Fishing and Dental Marketing

Have you ever heard the analogy that says “the more marketing poles you have in the water, the more fish you catch”?

I think this analogy suffers from a few major errors. Let me tell you why.

First, let’s look at what’s true about it.

It is certainly true that you want to have more than one dental marketing strategy being used in your office. And seeing as many dentists struggle with solid marketing strategies, I can see why so many marketers are teaching this analogy.

In fact, many dentists expect there to be one magic pill that fixes their marketing woes. Relying on only one marketing strategy in your practice, even if it works great, is a recipe for failure. With that said, let’s look at the fishing poles analogy a little closer.

More fishing poles is always better, right?

Are more new patients always a good thing, or does quality factor into the equation?

I don’t know about you, but I’d take 10 referral new patients over 15 newspaper ad patients any day of the week. You see, quality of patients is a big factor. Therefore, all marketing methods are not created equal.

I realize when we start talking about patients (people) having a measurement of quality associated with them, it’s going to make some dentists uncomfortable. I hope you realize I’m not talking about the way they dress, talk, or even act. Truth is, there is only so much time in the day. I would rather spend that time working with people who really want help and are willing to pay full price for it.

Back to our fishing poles analogy. After hearing it, you might think, “if having more marketing strategies is always better, why not 50 of them? Why not 100? Why not 500?” and so on.

I grew up fishing. My grandparents fished the rivers of Texas for centuries, pulling out and eating anything with fins. My parents still fish the lakes every summer. By the time I was 18, I had eaten more catfish then most people do in a lifetime (and catfish is not the healthiest fish either!) I still like to go with my kids, when I can actually get away.

And there’s one thing I know about fishing…there’s a limit to how many poles you can handle at one time. At most you can hold one in each hand, then maybe have 4-6 in holders on the boat if you’re really good. What do you think is going to happen if you try and add a couple more?

It’s very likely you’ll spend all your time just trying to keep your lines baited. If you get more than one fish on a line at a time, you’ll be in a bind, and maybe even loose one fish or both.

Now you could hire a “fishing pole” manager, akin to a marketing manager. And now that person can handle 8-10 poles while you can still handle your 8-10 poles. But the manager has to check with you every few minutes to see if she’s doing it right. Plus, you still got to tell them what kind of bait to put on the line, how long to leave the line out there, how far to cast, etc.

And what happens if you get a line tangled up? Now you’ve got to go mess with that and clean it up. Are you seeing the similarities to your practice yet?

Here’s the point…

You can only handle so many fishing poles at one time. That’s not being pessimistic, it’s just being real. It’s much better to have 8-10 really strong ones, shaving off the bad ones and adding news ones as you go along.

Perhaps over 5,10, or 20 years you can build up marketing strategies that can be left alone to work. By using the internet you can plug in many marketing methods which will run on autopilot, taking up a very small amount of time. But getting 100 strategies set up? Not likely.

That’s why you’ve got to make sure your 8-10 are working well. I recommend doing niche specific marketing like teeth whitening, crowns, fillings, etc. You should do marketing in the newspaper, on the internet, through referrals, in office marketing, snail mail, email…even the radio and TV as your budget allows.

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