to be that way to be a marketer anyways.

So a few years ago, when Covid hit, it was more than, “We’re gonna wait for the new normal. What’s the pivot? What does this really mean?”

I say that this is deeper. This is so much deeper than just a flu bug or a little bit of a pandemic. This is going to shift how people think, right? And what people need.

And honestly, marketing is just relationships. So when we’re looking at marketing, we’re seeing how we can build and nurture relationships while going through uncertain times.

I started doing this in 1999, when we started the agency. It was such a different time period. It was like the gold rush for cosmetic dentistry. It was just a different era, right? So fun. It was like the cowboy land of cosmetic dentistry.

But now, it’s so different because when you’re dealing with marketing, you’re dealing with technology – you’re dealing with Google, you’re dealing with people.

And then you’re dealing with these small business owners, these dentists trying to run their company, do this marketing, and do the best dentistry possible. They have a long to-do list.

So there’s just all these things, but with the title that we’re talking about, I just started interviewing the many doctors I was close to, family members that are in the industry, and some people from AADOM (we did a workshop there that was spectacular. We had a little bit under a hundred people, and we interviewed them afterwards). Some people even came to us and called me personally.

We looked at our clients that we’ve had for years and really started seeing, what do they need, what’s the problem?

Because even when I was talking to Lorie Streeter, they’re just thinking, marketing’s different. It’s on the back burner because everybody is in survival mode.

And I’m like, I’m in survival mode too! We’re all in survival mode. It’s a different mode, but we still have to keep the doctors busy. And yeah, the teams are slim. That’s one of the biggest problems, is our teams are slim and we have to keep the doctors busy, right? Yet we’re struggling with hygiene.

And then another problem is that agencies wanna say, “Hi, you just need to put another two, $3,000 towards paid ads.” That’s a big chunk of money. Do they really need that? I mean, anybody can say they do, but is there a smarter way to do it?

So backing up to looking at their problems that we talked about, I just got really real. I wasn’t trying to sell ’em. I was just trying to figure out what they really need, and I had these honest conversations.

I kind of broke it down into deeper questions. Honestly, it’s more than three questions, but when you’re talking about it, you have to say “three” because it’s a marketing number and you can wrap your head around it. You get it, John.

John: Yeah. Well, listen, the “three” brought me in and I’m here. So I’m excited to hear about the three-ish or the eight, or however many it is. So the time’s all yours.

Shannon: Yeah. My son, who is my designer, he sat down, scratched his head, and we made some graphics for this.

It’s really about asking questions and showing people those thoughts, so they can honestly decide what marketing is smart for them. Honestly, what should be their priority be? That office manager, what does she need to work on?

And let’s just break it down to one quarter, right? To what we can do and then what’s for them.

I’d love to share my screen and show you some pretty graphics, if that’s okay with you?

John: Okay, absolutely.

Shannon: I think the audience will love it. I hope they do.

John: Do you need music? Yeah. There we go. Perfect.

Shannon: Hah, a little drumroll? Alright, so I’m just gonna talk through this quickly, and you can interrupt me and ask me any questions, okay?

This here is a list of the questions I was asking them – and it really made people scratch their heads and realize, “Oh, I’ve never even thought about that.”

And what that makes me think is that if we can think differently and deeper, then automatically our marketing is gonna be more successful because it’s going to be from our heart. It’s going to make sense to us, but it’s also something that our competition isn’t thinking about.

And really, when I say from our heart, our hashtag is #MarketingWithLove. So it’s like, how do you wanna be serviced? How do your patients wanna be serviced and what do they really need? And what have you been doing to improve that?

So here’s the first question, let’s just start with this really basic question. A lot of doctors are like, “I just need more patients in the chart.” Well, what type of patients do you want? What dentistry do you really wanna be doing?

There’s a wide range of answers that we could get. There could be the new startup that just acquired, there’s the doctor that just got an associate, so he wants to do high ticket treatment – sleep apnea, airway, full mouth – and then have his associate do the bread and butter.

There’s just a lot of different ways that that can go. You could have more than one avatar or customer. But you have to think it through.

The reason why you wanna do that is because your marketing agency or yourself, your messaging, is stronger for the patients you want once you start speaking their language.

What are they mad at? What are they excited about? What motivates them? What makes them think, “Oh, that applies to me.” Once you do that, you cut through the noise quicker, because there’s a lot of garbage noise out there. So you have to be authentic and you have to speak strongly to them.

And don’t be afraid to be yourself and speak authentically and really highlight that UVP. Okay? That’s just one question.

Do you feel like you have enough visibility in your area for your top services? Now the dentist is like, “I want more dental implants. I want more cosmetic dentistry.”

Well, alright. But how are you visible? What educational material have you created? How can you become more of a thought leader? You know, you need to make videos to be on your service pages. You need to send out an email sequence educating them on this. You gotta have little tidbits, little bite-size pieces of content. Have you created that? Are you visible for these top services? And the answer is always “no” or “a little bit,” right?

And then they need ideas on how they can do all that. If they’re spending anywhere from $1000 to $3000 on social ads, John, you gotta ask, are you sending traffic to a landing page with a tailored offer and one strong call to action so you can gather their email and their phone number?

‘Cause it’s all about the list, right? It’s giving them something, because they all have different awarenesses about where they’re coming in and then they say, “Nope, they’re just telling me I got 50 leads. And out of that, maybe five come through.”

They don’t have a strong pipeline. That’s the next question: Are you nurturing these leads, maximizing that interest, and moving them through a pipeline, like building a relationship with them and giving them a little bit more information on these top services that you want.

And the dentists are like, “What’s a pipeline? How do you nurture?”

It’s not really known in dentistry; maybe 20%, the really sharp doctors, have a pipeline and are doing this. The other 80%, they don’t even know, right? They don’t know how to do this stuff.

And if you can see the graphic here, it’s like a funnel. This is a marketing funnel. These doctors are spending so much time and money on marketing, but if you go to the purple center of the funnel here, it eeks out just enough patients to keep ’em afloat so they’re still running their practice, it keeps them checking the checkbook to make sure they make payroll.

They’re not really growing the way they need to grow.

So how can we make that funnel more of an hourglass? We do that by asking practices, do you have a systematic way to follow up these past leads and generate referrals? We need to make that more of a system.

Did you have a question?

John: Well yeah, I was just gonna ask, do you ever have anybody ask you, when you show them this graph, “Can’t you just get me the purple people, Shannon? Can’t you just get me to the point where it’s the people that are ready to go?”

And you so eloquently said it. It is a foreign concept for a lot of people – that work, where leads have to flow through and they have to continue to be messaged.

I was just curious, since a lot of people, as you know, spend money, and then they want that return right away. They don’t always understand the path.

Shannon: That is the key right there, John – that’s gone. Those were the glory days where you could pay an agency a thousand to three thousand bucks a month and say, “Fill 50 seats in my office.”

Nope. You cannot grow and achieve that without really dissecting what you want your practice to be and what your niche is. You have to figure out how you can speak so strongly to them because it’s very competitive.

I mean, I have doctors calling me every day saying, “There’s 15 dentists on my block alone,” and they wanna spend $500 on marketing and get 30 people.

I’m like, what??? That’s impossible.

If we break it down into bite-size pieces, it’s like eating an elephant one bite at a time, and this is what we’re doing. We’re breaking it down, and you’ll kind of see that in the next graph. We’re talking about the little ways we do that for them, because there’s more than one way to market and we’ve expanded this kind of smart marketing a little bit.

What I’m talking about is the next question: Are you leveraging your office experience to turn your patients into raving fans?

When I ask, “What are you doing to surprise, delight, and wow your patients?” they’re like, “What? Nothing. Yep. I need to work on that.”

Here’s the thing.

When you do small things to surprise, delight, and wow, it hits a trigger in their brain that makes them never forget you.

If someone talks about your dentist when Johnny needs braces, it’s because you went to Ali Express and bought 300 essential oils in 3 scents for a buck each, and they got to pick one out after their appointment and you say, “Go pick an essential oil. We’re celebrating wellness this quarter!” They say to their friends, “Oh my God, you guys, my dentist gave out this essential oil!”

It’s these small little things that dentists miss. They’re so detail oriented or they’re so busy and bogged down that when I’m telling people this, these light bulbs come on and they’re thinking, “Oh my God, that’s so easy.”

Spend 500 bucks, it’ll last you six months and your referrals will blow up.

Now we can set up a system around that. We need to automate a system.

There’s this new thing I’m doing for this new doctor, and this’ll be fun for all the listeners. You can get gum and you can brand it, and then you say, “This is 15 different ways that you can share your smile and connect.” And you have your logo on there and the number is just however many pieces of gum you have.

What a fun new way to build out a referral system, right? Give out a pack of gum with that little sweet messaging on there because people want to connect with and nurture others.

You need someone in your court that’ll just say, “Let’s try this idea this quarter, and let’s amp this up.”

And I’ll share a little bit more with this new graphic here.

So, what we want to do with this Marketing Wheel of Fortune is see if we can get all of these things up to a 10.

For the crew here watching this cast, look at it honestly from zero to ten. How is your practice doing?

Once you can balance out your pain points or opportunities and your practice goals, then you can choose one thing that would be the best use of your time and money.

So you go through these gauges of success (and we’re giving this Marketing Wheel of Fortune out as a free download at the end of this), one by one.

You ask, how is your brand alignment? Rate yourself for that. Because if you wanna amplify referrals, well, they’re still gonna check you out once they’re referred, right? So look at your website. Would you go to your practice if you saw your website?

What you do every day in the practice, you’re probably a superstar in, but your website doesn’t reflect that.

After that, how are you doing with generating new interest? How are you at attracting patients? Where are they coming in from? Do people just see you on Google? Are you doing community things? Within your Google Forms, is your team grabbing those right away so they’re able to see who’s reaching out?

There’s a lot of connections between really knowing where you’re generating new interests and being able to amplify what’s working and get rid of what’s not working.

Ok, now let’s look at nurturing and closing treatment.

How many dental offices do you know that have a sales pipeline and a nurture sequence?

When they come in after a treatment presentation, when they’re doing ads, things like that, they don’t set ’em up. They’re not nurturing ’em. They say, “Oh, you don’t want the Invisalign or the full mouth? Okay, well I’ll talk to you in six months at your cleaning,” and when you’re laying on your back, mouth open, the hygienist will say, “are you ready for your root canal yet?”

You know, it just doesn’t work. People need eight touches to be able to say “yes” to a high ticket item.

So we were talking a little bit earlier about videos, but video is one of the most powerful things that these offices can use – put them in these nurture sequences, these landing pages, their website, and upload them to YouTube so they can become a thought leader.

It’s massive and the majority of the competition will not do it.

John: You know, about video, Shannon, I wanted to ask you something real quick.

I think what’s so neat about where we are is that people love the authenticity.

And so, as you know with a lot of practices you work with, I think practices feel like that video has to be super high produced and so on and so forth.

But what matters so much is if a doctor or one of their team members gets on there and just talks about a situation with a patient or like a great story. That resonates so much and it’s actually a little bit simpler than you think.

Shannon: That’s power. What you just said right there is it. If they can wrap their head around that and just start, just try it, it’s great!

We’ll be brainstorming this process, and you know, you were talking about doctors going, “Can you just gimme the purple, can’t you just…”

Well, I have a client I’m flying to Michigan for on Sunday for that has about seven locations, and that’s his personality.

And I’m like, “No, we’re gonna sit down and we’re gonna do a needs analysis, because we gotta dig, because he keeps saying, “for 10 years I haven’t been happy with marketing.”

And I have to say, “Sir, I am not gonna come in there and go, ‘I’m a better marketer.'”

No, I’m gonna ask different questions and really see what the root of the problem is so we can do things differently and really measure it. And it’s through this pipeline that you do that.

So, cue ideas for your video that we can share with the audience. Cause I know they love it. Time for a little takeaway.

Let’s take your new patients. Just make a little one minute video that you can put in their welcome email or on the new patient page on your website.

You have the person that picks up the phone, the one with the great personality, and they do a selfie video and they have the doctor working or the team there and they just say, “Hey, we’re so excited to see you! Here’s the doctor, here’s the team,” and they’re doing this and they’re scanning the office and doing a quick little tour.

And then they’re sending them the email. How much more likely is that patient going to be to schedule that appointment? How much more likely are they gonna be to say yes to treatment?

They already feel like they’re in a relationship with that practice. And it’s so easy and fun.

John: Mm-hmm. It’s very easy. Yeah.

I think as you go around this wheel, once you get more comfortable doing that and you get more videos, then I think a lot of this functional stuff that you’re talking about, this engine, that’s where the magic really starts to happen.

It’s a combination, like you said, of the video content being real and authentic, but also having it automated in a system.

Shannon: A hundred percent, that’s exactly what it is. Getting people to tens is complicated.

One of the things that you probably have always heard, is, “We get really good at, you know, reviews – and then our referrals go down. We get really good at this, and then this drops off.”

Right? That’s everybody’s problem. That’s one of the biggest problems I heard while interviewing everybody.

It’s because you’re not setting up a systematic framework and automating it so those efforts stay a system – like with referrals. That needs to be a system. Word of mouth is huge for practices and to 95% of ’em, I say, “Do you have a system set up?”

No, they don’t.

“Well, I try to, it’s on me. I try to remind my team… sometimes we do really good.”

Nope. We need to set it up as a system. That’s the most inexpensive best way to get new patients, is to set up a system.

And from there, you go into leveraging relationship capital. We all know that that’s the easiest way to build up the practice, is to upsell, resell, generate referrals, all of that.

So how are you leveraging that relationship capital? Are you looking at the numbers? You have to look at the numbers that connect the marketing with revenue.

How much unscheduled treatment do you have from the past three years? It is absolutely amazing when we go back to our clients, and we speak differently to them.

It’s not asking patients, “Are you ready for your work yet?” It’s completely different, how we’re able to call and get 20% of their list in the door.

And there’s these doctors who think they’re aces at treatment presenting, yet they have at least $300,000 to $800,000 in unscheduled treatment, but they’re not nurtured properly. They haven’t leveraged the relationship. They just expected them to say yes.

So along with those videos and nurturing them, we can keep closing leads within these campaigns. And then the marketing is way less expensive and you’re playing with house money, right?

Let’s jump over to this now. This is kind of fun because when I’m talking to all these practices, we actually created this from these conversations, John.

It was always, “What are your numbers right now? Let’s have a starting point. Where are we at? Oh my gosh. Look, we can do a cash injection, let’s do this campaign first.”

Them getting 20% of $500,000? That’s a huge cash injection, right?

So now they can afford better brand positioning. They can afford another campaign. They can afford to up-level because they’re kind of doing ads, but they’re paying $750 to $1,000.

And their competitors and the DSOs – the big guys – they’re spending loads of money. They’re just eating them up. So if they want dental implant patients, it’s expensive, right?

But now they have a cash injection. Now we can say, “Ok, what’s your top service? Let’s have a landing page and a video offer so we don’t lose that ad money,” in the hopes that we get that from them. And then we really concentrate on the new patient generation after that.

Now, we wanna plug any holes that they have in their systems. So if they’re not doing treatment acceptance the way they should, or if they don’t have patient nurturing set up and relationship building, we help them set up ‘surprise, delight, and wow’ and all of that.

So you can kind of see this flow of strategy – it’s really smart marketing because we wanna use and leverage what they already have in their practice first before we say, “Hey, spend more money on marketing,” because everybody’s super tight on cash right now and they’re not growing the way they want.

Does that make sense?

John: Yeah, absolutely. And I’m glad you mentioned everybody being super tight right now because what I wanted to ask you is, you hear the term in finance “spark money” or you hear that in downtimes, the businesses that really made a difference are those businesses that had the stomach to understand where we were in the business cycle. And they doubled down on a lot of this.

And I know that it’s scary. But you’ve seen this – you’ve witnessed this with customers that you’ve worked with.

Can you just share what that means to everybody, Shannon?

How, in these tough times where you keep hearing everybody say money’s tight, money’s tight, money’s tight – and in some regards it could be, we don’t wanna be naive to that – but just how important it is that, when everybody’s saying that, you need to go the other way.

This is your opportunity to be able to take advantage of a lot of these strategies, because this is where you get ahead in these times.

Shannon: 100%. Like I said, I’ve been around for 24 years. We went through 2008 and 2009 and all of that.

My doctors that doubled down – and we did it smart with them, you know, like we did it really smart with them – they now have multiple locations or they’re retired.

They’re smart businessmen. They took the time, they slowed down to speed up, if that makes sense.

Even with this concept of connecting marketing with revenue: Most of the doctors, they’re not looking at the numbers. They don’t take time to analyze it. They just start looking at the checkbook, asking, “Can I make the payments?”

That’s not smart. We have to be marrying the numbers to your marketing.

So yes, what you’re saying is true, John. And that’s where, starting our campaigns, we start ’em slowly – it’s $1500 a month to run these campaigns, but it gives them a huge cash injection, right? So it makes total sense.

Of course, we offer 3-to-1 ROI guarantees. That’s the lowest that we’ve done for them. Our average is 6-to-10 thoug, that they make 6-to-10 ROI from what they’re bringing in because they have that relationship.

And here’s the thing, is that, in that nurturing, it’s growing the whole practice, because they’re not speaking to their patient base enough anyway. They’re not building enough relationships.

We ask, what’s your Doing Good strategy? How are you giving back? Are you doing things that you can do within the community? There’s dental-related doing-good companies that we encourage, it’s that sort of stuff. It’s that hashtag, #MarketingWithLove, but they have to have some involvement.

Even if you’re just gonna give gift cards away, go into your community and get gift cards. Don’t just do Amazon and Starbucks if you can afford it. If you’re a small town, do small town gift cards – give back to that community and take care of them.

But really, like you’re talking about when people need to double down, is that people have very little energy. Everybody’s tired.

So I think the smartest thing that we can do when we’re doubling down is to make sure we’re doubling down on the right thing, and not stressing the team even more so.

For example, we have dental appointment setters that will call their list, and they’re closers! They do it so the dental team doesn’t have to. We’re not just booking the doctor high-ticket cases, we’re trying to find and solve bigger problems for them. We want to find out what they actually need.

John: Yeah, and I know you and I were talking about that.

I think that there was a time where a lot of these marketing ideas and tactics and strategies could be done in more of a cookie-cutter way, right? It’s just the nature of what it was like.

However, you brought up something that really caught my attention – We’re in different times because of the competition and all that, but also just because of technology and how things are changing so fast.

And you know, I think it probably was only two or three years ago, we were all chuckling at the fact that there could be teenagers that were actually building businesses on social media platforms and thinking, “There’s no way that’s possible.”

And then I’ve watched this trajectory in dentistry where people are beginning to think, “Okay, well how can I figure out a way to do that?”

And I see some dental practices, Shannon, that blow my mind in regards to the followers. They have that on social media. They’re doing a lot of those things that you’re talking about where they’re engaging, they’re connecting with their community.

And I’m sure that that is not the entire story, but they’re successful because of it. So it’s fun. It really is a lot of cool things.

Shannon: They’re doing great, yeah.

For the doctors, we try to find what’s good for them, what’s good for their personality. They don’t have to do TikTok dances and that sort of thing.

Of course, I have a long lot of young doctors that love to do it, like “I’ll TikTok all day long!” but the majority that we work with say “No way,” right?

So we think about how we can make it easy for them to become that thought leader and make those videos and have some sphere of influence because that’s what they wanna do in their community as a service provider.

John: Absolutely. Well, Shannon, this has been great. It’s been an absolute pleasure to spend this time with you.

I tell people all the time when we do a Roadside LiveCast, QuickCast, or what have you, that when we’re speaking about websites, well, for those of you that may not know, the AADOM website – beautiful, always evolving, all kinds of great resources on there,
dentalmanagers.com – that is a Roadside product.

So they’re obviously great. Go check it out! The AADOM website is just a great reflection of them. I mean, there’s so many other things that Roadside does to help your dental practice, but that’s a really good visual perspective of the type of quality work that they do.

And Shannon, hey – it’s been great to be with you today. Any last words as we wrap this QuickCast up?

Shannon: Mmhm. We have that care package that we put together for the crew, including all that info from talking to all these dentists and office managers, about the things that are really working for them.

So we wanted to share that. I’m always sharing it with all of my other doctors, so I wanted to share it with all the AADOMers that are listening to us.

Also, we’re gonna be doing some fun stuff with the AADOM website this year, we’ll be looking at making a ton more bite-size content, just fun things that the office managers really need to learn.

Me and Lorie and Kim were really brainstorming how we can just go to the next level for all the people on AADOM.

John: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to be on.

Like Shannon mentioned, the AADOM team has put the links and the resources that Shannon discussed into this post for you to utilize in an effort to continue to do the great work that you do in the practice.

So thanks everybody, and until next time, we’ll see you soon. Thanks Shannon.

Shannon: Thanks John.

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