The Biggest Marketing Mistake: the ETLID Fallacy

What is the biggest blunder in practice marketing? Is it not answering the phone properly? Or not tracking your advertising man stepping off cliffresults?  Perhaps not having a good, dynamic website? Nope. Those are all up there, but the biggest marketing mistake that business owners make is thinking that everyone thinks and acts like you do.

Why is that so bad? Because it influences all your other marketing and advertising decisions, and it’s not based on statistical data.  I hear these opinions all the time from dentists and, to a lesser degree, office managers.  Things like, “I believe in calling all our patients rather than texting them. It’s more personal,” or “People are tired of surveys.”

What the person saying this means is that he thinks phone calls are more personal than texting, or she is tired of surveys, and therefore everyone is. The reality is that 30% of people who use texting prefer it to a phone call.  So they don’t find a phone call personal, they find it annoying.  And when it comes to surveys and reviews, if you get 1 out of 20 people to respond, that is an excellent result and will boost your SEO considerably.  So what if some people have “survey fatigue”?

In the early years of 1-800-DENTIST I would have dentists telling me all the time what TV shows I should be advertising on.  This was based on the shows that they liked to watch.  Instead, I used the statistical data that told me which shows got the most response and the best quality of patient.  Call me crazy.  I never watched an entire episode of Oprah, but she got several million dollars from us over the years.  Why? because I didn’t use my opinion as the paradigm.

I don’t mean to sound all high and mighty about this.  It’s a reflex response.  I recently spoke to the dental students at Harvard, and one of the students remarked, “I’m not attracted to all that personal stuff on Facebook business pages. It seems frivolous and irrelevant.”  She may be right about that with regard to many other businesses, but the fact is many people are looking for exactly that on a dental practice Facebook page, because the experience of being a patient is what influences them to go, stay and accept treatment, not clinical skills. They see a video of your best crown prep and they’re gone.

I have a name for this: the ETLID Fallacy. (Everyone Thinks Like I Do).  Hey, it’s not catchy, but it fits.

Some other classic ETLID assumptions :

“Facebook is kid stuff.” The fact is that the largest group of Facebook users is 25-34 and the fastest growing group of Facebook users is the over-60 population.

“People don’t care about design when it comes to spending.”  Really?  Look at the pricing difference between Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks, or Apple versus Dell, and tell me if that opinion passes the reality check.  We spend based on packaging, and that goes for your dental office just as much as a bottle of Grey Goose.

“My patients don’t use email.” Wrong. 97% of Americans have email, and over 90% check it every day.

“No one is going to pick a dentist on Facebook.” Except that 25% of Facebook users said they would be willing to find a dentist that way.

“My patients love me.” Some do, for sure. But when we have clients using our ReActivation Pro product, where we use live operators to call dormant patients, how is it that 32% of those patients have found another dentist? That doesn’t count the 14% who have moved away.

“Website design doesn’t matter as much as content.”  Just the opposite. Research has shown that consumers are making judgments about your clinical skills based on the appearance of your website. I know that those two things are unrelated.  And in this example is another important point: many times those ETLID opinions are based on logic or reasonable assumptions.  The truth is that consumers don’t always act rationally or logically especially when it comes to dentistry.

“People are flakes when it comes to keeping their dental appointments.”  Okay, this one is true.

It isn’t just small business owners that make this mistake. I know executives as very large organizations making the same sort of “gut” decisions and putting millions of dollars behind it. With the same sad results.

Statistics tell you what most people do. I’ve been doing advertising long enough to stop trying to figure out why. I just go with the data. I accept that people act irrationally, and that most people don’t think the way I do about most things. And the numbers tell me that website design matters, social media is important, digital communication is the new norm, reviews influence consumers,  and everything a patient experiences in the practice influences their acceptance of treatment.

Valuable data is easier to access than ever. Use it to balance your opinion.  Hey, you may even be right sometimes!


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