Behavioral Science: The Next Generation in Successful Practice Marketing

Dr. Lou Shuman

Dr. Lou Shuman is the CEO of Cellerant Consulting Group, dentistry’s leading corporate incubator and accelerator; a venturer-in-residence at Harvard’s i-Lab; the chairman of the technology advisory board at WEO Media; a long-time contributor to Dental Products Report; and the founder and creator of the Cellerant Best of Class Technology Awards.

Dental Products Report, Dental Products Report February 2021, Volume 55, Issue 2

Brian Hunter and Shad Treadaway of tinyRHINO share their expertise on behavioral science and the role it can play in accelerating new patient growth.

Helping dentists understand and embrace modern marketing techniques has been a long-time passion for me. Over the past 10 years, Social Media Marketing 101 has been one of my top subjects for courses, lectures, and articles. So, you can imagine my excitement in introducing the dental community to the next generation of thinking on the topic from Brian Hunter and Shad Treadaway, founders of The RHINO Group, Inc., the parent company of tinyRHINO.

Brian and Shad, widely known online as the RHINOGUYS, have brought their vast marketing experience and business expertise to the dental community. Their behavioral science and consumer-first approach has grown dental practices exponentially.

LS: What does tinyRHINO do for dental practices and is there a story behind the unusual name?

BH: tinyRHINO helps grow dental practices by attracting new patients using social media marketing while equipping the practice to increase treatment acceptance rates. We take a proven behavioral science-based approach to ethical persuasion. We decided when we started tinyRHINO in 2018, the 1 thing required to exponentially grow dental practices was to reach the 45% of the population who weren’t regularly going to the dentist, often avoiding necessary treatment. We help practices move uninterested consumers off the couch and into the dentist chair using a modern digital marketing and consumer-first approach.

ST: And yes, there’s a story behind the name tinyRHINO. First, it evokes curiosity. As a marketing principle, simply pausing to ask about our name is equal to 5 marketing touches. Second, scientists attribute rhinos’ evolutionary survival to their ability to mount a focused charge at high speed when confronting a challenge. We teach our practices to thrive by maintaining a single-minded focus on motivating new patients to enroll in treatment. RHINO DENTISTS, as we call them, are laser-focused on practice growth.

LS: When marketing, what should dental practices do differently?

ST: Many practices rely almost exclusively on “gathering” patients seeking treatment. This stems from the conventional advice that your website is the most important way to get new patients. What typically follows is heavy investment in SEO and Google Ads, and periodically tossing in dental mailers. Now, I’m not suggesting these methods are null and void. They can be effective, but they appeal only to the person who is searching for a dentist. In their mind, there’s no real differentiator between you and your competitor down the street. “Gathering” methods are just not sufficient if you’re seeking multiplier-type results—there just aren’t that many people actively searching for a new dentist at any given time.

We advise dental practices to become hunters versus simply gathering, and the happiest hunting ground for new patients is social media where, on average, Americans spend 2.5 hours a day. As consumers, our undivided attention on social media has conditioned us to observe and respond to ads many times without even realizing it.

This is where the science of consumer behavior is critically important. Once you’re engaged in a prospective patient’s social feed, you have 8 seconds for them to forget about you. That short window of opportunity means you must build attention-grabbing campaigns with direct calls to action. Then, using advanced technology, we move them through the buying process based on Dr Robert Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Persuasion.

BH: A huge, missed opportunity is the failure to recognize there’s an important sales element involved in converting new patients who respond to an ad. We may not typically think of patients as “buying” dentistry, but patients are consumers. They’re weighing your treatment recommendation against other uses of their dollars. It’s more than OK for practices to ethically persuade people to choose in favor of their dental health. That’s where custom conversion scripts and in-depth training come into play.

LS: What kind of results do your clients generate with this new hunting vs gathering approach?

ST: Our first platform, the Dental Patient Multiplier, was developed to attract new general dentistry patients into a 6-month recall relationship. The entire workflow was built using the science of influence. As soon as our clients turned on our system, they saw immediate results.

One of our most successful general dentistry clients picked up 57 patients in their first month at an 1800% ROI [return on investment]. We have sent that client over 1000 new patients in the past 2.5 years. Of course, every practice and geographic region is different, but getting 15 to 25 new patients per month has proved to be very achievable.

LS: You’ve just announced a solution specifically for implants. What’s unique about this new platform?

BH: Honestly, we are more excited about our new Implant Patient Multiplier than anything we have ever built because it means dental surgeons and specialists can now go direct-to-consumer through social media marketing while maintaining their dentist referral network. And since it’s powerful enough for the specialist, it works perfectly for general dentists who place implants.

Dentistry is evolving. More and more GPs are beginning to place implants, meaning the referral base for many specialists is drying up. So naturally, implant marketing was the perfect next frontier. But to meet the needs of both the GP and specialist, a robust system had to be developed. The high case fee coupled with clinical fear also makes motivating the patient journey from couch-to-treatment very heavy lifting.

In response, we created the Implant Patient Multiplier, which is more advanced, more turnkey, and more automated. On the front end, we provide the right kind of social media ads and do the media buying for the practice. On the back end, we created sophisticated scripts, workflows, and training. To fine-tune this back-end conversion process, we partnered with dental KOL [key opinion leader] Dr Christopher Phelps, a certified expert in Cialdini’s science of influence and persuasion. This is all tied together in our Prospect Tracker Dashboard, which filters through only the most qualified prospects, gathers their data, [and] identifies their psychological motivators. [It also] coordinates and captures patient communications and provides a step-by-step workflow for the front office from initial contact to conversion.

ST: Our doctors have been very excited by their results. One example is Dr Stephanie Sweeney, who runs a multispecialty practice in Savannah, Georgia, and staffs her own periodontist. They generated over $140,000 of accepted implant treatment in the first 30 days. We’ve seen numerous practices realize $30,000 to $60,000 of new case revenue per month with our system.

Visit tinyrhinomarketing.com for more information.

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