Dental Office Marketing: Marketing Firm Now Offers Pay-for-Performance Dental Office Marketing Program

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In a recent interview Dr. Ninh Nguyen explains why passive dental office marketing programs and untrained office personnel can dramatically affect a dental practice’s growth potential. He argues that to be effective in this day and age a dental office marketing program requires not only tested marketing materials, but a well trained office staff. A pay-for-performance dental office marketing consultant, he starts with the assertion that the measure of any program's success lies in tracking and controlling cost of acquisition.

"Dentists who cannot give a definitive answer to one very basic question more often than not find themselves with a lot of unwanted free time on their hands," says Dr. Ninh Nguyen, President of ND Communication, a dental office marketing firm in San Jose, California.

The question he poses, a familiar one, is simple and direct. "How many up calls did your advertising programs generate last month?" When he asks the question, Ninh always puts a spin on the question placing greater emphasis on the word "programs".

Ninh has dozens more to ask but, more often than not, the answer to this one normally sets the tone for the ensuing conversation. "Dentists who have put their dental office marketing programs on autopilot all too often not only don’t know how many calls their advertising program(s) are generating, they don’t know which of their programs (if, indeed, they have more than one) is providing the greatest return on investment," Ninh says.

"Without a quantifiable answer to the first question and the ones to follow, a dental office marketing program wallows in uncertainty," Ninh asserts.. "It isn’t that the dentists I talk with aren’t aware of the problem. To the contrary, the vast majority know what needs to be done. They just haven’t made a commitment to do it and this stems more often than not from a lack of know how," he continues.

Most new practitioners, according to Ninh, initially go with "the fish bowl" because it is the easiest advertising strategy. The fish bowl is the collective term Ninh uses to refer to passive advertising mediums like the yellow pages. "Relying on yellow page display ads to generate enough office visits to build a business though is a lot like paying to put a business card in a fish bowl at the local pizza parlor in hopes the hourly drawings will result in enough free pizza to feed the family," Ninh says.

"The strategy may very well feed the family and, in fact, pay the rent, but it doesn’t afford the practitioner a cost effective means to build a large practice."

Ninh acknowledges that yellow page advertising, specifically display advertising, will generate a consistent return on investment but the return is normally not enough to stimulate growth and the cost of acquisition can sometimes run as high as $1,000 and that stands in stark contrast to the cost of acquisition his clients are experiencing.

More importantly, passive advertising doesn’t set a dentist apart from the competition and, thereby, put the practitioner at the top of the performance spectrum. "It isn’t enough these days to just get your name out there, your message has to be focused. To be effective advertising has to be attention getting; it has to hold the reader’s interest long enough to stimulate an emotional response; and, finally, it has to motivate the reader to take action," he says.

And the creation of marketing materials that motivate the consumer to take action is only half the equation. "If a dentist’s staff doesn’t know how to convert inquiries into office visits, even the most effective advertising will be rendered ineffective," Ninh goes on to say.

To illustrate his point, Ninh shares a story about one of his early clients. "Dr. ‘P’ invited us into demonstrate our pay for performance program but there was a caveat. He just didn’t see the need for staff training because his receptionist, his sister-in-law, had been working as his office manager for three years and he considered her ‘exceedingly capable’," he says.

Two weeks after the program got started, Ninh followed up only to hear his potential client deride the effectiveness of the effort. "I asked him how many office visits were generated by the program and he was quick to say that had only generated six. When I informed him that over the preceding 15 days his office had received 117 unique calls all of which were forwarded directly to his office through my toll free number, his response was typical and predictable," he said.

"You’re kidding," he said.

"Needless to say, he came to realize that even the best program will fail if the office staff doesn’t know how to convert those calls into office visits," he said.

Coming to the realization that hands-on management is needed is the first step but this, too, presents a problem because most dentists don’t have the time or energy to devote to the task. This is why Ninh advocates intensive staff training. "Before an effective marketing program can be mounted, those tasked to answer the phone have to be trained. If they don’t know how to turn inquiries into office visits, advertising dollars go to waste," he says.

Ninh goes on to provide a typical example. "When a customer calls and asks if the dentist is a male or female, an untrained receptionist just answers the question. In doing so there is a 50% chance that the answer given will turn the caller away," he says. "Instead of answering the question, a trained receptionist will probe the caller to find out why that question was asked in the first place. This dramatically increases the odds the up call will be turned into a visit," he said.

"So it isn’t enough to know what you need to know about the effectiveness of your advertising dollar, you need to know that you can depend on your office staff to do what needs to be done so you can actually track results," Ninh says, "and that’s where we come in."

ND Communications offers its dental office marketing program on a pay for performance basis. In other words, the company doesn’t get paid for its marketing services until the participating dentist sees results. "If we don’t make the phone ring, if a high percentage of those calls aren’t converted to office visits, we don’t get paid," he says.

The company’s dental office marketing program is an outgrowth of personal experience. Dr. Nguyen’s wife, Jacqueline, is a practicing dentist in one of the most competitive areas of San Jose, California. Facing an investment of over $417,326 to get her practice started, they realized

that they had to do something to make sure they recouped their investment. The program Ninh developed to promote his wife’s practice now serves as the foundation of ND Communication’s dental office marketing program.

Dr Nguyen’s background is impressive. After graduating from San Jose State University with a B.A. in Economics and later with an M.A. in Applied Economics, he worked for a number of companies in the Silicon Valley in a variety of capacities: business development, marketing and communications, financial planning and analysis, and strategic planning. He has worked both as an employee and as a marketing consultant for such companies as Sony, Wyse Technologies, MML Investor Services, and Sanmina Corporation to name just a few.

He accepted a professorship on the business faculty at the National Hispanic University and later joined the economics faculty at San Jose State University. He has an applied background in consumer choice models, applied decision sciences, sales techniques and management, economics of education, human capital models, marketing systems, financial economics, operations research/management science, and optimal portfolio strategy.

He also serves as President of ND Communications, a firm that continues to develop and refine marketing and business systems for use in the dental industry. He personally has helped scores of dentists increase patient flow, recession-proof their practices, and increase patient retention by as much as 65%. ND Communications limits itself to dental office marketing and only dental office marketing.

If you are a practicing dentist and wish to give ND Communication’s dental office marketing program a no obligation test drive, you can call him toll free at (800) 737-9019, visit to learn more, or send him an email using the hyperlink located in the right hand column.

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Dr. Ninh Nguyen