AI is the future of marketing. To help you get ahead of the curve, Kirk Behrendt brings in Dr. Christian Coachman and Brendon Macdonald from Digital Smile Design with strategies for leveraging its power in your dental practice. Increase your literacy in the most exciting and transformational technology of the century! To learn how AI can boost and grow your business, listen to Episode 631 of The Best Practices Show!
Links Mentioned in This Episode:
Register for Brendon’s DSD course (November 2023)
Register for DSD courses
Learn to leverage AI.
Have the beginner’s mind.
Focus on building your brand.
Master the strategies to earn trust.
It’s now possible to insource marketing.
“Right now, you will feel overwhelmed, and you will feel that it’s too much, the AI movement that’s coming towards us. But the reality is everybody is in the same position. If you’re thinking about it, you’re ahead of most people already.” (9:58—10:15) -Brendon
“Marketing is not medicine. Marketing is food. So, it’s a little every day, feeding, feeding. It’s not a magical medicine, and people treat marketing as medicine. ‘I’m going to pay. I don’t care about paying a lot right now. I’m going to take this, and I want a solution.’” (15:10—15:29) -Dr. Coachman
“Dentists do make good money. But there’s a lot going out, and they only have a small percentage that they can allocate to their marketing budget in order to be sustainable. The good news is, now with AI and the right systems and processes, 100%, you can do everything that is needed to benefit. That’s what I’m really excited about. I can say that with complete authority because the moment we’re in right now is that no longer do we have to eat the fish — we can actually build the net. This is the problem that most dental offices have, is that they were just catching fish and eating the fish. They were paying fish by fish, which is their marketing tactics, whereas the net that you can build is the brand, the culture, and the trust.” (15:42—16:34) -Brendon
“The exciting position we’re all in as small business owners, as dental clinic owners, is that it is completely possible now to do it on your own, to insource your marketing. That’s my new message. That’s the new thing I believe, is that you no longer have to outsource your marketing efforts. That’s the key for me, and that’s the exciting piece.” (18:38—18:59) -Brendon
“Insourcing your marketing, even before AI, was already the most powerful thing or the most efficient thing to do. It was financially not feasible for the huge majority. But if you see the doctors that are really killing it on marketing, they have a mini agency inside their practice — at least one person. They have a videographer. They have a schedule every week. They know how to generate content in a bunch so they can spread through six months. They have a system.” (19:00—19:36) -Dr. Coachman
“In order to insource your marketing, you need to have a full-time content manager. That’s someone who takes control of the content creation, the writing, the social media updates, interviewing your subject matter experts, your patients. You, as the owner, or the manager, or the dentist cannot be doing that, and you shouldn’t be bothered with that. That’s why you pay that individual what you need to pay them, their full-time salary . . . And they need to be able to leverage [AI] because then it’s going to make them much more effective. They’re going to produce much more content, and they can keep the quality.” (19:44—20:30) -Brendon
“The reality is more and more people are going to learn, ‘Write me a blog post about smile makeovers. Write me a blog post about the cost of dental implants.’ And then, the machine is going to produce blogs, and maybe I can do one a day very, very easily, very quickly. The reality is the quality won’t be that great.” (20:39—20:55) -Brendon
“If you had a choice, you would focus on the quality. So, you do the quality. But obviously, if you can do quality with quantity, then you’re leaps ahead of the competition. I think we have about 12 to 18 months of first-mover advantage, especially in the dental industry. What I see is when I’m talking about it, people are completely overwhelmed, and then find reasons not to do it. So, they don’t want to embrace it for bigger questions and bigger reasons. But you have to be pragmatic and realistic. I think we can’t solve the big existential question — which, there is. But in the meantime, in my dental clinic, I need to get somebody who can leverage and take advantage of it while there is still the first-mover advantage.” (21:13—22:02) -Brendon
“Marketing agencies are almost like lawyers. Everybody always complains about them. People usually hate lawyers and marketeers because they always feel like they’re paying too much and not getting the results.” (22:23—22:37) -Dr. Coachman
“What normally happens is because you have a problem, you go search for a provider. The provider presents a solution. And then, in your head, you mentally tick that off and you move on. ‘I bought the solution. All my problems have gone away.’ The reality is that the work has just begun. It’s a joint venture. It’s a partnership. And then, the challenge is that the parties start to point fingers at each other, saying, ‘Hey, we need this information from you,’ and you’re saying, ‘Well, I’m paying you. Why should I do extra work? You should know this.’ And so, we get into this balance, and it’s a cycle that is constant.” (23:07—23:52) -Brendon
“Usually, people reach for marketing when they are feeling a problem. ‘Oh my God, things are not as easy as it used to be. I’m not getting as many patients as I used to. My word-of-mouth is not as good as it used to be. New practices with younger people are opening down the road. I feel the pressure. I feel the competition. DSOs, cool new practices with new architecture and new technology. I need new patients. I have a problem,’ when we should say, ‘I don’t have a problem. I’m already doing very well. Let me find a marketing strategy to continue not having a problem, long term.’” (23:59—24:42) -Dr. Coachman
“I had a conversation with a doctor on the weekend, and that was the exact conversation I had. He’s like, ‘I’ve never needed marketing. I am doing extremely well. We’ve been in business over 50 years. Word-of-mouth is strong. I’m so busy that I don’t even want to think about adding more people.’ And I said to him, ‘This is the time you need to double down and find different strategies, different sources of patients, because you have the flexibility, the bandwidth, and the cash flow to be able to deal with it. When the cash flow is tight, then it’s a vicious cycle because then you cut, you can’t try, there’s too much pressure on a situation. You don’t give it enough time for it to play out, and so you stop things before they get started. And so, for anybody listening, I think if things are going really well, then I encourage you to double down on understanding how to insource your marketing and how to leverage the artificial intelligence. Now is your opportunity because you’re best placed because you have the bandwidth.” (24:43—25:48) -Brendon
“The main currency of any business is trust — the ability to earn trust. I earn enough trust from you to give me your hard-earned money to do your service. In a digital world, we need to have signals, and entities, and environments that demonstrate and earn this trust without having met us in person because, obviously, it’s easier for most dentists to earn the trust of the patient. But to get their attention, first of all, is a big thing. To then keep their attention and earn their trust to get them to walk through the door is many obstacles and hurdles to clear. And so, it comes down to answering the questions that everybody has, the very basic questions, the five topics that every prospective patient has that almost no dentist talks about online. That’s the way you’re going to get someone’s attention.” (27:17—28:18) -Brendon
“When we’re searching for information online, what happens when you get to a website, and you can’t find the information quickly? What’s the F-word of the internet? I always call it the F-word of the internet. It’s frustration. You get frustrated. Do you think, ‘Oh, no. This is a value-based business. You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to fill in the contact form. I’m going to wait for them to email me back. I’m going to call them, and I’m going to let them explain to me all the things that I want to understand’? No, you’re not going to do that. You’re going to jump to the next place within a few seconds. And so, that’s what we have to do. We have to develop that environment. And it’s a very simple marketing strategy — just answer the questions. I wish it was more complicated than that, but you have to talk about the topics that no one wants to talk about.” (28:18—29:09) -Brendon
“It’s very hard to find truthful reviews, truthful information about the considered purchase that I’m having, because everyone has a vested interest. Everyone has a horse in the race. So, you’re always, when you’re reading something, trying to understand how much of it is weighted towards the provider and how much is actually useful, truthful information. So, that’s the challenge.” (31:29—31:55) -Brendon
“To earn trust, you have to talk about things that no one else wants to talk about. You have to show things that no one else wants to show. And you have to sell like no one else wants to sell. That’s how you earn trust.” (31:59—32:13) -Brendon
“[How you earn trust is] admitting, ‘I’m here to sell to you, to convince you,’ admitting that and being straight to the point . . . It’s not only being transparent but saying exactly what people want to know, not having a strategy behind — like in the past, saying, ‘Let’s not mention the price right now so that people will be curious and enter a funnel, and then they’re going to ask a second question, and then we’re going to do this, and then we’re going to twist everything around, upside down, because I’m scared to tell my price.’” (32:13—32:46) -Dr. Coachman
“How many dental websites have you come across that have a pricing page or talk about their competitors? None. And how many of your prospective patients want to know those two things, how you compare to your competitors and what your prices are? So, think about it. You have all these individuals who are trying to understand who they can trust. Two key things. There are three other topics, but we’ll focus on that one. ‘How much will it cost me to get this dream smile or this treatment done with you?’ ‘Oh, it’s very complicated. It depends. You need to come in. Because it’s biology, it’s impossible for me to tell.’ And I don’t want to scare you away. I want to make sure that you’re in my office so I can convince you that I’m the right person. That’s not going to interest.” (32:50—33:40) -Brendon
“What’s the most searched-for term on the internet in the dental industry? What would you guess is the most searched-for phrase in Google, at the moment, as a patient? If you had to guess, what would you think it would be? . . . ‘How much does a dental implant cost?’ . . . You need to understand why — because no one talks about it . . . No dentist gives a clear answer. And they have a justified reason. They say, ‘Listen, everybody is different. We don’t know what’s going on in your mouth. We cannot give you a cost because we have no idea.’ But the reality is that me as a prospective patient, I can afford to have this treatment. But I do want to know the range. I don’t want to be embarrassed. I don’t want to go down this path where I am in front of you, and you tell me a price that if I had realized, I wouldn’t have gone down this route. And then, you burn any opportunity in the future because I’m too embarrassed to come back to you . . . So, it might be, ‘I’m going to save this money, and then I’m going to come to you in two years’ time,’ which happens with DSD treatments.” (33:54—35:12) -Brendon
“We can easily defend the dentist and say, ‘Look, every treatment is customized.’ But it’s very easy for you to take a few examples and say, ‘Look, I don’t know exactly how much your treatment will cost because there are some variables. I can give you a range. But what I can say, and I already have it on my website, check this case from A to Z. This lady, Mary, came to us with this problem, this problem, and this problem. We did six implants, a full-implant arch on the top, some composite extractions on the lower, plus a bridge. Her treatment cost exactly this.’ Boom, you solve the problem.” (35:28—36:07) -Dr. Coachman
“You can talk about the variables that add cost — you don’t have to talk about the exact treatment — so that when you are speaking to your patient about all the elements that you have, your website has already spoken about that. If you have this, it’s X. If you had this, this is the range. They have an understanding, so it’s not a big shock. You could say, like, ‘Your mouth means you need these three variables. As you know, these variables add costs.’” (36:08—36:31) -Brendon
“One of the reasons why aligners became a revolution in dentistry is this: because, suddenly, ortho had a very clear range that was actually promoted by the companies that, ‘This treatment costs from here to there.’ Everybody suddenly felt comfortable, ‘When I have this money, I’m going to do it.’ There’s no embarrassment. There’s no anxiety. There’s no barrier. I have the information, and it’s on my priority list, and I’m going to do it.” (36:35—37:04) -Dr. Coachman
“Trust is going to become the most precious thing. So, everything that you can learn about generating trust is going to be extremely precious and something really valuable to learn.” (54:30—54:46) -Dr. Coachman
“One of the things that I think is very powerful to generate trust that I always share is to express passion — true passion. It’s not that easy to demonstrate true passion because you can sound fake, and you can sound arrogant. There are many mistakes that you can incur when trying to express passion. But this happens naturally when you’re really passionate. When you practice your speech with passion, people immediately trust you because the brain works very simple. They see you demonstrating or explaining something with passion, or talking about dentistry with passion, talking about the reason why you do dentistry with passion. People listen to you and they say, ‘I don’t understand what he’s saying, but I can see that he’s very passionate about it. That probably means that he does that a lot because he loves it. If he does it a lot, he probably does it very well. And if he does it very well, I probably should trust him.’ So, maybe that’s a good way to start when you start generating content, or when you’re starting to fine-tune the content that AI is giving to you. That is the one thing that AI cannot give you. Passion, zero. AI will give you great content with zero passion. So, you need to master the process of putting your touch and translating it into your passion with your passion.” (54:52—56:31) -Dr. Coachman
“There’s one skill that you will need, and that’s what served me in where I’ve got to, is this beginner’s mind, this idea of being obsessed with learning, because I do think with the advent of the technology wave that’s coming our way and everything that’s changing, you need to have an ability to learn quickly. I think if you can master that skill, you have a skill that will take you as far as you need to go. And then, finally, to build your brand in your dental office, just be obsessed with the questions that your patients are asking. Just start there. It’s not complicated. It’s very simple. Every question you hear, ‘Let me answer it,’ and then you go from there. It will take you places that you’ll be surprised.” (57:33—58:19) -Brendon
4:21 Brendon’s background.
7:28 Take advantage of being an early adopter.
13:41 Marketing is food, not medicine.
16:58 Be the most trusted voice in your space.
22:02 Mistakes to avoid in marketing.
26:08 Avoid the F-word of the internet.
37:06 Brendon and Dr. Coachman’s journey.
43:54 The three pillars of Digital Smile Design.
51:12 Last thoughts.
58:21 More about DSD.
Dr. Christian Coachman Bio:
Combining his advanced skills, experience, and technology solutions, Dr. Christian Coachman pioneered the Digital Smile Design methodology and founded Digital Smile Design company (DSD). Since its inception, thousands of dentists worldwide have attended DSD courses and workshops, such as the renowned DSD Residency program.
Dr. Coachman is the developer of worldwide, well-known concepts such as the Digital Smile Design, the Pink Hybrid Implant Restoration, the Digital Planning Center, Emotional Dentistry, Interdisciplinary Treatment Simulation, and Digital Smile Donator.
He regularly consults for dental industry companies, developing products, implementing concepts, and marketing strategies, such as the Facially Driven Digital Orthodontic Workflow developed in collaboration with Invisalign, Align Technology.
He has lectured and published internationally in the fields of esthetic and digital dentistry, dental photography, oral rehabilitation, dental ceramics, implants, and communication strategies and marketing in dentistry.
Brendon Macdonald Bio:
Brendon Macdonald is the Founder and CEO of Yello Veedub Inbound Marketing Agency, a Gold Certified Hubspot Partner. Prior to starting Yello Veedub in 2015, Brendon was involved in several social media consulting and management businesses focusing and specializing in the global dental sector.
Brendon has extensive experience in digital marketing strategies in the B2B & B2C healthcare and e-commerce sectors. He has a Bachelor of Economics from Rhodes University (2003) and worked in investment banking for a number of years before starting his own businesses in the retail sector and marketing for dental practices, respectively.