Interview With Dr. Jeff Anzalone

Listen to my recent interview with Jeff Anzalone, DDS, where he asks me questions regarding what is plaguing dentists in terms of marketing.

Jeff Anzalone: Hey guys. Welcome to this month’s call. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff Anzalone. I’ve got a, I think, a good gem of a person to speak with today that’s going to help a lot of us out there that are struggling with patients. Probably out of all the dental practices and dentists and specialists I speak with on a monthly basis, [00:00:30] probably the number one problem is we need more patients. Really the same is true in any business. They’re always looking for new customers, new clients. Any health care provider, they like more new patients. I’ve got on the call with us today Mr. Chris Pistorius. I hope I said that right, Chris.

Chris Pistorius: Yeah, you got it.

Jeff Anzalone: Thank you for taking time out today. Actually, Chris is the [00:01:00] founder and CEO of a company called KickStart Dental Marketing. He’s spent the last 15 years in working with and helping other dental practices do what we just talked about, get more new patients. Specifically for Chris, he works with acquiring them from a source that is so important to people now and that’s online. There’s so many people now that make their decisions and base their [00:01:30] choices on what’s being said online, looking at what other people are saying about them, reviews, et cetera. Just like before you go to a new restaurant or when you’re in a new town and you want a new restaurant or new store or something like that or Amazon, what’s the biggest buying decision on Amazon now when you search for something and it lists hundreds of different choices, most of the time you look [00:02:00] at other people’s reviews. What have other people said about them and that helps make the choice. We’ll get into that today with Chris because he can help out a lot with that. He’s worked with companies such as AOL Time Warner, MapQuest, SpotRunner, and also Dex One, and he’s worked with companies like Google, which I’m sure most of you have heard of Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, and many others. [00:02:30] He holds several Google and Yahoo certifications and was actually trained, this is pretty cool, by Google directly at their corporate headquarters on how dental practices can get the most out of online marketing efforts. He’s an author, of course, The Ultimate Guide to Internet Marking for Dentists. Again, Chris, welcome to the call. Thanks for taking your time today.

Chris Pistorius: Jeff, thanks so much for having me. I appreciate [00:03:00] being part of the program.

Jeff Anzalone: As I mentioned a little bit earlier before the call, I was telling you I originally found you and your company on a site called Dentaltown, which I’m sure many of our listeners are familiar with. Tell us a little bit about what you’re seeing as far as what a lot of the dentists are having issues with that you’re working with now. [00:03:30] What are some of their problems that you’re seeing?

Chris Pistorius: I think, you know, based on my experience over the last few years, there has been a constant need for patients. New patients, I should say. A lot of companies out there talk about, we’ll bring you new patients, we’ll bring you new patients. There’s a lot of different ways to do that. What I’m finding from a lot of dental practices is that they don’t want just new patients, they want [00:04:00] patients that are going to be loyal to them, they’re going to come back. Not everybody’s going to come back, certainly, but they want as many as possible that can. Some practices accept some types of insurance, of course, and some practices don’t even deal with insurance. Everybody’s a little bit different about what specifically they want, but they do want that good loyal patient base. What we try to do is create programs around and we customize each program [00:04:30] based on that particular dentist’s need. How do we create and how do we target these people that are specifically within their wheelhouse that have the procedures needed that they want to get done and that can build some loyalty so they’re not just shopping for the next great free teeth whitening. One media outlet that we’ve found that has been pretty detrimental to dentists, for instance, is Groupon. Anybody listening to this is probably [00:05:00] cringing a little bit right now because of the word Groupon. What we found with them, while it’s an incredibly great marketing idea on how to bring new patients in, the problem that we found with companies like Groupon is that there’s no loyalty there. These people are just coming in for the free toothbrush, the Sonicare toothbrush, or the free teeth whitening, maybe, and then they’re off to the next great deal. They’re not really coming back for those follow up procedures. Probably the biggest need that we see out there is [00:05:30] the need for new patients, but also the good quality patients that are going to be loyal.

Jeff Anzalone: Excellent. Are you having … Most of the dentists that you work with, are they coming to you and it’s more generic like, hey, Chris, we need more new patients or are they coming to you specifically looking for a type of patient, like, hey, you know, we’d like to see more dental implant patients or we’d like to do more orthodontics or whitening or [00:06:00] cosmetics?

Chris Pistorius: Right. It’s kind of split, but when we do a kind of qualified interview with the practice and we start driving into questions like, “What procedures do you like to do?” Honestly, we talk about profit centers too, you know. What kind of procedures are you making good profits off of? What do you enjoy doing? What kind of cases do you want to see? While we do that kind of fact finding is when the dentist [00:06:30] just kind of generally comes to us and says, we need more patients. All of a sudden, that conversation does turn into, well, you know what, we are looking for this specific kind of case and more of those. We do have plenty of dentists that come to us and say, we have a specific need that we need to fill. Others kind of start generic, but our interview process kind of gets them to really target a more specific audience. When we target a more specific audience, [00:07:00] it makes it much easier to market and it makes it more cost-effective, rather than just blasting a message out to everybody and hoping that somebody’s in need. We can target specific people that may better fit into their demographic.

Jeff Anzalone: Sure, that makes sense. From your experience, what do you see as the most common mistake that dentists are making regarding their marketing or their marketing strategy?

Chris Pistorius: There’s a couple, [00:07:30] but I think one of the biggest ones out there is probably not paying attention. The reason that happens, there’s a couple of reasons, but dentists are busy. They’re running a dental practice. They typically have multiple employees they manage and they’re doing what they love and that’s working with patients. What happens sometimes is that they may sign up for a marketing program and they kind of put their credit card on autobill and this company may be doing great things or they may not be doing anything. [00:08:00] A dentist doesn’t always have enough time to really know what’s effective, what is working. One of the questions we always have is, okay, what kind of marketing are you doing now? Then we always ask what’s working the best? And there’s kind of a long pause there, because nobody’s really for sure. Probably, I think the biggest mistake, and I understand why they do it, is sometimes they throw money against the wall and hope something’s working versus really understanding the analytics and knowing kind of at the end of the month what [00:08:30] is working, what isn’t, and are they even making money off of what their investment is.

Jeff Anzalone: Yeah, that’s a good point because when I talk to some of my coaching clients and I’ll talk with them about ROI on this particular campaign or we’re running a weekly newspaper ad or we’re doing something in a magazine, we’ve done that for awhile. I’ll ask them, okay, how’s that working for you? I don’t [00:09:00] know. Aren’t you doing any type of tracking or do you do anything like that? How do you know you’re getting calls or emails from them? Well, we really don’t. I think you’re right. If you’re going start anything, you need to make sure that you know that it’s working because if it’s not working, you don’t want to continue throwing money at it, right?

Chris Pistorius: Yep, absolutely. That works the other way, too. We try to do the best we possibly [00:09:30] can when we do a campaign to be transparent. I think that’s important of any marketing company that anybody hires and probably any service based company is are you really getting to see what the company is doing for you specifically? What are you writing that check for? What are they doing every month and then what are they going to start doing the next month? I think probably the biggest piece of advice I would give is just make sure that whatever company you partner with, they are transparent in what’s going on, they are providing you with results, and they are talking about [00:10:00] not only the good stuff that’s going on but are they telling you the bad stuff too. No marketing campaign always goes perfectly. There’s always things that can be done better. If they’re not telling you, for instance, what can be worked on, then you’re not getting the full story. I think certainly those are some things to look out for.

Jeff Anzalone: For the dentists out there that either they are struggling with getting patients from [00:10:30] the internet, getting patients online, or the dentists out there that’s maybe looking to start acquiring patients online, what tips would you give those dentists?

Chris Pistorius: We talk a lot about in our company visibility, online visibility to be more specific. It’s not like it used to be 20 years ago, heck, even 10 to 15 years ago. It used to be a dental practice could put an ad in the yellow pages, a pretty substantial [00:11:00] ad, maybe do some direct marketing like postcard stuff, and for the most part, that worked pretty well. It was simple and you could track it fairly easily and everything was good. All of a sudden, here comes the internet and now there’s a thousand different places that you can promote yourself online. You could easily spend $10,000 a month if you had the budget. I think it’s important to be educated on what is going to work the best for you in terms of visibility online. Think of it as [00:11:30] I’m a potential new patient for a dentist and I move to your city or town and I’m looking for a new dentist. Think about it. Put yourself in their shoes. What are they going to use to find their next new dentist? You know, you mentioned this earlier, it’s going to be Google, typically. They’re not using the phone book as much as they used to. They’re not going to drive around town and look at billboards to find their next dentist. They may see a dental ad in a newspaper, but that’s not really their biggest trigger mechanism. They’re not going to go find [00:12:00] a newspaper just to find a dental ad. They’re going to go on Google and they’re going to do searches and they’re going to do a dentist and whatever your city is, cosmetic dentist and whatever your city is. A lot of them now are putting “dentists near me” as their keywords. This one really gets me going, but they’re putting “best dentist” in whatever city and they’re assuming that the dentists that show up on that first page are the best dentists out there. We clearly [00:12:30] know that that has no correlation, just because they’re on the first page of Google, that they’re the best dentist for them, but they’re assuming that. You have to think about how can I get in front of these people, but it’s not as simple as it used to be 15 years ago where you just buy the biggest ad and you’re there. There’s a lot of different factors that go into that and that’s where companies like mine would be able to help out. I think probably the visibility online is obviously huge, but the other thing is your website. [00:13:00] The website should be the hub of all of your marketing activity, not just online, but offline too. If you do postcards or if you do a billboard or if you do yellow pages, those people are still going to funnel into your website. They’re going to look you up before they ever pick up the phone and call, so that website that you have has to be great, not just good. It has to be able to convert people that come to it and make them want to pick up the phone or take the next step and action in contacting you.

Jeff Anzalone: [00:13:30] Since you talked a little bit about websites, I’m sure most dentists, hopefully most dentists that are listening to this now have a website. What are some key things that you recommend are on a website to do that, to convert people to make it user friendly for the prospective patient?

Chris Pistorius: In my opinion, it’s a strong call to action and not just on the home page but every page of your website. We talk [00:14:00] in our interview process with new clients, we talk about the USP, unique selling proposition. We ask, what is your unique selling proposition? Why are you different from the 25 other dentists within a 20 mile radius of your practice? A lot of times we get that long pause again or they say, we have the best customer service. Everybody says that. We have to dig in with the practice and find out what is it specifically that makes you different and it has to be a really big overwhelming thing. [00:14:30] We help dentists find that. Once we find that unique selling proposition, everything else kind of falls into place on the website. That becomes our strong to action. Sometimes it’s specials. Sometimes it’s a free teeth whitening special or it’s a free exam or a discounted exam. Again, being very careful not to fall into that Groupon bucket. That big strong call to action is really what’s going to make people want to take that next step and fill out a form or pick up the phone and call. You have [00:15:00] to think about it. When they find you online, they typically have a list of dentists that they’re going through. They find you and you want them to stop that search right then and take action and not go to the next dentist on the list. That’s what we’re really looking for in call to action and a strong website.

Jeff Anzalone: For the people who don’t have a clue what unique selling proposition is, can you do two things? Can you kind of walk us through how you [00:15:30] recommend a practice that doesn’t have one how they come up with one? Number two, can you give us maybe some examples of some to kind of get them going? Most of the time, it’s oh well, we treat patients good or we answer the phone good or we have this type of technology or whatever. That doesn’t sound like that’s what you’re looking for, right?

Chris Pistorius: No, because everybody does that. Everybody’s going to say that. Again, if you put [00:16:00] yourself into the shoes of the consumer, they’re seeing that everywhere. They want to see something that just stands out, makes you a little bit unique from the others. I think probably a couple of examples of that, we had one recently that we kind of thought hard about this. It’s unique because he went to actually the dental school at Harvard, so we thought about that and we’re like, how can we spin that on the website and really on the other marketing stuff [00:16:30] to make him sound unique but not sound pompous, like, “I went to Harvard.” It’s great education, obviously, and it’s a great name to have behind you. We were able to tailor that into that unique selling proposition. He had a little bit of a unique education. Another thing that you can do is talk about specific cases and talk about, as your unique selling proposition as, look, we took this person who [00:17:00] didn’t ever want to smile because they were so embarrassed from their smile to this extremely great looking cosmetic smile that everybody would love to have. If you can visualize that on a website and make that look what we’ve done, surprisingly enough not all dentists do that. Many dentists I’ve found are humble and they don’t really want to make themselves unique sometimes. Those [00:17:30] are a couple examples of how you can do it, but there’s limitless ways. For instance, we had another practice that he spent, I believe, 15 years in the military and he was a dentist in the military. That’s a great story and he had great stories behind that. We used that as his unique selling proposition. Anything that makes you stand out and just look different from the crowd. Sometimes it can be as simple as … Some dental websites will just use stock images [00:18:00] everywhere and it’s obvious that it’s stock images. It’s easy to do. That’s why people do it, but people buy from people and if you can personalize your website as much as possible with actual pictures of your staff, of your practice, everything. We really encourage our dentists to talk about their unique selling proposition in a video, just like a short welcome video. It doesn’t have to be where you have a professional come out and you spend a couple of thousand dollars to have this [00:18:30] done. Literally, if you have a decent camera, even an iPhone video camera is good enough. You just do a little interview, have some notes, and talk about your past and what makes you a little bit different. That can really tackle that problem as well.

Jeff Anzalone: Excellent. One of most popular USPs for people that don’t really know what we’re talking about is you’ve probably heard of Tom Monaghan and Domino’s [00:19:00] Pizza. They were doing well for awhile and they started to decline. Then they came up with probably one of the most famous USPs and it just completely turned them around. It’s fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free. Now, you see a lot of the pizza places, they do stuff like that. When they first launched that, it was just mind-boggling, especially [00:19:30] for the college kids and stuff that they go out until 1 or 2 in the morning a lot of times and they’re starving. Man, we can get this in 30 minutes or less or it’s free, shoot, I’m all for that. That’s just one example of a classic USP that if you can come up with something big like that, you’re the real deal.

Chris Pistorius: Yeah, and I strongly recommend … There’s a book out there that really talks [00:20:00] strongly about this. I’m sure, Jeff, you’ve heard of it. It’s Duct Tape Marketing. They talk a lot about the unique selling proposition and how to really position yourself. It’s not just about dentists in that book, but it’s a great read. It’s basic marketing, but it gives you some really good ideas. I would strongly recommend anybody that’s interested in that, read that book Duct Tape Marketing.

Jeff Anzalone: Another one is book. It’s an older book, but the guy’s put out several good books. I [00:20:30] believe it’s just called Positioning by Jack Trout, actually like trout the fish. T-R-O-U-T. He gives some classic examples of companies, one of them’s Domino’s and then some other ones too to kind of help get your wheels going, to kind of think about it. One of the things that he talks about is there’s typically a [00:21:00] company or business that dominates a market in every area. Right now, you can probably think about who is the go to guy or go to practice in my area that’s like the top cosmetic dentist, if you want to be the best cosmetic dentist. He talks about it’s very, very difficult to knock off the top dog. Instead of trying to knock [00:21:30] off the top dog, do something a little bit different. I don’t remember the exact one, but it was one of the older cold remedies. I think it was maybe Contac or Dristan or something like that. Instead of knocking off Tylenol or whatever the top cold remedy of that time, they kind of marketed themselves as the [00:22:00] only daytime cold remedy or something that had like a little twist to it. It was pretty neat to kind of see how they worked through that. That’s a book that may be worth reading for the listeners as well.

Chris Pistorius: Yeah, I agree.

Jeff Anzalone: I know one of the big fads now in literally any dental magazine or any meeting that you go to, the big thing now is AdWords, [00:22:30] pay-per-click. Tell us a little bit about your thoughts on that. Are you doing much of that? What you’re recommending with this that may want to start with doing … Some dentists on the call don’t even know what that is, so maybe kind of give a brief overview of it, how it works, and what you recommend.

Chris Pistorius: I certainly wouldn’t know what it was if I was a dentist because digital marketing is confusing. People call things different … The terminology is different, [00:23:00] so I totally understand that. Google AdWords is the paid ad section of Google. Basically, there’s three or four ads at the very top of every search that you do and there’s typically three ads at the bottom of the search that you do. It’s complex on how the ads show up there. You would think that it’s, and it used to be … When this first came out, it was basically an auction. Whoever wanted to spend the most money per click, so basically how this works is that Google puts [00:23:30] their ads out there. You create the ad and Google puts it out there for you. Then every time somebody clicks on the ad, that costs you money. The cost is based on how much competition there is and there’s a lot of different factors to it. For instance, I’m here in Denver, Colorado. Right now, if you’re advertising in Denver on Google AdWords and you’re, say, a cosmetic dentist. You’re bidding on keywords essentially. If you wanted the phrase, “cosmetic dentist in Denver,” and that’s the keyword you’re bidding on, [00:24:00] you’re going to pay upwards of $20 every time somebody clicks on that ad. Whereas if you’re in a smaller market and there’s not as much competition, you may only be paying $5 to $10 for every time that somebody clicks the ad. I want to go over kind of the pros and cons of Google AdWords. The pros are that you only pay when somebody actually clicks on your ad. That’s great and then that person’s typically directed to your website or a specific landing page, preferably about whatever your ad is. [00:24:30] For instance, if you are doing a cosmetic dentist ad, when somebody clicks on that ad, you don’t want to send them just to the homepage of your website, you want to send them to a page that talks about cosmetic dentistry and what you can do for them, preferably with some visual examples there, your unique selling proposition, maybe a short video like we talked about from the dentist. That’s typically how it works. What happens is, say you have 10 dentists all bidding for that [00:25:00] keyword, certainly the amount of money that you’re willing to spend per click is a factor, but now Google factors in how good is the landing page, for instance. When somebody clicks on it, is the landing page that they go to good? Does it load fast? Does it give them a lot of information? They also rate your ad. Is it written well? Are people going to click on it? Their school of thought is yeah, somebody may be willing to pay $20 a click and we’ll put them at the top, but if their ad [00:25:30] isn’t good and the guy in the third position has a better ad at $10 a click and that ad’s getting all the clicks, where are they going to make the most money from? It’s typically going to be the ad that they get the clicks from. Just because you’re willing to spend the most money doesn’t mean you’re always going to be on top, so you’ve really got to put together a good ad. You’ve got to write it well, have a good landing page. There’s a lot of stuff to it. What I hear the most and one of the questions we do in the interview is have you tried Google AdWords. Almost [00:26:00] probably seven out of 10 times, if they have done it before, most dentists say, yeah, we’ve tried it. We’ve spent a lot of money and it just doesn’t work for us. Then we dive into it a little bit more. The reason that is is because it’s hard to do. I mean if you don’t know what you’re doing with Google AdWords and you don’t know all the different facets of an online marketing campaign, it can get confusing and you can spend a lot of money on clicks and just not get [00:26:30] anything out of it. People are thinking, well, if I’m bidding and I’m getting good visibility for “cosmetic dentist in Denver,” I’m getting 40 clicks a day, why aren’t I getting 40 patients a day? The thing to think about is just because they typed in “cosmetic dentist in Denver” doesn’t mean that they’re needing a cosmetic dentist. It could be somebody looking for a job. It could be a kid writing a term paper. There’s a lot of different things. You’ve got to really know how to not only go after those generic type of keywords, but also [00:27:00] the more long-tailed keywords, which will make a more qualified prospect for you. We do AdWords campaigns. The cons I would say of AdWords are that, yeah, it gets you great visibility and it happens very quickly, but you’re not really building a marketing asset. You’re only as good as the credit card you have attached to that campaign. Whereas if you do, for instance, search engine optimization, which is to get you ranked organically, not in the paid section, but the organic [00:27:30] section, that’s a long-term marketing asset that can pay off for years to come, whereas once you tell Google you’re not going to spend any more money with them on the paid side, your ads go away. We typically use AdWords in the beginning of a campaign to get some immediate exposure. Typically, we don’t just do AdWords. We’ll do SEO with AdWords with some Facebook stuff and we’ll integrate a campaign and we’ll use AdWords in the beginning to get it launched, but as we get [00:28:00] SEO rankings acquired, which takes a much longer process, we start backing off of the paid ads. One final stat on this. AdWords, if you interviewed a hundred people in a room and you said, “How many of you have ever picked or how many of you have consistently clicked on a paid ad on Google?” You might get 10 hands that raise. The reason for that is that most people click on the organic section of Google, not the paid ads. Only about 35% of people actually click the ads. [00:28:30] The other 65% click on the organic results. In an ideal world, you’ve ranked well organically and you have some good quality ads at the top. I don’t think, in my opinion, Google AdWords should really be the center of a campaign.

Jeff Anzalone: Typically, to rank higher in the organic search, that’s typically kind of the middle of the page below the map, is that correct?

Chris Pistorius: Yeah. We look at organic in two sections. That map [00:29:00] section is what’s called Google My Business and that’s part of organic, certainly. You’re right. The results underneath that, where it just basically lists websites, that’s what we call regular organic.

Jeff Anzalone: Got you. Excellent. To do that, that takes a little bit more time of building up, to get ranked higher there than the AdWords, correct?

Chris Pistorius: Yeah, it does. Realistically, if everything went right, I could have a [00:29:30] Google AdWords up and running and have a dentist on the first page of Google within 24 hours, typically. Whereas SEO, search engine optimization, it does take longer. We have a checklist of about 300 things that we do to get a dental practice to rank for good quality keywords. It takes … It depends again on competition. If you’re in a smaller market, we can get people to rank much quicker than if they’re in New York City or Chicago or a large city with tons of competition. [00:30:00] Yeah, it typically takes a few months at least to start seeing some good traction.

Jeff Anzalone: Can you do … Sometimes I hear people say, well, you can do one but you can’t do the other. You can’t do them together. How does that work? The AdWords and the SEO part.

Chris Pistorius: You know, honestly, the reason that is being said is typically because of budget. It’s not cheap, certainly, to do pay-per-click ads. When you’re talking on a major city and [00:30:30] $20 a click, that adds up pretty quickly. The nice thing about AdWords is that you can do it. We do them both all the time. It’s just if you’re efficient at it, when you have a really good AdWords campaign and you have really good ads, a really good landing page, there’s something called Quality Score. That’s what Google looks at and the higher your Quality Score, the better your ads are and the better your ads will actually rank on the page. It also decreases your cost per click. [00:31:00] If I’m a dentist and I’m just trying this out. I’ve never done it before. It may be $20 a click. If your Quality Score gets up really high, you could knock off $5 per click just by having a good, high Quality Score. When we’re able to do that and get high Quality Scores, it does drive the price per click down, which opens up more budget to do the SEO as well. I would strongly suggest to do both pay-per-click and SEO at the same time, just because the SEO results [00:31:30] are going to take more time and you’re going to want to see some traffic coming in and some new patients come in much sooner than that. You can do both. It doesn’t have to break the bank if you do it correctly. I think it would be a really good idea to do both at the same time.

Jeff Anzalone: Perfect. Before we get off the phone, I wanted to make sure that, for the people out there that are interested in getting more patients online [00:32:00] or maybe doing something new or kind of taking what they’re currently doing now and maybe revamping it, how can somebody get in touch with you to maybe talk with you guys or to kind of see what’s going on to potentially help their practice?

Chris Pistorius: Probably the easiest way is our website is If you go under [00:32:30] the Free Tools section of the website, I’ve got a place and it’s actually all over the website. There’s a place where you can do a free consultation. That would actually be with me personally. I do all of our new onboarding free consultations and I’d be more than happy, whether you have no intention of doing business with us, that’s fine. We do them all the time. We’ll give you a complete audit of your practice and it’ll actually go over the website, your competition, and your local market. Just [00:33:00] a whole bunch of different factors, a lot of what we talked about today. It’s about 10 pages and you’ll get that full complete audit and no matter what happens, at least you’ll come out of that process knowing a little bit better how you rank, why you rank, why your competition’s more visible than you are, things like that. Be more than happy to do that for anybody that comes over to the site: We just need a name and an email address.

Jeff Anzalone: Perfect. [00:33:30] Again, Chris, thanks a lot for taking time out. I took many notes, so I know that not only did you help me but you helped our listeners as well with your information. We really appreciate that.

Chris Pistorius: Great. Thanks again for having me. I appreciate it.

Jeff Anzalone: Again, guys, if you want to talk with Chris or if you want to kind of see what they have to offer, just go over to, take a look around [00:34:00] his website, take a look around at some of the people that they’ve helped, and give him a call and get that going. This is a great time to start doing it now. Take care.