V's Blog: The Occasional Journal

of Dental Industry Marketing and

Public Relations Expert Michael Ventriello


  • Michael Ventriello

Updated: Dec 27, 2018

Let me explain...

Several years ago, I had a blog named "The Dental Flak".

I blogged whenever I was in the mood on topics that I cared about regarding dental public relations and marketing, the dental industry in general, and human nature, with a lot of pop culture references thrown in to amuse myself - If it ain't fun why bother?

What I lacked in frequency, I made up in pithy commentary and observations - That's what I told myself. But my self-delusion aside, The Dental Flak, did garner some street cred. Even, ranked high in the dentistry category on All-Top and Technorati.

Woo-hoo! That and 50 cents could get me on the Garden State Parkway!

Then one day, I logged into my blog to post an update when I discovered my domain was hijacked. DentalFlak.com was not yet scheduled for renewal, yet someone had snapped it up and was using it and still is to this day!

Check it out! I think I'm blogging Japanese, I think I'm blogging Japanese, I really think so - but I'm not sure.

Go Daddy and Blogger (owned by Google) were of no help. Have you ever tried to get one of these internet companies on the phone? So rather than waste any more time, I decided I would start a new blog with a new domain. It just took me a few years to get around to it!

Will it be worth the wait? Ultimately, you will have to decide. But my blog, renamed the V-Blog will continue to be random rants and sometimes snarky observations from yours truly. Here are some blog topic ideas I've been tossing around.

  • Marketing Tips

  • Industry Opinions and Observations

  • Book Reviews

  • Dental Meeting Reports

  • News from Clients and Other Companies

  • Advances in Oral-Systemic Health

  • Interviews

  • Guest Bloggers

  • The Best of DentalFlak

I'm also open to suggestions, guest blog inquiries and receiving industry news releases that don't compete with my current clients - Sorry. Contact me at Michael@Ventriello.com.

Thanks for reading, Stay tuned for more!

  • Michael Ventriello

Many companies large and small spend a boat load of money on outbound marketing communications that tells prospects and customers why they are better than the competition.

However, when the company's brand promise isn't aligned with market reality, it causes a brand perception gap.

The bigger the gap, the less likely it is that your prospects will buy from you the first time or that your past and current customers will buy from you again.

In many ways, it is better to lose a sale to a potential first time buyer than to lose a current customer. This is because the negative word of mouth (WOM) originating from a disgruntled customer can spread like wild fire and that WOM may be the very reason you couldn't close the deal with that first time prospect - it's a vicious cycle.

Here are four common "ifs" that you will need to address:

  1. If your marketing communications say that you make the highest quality widgets on the market, they better be pretty friggin' good.

  2. If you offer a "no questions asked guarantee", there better not be any hurdles put in place for getting a refund.

  3. If you claim that customer service is your top priority, your phones better be answered promptly by a helpful, knowledgeable and courteous customer service rep.

  4. If you advertise that you will beat any advertised price, beat the price or watch potential customers beat a path for the door.

No matter how match money you throw at it, a false brand promise will never be true.But what if you've been honest in communicating your brand promise, are truly dedicated to creating a positive customer experience, but negative perceptions persist that may may be impacting your bottom line.

You may not be aware of these negative brand perceptions, but be advised that what you don't know will hurt your brand. For example:

  • It's hard to find information on your web site - and the lengthy download forms are a pain in kiester.

  • You are unaware of the one rude telesales rep that is causing customers to hang up in frustration.

  • Product instructions are poorly written and confusing to follow.

  • Your customers consider your product/service acceptable for the price point, but wish it had a particular feature(s) to make them consider your product/service amazing.

  • Loyal, repeat customers don't feel special and wonder why there is no "frequent buyer" program in place.

These are not issues that would generally prompt a customer to write a complaint letter, but any of them may may be just enough for them to delay a purchase, check out your competition or not be your strongest brand evangelist. That's why none of these scenarios are acceptable in this competitive and tenuous economy.

So what to do? To paraphrase Huey Long, "Survey early and survey often". There are several inexpensive online survey tools such as Survey Monkey and Survey Gizmo that make it easy for you to take the pulse of your customers and prospects on a regular basis to find out what they really think about your offering and what you can do to improve it. An online survey is much more than an opinion poll. It is guerrilla R&D that is invaluable for meeting and exceeding the customer expectations set by your brand promise. Back to Huey Long...

Survey Early - Meaning early in the customer relationship - Which is immediately after the first purchase. "Thanks for your business. How do you like our widget?

Survey Often - Touch base several times during the year. "How's that widget working out? Is there a way we can make it better?

Keep your surveys short (5-6 questions) and ask the tough questions that you need to know. Since the online survey can be anonymous, you will get more honest responses when compared to a telephone survey.

Also, offer an incentive to complete the survey - A gift card or better yet, a discount coupon for the next widget purchase.

Social media is another way to contact polls and increase engagement. People like to be part a company's decision process. However, due to the public nature Facebook or LinkedIn poll, the questions need to be fairly benign. For example:

We're thinking about adding a new prophy paste flavor. Which one do like best:

a) Boysenberry

b) Bacon

c) Boysenberry/Bacon Swirl

Does you company have a brand perception gap? Find it. Face it. Fix it.

  • Michael Ventriello

In my opinion, one of the responsibilities of dental professionals who truly want to evolve into oral-systemic specialists, is to inform their patients of the oral-systemic health links and reinforce the fact that the health of their mouths often determines their overall health.

Although more and more of this information is being distributed via the consumer media, dental professionals are in the position of delivering this information one-on-one, tailoring it based on an individual’s medical history and then providing expert and immediate answers to a patient's questions.

As respected and trusted health care providers, dentists and hygienists are in a unique position of influence that can help their patients take charge of their health and re-chart its course towards a longer life with more activity and productivity in its golden years.

Unfortunately, when dental professionals do not proactively impart the latest evidence that the mouth can “make or break” a patient's health, they are keeping oral-systemic secrets. Even if they are not purposely withholding information, when dental professionals do not initiate the oral-systemic discussion with every patient, they are keeping it a secret.

What’s more, if not addressed, oral pathogens may be secretly spreading to other parts of the patient's body. I know that’s not the intent. So allow me to provide some tips that will help you be a more effective oral-systemic evangelist and turn back the tide of declining health in the United States one patient at a time!

Be a News Aggregator

There’s a ton of oral-systemic health information out there and much of it is published first in your dental and hygiene trade publications. Are you sharing this with your patients? Make sure to stay on top of the latest oral-systemic news by reading the following information sources:

· Dental and hygiene magazines and their corresponding web sites, newsletters and social media accounts

· Dental and hygiene association magazines, web sites, newsletters and social media accounts

· Social media accounts of dentist and hygienist thought leaders who weigh in regularly about oral-systemic health links

· Set up Google News Alerts for the about periodontal disease and oral-systemic health links (https://support.google.com/alerts/answer/4815696?hl=en)

Be an Information Distributor

Once you’ve been monitoring and archiving this plethora of oral-systemic health information, you will need to share it. Luckily the channels of information distribution are numerous and collectively, can make a strong impact on your patients and surrounding community.

· Like and share social media posts pertaining to oral-systemic links

· Always incorporate an oral-systemic story or two in your practice e-newsletter. Have some print versions of your newsletter available in your waiting room

· When using digital media such as social media, e-newsletters and your web site, link to the source article so the reader can get full details. In print media, provide the URL

· Speaking of URLs, use an embedded “click here” link or URL shortener such as www.Bit.ly, to avoid posting long URLs that look like www.oralsystemicblahblahblahyadadaydayda.com

· If you can, set up a newsfeed on your web site that searches for and posts oral-systemic news items

· Share information as it relates to your patients while they are sitting the chair. Use it to help them understand the importance of recommended periodontal treatment, why they need to follow their home care regimen and the impact oral health has on their personal condition such as cardiovascular health, arthritis, diabetes, etc.

· Quote facts and references that are specific to each patient’s medical history in recall letters and letters to their physicians.

· Clip articles, slip them into in plastic protective sleeves and put in a lose leaf binder in your waiting room. Use labeled tabs to organize alphabetically by systemic disease state such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular, diabetes, low birth weight, etc. Keep this updated.

· Make a few copies of this binder so patients can sign out and read at home – this can reinforce the importance of your recommended home care regimen.

Avoid Plagiarism and Playing Hot Potato

When re-posting or quoting an oral-systemic factoid or article, always give credit where credit is due, and prominently mention the source of your oral-systemic information. For example:

“According to the Mayo Clinic, oral health is a window to your overall health and can be linked to cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions. The Mayo Clinic also states, ‘Contact your dentist as soon as an oral health problem arises. Remember, taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.’ Click here for the complete article. Remember, our team is specially-trained to answer any questions you may have regarding your oral health and how it may cause or complicate medical conditions.”

By sharing information in this way, you not only avoid plagiarism, you are leveraging the credibility of one of the most highly-regarded medical clinic. By “wrapping this reference within an introduction and a close, you are making it more conversational and relevant to your practice.

This blog post only scratches the surface of how to educate your patients and uncover the unintentional secrets of oral-systemic health links. We’ll delve deeper in future blog posts.



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