Thursday, June 11

Words from the Wise

A very good friend and longtime client of mine, Scott Hunter has become an important touchstone in my life.  Without fail he sends out his very simple and very brilliant newsletter to thousands of subscribers every two weeks.  I highly recommend signing up to receive them at  And here is one of my favorites:

Is There Really Truth?
by Scott Hunter

I really find that the hardest thing for most people I talk to to get is my assertion that there is no such thing as reality. There really isn’t. You think what you see is really there. It isn’t. What’s worse, you actually believe that what you see is the truth. It also isn’t. Already ready to argue with me?

So before you stop reading, consider the fact that every one of the 6.8 billion people on the planet lives in a different reality; meaning that if you looked out through the eyes of all these people you would, in fact, see a different version of the world. And don’t you find that in just about every conversation you have with another they see things differently than you? So how could any one individual claim to know what’s real?

If you’re still with me, the question you should be asking yourself is: what’s determining my reality? Actually, it’s pretty simple. You know that voice in your head? The one you call self-talk, or thinking, or mind chatter? Well inside of that voice is the story of your life. It’s the sum total of all of your life experiences, the meaning you gave to those experiences, and the decisions you made as a result.

Humans think they see with their eyes. That is one of the many illusions of life. It’s not the truth. We see with our minds. We take that internal conversation, the story I just discussed, and project it out onto the world and that becomes our reality.

It’s like going to the movies. You sit in the theater and look at a big blank screen on which the movie is projected and think that’s where the movie is. But the movie is in the projector in the back and the bulb and lens in the projector project the movie onto the screen.

So it is for you and I. We take the movie playing in our minds and project it onto the blank screen of life and think that what we see is the true. It isn’t. It’s only our truth.

What’s the real significance of all of this? It lies in how human beings operate. Listen to this carefully: our actions are ALWAYS exactly the appropriate action any human being would take given how life occurs for them. In other words, we are always reacting and what we react to is how whatever is in front of us occurs for us.

And who is determining how whatever is in front of us occurs for us? We are!

Each of us is playing a game called: this is my life. And we are the ones totally responsible for how that game plays out. As many of the great teachers teach: it’s never what happens that determines the outcome. It’s how we respond to what happens that determines the outcome. And we are always choosing our reactions.

So give up the victim game, stop complaining and stop blaming others if things are not going the way you would like. The good news is that you have total access to the only person whose determining how things are turning out: YOU.

In conclusion, take responsibility for what comes out of your mouth.

Everything you say becomes your truth. If you understand this, you can really create for yourself a magnificent life.

Thursday, May 14

The REAL Website Deal

Who says corporate America doesn't care?  

Last spring, after the AACD meeting in New Orleans, my good friend Frith Maier, president of Sesame Communications, told me she wanted to conduct real research on how a website helps or hinders a real consumers choice of dentist.

This is invaluable information for anyone who has or needs a dental/ortho website.  And the information is free, conducted by a third party research company, and not at all about Sesame and all about how to build a website that actually works.

General Dentist:

Cosmetic Dentist:

Thursday, May 7

The Larger Perspective

Carolyn Addleson, wife of Dr. Larry Addleson in San Diego (, forwarded this article to me last fall.  Unfortunately, I don't know who to credit as the author, but the content is exactly what we all need to be reminded of.

The Warren Buffet Perspective

Billionaire, Warren Buffett pumped $5 billion into Goldman Sachs, and then followed that up with a $3 billion investment in General Electric.

In troubled times, Warren drives a hard bargain and ends up with extraordinary value. In other words,Warren buys low and then sells high. He is a contrarian. While others go into the panic mode, Warren Buffett goes into the shopping mode.

This same kind of thinking can be applied to marketing. While others are into a cut and run mode, the smart money looks for marketing opportunities. Right now consumers are spending more time than ever before evaluating their daily product purchases and their long term brand loyalties. Now is not the time to cut and run out on your marketing budget…now is the time to seek out opportunities.

“A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” Henry Ford

Here are some reasons why our current economic environment can spell opportunities for marketers:

Your competition is hiding. The landscape is not as crowded. That means your own marketing has a higher probability of getting noticed. In fact, in your product category, you may be the only guy out there who is in the face of the consumer! Normally we have to sit around and say “how the hell can we be different?” Now all we have to do is show up.

Now is the time you need the business! When the economy is weak, your business will only get weaker without marketing. It is a vicious cycle.

Out of sight…out of mind, and out of mind can mean out of business. If your competition is hiding, right now you can have a larger share of mind. Familiarity breed preference, and preference leads to long term customer loyalty.

Customers are hunting. When the economy dips and consumers move into a state of fear, product purchases are scrutinized, and loyalties are challenged. That means you can position your product as a need….not just a want. People are looking for value and meaning. Now is the time to be very pragmatic and honest with your marketing. People are looking for products and services they can trust. That means while they are hunting and evaluating, you need to be out there marketing and not hiding behind your desk.

Attitudes are shifting. What was important yesterday may not be so important in today’s environment. That can spell new opportunities for your product or service. Take a survey…do some focus groups…find out what is driving the emotional needs of your core customer. How has it changed? Where are the new opportunities? How must your message change?

How can you reposition the competition and make your brand more relevant for the next 12 months of economic hardship?

Marketing Never Stops. If you stop your marketing, you are wasting the brand equity you have built so far. This is not a start and then stop process. Your customers need evidence of product performance, and a reason why your product is absolutely positively the best in the category. When a consumer makes a budget cut…you don’t want to end up on the cutting room floor. That’s why marketing doesn’t stop because the economy is bad. It is exactly the time you need to turn up the volume.

These are tough times, and they may be some of the most creative and opportunistic times in years. Put on your Warren Buffett hat and look for the bargains. Create new demands. Stay close to your core customer.

Dig deeper and look for the essential ties to your customers. And never ever stop fishing for new customers.

Sunday, April 26

Q & A: How to evaluate your success

Every so often, someone will email me a question or two about dental marketing, and the result is (what I consider) a very interesting and informative discussion.  Following is one such dialog, about tracking your marketing effectiveness:

Hi Nancy,
On the September Trojan Newsletter 2008, you mentioned to evaluate if a marketing piece is successful or fail.  What criteria do you use to determine that?  Thank you for your time.

Hi there, Dr. Kar -- thanks for emailing your questions.  

No marketing plan ever fails, because we're all always marketing, all of the time, whether we've planned it or not.  And if your still in business, your marketing is not a failure.   The question is whether your marketing is representative of you and your vision, and whether it is helping or hindering the achievement of your goals.

What you want, and what my 10 Points are trying to get you to do, is make sure that the marketing message within each of the above mentioned tools/methods is consistent and repeteive to your vision.  In other words, start from the beginning of the 10 Points, formulate your plan, implement it, then evaluate the overall effectiveness

There are two types of evaluation that need to happen with a marketing plan.  One is the effectiveness of the overall plan, and the second is the effectiveness of a particular method.  

Trying to gauge the effectiveness of specific marketing pieces, or tools, within the plan, becomes too detailed.  This is because most new patients are exposed to more than one method, and therefore more than one tool.  

For example, a patient of record may recommend you to a friend, perhaps even giving that friend your business or referral card (an internal marketing tool) which of course has your website listed on it.  That patient may type your name into Google instead of simply typing in your web address to check you out, in which case they've employed SEO.  Then, they visit your virtual office, which is both a tool and a method, in fact the most important all-encompassing method you can employ to put that person at ease and help them decide if they'll be comfortable with you and in your practice (after all , at least 50% of people are dental phobes, and the safe and anonymous access to you through your website is invaluable to them in making the decision to get the care they need).  

Then, they call the front office to make an appointment (also a tool - their experience with your front office is a huge part of your marketing).  This new patient may even download or receive in the mail your new patient package/forms (another tool), or a smile brochure.  Finally, they walk in the door for the final marketing hit -- the interior design and overall feel of the practice.

In this very typical and simple example, this new patient will have had several exposures with you and your practice, making the task of evaluating specific tools too narrow in our understanding of your marketing plan's success.  But also driving home the importance of keeping each method/tool consistent to your basic marketing message -- your vision and the branding of your vision.  If you are not consistent, you are confusing, and you lose them along the way to your front door.

That said, the way to know how a plan has worked is to keep track of every new patient coming into the practice, how they generally found you, and then how much production they bring into the practice over a specified period of time (1 year, for example).  The two numbers we're looking for, over time, is how much you spent to get each new patient in the door, and then how much each new patient is worth to the practice.  This gives you the ROI on your marketing dollars.

When you have a couple of years of data, you can go further with this evaluation by tracking each marketing Method by your case acceptance rate, giving you the ROI on your time.

For example, a particular client of mine in a metropolitan area with a high-end cosmetic and general practice, was in love with SEO (Search Engine Optomization), both pay-per-click and organically coded.  He spent thousands and thousands of dollars on SEO.  And as far as he was concerned it was the greatest thing since the business card, because he'd get high numbers of patients calling in and coming in.  But, when I went in a looked at the case acceptance rate on the patients brought in through SEO/Website, we found he closed only about 25%.  When I analyzed the patients brought into the practice through outside professional referrals, his rate was closer to 75%.  That's a huge difference, considering the time he spent on cosmetic consultations.  But even more so --- those professional referrals (another great Internal Marketing Method) were FREE!

So when I'm analyzing effectiveness, I want to see that the least amount of time and energy was spent to create the most profit for the practice, in a way that is in line with the vision and goals of the practice. 

To download your own free 10 Points Workbook, simply visit my website at

Monday, April 20


Creating a website is almost exactly like building a house from the ground up -- and sometimes, it is almost as exhausting, frustrating and time consuming.

But I am so excited to announce that my updated website is ready to go live tomorrow, with all (and only) my favorite client designs in the huge new portfolio, my old-school articles (back by popular demand) and a new and easy to understand pricing structure!

Tell me what you think!