Do You Have a Marketing Problem?

July 31, 2020 Paul Henny DDS

Seth Godin recently asked, “What are the symptoms of a marketing problem?” and continued… 

We have a ‘marketing problem’ when: 

  • There are people who would benefit from your work who aren’t engaging with you. 
  • There’s a change you seek to make in the culture, but it’s not happening. 
  • You’re having difficulty persuading other people of your point of view. 
  • The service or product you make isn’t resonating with those you seek to serve. 
  • You’re fighting in a race to the bottom, and it’s wearing you out. 

If you have a marketing problem, how much time are you spending working on a marketing solution? …You can’t solve your marketing problem tomorrow by simply repeating what you did yesterday. 

At the Root of Your Problem

Broaden your thinking and consider what is at the root of why you aren’t doing more of the dentistry you want to do and building a larger base of patients you enjoy. There are two primary reasons why dentists fail at meeting their desired practice goals: 

  1. They’re not very good at delivering on the promise, and therefore aren’t getting very many internal referrals and excellent digital reviews. (Marketing doesn’t solve this. Other things do. This isn’t really a marketing problem, is it?) 
  2. They are not well known in their community for being the genuinely caring and “honest” type of dentist that patients crave most. And they are not well known for being the perfect fit to compassionately and predictably solve complex oral health problems to significantly improve quality of life.  (Marketing can help solve this, but how?) 

Resolving Your Problem

Most dentists naturally focus on developing their skills and then struggle in the shadows with an amazing skill set that few people seem to appreciate. How do you best approach resolving issue #2? That depends on what it is that you’re trying to achieve. What is your purpose? And what are the principles and philosophy that stands behind that purpose? Because it’s your principles and philosophy that you need to be promoting and projecting out into the public sphere, not just the flash…not just the “how to”…and certainly not the doctor dancing around the office and bragging about how great he or she is.  

Patients need to be genuinely impressed and more than satisfied so they spread high praise in your community. You and your entire care team need to give them things to talk aboutwhat it is different about your approach….the relationship they have with you…the experience they have in your office…how well they are informed…the excellent results they enjoy…  

Clearly speak about your principles and philosophy in mindful, emotionally intelligent conversations with patients. Clearly write about your principles and philosophy of practice on your website. Listen and read “well” what patients say about you. What do they love? This is significant content for your website, blog and other external marketing.  

It comes down to: What is it that you can do that is deeply significant to your target audience, and how can you best convey that information and feeling to them on a consistent enough basis that they want your care?  

The foundational, solid relationship you build with them using highly attuned emotional skills will support treatment acceptance congruent with what they value and congruent with what you explain is in their best interest to meet their oral health and smile objectives. 

That’s what marketing is about, and it is both an internal and external process that must be constantly fine-tuned and consistently evolving within yourself, within your interactions, and within your messaging inside and outside of your practice walls. 

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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The Four Universal Promises of Leadership – Part 4

July 27, 2020 Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

In previous parts of this series, we looked at a definition of leadership, the commitment it requires, and the first two of four universal promises of leadership. The first promise was the promise to set a clear direction and create meaningful work for the organization you lead. The second was the promise to engage all stakeholders and hold them accountable for performance. Now we will look at promise three.

The Third Universal Promise

You will ensure your strategies, systems and processes facilitate focus and execution.

Selecting the strategies, systems and processes that serve your vision best is a leadership function. Execution of the systems is a management function involving the entire team, including you, the dentist.

Strategies are designed to fit your destination. Strategies, systems and processes efficiently channel actions into results. The ongoing results create feedback for refining your focus, systems and processes. This promise of leadership is about keeping the team (and yourself) focused on execution and minimizing distractions.

Focus Versus Distractions

Practice owners are flooded with messages that distract them. The entire dental industry targets them with promotions for things, services, and behaviors. They are told many versions of what they should buy and should do in order to succeed. Other distractions come in the form of emotions and self-doubt that become barriers to living out their dreams. Those “should” messages, emotions and self-doubt serve as continuous distractions from everything that is important.

Leaders sometimes break the third universal promise of leadership by:

  • Not providing or managing their critical resources.
  • Allowing distractions that diminish their focus or lead to inaction.
  • Ineffective or inadequate processes.
  • Becoming addicted to the process rather than results.

Here are two examples:

  • One of those distracting messages leads you to buy the latest and greatest technology. It uses up your capital resources, and you then hesitate to purchase the fundamental instruments, equipment and materials that your organization needs to perform at its best. If you were to live this all over again, you would have made a different decision. If you are clear that your strategies and budget are designed to get you to your destination, you can discipline yourself to refrain from such impulse purchases in the future.
  • You read an article or talk to a colleague who is trying the latest hottest strategy for practice building. It is in conflict with everything that you have said that you believe in and hope for. You wonder if you are doing the right thing. Your doubt leads to team confusion and disillusion. This is getting you nowhere. Now you find you have to go back and clarify your vision, mission and values to reset your strategies, systems and processes as aligned steppingstones to your destination. With determination and hope, you can and will refocus and get back on track!

Keep Hope Alive

Breaking promises is exhausting and energy stealing. It builds resentment and degrades hope.

Our organizational brand and our effectiveness as a leader are about the promises that we make and keeping them. I firmly believe the first and last task of a leader is to keep hope alive…the hope that we are finding our way to a better place. That place is the destination we call our vision!

Until next week and Part 5

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Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Dr. Edwin A. McDonald III received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Economics from Midwestern State University. He earned his DDS degree from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Dr. McDonald has completed extensive training in dental implant dentistry through the University of Florida Center for Implant Dentistry. He has also completed extensive aesthetic dentistry training through various programs including the Seattle Institute, The Pankey Institute and Spear Education. Mac is a general dentist in Plano Texas. His practice is focused on esthetic and restorative dentistry. He is a visiting faculty member at the Pankey Institute. Mac also lectures at meetings around the country and has been very active with both the Dallas County Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. Currently, he is a student in the Naveen Jindal School of Business at the University of Texas at Dallas pursuing a graduate certificate in Executive and Professional Coaching. With Dr. Joel Small, he is co-founder of Line of Sight Coaching, dedicated to helping healthcare professionals develop leadership and coaching skills that improve the effectiveness, morale and productivity of their teams.

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Your Patients Want Thorough Oral Cancer Screening

July 20, 2020 Deborah Bush, MA

Why Patients Want Early Detection

For more than a decade, there has been an increase in the occurrence of head and neck cancers in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, over 53,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer in 2020. Worldwide, new cases of oral and oropharyngeal cancer exceed a devastating 640,000 people per year.

Head and neck cancers include those occurring in the lips, mouth, tongue, and throat. These cancers are often referred to as oral cancer or oropharyngeal (back of the mouth and throat) cancer. There are two distinct pathways by which most people develop these cancers. The one most familiar is through the use of tobacco and alcohol, and the other is through exposure to the HPV-16 virus (human papilloma virus, version 16). HPV-16 is a more recently identified etiology and the same one that is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women. In less than 7% of oral cancer cases, there is no known cause, and it is believed that these cancers are related to a genetic predisposition.

While oral and oropharyngeal cancers are still considered uncommon, The Oral Cancer Foundation reported in 2019 that approximately 132 people in the US are diagnosed each day and one person dies from oral cancer every hour of every day. This sobering statistic has not improved in many years. The most recent statistics reported by the American Cancer Society indicate there has been an ongoing rise in cases of oropharyngeal cancer linked to HPV infection in both men and women.

Oral cancers have an 80%-90% survival rate when found at early stages. Unfortunately, the majority of oral cancers are found in the late stages and this is the reason for the very high five-year death rate of 43%. Late-stage diagnosis is said to be a result of many complex conditions including a lack of public awareness and a lack of professional screenings in dental and medical offices.

Automatically Include Cancer Screening

Within your exam fee, I urge you to include a thorough oral cancer exam. Make sure your patients know the screening is automatically included in your new patient and regular exams. While performing the screening, talk about what you are doing and why. Patients are becoming more and more proactive about their health and are more than pleased to know about the inclusion of the screening. This is a health-centered benefit of your practice that will distinguish you. If your patients are aware that you are doing it, they will mention it to others and their confidence in you will grow.

If you find you and your team are struggling to implement this, you can reach out to OralCancerCause.org for ideas and coaching.

Another Opportunity to Engage New Patients

My friend Linda Miles, co-founder of Oral Cancer Cause, says, “During the last few years of my teleconsults, I encouraged each dentist to develop a strong relationship with their local oncologists, radiologists and ENT specialists so that he or she would become the go-to dentist to do dental clearances for all cancer patients especially the head and neck cancer patients. In order to start radiation or chemo, all pending dental treatment must be completed. This ranges from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars per patient to the practice. Dental Oncology is a growth path many should develop.”

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Deborah Bush, MA

Deb Bush is a freelance writer specializing in dentistry and a subject matter expert on the behavioral and technological changes occurring in dentistry. Before becoming a dental-focused freelance writer and analyst, she served as the Communications Manager for The Pankey Institute, the Communications Director and a grant writer for the national Preeclampsia Foundation, and the Content Manager for Patient Prism. She has co-authored and ghost-written books for dental authorities, and she currently writes for multiple dental brands which keeps her thumb on the pulse of trends in the industry.

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We All Need Personal Power

July 13, 2020 Paul Henny DDS

Life is a lot like a game, it’s a series of physical, emotional, and financial interactions with our environment and others. Sometimes we “win,” and sometimes we “lose.” And sometimes all we can do is just learn, so that the next time a similar situation comes around, the outcome will be more favorable for us. In this context, we can also view life as a series of negotiations… negotiations with ourselves, negotiations with others, and negotiations with our environment.

On this, psychologist Jordan Peterson, Ph.D. states: “You can’t negotiate from a position of weakness. You need to understand that if you want to advance your career and yourself you must negotiate with others. And this is because, even if you are competent at what you do, but you remain silent, you will be ignored. So, in the grand scheme of things, what you can do will not even be considered. You will just be a part of the background which is keeping everything functioning for everyone else.”

To develop ourselves, and to become successful, we must, therefore, be both competent AND strategic. We must be able to say to ourselves and to others (directly and indirectly), “This is who I am. This is what I believe. This is what I can do to make your life better, easier, or more fulfilling.” But that kind of posture, that kind of clarity, and that kind of purposefulness, is only useful within the context of a helping relationship, where the meaning of “better,” “easier,” and “more fulfilling,” can be discussed and negotiated.

In the posture of a helping relationship, we are in a position to make a better offer than doing nothing. Truly helping relationships with our patients require personal power, and personal power is both principle-centered and reciprocal, as the power actually comes from the other person and their belief in us.

In situations where we have no personal power, because we have not or cannot establish a truly helping relationship, we rely on other means to advance our agenda, such as leveraging convenience, emotions, pride, deception, loyalty to a third party, fear, and so forth.When we do this, our principles are lost, as is the greatest potential for the other person to believe in us.

Remember, you have the personal power to continually reassess relationships with patients and choose whether or not proceeding with a relationship in its current form is helpful. Helping the other person have personal power… creating experiences that earn trust… choosing to manage relationships with our patients first… then, offering true help and discussing why it is better… this is the path that positively influences everything else downstream.

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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The Four Universal Promises of Leadership – Part 3

July 9, 2020 Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

In previous parts of this series we looked at leadership, the self-commitment it requires, and the first of four universal promises of leadership. The first was the promise to set a clear direction and create meaningful work for the organization you lead.

The Second Universal Promise

You will engage all stakeholders and hold them accountable for performance.

Engaging your team members is about the connection with each of them individually and also as a team. Getting to know and understand each person requires intelligent and thoughtful communication. This communication includes asking insightful questions, listening with all of your senses to the language used and the emotions expressed and experienced. This will expand your understanding and communicate significance to each individual in a very powerful way. 

You have heard this expression: ”Getting the right people in the right seats on the bus.” One of the most important functions of a leader is to evaluate the gifts and talents of each person so that you can put them to work in the best position on the team. Facilitating each individual’s understanding of how their work contributes to reaching our destination provides motivation, clarity, meaning, and accountability. ”Coaching as a Leadership Style” focuses much of our work as a leader on the development of the gifts and talents of the individuals in our organization. When this happens, we have really begun to bring out their inherent potential…the gifts, talents, discretionary energy, and passion of the individuals we lead.

From Ordinary to Extraordinary

Ray McElroy speaks on the topic of “To Boldly Go – Stepping Out of the Ordinary to the Extraordinary.” Ray’s background includes spending six seasons in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions, and the Chicago Bears. A native of Chicago and a graduate of Eastern Illinois University, Ray also served as Team Chaplain for the Chicago Bears Organization from 2008-2013.

McElroy says, “Ordinary people with average talent can accomplish extraordinary things.” He urges us to “see where you want to be and work on getting there.” He asks us to ponder these questions:

  • What do you know that nobody else knows? 
  • What do you see that nobody else sees? 
  • What can you do that nobody else can do or will do? 
  • We need a team around us in the valley … Who’s your crew? 

I ask you to ponder these questions:

  • Who on the team knows things no one else knows?
  • Who on the team sees things no one else sees?
  • Who can and will do something no one else can and will do?
  • How can you best position team members to contribute their best?
  • What do you need to do to better lead your crew?

From Compliance to Commitment

When the organizational culture supports people in such a way that they thrive, strive to contribute, and are valued for their contributions, there is a shift from compliance to commitment to the cause, resulting in dramatic increases in individual and organizational performance. It is a 1 + 1 = 3 phenomenon. 

From Values to Accountability

Our deeply held values become our standard of accountability, both individually and collectively. In Part 2 of this series, I provided the example of performing an After Action Review (AAR) in a morning huddle. When we debrief on previous behavior as a team, everyone is invited to reflect on whether we could have performed better to support our foundational values. One of the foundational values of how we work as a team in my practice is to encourage team members to discern and discuss failures to support our agreed upon values. Anyone is welcome to point out violations. We then look at behavior that violated our values and discuss what would have been better behavior. It provides clarity for everyone.  

A primary goal of leadership is helping each individual and the team, as a whole, become clear on the essential vision, mission and values of the organization. If we confuse, we lose. Clarity wins and is a primary driver of performance. 

Until next week and Part 4

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Understanding that “form follows function” is critical for knowing how to blend what looks good with what predictably functions well. E3 is the phase of your Essentials journey in which…

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Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Dr. Edwin A. McDonald III received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Economics from Midwestern State University. He earned his DDS degree from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Dr. McDonald has completed extensive training in dental implant dentistry through the University of Florida Center for Implant Dentistry. He has also completed extensive aesthetic dentistry training through various programs including the Seattle Institute, The Pankey Institute and Spear Education. Mac is a general dentist in Plano Texas. His practice is focused on esthetic and restorative dentistry. He is a visiting faculty member at the Pankey Institute. Mac also lectures at meetings around the country and has been very active with both the Dallas County Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. Currently, he is a student in the Naveen Jindal School of Business at the University of Texas at Dallas pursuing a graduate certificate in Executive and Professional Coaching. With Dr. Joel Small, he is co-founder of Line of Sight Coaching, dedicated to helping healthcare professionals develop leadership and coaching skills that improve the effectiveness, morale and productivity of their teams.

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The Surprising Impact of Flavored Topical Anesthetic

July 8, 2020 Lee Ann Brady DMD

When I bought my dental practice in Glendale, Arizona, eight years ago, they were offering patients a choice of flavors for topical anesthetic. I truthfully thought it was silly and that we would stop doing it. With experience, however, I came to realize that giving a choice was valuable for both patients and team members. Today we are still offering a choice of flavors.

When a patient is seated, the dental assistant will say, “As you know, as part of the process for getting you numb, we will be using a topical anesthetic. We have five flavors and you get to tell me which flavor you would like to use today.”

It is really interesting to listen to the dialog, but also to realize what is happening for the patient. The choice gives the patient an opportunity to settle into a conversation and something to focus on other than that they will be getting an injection and the logistics of that.

The process almost creates a fun, quirky conversation, as the patient thinks about the choices. Sometimes patients say, “You choose, and I’ll guess which one it is. Let’s see if it really tastes like that.” When patients pose themselves this challenge, the whole time I am giving the injection, they are trying to figure out which flavor of topical we have used.

Sometimes patients ask, “Which flavor is your favorite?” or “What do other patients like most?” In this case, we talk about it.

We have the mint flavors everyone else has but we also rotate in cherry, strawberry, bubble gum and pina colada. In summer, we offer watermelon. At any one time, we typically have five flavors and they vary throughout the year. A patient who has come in a few times, may even start the conversation with, “Do you have any new flavors for me to try today?”

One of my favorite conversations is whether the pina colada actually has rum in it and how funny it would be if we could just use the rum. An ice-breaker conversation such as this is a great way for us to ease the tension at the front end of an appointment that will require anesthetic. It truly adds an element of fun that has become for us a practice distinguisher.

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Lee Ann Brady DMD

Dr. Lee Ann Brady is passionate about dentistry, her family and making a difference. She is a general dentist and owns a practice in Glendale, AZ limited to restorative dentistry. Lee’s passion for dental education began as a CE junkie herself, pursuing lots of advanced continuing education focused on Restorative and Occlusion. In 2005, she became a full time resident faculty member for The Pankey Institute, and was promoted to Clinical Director in 2006. Lee joined Spear Education as Executive VP of Education in the fall of 2008 to teach and coordinate the educational curriculum. In June of 2011, she left Spear Education, founded leeannbrady.com and joined the dental practice she now owns as an associate. Today, she teaches at dental meetings and study clubs both nationally and internationally, continues to write for dental journals and her website, sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry, Inside Dentistry and DentalTown Magazines and is the Director of Education for The Pankey Institute.

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