Beyond The Chair™ Episode #7: “The Evolution Of Patients: Why You Can’t Just List Letters After Your Name & Expect People To Think You’re The Best Anymore”

Chris Salierno, DDS, Chief Editor of Dental Economics Magazine and Practicing dentist, Joshua Austin, DDS FAGD FACD of Dental Economics Magazine and Inc. 500/5000 CEO, Graig Presti of Local Search For Dentists® discuss the commoditization of dental care, and why it is up to us to educate consumers and thereby establish credibility in the marketplace.

  • Why you can’t just list letters after your name and expect people to know you’re the best anymore
  • The ADA’s research on the growth of dental usage, and why it hasn’t kept up with population growth
  • Why consumer spending on dental care has been flat and may now be decreasing
  • The commoditization of dental care, and why it is up to us to educate consumers and thereby establish credibility
  • How to set yourself apart in a highly saturated marketplace
  • The “Amazon-ing” of dentistry and what you can do to fight it
  • The patient-attracting magic of real social proof
  • Why the in-office experience needs to match what people are reading online and in social posts/reviews

This one video alone could MASSIVELY improve your bottom line. 

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Graig: Hi, thanks for joining us on another episode of Beyond The Chair™. My name is Graig Presti and I’m CEO of Local Search For Dentists®;, a full-service dental marketing agency and I’m joined by two very special guests here. We have Dr. Chris Salierno who is the Chief Editor for Dental Economics Magazine and a practicing dentist, as well as Dr. Josh Austin who is a practicing dentist and editor with Dental Economics Magazine.

Today we’re going to talk to you a little bit about consumer behavior and how that has evolved over the last 10 years and what new patients are looking for, what referrals are looking for, so you can hopefully have some real tactics that you can bring to your practice to start to attract more of those people who want to pay, stay and refer.

So Chris, I’ll start with you because I know you like to kick out a little bit on the stats of consumer behavior, so tell me a little bit about – for everyone, what are some of the core statistics that you’ve looked at recently that’s sort of an eye opening to you that our listeners and our visitors will want to know about so they can start to understand the dynamic of how the whole trending is going in the industry.

Chris: What we do know is that according to ADA research since about 2002 or 2003, the growth of the usage of dental services by adults older than 18 but younger than 65 hasn’t kept pace with- the cost of doing business hasn’t kept pace with population growth and we’re now in a period where the spending on dental care by adults in the U.S is flat or even decreasing in certain areas. So why is that? That’s a complicated one to crack and we don’t really have good data on that but there are some very plausible theories and the number one has got to be that there’s more dentists out there now and so there’s more competition.

So we certainly all feel those gaps in our schedule and if there’s more dentists and declining or flat demand for our care, we can see why that creates a problem for us.

One of the explanations for why we may see that flattening or declining in dental care usage is the commoditization of our care. We don’t like to think of our patients as customers, we like to think of our services as being unique and healthcare we’re providing a wonderful service for people but unfortunately for some patients, they believe that a crown is a crown and they can go to a bargain shop for that sort of thing and so it’s up to us to try to educate them about why our services are unique and are special and that a crown that Josh does is obviously much better than a crown that I would do. Not to compare us over dentist necessarily but for education, establish credibility in our communities and let them know that treating our services commodities is not going to be a great move for them.

Graig: So based on those numbers Josh, I think you’ll probably agree with this, when we look at these two things zigzagging and we come to that apex where competition is increasing and demand is decreasing, we have to have differentiating factors that make our practices different.

So being a marketing agency, I go right to “Well, what are we doing differently to attract the people that we want and where are those people?” Because if we’re having less people, that means we have to figure out are they on Google or are they on Facebook or are they at the local coffee shop? Wherever they are.

So let’s tell everyone a little bit about what you think you can do in your own solo practice to survive that statistic because in my mind, I think that that trend continues for a little bit.

Josh: Yes, absolutely. It’s kind of like the Amazon of dentistry. The idea that you need to get people into the door with some sort of baited hook and then hopefully then you can sort of pull that hook and land a prize-winning fish based on what you do in your practice. A lot of it is social proofing.

You can’t just list letters after your name anymore and expect people to just blindly think that that means you’re qualified and then follow the trail of all those letters, of all the associations you’re a member of. I think you have to be out there, be making relationships, be interacting in the online world whether that be in social media, whether that be on in online review sites and then you have to actually be there to deliver the goods.

If you set yourself up as a certain thing in your social media profiles and in your reviews, when they walk in the door they need to experience that same sort of thing and if that happens, if there is that transference of the things that you talked about in your social posting and the things they could talk about in your reviews and in your marketing and then they feel that when they walk in the office and there’s a delivery of those goods, then you already have people buying in and trusting already before they’ve even set down in the hygiene chair and get a treatment plan or whatever it may be. You’re sort of on the right track and you and them are jiving and whatnot. So I think the idea of social proofing is really great.

Graig: That’s a great point because when you said that in my mind, I immediately jumped to people who invest in say like, a lot of pay-per-click ads or online ads with Google Adwords or even Facebook now which is becoming popular in terms of advertising your services is understanding that when someone sees an ad for Invisalign or an implant and maybe you’re doing it yourself or maybe someone’s doing it for you and all of a sudden you plop them onto just your generic family dentistry website, the patient automatically just deflates.

What I want to see in Invisalign or implants, I want to see that specific treatment being taken care of which is all about setting that expectation and I think that expectation starts with your marketing when they first see it and then dovetails into what online property they are visiting what’s the call to action on that online property, so that way when they call and they do come in all those expectations with the website, the reviews, the ad copy all flows with who’s answering the phone, how they’re answering the phone, how your team’s treating them, how you’re treating them and then all those things dovetail together because we all know right now, the research tells us Google is the largest most trusted media on the planet, larger than any newspaper, radio station, TV especially with the advent of fake news if you will. Google has sort of survived all of that and become even more trusted. It’s just helped them more.

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Be Bold And Make Things Happen!
Graig Presti, MBA
CEO Local Search For Dentists®; A 4X Inc 500/5000 Approved Dental Marketing Agency

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