26 min readThe Jameson Files 108 – Dental Marketing with Nate Porter

Carrie Webber, Owner, The Jameson Group

Carrie Webber [00:00:10] Welcome back to another episode of the Jameson Files. I’m Carrie Webber and I’ll be your host once again and I’m really excited today because this episode we’re going to be spending time with one of my teammates here at Jameson our Chief Marketing Officer Nate Porter So Nate thank you so much for joining me today. 

Nate Porter [00:00:32] Thanks for inviting me. 

Carrie Webber [00:00:33] You know I wanted to spend some time with you on the on the podcast because what we’re going to talk about today is marketing. And boy oh boy. Is that a continuously hot topic in dentistry. Everyone is constantly on the search for How can I get a better result and have a better impact and reach the right people for my practice through my marketing efforts. And since your time here with Jameson we’ve really pivoted a lot of our focus and our approach is based upon your experience in marketing over the past decade in your continuous study and curiosity of marketing. So I’m just thrilled to have some time to let you share some of your key takeaways. For anyone listening or watching maybe you’re wanting to take a good hard look at your marketing efforts what are some areas that we could focus on. But first I’d love for you to share a little bit of your story of how you found yourself in marketing how you found such great success in your marketing efforts and what you’re bringing to the table in dental marketing now. 

Nate Porter [00:01:46] Yeah thanks. 

Nate Porter [00:01:47] So I spent the first period of my career sort of in sales and software development that can thing in a few different companies, IT companies and other types of companies. And one thing that, you know, before working here I worked at a company that was focused on providing software solutions to nonprofit organizations. And we we were faced with this challenge which was how do we reach these nonprofit organizations not a government organization thing like that that are not either in a specific geographic region and I have a very broad series of topics and things like that. And so our sales team structure at that point was really focused on outbound efforts really focused on trying to generate leads and connect with with people that way. And it was very taxing. A lot of traveling to events and speaking things like that. And it was not all that successful. And so that was when I sort of took it on myself to start researching and figuring out how the heck do we meet. Do we, you know, attract these people that we really want to reach, maybe and locate it locally or in Germany or wherever. 

Nate Porter [00:03:06] And so we started taking approach of really focusing on content marketing really focusing on creating content that was unique to the topic that we were you know interested in and providing solutions for. And it was it was a night and day difference. It took us probably two or three months to really build up some momentum with that but all of a sudden we had people reaching out to us that we had never talked to before we never contacted or had never heard of us before and saying we read about the way you do this and we want to work with you because you do it the way we want or you match our values and that kind of thing. So our whole sales team was turned on its head from being primarily lead generation and outbound to now just processing and serving and answering the questions of people who are reaching out to us. So that was my first foray and I was like, wow this this works! 

Nate Porter [00:04:05] And I kind of I kind of assumed that okay. This is an anomaly. 

Carrie Webber [00:04:10] Yeah. 

Nate Porter [00:04:10] This works for us but it probably wouldn’t work for other people. 

Nate Porter [00:04:15] But then one of one of an acquaintance of mine has a small like pre-manufactured Cabin Company in Texas in a pretty rural area south of Dallas, and here we had a conversation one time. He’s like, “Do you think you could help us with our marketing, because all of our marketing is word of mouth. Our average ticket for one of these cabins is like 60 or 70 thousand dollars. We don’t think that online is probably the right avenue for us but we would be willing to try something out.” And so I said, “Well, you know, we can give it a shot. You know it worked for us.”. 

Carrie Webber [00:04:51] Yeah. 

Nate Porter [00:04:51] This is a completely different industry and it’s locally targeted. But let’s see let’s see if it works. And so we started working on that. And coming at it from – we really started with digging into who their audience was, getting a good understanding of who they were, putting together these mood boards, where we looked at representations of who their audience was, what their interests were, and all that kind of thing. And then we just started creating this content around it. And really you know like how to do these crafty things and whatever. And within probably two months, their whole sales team was just overwhelmed with people that were reaching out to them requesting these cabins. And we had originally kind of floated the idea of shall we make it available for people to buy online. And they’re like people would never do that. So what we did instead is we created a configurator where they could pick their options and then print out their sheet. And they had people driving from two hours away with the sheet in hand like, “This is the cabin we want. 

Nate Porter [00:05:59] And so they did over a million in sales that first year from that campaign, and that’s really where I got my sort of teeth into what local marketing looked like in a local region on a specific topic. And I became passionate about that. And that became sort of my focus. 

Carrie Webber [00:06:18] And you started your own company from that point, doing this for small businesses for the most part. And yeah until you and your wife Marisa who also works at Jameson came over to us. Yeah. Last year which we’re just so thrilled to have you and all that you just shared is exactly what has kind of turned us on our heads in terms of where marketing has shifted. And you experienced it firsthand and just testing those waters and doing you know having that great level of interest and curiosity to learn and execute it. 

Carrie Webber [00:06:52] Where is it going? Where is it now? What works? And I think a lot of the people watching and most of you are dentists are in dental practices business owners business leaders. And if you’ve ever felt the way that that we have felt before where you feel like your efforts are plateaued or you’re spinning a lot of wheels, spinning a lot of plates doing a lot of, you know, heavy lifting without much result out of that. What are what are some areas that you have found, that you’re executing with clients now and with our clients. And over history. And that you see maybe some of those things that you really need to look at, that more than likely you’re not doing this right. Or what are some areas for people to focus on? 

Nate Porter [00:07:45] Well, I think the whole paradigm of marketing has changed. And part of that is because of the maturity of the online marketplace. And part of it is just because the world is so much more cluttered today than it was 10 years ago people are faced with, a conservative estimate, 5000 ad impressions a day. 

Carrie Webber [00:08:10] Yes, so much noise. 

Nate Porter [00:08:12] And so you know our brain has this mechanism the survival mechanism where it shuts out noise that it that it recognizes is not critical to our survival and picks out the piece of information that is critical to our survival. And so that sort of old paradigm of interruption marketing, where it’s like a bullhorn shouting, “Tthis is what we do and you really need it.”. 

Carrie Webber [00:08:36] Right. 

Nate Porter [00:08:37] And it doesn’t really work anymore. And then people also will say like of younger generations that their B.S. meter is very finely tuned, so they can sense authenticity much more quickly than older generations, especially online. And so the paradigm shift has become one of not interrupting but rather answering the questions that people ask when they ask them. One of serving the interest of the user when they’re ready and less of some slick ad or some sort of special offer or something like that. 

Carrie Webber [00:09:25] Right. They’re really looking for more of the meat of what it is that you’re all about. An expensive, glossed over, watered down message isn’t going to cut it anymore. If it ever did! 

Nate Porter [00:09:41] And you know the other thing too is that as marketing becomes more authentic and about conversation and driven like that, people will put up with a certain amount of you know yelling at them, if there’s nothing else available. But as as that matures, people won’t put up with that anymore. 

Nate Porter [00:10:03] So the demand of users is that things become convenient. On their timeline, when they’re ready. 

Carrie Webber [00:10:15] So that continuous message, authentically real message, about the solutions being the answer to whatever it is that they’re seeking, in the ways they’re seeking it, online or otherwise. 

Nate Porter [00:10:32] Yeah. And one thing that I find really interesting, not to like take too much of a rabbit trail, but the increase in local marketplaces – of people buying from local marketplaces – is counter to what a lot of people predicted. A lot of young millennials and younger are seeking out local vendors over flashy online or chain vendors. And it comes down to the alignment of values that they have. And so that really is important as well. People aren’t just interested in, oh, I need a filling. Here’s somebody who does fillings. 

Carrie Webber [00:11:16] Right. 

Nate Porter [00:11:17] They’re really looking for someone who aligns with their values to some extent. 

Carrie Webber [00:11:22] I love that. And when you speak to that – you’ve shared those thoughts in various conversations that we’ve both been part of – and that means so much to me because I believe so strongly in business owners, practice leaders, dentists, having and clarity of their vision… but also that the doctors and teams have clarity of values, the core values of what’s important to the practice. The why behind the what. 

Carrie Webber [00:11:54] And I don’t know, I think people say, “Yeah, yeah, I know it…” But I don’t know, I don’t think people really put a lot of time and energy and thought into that. Otherwise there would be more authentic and unique content and messaging out in the world right now, and there really just isn’t. And the ones that have tapped into that, they’re doing great. They’re thriving, top-tier practices, whatever that looks like for them. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the premier cosmetic dentist of the world. It could be that they have a very healthy, happy family practice somewhere, but they’re very clear and they communicate that very clearly and they stick with that and a lot of the doctors we’ve interviewed on this podcas,t that is a recurring theme in conversations when you agree that clarity is important, not only in how you run your business, but in how you communicate in your marketing efforts to your patients and potential patients. And I think that’s exactly what you’re stating right now. 

Nate Porter [00:12:57] Yeah. 

Carrie Webber [00:12:58] While millennials and the younger have definitely tapped into that as being a priority to them it’s just as important to us Gen Xers and everybody else. It may have been there all along. But we were taking other things into consideration, just out of how we knew to behave and-. 

Nate Porter [00:13:16] Also what was available to us. 

Carrie Webber [00:13:19] Right. 

Nate Porter [00:13:19] So, as more personal, value-driven marketing is is becoming visible and more available, of course people are gonna choose that over a bullhorn. 

Carrie Webber [00:13:34] Right. And don’t you think that. The more businesses that are out there marketing in that way and doing it well, the more annoying the other kind really becomes? As a consumer, I mean, you really you can see that and call that out almost instantly. That’s why some of even the largest companies have tried to tap into that meaningful story marketing and knowing that people are looking for that authentic connection. 

Nate Porter [00:14:10] Yeah, I mean, there’s some signs of that out there. If you look at the progression of the way Google has featured their ads in search results over the past 10 years, they’ve increasingly changed the look and feel of them and changed the way that they decide which ads to show, to try to mimic that sort of feeling. Because you know that the traffic to ad results has precipitously fallien off as people look for those authentic connections. 

Carrie Webber [00:14:44] Precipitously. That’s a great word. 

Carrie Webber [00:14:50] So, when you are working with our clients, and you’re on even educating us as a team, you talk about three pillars. And I think I’d love to talk about those with the podcast peeps, because I think all of you are more than likely tapping into this and listening, because you’re looking for a refreshing perspective on how to adjust or refine or reset your efforts that you’re currently investing in and working on to attract new patients to your practices. 

Carrie Webber [00:15:22] So would you mind recounting those three pillars and giving everyone that’s listening some homework, so to speak, based upon those areas? What do they need to be looking at for themselves and maybe questioning or doing some work on? 

Nate Porter [00:15:38] Yep. Yeah. I mean, you know there’s so much information out there about marketing that it becomes overwhelming. 

Carrie Webber [00:15:49] Yeah! 

Nate Porter [00:15:49] So, where do you start? And this is what we’ve kind of boiled down as the key things that are the foundation of any strategy. So the first one is people, or in your case new patients. And this is very specific audience. They’re someone who doesn’t know who you are. They don’t know what you do, and they don’t know how to get it. 

Nate Porter [00:16:11] And so the thing about understanding new patients and why it’s so critical is because that’s who we’re trying to speak to. And so understanding in detail who they are, what their characteristics are, what their hobbies are, what their interests are. All of those things. And our approach to that is to create a persona worksheet where we can say, Here’s a hypothetical person that represents one segment, at least, of our new patient population. Here’s what their daily life looks like. Here’s their family status, their relationship status. Here’s where they work, the things they go through on a daily basis, what TV shows they watch – all of those things. Getting inside the head of the potential new patient allows us to then understand, Okay, so, that’s who we’re trying to speak. That’s who our messaging needs to be tailored to. Those are the pain points that we can identify, whether that’s, “I don’t have enough time.” “I’m concerned about holistic health.” You know, whatever those things are. “I have kids.” “I’m interested in how how kids are treated” and so forth. 

Nate Porter [00:17:28] That helps us to tailor our messaging, so that it’s about how we answered their need or their questions as opposed to we have these four services and here is a special that we’re offering this month that may completely not speak to what they’re going through and what they need. 

Carrie Webber [00:17:42] Right. 

Nate Porter [00:17:43] So that’s the first foundational pillar. 

Carrie Webber [00:17:46] I love that one. I feel like when you think about it that way, what you’re doing is using this exercise to put yourself in the shoes of someone else. That makes such a great exercise in emotional intelligence, really, because emotional intelligence is how you problem solve, how you take into consideration the other person, and how you communicate. And if you have that depth – I mean, that’s such a buzzy thing to say, “emotional intelligence” right now – but I think that’s exactly what this is. Marketers have been doing this for forever, and that’s how they manage to tap into an ideal audience for whatever it is that they’re wanting to accomplish. So it’s a great exercise I think for any of you to think about, “What is an ideal patient?” You know, what are they to you? So do that exercise to determine how can we more effectively communicate our message to them. 

Nate Porter [00:18:43] Yeah. And the other piece of that, I would say, is that there should be some comparison, once you create your persona, to reality as well. So, looking at demographics of your area, average household income, those kind of things, and saying, “Does this person live in my community? And is that, in fact, who we are speaking to, or are our aspirations sort of beyond that? Do we need to reach beyond, to neighboring towns and cities?” And things like that. So it also helps you to sort of measure where you are with your ideal. 

Carrie Webber [00:19:22] And put a better strategy together for success, because if you do need to expand your bubble, you’re doing it with a little bit more of an educated approach, and not just, “Oh, let’s try over there and throw a dart in that direction and hope that it lands on something that’s good. 

Nate Porter [00:19:38] Yeah. 

Carrie Webber [00:19:38] So what else? 

Nate Porter [00:19:39] So the second P is platform, and platform for dental practices is primarily their website. So that’s the one thing that they have full control over – the design, the content, you know, the messaging, all of that. And so that really flows out of the patient analysis. Thinking about your website – your primary audience for your website is a new patient. Not your existing patient, not your doctors, not your practice. So taking a fresh look at your website and thinking about, if somebody lands here on a mobile phone (because over 60 percent of traffic is on the phone) can they quickly identify who you are? What you can do for them to answer their need and painpoint? And how can they get it? 

Nate Porter [00:20:25] If you can answer those three questions quickly, without a lot of distractions and clutter on a mobile device, you have a good start with your platform. 

Carrie Webber [00:20:35] So, take a look at your websites, everybody, and say in the first few moments of being on that home page – can you quickly identify who you are and what you can do for them, what solution you’re the answer to, and what they need to do next to get to get what they need? 

Nate Porter [00:20:56] Yeah and a good way of visualizing how this actually works is to count down. Show your website to someone as if you were meeting them at a coffee shop who doesn’t know who you are for five seconds. One two three four five. Put it down so they can’t see the screen. Now, can they answer those three questions? 

Carrie Webber [00:21:17] Oh, that’s good. That’s the perfect exercise to do to someone that, maybe they don’t know you. So, just like the barista. Ask them. I think that’s great. Yeah. So, the people, the platform, and what’s the third pillar?

Nate Porter [00:21:37] The third pillar is is pipelines. And if you think of your platform as the center, or the foundation, of your online presence, the center of the hub of the wheel, so to speak, what pipelines will you use to drive people back to your website? Social media, e-mail campaigns, ads, SMS campaigns? You know, what are you going to use to drive people back? And thinking of that does two things. One is, it puts in proper perspective those other platforms. They’re tools to drive traffic back to your website. The other is, i helps you to kind of strategically think based on the patient – that new patient we identified – and on the platform which has the messaging that is tuned to that audience right where it is. Where do those new patients live, and how do we reach them, so that they come back to our website so they can engage with us? 

Carrie Webber [00:22:33] So, different avenues to take them back to the mother ship. Basically – you and I just led a webinar on the five misconceptions about dental marketing, and one of the areas that you talked about was putting all of your focus in one platform. So for everyone that’s out there, they may say, I have a website. But they probably haven’t updated it in three to five years. Or they say, I do a lot on Facebook. 

Carrie Webber [00:23:04] What would you recommend in terms of assessing, are you really successfully paying attention to the wheel of opportunity that’s driving that traffic to where they need to be? 

Nate Porter [00:23:18] So two things One is that what you don’t want to do is the opposite. You don’t want to be driving people from your website to these other platforms because a lot of times what you see is the header of the webssite and the most prominent button is like a Facebook icon. 

Carrie Webber [00:23:35] Right. 

Nate Porter [00:23:35] Then when people click on that, research shows that most of them don’t actually come back to the website. 80 percent just abandon. So you don’t want to reverse that flow. 

Nate Porter [00:23:47] The second thing, though, is just like you said. If you have an isolated audience over here on Facebook, you may have great conversation with them over on Facebook. You may share really great and personal things on Facebook. You may have an audience over here five hundred or a thousand people who are really active and love your brand. But if you’re not driving him back to your website, that’s a huge missed opportunity. And so what we like to see is we like to see you know at least like 60 or 70 percent of our traffic being driven from organic search which is one sort of funnel or channel back to your Web site. But we like to see about 20 percent of air traffic coming from social platforms as referral traffic. You can see that if you if you log into Google Analytics. Right. Go down to the acquisition tab you can see where your traffic is coming from and that’s that’s a good way to sort of measure it. 

Carrie Webber [00:24:38] So if you’re not at 20 percent, that would be a good goal to strategize toward. It’s how to increase that traffic to that number. 

Nate Porter [00:24:48] Yeah. And one thing that’s great is if you have taken a lot of pride in your Facebook page for instance and driven a lot of engagement over there then it’s a pretty easy thing to convert that to traffic to your Web site. 

Carrie Webber [00:25:01] Right. So with all of your efforts really have to partner well together. I mean there are all these really separate separated entities that aren’t, ultimately. I mean, the goal of all of that is not just to make us busier but to drive opportunity and bring people to ultimately schedule an appointment. 

Carrie Webber [00:25:19] Are you seeing a big influx– I mean when you stepped into dental marketing or what were some things that were surprising to you that you thought wow they would only do. Were you surprised to see some things or excited about the opportunity to tap into this profession. 

Nate Porter [00:25:38] Yeah. I mean so one of my expectations was, and this was kind of come from coming from almost a strictly content marketing approach, was that it would take us you know three to four or five or six months to really gain traction and drive traffic to a website. Just because it takes that long you know if you’re if you’re at position one hundred and search which is page 10 or 12 or whatever, you might go up 10 positions a month or whatever, but you it only starts really paying off for you in the top five or three positions. Right. So. That’s sort of my expectation. But what I was pleasantly surpirsed to find out is that with dental marketing, you can see your initial boost almost right away by optimizing your local SEO, Google My Business listing, and other types of listings. So you can get an immediate boost just from optimizing that. And we often see that boost happen almost right away within the first month. Before the organic starts really paying. 

Carrie Webber [00:26:49] Because ultimately the goal is that your efforts generate a phone call or a scheduled appointment. And so anything that you can do to to shift your sales so that you’re getting these kinds of results is important. So I think that’s great. 

Carrie Webber [00:27:04] So for those of you listening to do an assessment of your marketing of your business of your practice you know are you focusing on a very clear audience that is the right fit for the why and the what that you do and is your platform optimized meaning does your website answer all the questions that Nate shared. 

Carrie Webber [00:27:27] And is it up today is it easy to navigate. And does it answer the questions quickly that a potential patient would be seeking and does it ultimately and easily lead them to scheduling an appointment. Because anything in customer service and marketing is what’s how can we make this path as easy as possible for the patient the consumer to meet the end goal and do what they need to do to get that solution and then to have this pipelines to really take a look at your efforts either in Google or on your social media outlets and are you directing people in the appropriate way in the appropriate direction towards that ultimate ambassador of your practice, your website. 

Nate Porter [00:28:16] One one thing that really did surprise me coming into dental marketing is how few practices expected a result from their marketing, which kind of blew my mind as a small business person entrepreneur in the past. Thinking about you know I always thought about marketing as an investment with a payoff, and you know it seems like there is at least a large portion of dental practices that have either given up on that as a as an objective or expectation or never you know had expectation but marketing really should be an investment really should pay off. 

Carrie Webber [00:29:01] Right. And I think some people I think market or look into marketing wise they just feel like it’s something that they have to do they don’t really see what it can do for them. They just say well I have to check this box and what we’re seeing is is such extraordinary results. And and it also goes to show if you do if you start to shift with the trends of marketing you can get a better result of the right kinds of patients reaching out to schedule appointments and so while you’re also assessing the marketing efforts you have it is really important that you assess the systems you have within your practice to support an influx of new opportunity to look into your telephone skills your scheduling. Are you. Are you answering the phone when people call and are you able to walk them through an exceptional new patient experience it’s all connected. Marketing is an integral part of your dental business and it’s all so connected and it’s important to look at your marketing efforts to see how we can be better. Just like everything else in my opinion good business owners and entrepreneurs are always looking at the systems of your business to see you know what are we doing well and what can we be doing better so that we are continuously moving forward and never falling back or just being accepting of the status quo. It’s a dangerous place to be and I feel like there’s a lot of people that just 2 status quo in marketing. Do you agree. 

Nate Porter [00:30:32] Oh yeah. I mean, it’s easy. You know, when you’re a small business owner you have lots of stuff you’re focused on. So it really is easy to sort of say, you know what, I haven’t had time to focus on that. 

Carrie Webber [00:30:46] Well I’m excited to have more conversations with you on the podcast. I think this is just an introduction to things for everyone to start thinking about as you move forward into today’s trends and marketing and how to get the best return on the investments you are making and to spread the word about your practice to the right patients for you. So I want to thank you, Nate, for spending time with us. 

Carrie Webber [00:31:10] And if any of you have any specific topics that you want, we’d love to hear from all of you that are listening on any topics or areas you’d love to hear us talk about on the podcast. You can e-mail us the info at JMSN.com And we look forward to seeing you at the next episode. 

Carrie Webber [00:31:28] Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Jameson Files. Visit us online at J M S N dot com. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, or Spotify. Do you have questions or topics you’d like for us to answer or cover on the next podcast? Email us at [email protected] 

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