Stacy Rust, a Digital Marketing expert, and Dr. John discuss digital dental marketing, how to grab the low hanging fruit that you are overlooking! She explains how she helps her clients to see success with their marketing efforts to improve the dollars they are putting toward marketing by looking at the data and increasing your views with a few simple tricks. Listen in to this incredible episode for information you wont want to miss!
"EP51: Bring Marketing and Patients Through Your Door with Stacy Rust" Transcript:
Hey, everybody. Welcome to this episode of the Double your Production Podcast. I'm Dr. John Meis and I'm excited to have with us today Stacy Rust. Stacy is a marketing expert. She helps people with online marketing strategies to improve their business. She is in an international company. She's got clients in 34 countries around the world and she has the unique experience that she's actually worked in a dental office and been around dentistry quite a bit. So I'm super excited to hear-- even though you don't normally work with denstists now that you don't work with [inaudible]. But that's not your primary focus, your primary focus is all business because the marketing for one is not that different than the marketing for another. So do you want to kind of walk us through really kind of your backstory and how you got to be where you are now?
Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you for that introduction. Yeah, I don't only work with dentists. I have in the past. I have dental clients, but I work with all kinds of businesses. I went to school for marketing and management, graduated and I've always wanted to work with a large variety of companies. And I think, coming out of school, I sort of envisioned working with large consumer brands like Target, Coca-Cola, the big, splashy national campaigns. I think I had a very Mad Men vision for social media marketing, if you've ever seen that show. So I got out of school and I worked for an ad agency. Excuse me. I worked for an ad agency and as the new person, you don't work on the large accounts very often. And I think the large accounts that we did have, I was a little disillusioned because the projects move really slowly. There's a lot of politics. There's a lot of bureaucracy. So it was it wasn't what I thought in terms of the large accounts that we had and--
And I remember you telling me that there was kind of some-- I don't know if this is the right term, but milking of the clients. Part of the slow [crosstalk]-- part of the delay was just trying to drag as much revenue out of each client as you possibly could, which I remember how frustrating that was to [inaudible] to get him going.
Right. So yeah, and that's sort of the agency model. And I think that's why that model doesn't work anymore. It's kind of an outdated model. Agencies are sort of on their way out. And I say that with-- the people that I worked with were incredibly talented and we did have a fairly large integrated marketing department. They were doing great work, but it's the model. The model is broken and it financially speaking, it is really, really expensive to hire an agency and small companies lose a lot of money if they go that route. And I've had a lot-- so I was an account person and I had small accounts. That's what I got because I was the new person. So I knew that it wasn't ideal for my clients to be there. It's like this isn't serving them. This model is not effective for small businesses. I would argue it's not effective for large corporations either. It's a waste of everyone's resources and things move slow. And in the marketing world right now, you can't afford to move slow. I also don't think-- and this might ruffle some feathers, but I don't think anybody should be in charge of your marketing other than you. I don't think you should outsource marketing at all. I think they're there are pieces of it that you can certainly get help with or outsource. But the idea that you're going to hand over your marketing to a group of experts like an agency, I think it feels easy and it feels like the responsible thing to do, to give the work to people who are really good at it. And, like I said, the people who worked at the agency I worked at were really smart, accomplished people. They were excellent at what they did, but I think nobody is better at it than you are. You have to keep it in-house. So I'm sitting in this agency, and I thought, "It would be better for me to go out and help these people on my own [laughter]. And it would be better, I think, for these companies to get help, just via a different model, I think," so yeah.
Yeah. And so now what you were seeing with agencies is there is a great roll-up going on. The smaller ones or the mid-sized ones are getting snatched up by bigger ones, and there's whole proliferation of what I would call microagencies, maybe. And those are people that either focus on a particular niche or focus on a particular size business or a specific marketing. So there's niche online marketing, there's niche direct mail, and things like that. So the kind of all-purpose marketing world has just really changed, hasn't it?
It really has, yeah. And I think that marketing is-- so when a lot of people think of marketing, they think of what I would call sort of outreach or promotion, advertisement, social media, TV, radio, sort of that outgoing stuff, but I think a more accurate definition is anything that brings revenue in the door. And that's woven into every single part of the business. So the idea that you can sort of dissect out marketing and hand it off to someone else, it's just not realistic and it doesn't reflect kind of the reality of marketing and that it's so ingrained in everything that we do as a company. So--
And when you see that just handed off, it loses the culture and the voice of the company.
It does, yeah.
Yeah, and it doesn't [crosstalk] how good the company is that you've hired or how good they are at what they do. Just by definition, you're going to lose that authenticity, at least to some degree.
Yeah. And the other thing that you and I talked about-- when you were still at that firm and when I was at a big corporate group, we had a agency. And you already mentioned it, but the agency, their scorecard of success was "impressions", how many people saw this, how many people were watching TV when this particular ad went on, and how many people drive by this billboard. They count all those as impressions, and I always hated that as a scorecard. And you already mentioned the scorecard for marketing, particularly for a small business, is dollars in the door.
Yes. Yes. Yeah. And I think larger consumer brands are not less concerned about dollars in the door versus dollars going out toward marketing, but their budgets are so large that it's not quite as imperative that they make the most of every dollar. But you look at smaller companies and they don't have millions to waste on something that doesn't work. And impressions aren't necessarily the most valuable. If your target-- sure, you want to get your message in front of as many people as possible because your audiences is huge and incredibly diverse and they just have different priorities.
That's maybe is a very different [inaudible] or [inaudible].
Yeah. It's a totally different game. But even then I would argue, wasting a bunch of money on marketing is silly no matter how much. I would argue that they should rein it in the [inaudible]. But yeah.
Yeah. In dentistry, there's a lot of, I think, misconceptions about marketing and really kind of submiss that have been going on forever and ever and ever. And they drive me crazy because they're not true, yet, they're commonly believed. And one of them is that the purpose of marketing is to increase the-- off of the only purpose of marketing is to increase the number of new patients that you see. And you've actually worked in a dental office. So you know this from the inside-- a tip from the inside out. So what do you think of that myth and what commentary would you have surrounding that?
Yeah. So that's such a good point because-- and I see this in every and absolutely every company and every industry. So there is certainly-- and so being a marketing person, a lot of people will come up to me and they'll say very-- so they'll ask simple questions like, ''How do I get more customers? Or--'' I think when people hear marketing, that's just the first place your mind goes is how do I get more people in the door, new people. And for me, that's sort of the last question that I ask with client. So when I work with clients, that's sort of the end of the conversation is how to get new people in the door. And there are so many other ways to bring in more revenue too. There's just so much more low hanging fruit that we can grab that sort of the last conversation is how to get new people that are-- so I teach people, it's sort of what I think of marketing in terms of structure within a company. I have sort of a little diagram or structure thing that I share with people. So without video, I'm going to be doing a lot of movement with my hands and I wish you could [inaudible] [laughter]. I'll try to explain it because I think it's really helpful. So when I think of marketing, I think of this structure's got kind of three parts. So there's, if you imagine like a really solid floor that everything is resting on that sort of your foundation of marketing, things like your team, things like your values, sort of the foundation of why you're in business, why you want to do dentistry, that's sort of the foundation, right. So everything sits on kind of that hard floor, that solid floor. Then there's like a bucket. The big bucket on that floor. And that bucket represents kind of all of your existing customers. So the goal is to get as many people into that bucket as possible right.
And above the bucket you have a big funnel. And the funnel is sort of-- it would be what I would call sales. But everybody who's sort of deciding whether or not they want to end up in that bucket. Deciding whether they want to work with you. This is a patient maybe that they know they have done a work that needs done. They're trying to decide where they want to go, whether they really need treatment right now, whether they can put it off. That sort of group of people who's kind of sitting in that funnel. And at the very top you have a faucet, right. So the faucet is things like outreach. So ads, social media, search, your Google listing, all the ways that people get into that funnel. So if you think about it, the faucet runs through the funnel into the bucket which is on sort of a hard, solid floor.
And this structure exists in every single company. The issue is, the bucket, the funnel and the faucet, they're all full of holes. So there's water leaking everywhere.
Oh, you're speaking my language here.
So you can run that faucet all you want, but if the bucket at the bottom is full of holes, you're going to waste a ton of money. So the first place-- so everybody wants to talk about the faucet, right. Because that's what you think of when you think of marketing. You think of that faucet. How am I going to get more people into this bucket? Through this funnel into this bucket. But I always tell people we have to start at the bottom. So if I were working with someone for a full day, at the beginning of the day we talk about that foundation, making it as sturdy as possible. And then we talk about the bucket. Where are your big holes? Where are you losing people? I will say too, every company, every organization, there are holes everywhere. So it's not a matter of whether or not you have holes, it's how do we plug them up. I think--
How many do you know you have and how many do you have that you don't know you have, right?
Yeah. And I think many of us are afraid to find holes because we think it's a failing. Or we think the problem is going to be really hard to fix. So we actively avoid looking for holes, because we don't want holes. We don't want to think about why people are leaving, what we could do better to keep them around. Because it seems like those problems might be really hard to fix. But--
Everyone wants to keep doing exactly what they're doing, only get a different response. And, and-- yeah.
And it's really seductive to think, "Oh, if I just crank up that faucet, great." And better yet, if I can have somebody else crank up that faucet for me, then I don't have to worry about any of it. But the problem is is that it's very expensive.
[crosstalk], and I just write a bigger and bigger check that opens the faucet more, right. But that doesn't translate to profitability. And that's kind of the second myth is that more new patients equals more profitability. Not true.
And ideally, we'll get to-- if you think about that model and if you start at the bottom-- so I think marketing can be really overwhelming for people. And so this model gives you kind of a place to start and a place to move through all of your marketing and kind of a process to follow so that you don't have to just guess what your priorities are. So if you can start at the bottom, plug up holes in that bucket, then move your way up to the funnel, plug up holes in the funnel. Then eventually, over time, you will be able to just turn on that faucet. And you can really crank it up high and profit will be easier to control.
Yeah, and it'll already be up because you fixed the holes. And so now you have greater revenue to spend on marketing without interfering with your profitability, because your profitability's already up,.
Absolutely, absolutely. And those are the juicy questions. Why are people leaving? Why aren't people ending up in the bucket? If they're in the funnel and they're trying to decide what kind of care they want and when, what are the holes in that funnel? Where are people going? Why aren't they-- you've put a lot of effort into that bucket and into that funnel, so we want to make sure they're functioning as well as they can before we dump a bunch of water in it.
Not to beat that analogy to death or anything, but I just think it's a good visual.
It's a really good analogy. So when we have clients that come to us, one of the first things we want to determine is if they have a capacity problem or a demand problem. And a demand problem-- if they have a capacity problem, very many of them want to improve their profitability by creating more demand. But it actually reduces their profitability because they can't take care of them because they don't have the capacity. I just had a consult yesterday with a practice, that's exactly where they were. They were spending more and more on marketing and yet, they couldn't get anybody in to take care of them. So making sure that you're fixing the right thing. And for us, on the demand side, we have a very similar philosophy that we teach. We've got eight steps in a increased new patient algorithm and not one of them would be considered traditional marketing trying to drive more new patients. That would be the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th step, but you got to do the first ones. Like you said, you've got to fix the holes in the bucket, the holes in the funnel first, otherwise, your return on your marketing spend can be zero.
Yeah, or worse.
Or worse, yeah.
Yeah, you can just waste-- yeah. Yeah, lose tons of money and it's a lot of your time that you're putting in that you could be spending doing other things. And yeah.
Yeah, for sure.
Another thing, too, to think about is the more we improve-- so if you think about that bucket, if you have a bucket full of really satisfied customers, they will go out and they will bring people in for you. So when you talk about kind of-- I think there's this fantasy about handing that faucet off to somebody else so they can handle it, but if you have a bucket full of really happy customers, they will run that faucet for you. They will go out, they will get new customers. They will talk about you. They will post on social media. So I think the ideal is that we have customers who sort of do our marketing for us because they're so happy. And if you can keep them happy, they will do a lot of the work for you and that's the best kind of marketing is when you hear about something from a friend and they're-- if I'm looking for a dentist and I ask a friend, "Hey, where do you go? Do you like that place?" and they give me a glowing recommendation for that dental office, that's probably the best kind of marketing. That's the holy grail, right? That's what we all want is we want our customers to go out and get more of their friends.
Yep. We have some fine practices that don't spend anything on marketing, that are nearly 100% patient referral driven. But in our profession, that's very rare. And so kind of a number that we have practices shoot for is get half of their patients from direct patient referrals. And that's an attainable target, really for any practice can hit that level. If they have their patient experience dialed in and they've got their holes filled, that can certainly happen. All right, so we got our holes filled and so we were efficient in what we capture from the flow that we're getting already and we have great patient retention. Now is probably the time that you're going to say, "All right, now is the time to go out and let's see where we're going to-- where we're going to use additional resources to drive greater new patients." Is that right?
All right, so what are some of the things that you're seeing great results from?
So okay so that's kind of a tricky question and it's a question I get a lot. So there's a myth that there is sort of marketing that works and marketing that doesn't work so well, and I think every single organization has an entirely mix of what works for them, so the idea that-- and I blame marketing people for this [laughter]. There's this idea that, "Oh, let me take care of your marketing for you because I know what works, and here's what works." And that's a very dangerous trap to kind of fall into because you're going to try-- you're going to start trying on strategies that you see out in the world and see if they work for you, and I see a lot of organizations doing that. They'll see something, they know that it works for somebody else, so they'll try it on, see if it works for them, it doesn't, so they move on to the next one.
Yeah. Often going in big, kind of getting all their eggs in one basket, thinking that they'll get 50 new patients from one source, and there's a little joke that I like to repeat that's, "I don't know of one way to get 50 new patients a month, but I know 50 ways to get one." Right?
So that's kind of what you're talking about, is spreading out some different strategies and see how it's working in your community with your patient base and your potential patient base, so--
Yeah, go ahead.
Yeah. I love that. And I think there's also this seductive idea that, "Okay, I have this company and this practice and there is marketing out there that will just work for us." I think it's a beautiful scenario to imagine, but marketing doesn't work that way. I think you have to try things. You have to try a lot of things and see what works for you, and then, if someone's coming in and saying, "I know what will work for your organization." They're full of shit [laughter]. Only you can know what will work, and the only way to do that is by trying things because it's a unique formula that's going to work for every company, so what I would suggest is get more familiar with marketing different channels, try out different channels, try out different things, and pay attention to those numbers.
I think a lot of times we don't like to look at marketing numbers, we don't like to look at options, we don't like to dig our-- kind of really dig your hands into those different options available to you and try them and see what works. I think that's a really intimidating idea for most organizations, but I think it's well worth your time to sort of try a little bit of everything, see where your patients are coming from, see what's working, see what's not, ask questions, dig into those data numbers and figure out what do people like, what's working, what's resonating, where are people coming from, how are they hearing about us because it's going to look completely-- even if there are two demo offices in the same neighborhood, doing almost the same thing, their marketing could look completely different and what works for one may not work for the other. So yeah. Don't want to give a super complicated answer, but I would say being a little bit more brave and kind of digging into the things that feel uncomfortable and just try everything.
One of the things that dental practices struggle with is tracking the sources of new patients and then tracking cost of acquisition of those new patients. And then tracking return on investment, we've got new software now that allows us to do this way better than in the past. But even a manual tracking is better than, than nothing. But it's tough to get dental practices to do that, to sit down and do the analysis and look at where my patients are coming from, how much is it costing for every channel, and then adjusting your [inaudible] [laughter]. That's silly. [inaudible] excited about something here, so.
I have Charlie next to me. I'm just waiting for him to start by.
Yup. Yup. Oh, it happens.
She has something to contribute. Let's hear her out.
Yeah. She kind of [inaudible] when you have a multichannel [inaudible].
She's [inaudible]. Yeah. [laughter].
So I think when you have a multichannel piece, you're looking to see where the winners are. And so it's not just the media that you're using, right, it's the messaging that you're using and you've got to tweak with it and play with it, some to get a sense of what's resonating with your potential patient base or your current patient base.
Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think people do shy away from looking at those numbers and tracking. It feels very daunting to consider, ''Okay. Now I have to figure out where all my patients coming from, what's working, what's not working and try to sort all of that out.'' And I think maybe one reason is that-- so the reason I encourage people to do this is because you'll find so many easy ways to improve the number of new patients, to improve the quality of new patients. Like for example, so let's take Facebook advertising as an example. Facebook's advertising platform is incredibly robust. It blows everything else out of the water, right. Facebook and Instagram, Facebook owns Instagram, so it's all kind of one incredible platform for advertising. So let's say you decide to advertise on Facebook and maybe your new edit, or maybe you've been doing it for a long time, you put up a campaign. On that initial dashboard, you're just going to see sort of averages of how things are performing. And so you put up a campaign and it's not doing well. I think the knee jerk reaction is to think, ''Oh, this campaign, the create, there's something wrong with the creative piece.'' Or we sort of blow up the potential problems. ''Oh, this doesn't work for us.'' Or, ''Oh, this creative is bad.'' Or ''Oh--''
Yeah. They'll blame the media, right. So they'll say, ''Oh, well, Facebook doesn't work
Facebook doesn't work. Yup, absulutely.
That was crazy.
Yeah, I think if you're brave enough to dig into the numbers and look beyond that initial dashboard you'll find really interesting information. You might find out that advertising is four times more expensive on the weekend than it is during the week. Oh, we'll just move our [funds?] during the week. We cut our marketing budget into a fourth. Or you'll find that Instagram is ten times cheaper than advertising on Facebook, okay, we'll move all of our money to Instagram, and now our ads are performing really well. I think that's a good example of how easy it is to make small adjustments and get big results and I think if you can use that an example for everything in your organization, sometimes the tiniest tweeks can make a huge difference. So when it comes to marketing, if you're willing to look at those numbers and dig in, you'll probably find really simple solutions. I think we imagine the worst. I think we imagine our problems are creative problems or personel problems or these really complex problems that are hard to fix but what I like so much about marketing and all the data that we have now is that you can find really simple, easy ways to get a bunch of people in the door and you can see where you need to tweek and adjust to make big improvemens. Often they're much more simple than we think they're going to be and if you're just willing to collect that information and look at it instead of pulling back, you'll see all kinds of opportunities to get a ton of new people in the door and it doesn't have to cost you a ton of money.
Sure. So when you get a client to come to work with you, describe your process a little bit about what that looks like.
In terms of my own marketing, how I promote mayself, or as far as how I work [inaudible]?
The client contacts, what does the process look like as you're helping people? Because most [inaudible] or their teams really don't know even where to start with what you're describing now. What does that look like?
I take people exactly through that structure that we talked about. First we'll talk about, when someone were to first come to me I would just get a sense of their organization, what they're struggling with, get a feel for what's going on, how things work. For instance, dentistry operates differently, obviously, than a regular company. Your model's a little bit different. So I want tto get a sense of how customers are moving through the organization, how they're coming back, what's the motivation for purchase or for care, how are they moving through everything. That way we can get a sense of what does that bucket look like, what does the funnel look like, what does the faucet look like. It's going to be a little bit different for every organization. For instance, dentistry, when you think about your customer bucket, I imagine it's a lot of, this may be different for different dental offices, but for the most part I think somebody comes in, they may have a lot of work needs to be done sort of upfront. And then they end up sort of on a-- they're in that bucket and they see you every six months. And hopefully, their care sort of stays manageable. They don't have huge spikes and needing a ton of things done. So they kind of end up on a regular loop. So every company is going to look a little bit different. But we would start with-- we would start with that. We'd start, "What are your current patients or customers kind of-- what does that look like? How do they move through your organization? How can we make sure that they're really happy? How can we make sure that experience is exactly what we want it to be?" I think there's always some distance between what a business owner or what a provider thinks the customer experience is like and what it's actually like. So sort of fill in some of those gaps and then we would move on to sales. So in the dental world, it would be called case acceptance. Is that--?
Is that what you would say?
So you talk about-- okay, so someone's in the chair, how do you construct those conversations? How do those conversations go? What makes the difference between somebody saying yes? And what are the roadblocks that keep them from saying yes. And then you look at someone's interested in working with you. So you and I had a really interesting conversation about the phones.
So if somebody is-- okay, so they're interested in working with you, they're interested in coming into the office. They call, nobody picks up the phone. Some of those issues. So I would just kind of take people through from when they first meet you to the very end of their treatment, and then they're going to come back for more treatment after, regular [inaudible] visits after that. So how does that whole timeline work? And often there's a bunch of little hiccups along the way that we can work on. So things like answering the phone, so if somebody calls to make an appointment and nobody answers the phone, that's something really easy that we can fix to get more people in the door. And you had really good stats. Was it [crosstalk]?
Yeah, [inaudible] on that because we know that if people aren't really focused on it, they're answering about 60% of the incoming calls that they have, the missing 40. But no one has the realization of that unless they have some mechanism to measure and follow it. And a lot of practices don't have that. And so they assume that because they don't have any voicemails that they answered all the calls. Well, nothing could be further from the truth because if only it were that simple. But people don't leave messages and they may think of calling back later or they may just go on to the next person that they've heard of that they think they might want to see.
Yeah. So if you were to put all of these customer-- if someone's moving through your organization as a customer or a patient-- I keep saying customer, but forgive me. I'm just going to use those terms kind of interchangeably [laughter]. I certainly don't mean to cheapen the work of dentistry by calling them customers. But so if you kind of put that on a timeline and you think about how-- so one thing I talk to clients about often is this idea of momentum. So we always want to keep people moving through an organization. And there are so many points throughout that timeline where people stop. And an unanswered phone call is just one of those moments where someone's moving toward treatment and that sort of a roadblock, a hiccup. And we want to remove as many of those as possible throughout the whole timeline. We want to make that as smooth as possible. We want to keep people moving. I imagine that's probably one of the biggest opportunities for dental offices. So if you think about other businesses, there's sort of a strong motivation to buy or to resolve an issue. And certainly some patients will come in with sort of a strong motivation to get work done - they're in pain, they're having issues, right, and they're probably highly motivated. But for a lot of people, dentistry is one of those things, I call a necessary regulars. So the necessary things that you have to do regularly in your life to just make your life functions. And they're not necessarily highly motivated to do those things. They're just things that you have to do - go to the dentist, go to the doctor, get your oil changed, all those things that you know you're supposed to do. You don't necessarily want-- you're not dying to go to the dentist. [laughter], but it's something you have to do, right? So people are naturally inclined to put it off or they maybe do have a lot of work done and they're nervous. So in dentistry more than in any other-- or dentistry was one of the top industries where people have the brakes on. If you sign someone to a BMW, they're really excited to buy that BMW. If you sign someone a root canal, they're not as excited about it. So throughout that whole timeline of people working with you, they've always got the brakes on. So they're looking for any reason to say no or to postpone or to go off and think about it. And dentistry is not cheap. So people might be worried about the cost. And if you look at that timeline, there are so many potential bumps in the road. And so I think if we can work to smooth that out and to remove some of those roadblocks, we want to keep that momentum flowing. We want to keep people moving forward. Even though they're always going to put the brakes on, we want to keep nudging them along that timeline so that they can get the work done that they need done. They can keep coming back. We kind of have to save them from themselves a little bit. And that's true with anything in that category, those necessary regulars. It's just stuff that consumers put off. And you sort of have to create an environment where they can't do that all the time. You want to sort of save the from that pattern.
Yep. Yeah. Awesome. So if someone wanted to walk through this journey with you-- or you're looking through that and what you get through all those [contrite?] points within the practice and you start using, start testing some different strategies, and seeing what's working and what message is working and media is working - how would someone get ahold of you to start that process?
So I work with people one-on-one or via online programs. So there will be digital programs coming out. So I'm going to teach this stuff in a digital classroom sort of way. Otherwise, if you work with clients one-on-one, you can find me on my website or social media. There are easy-contact forms. And yeah, you can just shoot me a message. You can email me.
And you email address is?
so S-T-A-C-Y Rust, R-U-S-T?
Okay. Very good. And obviously stacyrust.com is your website. And people can go on there and see your awesome website and you beautiful pictures.
Those are old pictures, by the way so.
They're not old. Alright. Well, I still appreciate you being on our W-Production podcast. This was a really good meet. And I am excited to have another person that's in marketing that has very similar attitudes and very similar knowledge base and experience base as I have. Because often what you hear from marketing people is, "Just send me more money and I'll get lots of impressions." It's not about making an impact on the care of patients they get and that productivity and profitability of the office. So that's awesome.
Thank you so much for having me. This is wonderful. Thank you. I love your podcast. So it's nice to be on this end of it.
Yeah? Well, thanks, Stacy. Thanks so much for being on and that's it for this episode of the W-Production podcast. We'll see you in the next episode. Thanks, everybody.