The “greatest-thing-since-sliced-bread”

Thank Otto Frederick Rohwedder. For what, you ask?

He invented sliced bread.

His idea in 1912 introduced a machine that would take a loaf of bread and slice it.  How practical, right?

We hate to burn-your-toast but the invention was a failure.

As Seth Godin confirms, (It was) “…a good product with lousy marketing (that) had very little chance of success.”

Fast forward 20 years…

A new brand known as Wonder began marketing…ready…?

Sliced bread!

And the innovation (from 20 years earlier) caught on.

“It was the packaging and the advertising (“builds strong bodies twelve ways”) that worked, not the sheer convenience and innovation of pre-slicing bread.”

Think about that…

The next time you talk to a patient about teeth whitening, for example. Is it about brighter, whiter teeth in the convenience of a one-stop appointment…or…renewed confidence for a job interview, a wedding, or a school reunion?

We could talk about how you promote other treatment and procedures. But we think you get the picture (hopefully).

To your patients the “greatest thing since sliced bread” might be a tad bit deeper than the obvious features and surface benefits you most often talk about.

What kind of ridiculous question is that?

The story is told of a professor. He lectured frequently as a well-known expert in his field.

Same speech. Dozens of cities. Week after week.

He admitted his travel weariness to his chauffeur as they were driving to yet another engagement.

The perceptive chauffeur offered his assistance.

“I’ve heard you deliver this lecture dozens of times. I’ve practically got it memorized. They’ve never met you. We’re the same height, build, and bear a resemblance. Let’s swap roles and clothes. Take the night off. You drive. I’ll speak.”

They arrived. The professor chauffeured and the chauffeur lectured.

In fact, he delivered the speech better than the professor had in recent engagements. He wrapped up and prepared to quickly exit the stage to resounding applause but was stopped short by the program’s emcee.

He announced to the now primed and gathered crowd that they had time for a few impromptu questions from the audience.

The chauffeur-professor returned nervously to the podium. The first question of a highly technical and academic nature was asked by an unsuspecting, yet impressed audience member.

The chauffeur-professor paused…rubbed his brow…and said, “Sir, that has to be the most elementary, unthoughtful, and RIDICULOUS question I’ve ever been asked. In fact just to show you how elementary and ridiculous a question that is…I’m going to ask my “chauffeur” at the back of the room to answer it for me!” (Drops mic).

Speaking of questions (we’ll address another “ridiculous” one in a moment)…

The questions you and your team ask your patients are either strategic and therefore useful.


Your questions are trivial, unnecessary, and lack the ability to compel a beneficial response.

There’s a slightly “ridiculous” dental question that’s asked a lot. And it reveals a principle that can potentially harm your patient relationships…


“Do you floss?”

Think about it – you and your hygienists know the answer to that question…right? In fact, you won’t spend two seconds gazing into their mouth before you know the answer.

You want your patient to hear in the “do-you-floss?” question that “Flossing is essential to good periodontal health.” What they hear instead (between the lines) is, “You idiot, how could you be so stupid as to neglect your oral health?”

The principle: Your professional role and expertise give you permission to speak confidently not condescendingly.

Questions matter. And it’s the deeper message that holds value.

And the fact checker says…

Fact checking! You’re hearing a ton about that these days.

It’s a political season. Go figure.

It’s also a healthy kick-in-the-butt to monitor what you say.

But also…

How you say it.

Treatment plans. Financials. And the stuff that makes-your-world-go-‘round.

The facts speak for themselves but your priority is to make sure they’re heard, understood, and even better…accepted.

Facts aren’t always a guarantee of compliance. You’re aware that patients can stare them (the facts) in the face and deny their reality.

That is, after all, the “political” thing to do. But we digress…

It’s not enough to diagnose a “bombed-out” tooth and inform your patient that their infection is spreading a fast as the latest political gossip. Why?

Two reasons and two solutions

Reason 1-Facts don’t always connect with emotions.

Your patients are no different than the general population when it comes to a buying…um… treatment decision.

Fact: “People buy for emotional not rational reasons.”

Reason 2-Facts come with a price – good or bad.

Your patients want to trust your diagnosis but the cost can outweigh their willingness to make a decision. (Sort of like having to choose between the lesser of two…we digress yet again…dang politics!)

Fact: “People need to justify their emotional decisions with logic.”

We promised solutions. And we do what we say we’re gonna do (take that fact-checker).

Solution 1-Tap into your patient’s emotion.

All it takes is one…emotion that is. Refuse to diagnose and treatment plan without knowing at least one compelling reason they would accept the facts.

How? It pays to listen.

Solution 2-Guide them to a logical outcome.

Not every diagnosis and treatment plan sounds logical. It’s clear to you – you’re the professional.

Patients see it differently. What they need is some logical justification for following their emotion to a, “Yes, take care of that tooth today…!” outcome.

How? It pays to be perceived as the provider of solutions to problems that only you can solve.

That will stand the test of time and any ‘ole fact checker.