Special Guest Blog – Your Own Private Idaho

Today we have a very rare and special guest blog from Fred Joyal. Fred is the co-founder of 1-800-DENTIST and has one of the sharpest marketing minds in dentistry. He’s a heck of a nice guy too!!

Your Own Private Idaho
By Fred Joyal

I was driving someone else’s car the other day, and the radio was preset to a Top 40 station.  It astounded me how often the same few songs were repeated.  I would park the car, come back in 20 minutes, and Adele would be playing again.  Or Bruno Mars.  Or Katy Perry.  And I was also thinking to myself how dopey the lyrics were, and how uninventive the music was.  Someone was singing the line, “I love you like a love song, baby,” over and over again.  I’m not even sure what that means.

Then I thought back to my own Top 40, back in the day.  The lyrics were just as dopey and repetitive, and the music was still derivative. And I loved every minute of it.  And my parents thought it was stupid noise.

We all have our own Top 40.  Our own sensibilities.  Our own style of communicating.  We’re all living in our own private Idaho. And so are your patients.  Some of them won’t ever look up from their cell phones, but never use them to make an actual phone call, only texts.  Others love email.  Or Facebook.  Some watch the evening news religiously, and others use the Daily Show as their only source of current events.  Some have voicemail, some have an answering machine, and some won’t even get call-waiting on their home phones.

You will have patients all along this digital spectrum — so don’t think everyone is like you. They’re not.  You need to communicate in whichever way they prefer, and this can save you a massive amount of time.  Imagine if you could confirm  appointments by automatically sending a text message to the 20% of your patients who prefer texts, and sending an email to those who prefer email.  Suddenly your front desk would be free to deal with the people who need an actual call (or those who won’t respond to a text because their thumbs are too big).

I was lecturing recently and I recommended that practices get a legal release from their patients to use their image in perpetuity.  One dentist raised his hand and said, “I would never sign something like that.”  I told him, “You can’t go by what you would do.”  I turned to the audience.  “How many people here would be willing to sign a release like that?” I asked.  80% of the room raised their hands.  This is new behavior.  People put pictures of themselves up everywhere, and they are all in the public domain.  This dentist was assuming that everyone would feel the way he did.

I sometimes meet office managers who will, after I recommend digital communications, say “Our patients don’t like that.”  Really?  None of them?  Five years ago hardly anyone over 25 texted.  Now there are three times as many text messages sent as phone calls.  (Mostly to vote on American Idol.) Behavior changes, faster all the time.  And I don’t care how small your town is or how old your patient base is, I’ll bet 90% of them have an email address.

It’s a whole new world out there, and it’s not just young people doing it.  There are 80-year-olds who live on the Internet, lurking on Facebook and emailing each other bad jokes; the largest growing segment of Facebook users is the 35-50 age bracket; and 70% of Internet read online reviews before choosing a product or service.

Your Top 40 is probably not mine.  Your preferred mode of communication is different than many of your patients.  Adapt, because “rumor has it, the times they are a’changin’.”  (You see, I mixed Adele and Dylan.  A mashup for the ages.  )

One more thought.  Which end of the spectrum do you think is expanding, and which end is shrinking? Feel free to text me your answer.


So what do you think? We agree that patient communication is rapidly changing and that it is essential for every practice to keep up.

We urge you to check our Patient Activator by 1-800-DENTIST. It is a fantastic patient confirmation tool and does so much more! It will help you eliminate no-shows, increase production, tighten recall, fill in last minute cancellations and lots more. Best of all, it is the most economical of any system out there, and we have arranged for you to have a special no-risk free thirty day trial! There’s a reason that no one else will offer that!!

Just go to www.patientactivator.com/trial and check it out! Or call 1-877-906-9913 and ask for your 30 day free trial. We know that you will pleased.

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