Insider Tips: Irv Lubis, Periodontist and Dental Marketing Pioneer
Oct 2nd, 2014 | By Becky Sheetz-Runkle | Category: Featured Articles from www.MarketingforDentalSpecialists.com
Before founding Dental Success Marketing and Periodontal Success Marketing 27 years ago, Dr. Irv Lubis practiced periodontics for more than 30 years. As a pioneer in dental and periodontal marketing, direct-to-consumer marketing accounted for 25% of his practice. He now works full time in his marketing business, and lectures nationally and internationally on topics such as dental marketing and practice development. He has produced more than 30 educational videos on marketing topics.
Tell us about the work you do for dentists and specialists.
My work is based on my experience as a periodontist. When I began actively marketing my practice 30 years ago, I was one of the first—if not the first—periodontist to do direct-to-consumer marketing. This included a very successful advertising campaign.
I did internal marketing to other dentists, too, including a promotional resume. I also subscribed to a periodontal marketing newsletter, which was an important strategy for me. While not all practice managers know how to measure the effectiveness of newsletters, they are one of the most effective tools a specialist needs to build his or her practice.
Since 1996, I’ve taught internal and external marketing to periodontists. I offer seminars and lecture on marketing to general dentists and specialists all over the country, as well as in the Middle East and Europe.
What excites and energizes you most about your work with dentists?
Here is an example: I worked with a periodontist in Dubuque, Iowa, whose practice was slow. He bought my DVD and my ad. It’s working so well that his practice has improved measurably. He has more implant candidates coming in and more patients accepting care. The practice became so successful that he was able to buy a dental laser. I have a periodontal laser ad, which he also purchased. His practice has never been busier. It makes me feel good—to help dentists build their practices and help patients get the care they need and deserve.
It also gives me pleasure to conduct seminars for dentists who understand the value of marketing. I’m no longer practicing, but I love to give back for the great years I had as a periodontist. That’s my calling and my goal in life.
*The implant ad which my periodontist marketing client in Dubuque used, in addition to the perio-systemic links ads and laser perio ads, are guaranteed, copyrighted, and are available on an exclusive basis for your practice.
What are the top dental marketing tips you’d like to share with dental specialists?
1. Number one is huge: Ask patients to refer others. This is something dentists have difficulty with. They are hesitant to ask because they think their work should speak for itself. But there is a technique and timing to asking for referrals. Dentists and their staff should recognize opportunities. A compliment is the best opening you can get. Really, any type of favorable response is an opportunity. Another great opportunity occurs when the dentist has completed treatment and has a happy and satisfied patient. That is the time to ask. I’ve developed a script that thanks the patient for their cooperation as a patient and asks how they feel the treatment went. This is designed to elicit a favorable response. The dentist should say that the office would be happy to have them refer someone who may need this type of care. I like to reward the new patient by offering a free examination, and the patient who makes the referral with a free cleaning visit. I believe this sweat equity is well worth it.
2. The second tip is to utilize a voice message when a patient calls the office and is placed on hold. I think so many offices are missing out on a fabulous opportunity to talk about their wonderful practices while their patients are on hold with bad music, silence or—even worse—beeping. I recommend a company that I think is the best out there with a guaranteed product made in the United States: InTouch Practice Communications. It’s the only one to be endorsed by ADA for voice messages on hold and auto-confirmation of appointments by telephone.
3. Dental specialists should have an effective, well-put-together, professional resume that they send to each new patient before the appointment. It should have information about the practice and the specialty, and explain the treatment. The promotional resumes should have a smiling picture of the specialist. The purpose is not to build you up, but to serve the patient.
What are the biggest mistakes you have seen dentists make over the years?
I don’t know if I’d say they are errors, but most marketing efforts dentists make don’t work. Then they get frustrated with marketing in general. Though popular, I don’t think mailers are very effective. You don’t attract the patients you’d like to attract with them. Letters sent to the community to introduce a dental specialist don’t work from a return-on-investment standpoint.
Most practices don’t do enough of the right things. I often see a lack of enthusiasm and unwillingness to spend money to get the proper advice and effectively implement programs. There is a certain degree of naive belief that patients will come to you simply because you open a practice. This is because most dentists haven’t had a marketing course in their dental school training—and if they did, it was taught by people who aren’t as knowledgeable in marketing as they might be. They may have come from the golden era when it was much easier to put up a shingle and attract patients.
Marketing must be taken seriously. Some periodontists are having trouble finding work. I’ve been asked to develop a dental marketing program for periodontal residents at Rutgers University, and I’ve also lectured to periodontal residents at New York University. This kind of education is not the norm, but I’m pleased to see it gaining momentum.
What are the biggest changes and trends impacting dental specialists?
Unfortunately, the future doesn’t look altogether bright. General dentists aren’t referring as many patients to specialists. This means care for some patients may be lacking, because their follow-up and reevaluation is often not the same standard as a specialist’s would be.
General dentistry training has something to do with it. Residency programs are providing real exposure to treatments like implants. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, if the dentists are properly trained.
The periodontic field is changing, too, and general dentists are hiring periodontists as the shift to corporate dentistry grows.
These are serious challenges. What’s a just-out-of-school periodontic resident to do?
They have unbelievable debt due to student loans—in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. If they can’t find a job as a periodontist, I’m sure many are taking jobs as general dentists right out of school. They may need to change their location and make adjustments to their lifestyle and expectations. I know a very successful periodontist who couldn’t sell his practice because no one wanted to move to upstate New York. Today, dental specialists need to be more flexible than was necessary in previous generations.
How does your work help dentists address the changes and challenges in dentistry?
I mentioned the customized ads we have for implants and periodontists. We also do Yellow and Web page display ads. Very few people make guarantees these days—but these ads are guaranteed to work. I also lead “Winning Breakthrough Marketing Strategies” seminars for study clubs and local and state dental societies. I’ve done these for 20 years.
Learn more about Dr. Irv Lubis at www.dentalsuccessmarketing.com and www.periodontalsuccessmarketing.com.
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