Interviewee: Joe Lancelotti, Founder, CIO
Inside Dentistry (ID): The dental industry has been changing rapidly over the last few decades. What role do you feel marketing has played in this change?
Joe Lancelotti (JL): Dental marketing—in fact, all professional marketing—was nonexistent for three quarters of the 20th century. It was not until the late 1970s that professionals even had the legal right to advertise their services. The test case involved a landmark decision by the Supreme Court in the case of John R. Bates and Van O’Steen vs the State of Arizona. The “Bates Decision,” as it has become known, opened the door for many professionals and permitted them to take their first tentative steps forward into the world of marketing. Readers can find the details on the DoctorsMarketing Web site.
The timing was perfect. The 1970s and 1980s were marked by innovative, breakthrough product introductions. The Adaptic® anterior/posterior dental restorative system, the Nuva® light-curing system, and the Brånemark® titanium implant system all had recognizable features and patient benefits that could be easily recommended by dentists who were becoming comfortable with marketing. They were the sparks that could ignite the fire. Before these introductions, there would have been no incentive to advertise root canal therapy or tooth extractions. They would only have added to the negative perception of dentistry. These new products ushered in the era of cosmetic dentistry, with porcelain veneers and whitening leading the way. Soft tissue management and conscious sedation procedures combined with additional product innovations to further fan the flames and positively promote dentistry.
ID: With the increase in marketing opportunities that you described, in what ways can DoctorsMarketing.com benefit the dentist and his or her staff?
JL: Each year we graduate between 4,000 and 5,000 dentists, so we add that many new entrepreneurs to the business community, the majority with no leadership or business training. This is a big problem, but it is not the fault of the dental schools. I’ve taught an elective marketing course at UMDNJ for 15 years. My goal is only to make the students aware of what they will need to learn after they graduate to effectively and successfully run a practice. I can tell you that the student’s focus is on clinical dentistry, and only clinical dentistry. The mandate of the dental schools is to educate students so they are qualified to pass their boards. DoctorsMarketing.com, therefore, is designed to be their “how-to guide” and their “go-to for what to do.” Every one of the audio sections and more than 1,500 pages has been produced and categorized to make learning and application easy to achieve. But make no mistake; while DoctorsMarketing.com is perfect for new dentists, its content has value for all dentists, in all stages of their practice development.
ID: What has been your most far-reaching venture in dental marketing before creating this Web site, and can you describe the special challenges, opportunities, and goals involved in creating DoctorsMarketing.com?
JL: In the mid-1970s I founded the Lanmark Group, which was the first full-service advertising agency dedicated to the dental industry. My initial mission was simple: Based on a foundation of unequalled category knowledge and unprecedented customer service, build strong, effective, differentiated brands that create growth for clients, long-term relationships for the company, and increased profits for both—in a fun, stress-free environment.
Not much has changed in my thinking. I still believe strongly in those principles. In creating the DoctorsMarketing Web site, however, I felt that to be successful in this “online marketplace” it would be necessary to establish a unique model. We hear a lot today about the hybrid vehicles that use two or more distinct sources of power. Our model is also a hybrid. We attempt to combine superior marketing knowledge with advanced Web-based technology. Through this synergistic blending we are able to provide dentists the information, strategies, and tactics they need in an organized, friendly, online environment.
We all understand that to keep dentists and their team members returning often and subscribing long-term, the site must be easy to navigate, our content must be relevant and refreshed regularly, and we must respond quickly to the needs and wants of our members. Most importantly, we must accomplish all this at a membership price that is attractive to our audience while striving to consistently exceed their expectations.
ID: The DoctorsMarketing.com site has a vast amount of information. Can you detail a few of the key features?
JL: We are dedicated to building member relationships through regular communication. Our TurboTactics™ feature was developed to stay in touch and keep members current. We e-mail members a new TurboTactic or Tele-TurboTactic weekly. Our Talking Marketing feature allows members to listen to, enjoy, and learn from audio presentations and Webcasts presented by top marketing professionals, and are available 24/7. The Round Table feature enables us to respond to member requests. Dentists and team members can ask marketing questions and receive answers from top industry experts.
Members will also be interested in our Explore Marketing and Concise Marketing Plan features. Explore Marketing is the most vital marketing feature of the Web site. Its unique “Learning Module System” was designed to provide the information necessary to enable dentists to work knowledgeably with a marketing person, supplier, or agency in their own area, or create their own marketing mix tools.
Lastly, we offer the Concise Marketing Plan. This is something dentists won’t find anywhere else. The marketing plan is at the very foundation of marketing the practice—it is the dentist’s business treatment plan. We guide members through the creation of their own effective marketing plan using a series of streamlined, interactive marketing questionnaires and forms.
ID: There are many challenges facing doctors today. How do you think DoctorsMarketing.com can help doctors solve them?
JL: We can maximize a dentist’s effectiveness by providing information on the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out his or her marketing goals successfully, in any economy. We enable dentists to step inside the “marketing loop” and feel comfortable speaking the language of their agency, newspaper, mailing house, printer, or photographer.
Essential to a dentist’s success and that of his or her practice is the realization that no one will ever care more about their success than they do. Their office manager won’t. Their accountant or lawyer won’t. It’s their business and the primary building blocks—of which marketing is one—must be under their control and supervision. Relating to marketing, no one expects the dentist to write copy, produce graphics, or create press releases. He or she, however, should be the initiator, the leader of the process, and the controller as to whether timelines are being kept and budgets are being adhered to. This is where DoctorsMarketing.com can help. We provide the latest information as well as the time-tested strategies to assist dentists in making the right marketing decisions.
About the Interviewee