You lose higher 10% of your patient base per year, who need to be replaced by fresh new patients who are ready to accept treatment and be great patients for life. Easy right? John Meis interviews founder and CEO of Local search for Dentists, Graig Presti, and talk about the value of marketing and the cost of your new patients. As the brains behind this full service dental online marketing company he’ll discuss the best approaches to gaining more quality new patients, phone calls, and more business for your practice in your local area AND additionally market more to your CURRENT patients and get the most out of your time in the office.
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EP17: ‘‘Find Dentists Near Me’; Marketing with CEO Graig Presti' Transcript:
S1 00:00:00.000 Welcome to the Double Your Production Podcast with The Team Training Institute, the one place designed for dentists and their staff who want to grow their practices by following in the footsteps who have done it, who are in the trenches, who know exactly what you are going through. And now your leaders, the stars of the podcast, Dr. John Meis and Wendy Briggs.
S2 00:00:27.637 Hey, everybody. Welcome to this month's Double Your Production podcast. And I am John Meis and I am excited to be on the phone today with Graig Presti. Graig is the founder and CEO of Local Search for Dentists, which is a full-service online dental marketing company. Graig did some work for my practice when I was still in practice and it made a profound impact because it made my practice so visible for the people in my community that were searching for a dentist. So we're going to talk a little bit about that. Hey, Graig, how are you doing?
S3 00:01:02.501 Hey, John. Thanks for having me on. I'm doing great.
S2 00:01:05.348 Tell us a little bit about Local Search for Dentists.
S3 00:01:08.118 Sure. Yeah. We are a full-service dental marketing agency here in Austin, Texas. We have well over 700 dental clients all over the world that we help market them in your local areas so they can attract more phone calls, more new patients, and, ultimately, get more profit in their business. So for us, we've been fortunate enough to be one of the fastest-growing dental marketing agencies over the last four years, being featured in Inc. magazine as one of the fastest-growing private entities in the country. So we're very proud of that.
S2 00:01:49.555 Yeah. That's fantastic. Good for you. Your company has just come such a long ways, and we have several clients that use your services and are super happy. All right. So I want to dig into some meat here though. And one of the things that I have observed– so anybody who listens to me, they will tell you that I'm not a big new patient guy. There's too much focus on improving new patient numbers and not improving your operational ability to get those patients to accept care, refer, and return. So everybody is going to say, “Well, jeez, you've got a marketing guy on here. What gives?” Well, the answer is, number one, you do have to have some because people die, people move away, not everybody is going to like you forever and all that. So you do need to have some. But the other thing that you need to focus on is what is it costing you to attract a patient. So that's one of the things that I appreciated when worked for my practice, was that we were tracking very carefully what it costs us to bring in a patient from different things. And we were also tracking what kind of treatment they did. And what we found was that Internet clients, most of which were coming from your efforts, were our least expensive lead and our most productive patient. So tell me about how you think about what I just said.
S3 00:03:22.903 Yeah. No, I actually agree with everything that you just said. And I know your focus is very thought out with the capacity and the efficiency of a practice, and I absolutely think that's imperative for every practice to consider. A couple of topics there to hit on is, one, is we can't get there if there's literally almost anemic new patient flow. Like you said, we have to have some consistency there, right. And then the attrition side of that, I believe the ADA says that we lose around – I'm going to guess a little bit – around 10% of your patient base every year just through death, attrition, moving, people just neglecting the care, so on and so forth. So you always need to replace those people with fresh, qualified patients.
S2 00:04:14.684 Yeah. But our data shows much higher than 10%.
S3 00:04:18.539 Okay. Well, then there you go. Even more reason to understand that you can't just live by the old school word of mouth because as you lost patients, there's less mouths to refer, right, so. And we do find the same thing. Our data does agree with what you found within your practice, which is the patients from our marketing efforts, particularly the way that we structure the branding of a practice, it is always the most affordable way to attract a new patient and/or referral, by the way. And it tends to be the higher value of the two, right. You're seeing that new patient value be substantially higher if they come from the Internet mainly because with the advent of technology, people come to the computer, or their smartphone, or their tablet to solve a problem. And they have that intention in their mind and they just type it out, right. If I have missing teeth, if I have chronic neglect, I'm coming, someone's fixing me because I'm frustrated and I need a problem solved. And they're willing to pay a little more for that and they're willing to do a little bit larger of treatments because of that.
S2 00:05:38.853 So one of the things that– maybe you could describe a little bit about the things that you have found to be the most impactful when it comes to online marketing and patient attraction.
S3 00:05:55.744 Sure. So one of the things that we're seeing now more than ever is that the dental practices that are out there, the dentists that we speak to, there's really more confusion now in the marketplace as to how to attract patients, what companies to hire, do you do it internally, do you not do it at all. And mainly because it's a crowded space right now. We have a lot of experts and gurus, and different companies selling social media, and websites, and review software, and practice management software. And so we tend to get sort of paralysis by analysis, and then nothing ends up happening, which is never good, right? We want to make sure we're taking some sort of action. And right now, with what we know from the big data aggregators is that the benefit to online marketing is everything that is off of your website. Because in this day and age, your website is really just a glorified brochure. Sure, it's nice to have one. Should it look good and professional? Absolutely. But it is not the deciding factor for a patient if they choose you versus your competitor. Because with Google reviews, and video reviews, and all of these different online branding properties, people get to hear from other people, and that's what they want to see. So when we look at what the foundation is, is we always want to start with having one consistent brand. So for example, if your practice has three different names and you've gone by three different names for the last 10 years, right, a practice name and maybe two doctors names or something like that, or two practice names and one doctor name– you have to have one consistent brand and then that brand needs to be on all of your online properties. So that way, there's no confusion amongst patients as to who you are and what you're about. That's critical because people are very sensitive these days. If they see some confusion, they're onto the next competitor. And then you want to start to get into procuring Google reviews, right, and making sure that you're asking your best patients to review you on Google. Not on Demandforce or these other directory sites. We want to make sure they're on Google because Google, number one, favors their reviews, so people see them more. And then two, people trust them more. Right now, Google is the largest most trusted media on the planet, more than radio, newspaper, any TV station out there. And obviously, we had the fake news epidemic, which sort of helped push Google even higher in terms of credibility because now we see that, wow, these are real people leaving video reviews and Google reviews. So those are really the foundations of what can get you visible, get you ranked, and get the phone to ring, right. Because we know those people searching are going to call someone on that given day. You just need to make sure that you have your best foot forward. And building a new, fancy website for two to five-thousand dollars isn't going to do that when all of the off-site stuff isn't taken care of.
S2 00:09:03.117 They've got to find it somehow, right.
S3 00:09:05.755 That's right. They have to find it somehow. They'll get there but it's not their deciding factor.
S2 00:09:09.674 Yep. So when I think about all the changes in technology and how things are so much more interlinked than they used to be, tell me about some of the technological changes that happened recently and the stuff that's coming up that people need to be aware of.
S3 00:09:29.911 Yeah. So one of the things is that, with the advent of smartphones in particular, and the growth of the Android phone– which is a Google-owned phone, by the way, right. A lot of people don't know that Samsung is part of Google and they have their own phones and so on. Is that they're integrating all the data. And so now searchers' behavior has become super hyperlocal to the point that Google knows exactly where that person is when they're looking for you or your particular service. So one of the most popular dental searches is, “dentist near me.” And someone will type that into their little smartphone device and it will literally geotag them and give them dentists who have favorable ratings who are within a certain radius. That is a game-changer compared to just a year ago – it wasn't as specific as that. That's the good news, right, meaning we can access people who are within our neighborhoods, which is pretty cool. But the bad news is that I'd argue to say 98.6% of dentists are not even optimized for those searches. It's very common for a dentist to have us look at their online presence and they don't even show up for a “dentist near me” search if they're even in their own building because of the inconsistencies that they have online. But the good news is that, especially if you do same-day dentistry, which, I'm not sure how you feel about that, but a lot of people are doing that that are clients of ours. And that “dentist near me” search is a game-changer for that because we know they're looking for someone right then and there, right. “Coffee near me,” “dentist near me.” “I need to do something now.” So technology is getting extremely intelligent because we walk around with these phones in our pocket all day and they're linked to data. We just don't think about it that way.
S2 00:11:22.749 Many practices that I've worked with, when we start going through their marketing, we found that they've had a hodgepodge of online experiences, and kind of what's under the sheets is not very well laid out, organized, and connected. Is that what you see too?
S3 00:11:44.167 Of course. Of course. Listen, there's a lot of great companies in our industry, right. We're one of the leaders, but there's a lot of great companies as well. But I would say that what ends up happening is that the dental practice uses what I like to call the shotgun approach to marketing, which is in June, they're hiring one agency, they give it 60 days, get frustrated, fire them, and then move onto the next one. And then take another shotgun approach and then do it so on and so forth. So over the course of three years, you might have three different, four different, five different agencies. And they all have their different way they do their recipe, and so it ends up being a spider web mess. And so we always inherit that mess and that's why we like to work with our clients in terms of a partnership, which is this is a long-lasting relationship. Most of our clients have been with us until they actually, believe it or not, sell their practice. Mainly because they understand the value of consistency. And I would encourage any of your listeners that if they've felt burned in the past and they sort of hopped here and there because maybe it was an empty house once or twice, it's key to stick with a firm and really keep that brand consistent when you find a nice partnership. Because that shotgun approach to marketing, not only do you get bad results because you're not sticking with it long enough, you end up spending more money in the long run because you have so many more problems to fix. It's not uncommon for us to have a client come to us with six to seven different Google pages. That tells me they've worked with about six to seven different marketing agencies over the last two years maybe.
S2 00:13:36.819 Yeah. And nobody ever cleaned it up. So they just added to the mess. And that's exactly what I've seen, is that it just kind of gets worse and worse over time unless someone is going to take a different approach and–
S3 00:13:53.459 Yeah. And I think part of that, too, is one of the things that we focused on is– we're full-service, so we'll build websites and, obviously, we're very good at that. What we understand is that our really, really core competency is making sure that our practice's local brand and presence is clean, pristine, and in order. And unfortunately, if you hire a website company, right, even a dental-specific one, to build you a new website and they say that they're going to optimize some certain things, they're not as well-versed in the best practices to get your local presence cleaned up. Because they're used to building websites, and they build great ones, but they're not used to doing the clean-up work, and the consistency, and the content, and making sure that that's sort of on the up-and-up. And I think that can be sort of a false sense of security that I see with our clients, is they sort of feel like if they build it, they will come. “Oh, no, we're building a site, so we'll be okay.” There is so much more to it than just that that you have to have people focused on.
S2 00:14:59.742 So how you show up in results if you're Amazon, how you show up in results in Australia or the UK, they matter. But if you're a dentist, it doesn't matter a bit. What matters is how you show up in your local area. So I've always appreciated the focus that you've had on that, really the niche that you guys have really nailed. So you, no doubt, are tracking new patient sources of your clients because you want to know, first of all, your results. And what beyond online marketing are you seeing traction with? Because this is evolving pretty fast and I want to see if your observations are the same as mine.
S3 00:15:47.048 Okay. So the biggest observation I have is that when it comes to marketing or just attraction of people, right, patients, or referrals, or whatever it may be, or even existing patients. To be honest with you, that's actually a big part of what our branding does, is even existing patients become infatuated with doing more with their existing dentist. Is that every new patient or referral comes from the Internet, period, end of story. And that's hard data that tells us that. comScore actually tells us that, which is a huge data aggregator. And the reason for that is that, even if you're doing some intelligent things, right, marketing your practice in different niches, which is maybe you're doing some direct mail or some radio, TV, billboards, flyers, Valpak, whatever you're doing, right, Facebook, everyone ends up on Google. Because if I see a billboard, I'm driving down the highway, I need to figure out if you're reputable or not. Even though you might look good and have a nice offer or call-to-action or whatever it may be, even in the mail, I need to figure out if I even want to pick up this phone or visit this website. I need to go to Google to tell me. And so we see that time and time again, and we even see it with people who have unscheduled treatment or existing patients, right, who might be avoiding that larger procedure. They want to go back and feel good about it. They go back to Google, look at your reviews, look at your brand, look at your videos. How are things going, right? They want to see a healthy practice that has patients taking care of them. So that's really what we're seeing, is every patient, even existing patients, are coming from Google.
S2 00:17:33.451 Yeah. Are you seeing that the other search engines are in decline, are continuing in decline or have they kind of leveled out?
S3 00:17:47.326 No. I'd say they've leveled out. It's about 30% of search volume occurs on Bing, and Yahoo, and alternative search engines. And that's mainly by default, right. If someone gets a new computer and it comes with Windows, Bing is the default search engine. So a baby boomer may just use that button based on just pure convenience. So we do optimize on those other search engines because it's there and people do use it. But we do still see that people will basically just use a search engine to figure out all about you.
S2 00:18:26.139 Sure. Sure. What else do our listeners need to know about online marketing? And if there's any other landmines that you've found that people step on that get them in trouble.
S3 00:18:42.897 Yeah. I would say that I'm a huge proponent of making sure you hire a dental-specific agency or company. I think one of the biggest landmines that we see are a lot of doctors are feeling complacent because someone may visit their office from, say the Yellow Pages, for example, or there's a local person that they sort of feel obligated to work with, but they work from everything from the plumber to the HVAC guy to the real estate agent, and they don't truly understand what goes on in those four walls, mainly because they don't know what dental procedures are because they're not working with thousands of dentists. So I'm a big proponent of making sure that you work with a dental-specific agency. It doesn't have to be us. I just feel that you need to work with someone who understands your business, and that just makes logical sense to me. You want to work with the experts no matter what. And so that becomes a huge landmine there. And then the other thing too is – and you know this; you probably see it all the time – is don't become enamored with the shiny objects, right. A lot of people are flooding to sort of Facebook right now to try to have the next gold rush of where patients are going to come from. And while I'm not against that per se, I also understand that there's only a limited number of people on Facebook. So eventually, in your local area, if you're in a smaller town or a medium-sized city, you're going to run out of real estate. People are going to get peeved. So Google is not running out of traffic. There's always inquiries and traffic coming from Google. So making sure you're focusing on that instead of sort of that shiny object, hopping from sort of next thing, to next thing, to next thing, to next.
S2 00:20:50.194 Somebody mentions they have this huge ROI on Facebook ads, and everybody thinks that's a wonderful thing to do. And I'm the same with you. I don't think it's a bad thing to do, but it's not the first thing to do. The first thing is to get all your other assets aligned and lined up and get them positioned properly first. So Facebook is really, in my mind, kind of an add-on if you aren't pulling as many new patients as you want.
S3 00:21:20.483 Yeah. I would agree with that. I think, like you said– I call it your Google house, right. If your Google house is completely in order, right, brand is consistent, one Google page, you're getting reviews, 5 to 15 fresh reviews a month, you're getting an agency like us, videos, you're blogging, content is going out there regularly, all those things, and you want to take a portion of your budget and dip your toe into the Facebook pool, go for it. Go for it. But it shouldn't be done unless you have those other foundational pieces in place. Mainly because Facebook, the user base is limited, right. So if you're in a suburb of Austin, for example, say it's 100,000 people, 25% of those people are on Facebook. Eventually, you're going to saturate that market. How many times are you going to put an offer in front of 25,000 people before they just tune you out?
S2 00:22:17.830 Right. Yeah. Very good. So I'm just curious on what you think is kind of the number one thing that dentists really should be focusing on as far as the measurement of effectiveness of marketing.
S3 00:22:46.374 One of the things that is the most critical thing for a practice to really hone the knife on is making sure that we have 100% trackable, hard data that is not touched by a human. Because one of the things that we see is no matter what marketing effort is going on, all the tracking occurs from the front desk asking, “How did you find us?” Right. That's the typical question and then it's usually onto the new patient paperwork as well. And then that gets put into your dental software, and then we pull a report and that's where we sort of live as our data. That is not tracking because we know from stats that majority of patients and customers forget how they found you – truly, they just do not remember – and then they just make it up, right. And what is the default checkbox everyone goes to? Oh, Internet. Oh, website. When you and I both know, John, that can mean almost anywhere. Almost anywhere. Well, was it on Yelp? Was it on Google? Where was this thing? So the doctor sort of relies on that tracking as, “We got patient from the website–” it's all over the place, right. So one of the things that we focus on is tracking with a dedicated tracking phone number, which is completely predictable, and then all of the analytics and data from Google's local end, right, which is in the dashboard for the local searches – not your website searches. So we know without a doubt that it's just data, pure, simple data. And we can see all of those numbers from there. And then you can maybe cross-analyze that with the internal stuff. I still think you should ask but you can't rely solely on it because it's completely misleading.
S2 00:24:48.721 Yeah. I've found there's no way to 100% accurately measure. But if you use the methodology that you were just describing, it won't be 100% accurate, but it'll be accurate enough in order to make decisions about how you want to spend your next dollar.
S3 00:25:07.452 Yeah. It doesn't have to be 100% accurate. Because if you're just asking on the frontlines, right, the front desk or intake paperwork, that might be 10% accurate, if that. But at least if we know we can get close to 70, 80-percent accurate, we know exactly– let's put it this way: you'll know your ROI within a few fractions, right, which is comparative. I can tell you that when I've looked at a couple of numbers from some of our clients that have come to us who were doing sort of the, “Let me ask you how I found us,” they were so far off on how these people were coming to them. They were all word of mouth referrals before the marketing started. Everyone was saying Internet just because they just were like, “I don't want to be bothered. Can you not bother me with this [laughter]?” I know I do that, right, when I go and I see– I'll go to a vendor, air conditioning vendor, “How did you find us?” I'm like, “I don't really remember. Was it a neighbor? I don't know.”
S2 00:26:11.414 Yeah. I always check “other” when they have an online question.
S3 00:26:14.391 Yeah. Oh, which is the worst, right? Other.
S2 00:26:18.103 Yeah. That's great. All right. We're coming to the end of our time here, Graig. Anything else that you wanted to mention before we sign off?
S3 00:26:26.790 No. But if any of your listeners or clients, as sort of a free gift to everyone listening, or anyone that's in your herd, please visit our website and we will give you a full marketing analysis and template. We'll have our team look at your brand, see where you have holes in your bucket, help you figure out value of your new patients, and really look at what we can do in your area so you know whether or not you need to improve what you're doing currently. So if anyone just goes to www.localsearchfordentists.com, and that's dentists plural with an S, and just go ahead and either give us a call or fill out one of our web forms, and our analyst will do a full makeup, give you a whole prescription, and see if we can help you or where you can improve.
S2 00:27:19.770 All right. Sound good.
S3 00:27:21.517 I appreciate it, John.
S2 00:27:22.391 Thanks for being on the call today, Graig.
S3 00:27:25.872 No, I appreciate it.
S2 00:27:27.007 You bet. Bye-bye
S3 00:27:28.699 Bye.