Hi everybody, welcome to How I Grew My Practice, a 15 minute podcast sponsored by NexHealth. My name is Alec Goldman, I lead content. Today I'm joined by Grace Rizza, the founder and CEO of Identity Dental to talk about the top dental marketing mistakes to avoid. Grace, welcome. It's a pleasure to have you here today. To get started, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience in the dental industry? Absolutely, thanks for having me.
I'm like you mentioned, I'm the founder and CEO of Identity Dental Marketing. We've been in business since 2009. We offer ethical branding and digital marketing services to dentists exclusively. Very cool. Grace, tell us, like, what role do you see marketing really playing in the dental space? It's interesting because so many dentists don't realize that they have marketing. I can't even tell you how many people I
meet and talk to and they're like, Oh, I haven't really done any marketing. And I'm like, what? That's not a thing. And so I guess one of the things I would mention is that you have a brand, you have a reputation, whether you've thoughtfully crafted that, or it's just kind of been a, uh, happenstance thing. That's a rise in your time and being in business. If you're in business, if your doors are open, you do have marketing. It's in.
every aspect of how you practice. It's in your name, it's in your logo, it's in your digital footprint, and it's in the uniforms you choose for your team. There is an element of marketing in everything that you do. So I would encourage people to embrace it and recognize it. I'm seeing a trend, I've been doing this for 15 years. And when I first got into dental marketing, I would meet dentists and they would be very proud of the fact they've grown with no marketing.
And I get that because the growth through word of mouth, it's, it's a huge accomplishment, but they're leaving something on the table. There's a way to grow ethically and there's a way to accelerate growth, um, to a point that's still not growing beyond what you can serve that will help contribute to not just more new patients, but the ideal new patient for your practice. So, you know, marketing gets a bad rap and we'll talk a lot about why that is. I'm sure.
but it exists, whether you know what you're doing and you're investing in it or not, it's there. It's your reputation. So what are some of the most common mistakes that you're seeing at dental practices? Yeah, I mean, I'd say the first one is by no fault of their own, I see a lot of dentists just choosing the marketing company that makes the biggest promises for the least amount of money. So, you know, we've heard that you can be the cheapest, the fastest, the best.
but not all three at once. I think the phrase is that you can pick two of the three. And so a lot of times when we go into making these decisions, choosing advisors, choosing, you know, even a marketing support company, you just see a lot of people that, that their picker is broken. Their compass is off on how they should be making these decisions. And so it's a lot of marketing, they're falling victim to these over-promises.
And then they end up disappointed and then losing, I guess, faith in what marketing can do and what it's meant to do through these bad experiences. So that would be the first one is they're not vetting their marketing agency very well. And they're just kind of going with whoever makes the whoever sells the dream. Right. And so I would advise that people take a minute and educate themselves, follow podcasts like yours.
learn about how these things work so that they don't just pull the trigger on the thing that sounds the best. Okay. What are some of the criteria that you would recommend for dental practices to be thinking about when selecting a marketing partner or marketing agency? Yeah, I would say you want a company who can give you a comprehensive look at your marketing. That's one thing I see a lot of dentists skipping the branding piece.
skipping the reputation, skipping that really important question of how do you want to be known in your community? Another really important question is what is your ideal new patient? These are things to consider when you're marketing because if you're just throwing messages out there, I mean, I can definitely get the phones to ring in an instant by running an ad that says free cheap dentistry, but is that going to
bring in the right type of patient for your practice. So taking a comprehensive look at your practice, who you are and what you're looking to accomplish before, I guess just having you sit through a slide deck of generic information, marketing is not generic. It's not a one-size-fits-all approach. So you need to choose someone who really understands that. I've got a few more general mistakes.
Fair. Yeah. Is it okay if I jump into those? Yeah, of course, please. Another problem I see on a regular basis is that a lot of dentists don't really know where their new patients are coming from, how many new patients they're seeing, and they lack tracking and reporting and metrics and those processes in their practice. So they'll come into a meeting with me or someone on my team and they'll say things like, well, I don't think...
my current marketing with this other company is working. And we're like, oh, he said the word. He said, think, he doesn't know. And so we asked them to run a report and sometimes we have to dig in and we have to look at the whole sales cycle, not just the ad and how many phone calls it's producing. So that's another major mistake I see is just a lack of internal process and reporting. Yeah, I mean,
Everyone knows KPIs, web traffic, whatever, but it's very easy to fake those things. It's very easy for those numbers to go up and for your practice numbers to stay the same. So you can't just look at the marketing in a siloed view. You have to look at it in a comprehensive manner. Another main mistake I see is that a lot of people don't set fair expectations for a campaign.
So they've seen an ad on Facebook or Instagram that says 20 new patients tomorrow, and they're like, my marketing company didn't get me 20 new patients yesterday. So what are they doing wrong? And so being aware of the fact that these marketing messages are actually changing your expectations, sometimes in the wrong direction, sometimes in an unfair way, and then you're super imposing new expectations on.
something that just doesn't make sense. So for instance, there's different kinds of marketing. There's top of funnel, bottom of funnel marketing, there's middle of funnel marketing. Where is your patient in that journey of getting to know you, building trust in you, and then ultimately becoming a patient? And so bottom of funnel marketing messages or marketing methods such as not Facebook ads, Google ads or SEO.
The patient is actively searching for a dentist when they find you. They are ready to buy. That's going to have a shorter sales cycle than running a Facebook video ad, educating the community about your dental implant solutions. You might be hitting them when they're just starting to learn about dental implants and they have no idea what they cost or if they're ready for them or if they're a candidate.
And so that's a longer sales cycle than coming up first on Google and someone searches for a dentist. And so what happens is a lot of times people take the expectations from bottom of funnel marketing and they try to apply it to top of funnel or branding methods. And they quit before they even give themselves a chance to dominate in their market because they're expecting that immediate return on.
investment, that immediate gratification, but that's not how all marketing works. So my biggest word of advice here in really starting any marketing campaign is make sure you're talking to your marketing advisor about real tangible expectations. How long will this take to generate leads? How long do you anticipate this will take to generate leads? What reach or exposure are we going or do you anticipate we'll see?
how really, how long is it gonna take? And that's what we need to know. We need to make sure we're also tracking that. So I know that's a lot, but. It's a lot. I mean, why do you think practices are making this many mistakes? I guess it'd be my first question. Because they're not educated. They're not aware that you can host your own website and own it.
you don't have to pay a marketing company to host your website for you. You could be in total ownership of your website files and the investment that you make. And so because 99% of the marketing companies out there mandate that they host and own your website, people just don't know that that's not a necessity. And so the more information you can gather and you can learn about these things. Like I said, by listening to podcasts like this,
the better suited you are to ask the right questions when you're ready to invest. And the last mistake I'll mention is that sometimes dentists go into marketing and they don't invest what I call the minimum viable budget. So I'll have some that sign up for like Google ads. And we talk about a $1,500, $2,000 monthly ad spend.
which you should pay that directly to Google. Don't pass it through a marketing company, but we'll talk about that. And then it comes time to start their campaign and they're like, well, let's just start with 300. We just want to test it out. And it's not the kind of thing you can just test out. If you are under the minimum viable budget, it's not going to do anything for you. And then you're going to lose faith and hope in what these things can do because you set your own rules after the fact.
So be really transparent about what you want to do, your resources, your expectations, so that you can get the most out of this. So. Claire, Grace, can you share maybe just a couple examples of dental practices who have successfully overcome some of these mistakes? We have, I don't want to sound braggy, but we've helped over a thousand practices.
probably a couple thousand at this point to market their practice and to build and grow. I've got a bunch of testimonials and samples on my website. It's identitydental.com
. But without going into too much detail, I would just say...
Most of the success comes from people who have either been burned in the past, have given up on it completely, and then they restart with realistic expectations and they have that conversation. They give it time to work and then they're loyal for life. And I love helping those people because I know in the past they signed up for something and they just didn't have strong enough communication to really understand that investment or how it should work.
And so it's been fun showing people what marketing can do throughout the years over and over again. So. Cool. What final advice do you have for dental practice just starting out with marketing or perhaps have been some of those that have really struggled in the past to see results? I would say don't sign long-term contracts.
Don't sign 12, 24, 36 month contracts. They're there for a reason. So watch out for that. Own your website, avoid tools that may compromise the results like website builders and things to affect long-term results. Play the long game. Don't just look at what is the cheapest way to generate leads, but really think about your ideal patient, how you want to be known in the community and does this marketing initiative feed that long-term?
big plan of being the go-to person, if that is your goal. So I would also offer a marketing planning session for anyone listening, no charge, we could set up a meeting, look at your individual circumstance, your service offerings, your competition level, be more than happy to just give you an honest opinion on where you're at and how to get to where you wanna go next. Cool. Grace, thank you so much for joining us today.
It was a pleasure having you on the show. Thank you so much, Alec. Have a good one. You too.