News From The Wealthy Dentist #46: May 23, 2007
by Jim Du Molin
Melodrama in the Toothpaste Aisle
You’ll remember that last week we surveyed dentists on the importance of toothpaste and whether it really matters which brand of toothpaste you use. Two out of three dentists agreed that, thanks to modern technology, not all toothpaste brands are equal. However, they didn’t seem to agree on which brands are best or which ingredients (besides fluoride, a debate unto itself) are most important.
Some dentists questioned whether toothpaste was even necessary, arguing that the friction of the toothbrush was far more significant. One dentist even reported having good results with patients who brush with Ivory soap. (Doing that would make me feel like a dirty-mouthed child being punished!)
“Cola Wars” Part II: The Battle Over Toothpaste
Toothpaste has been on my mind lately, even more so since I read about the advertising feud between Crest and Colgate. The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus officially recommended that Procter & Gamble stop making claims that suggest its Crest Pro-Health toothpaste is recommended by dentists.
The back-story? Colgate has been losing market share to Crest lately (even though, to be honest, Colgate was the brand most mentioned by dentists in our Wealthy Dentist survey). Colgate responded by challenging a number of Crest’s advertising claims.
The NAD sided with Colgate on a number of points, writing, “The concept of a dentist recommending the results or ‘benefits’ themselves… is counterintuitive. Patients do not need dentists telling them that they do not want plaque-covered teeth or foul-smelling breath.”
Colgate itself is still reeling from being warned earlier this year by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to stop claiming that four out five dentists recommend its brand.
In Colgate’s annual poll of dentists, respondents are asked which toothpastes they would recommend from a list of major brands. Just over 80% selected Colgate, more than any other brand. However, the difference between Colgate and Crest was only a few percentage points. The ASA determined Colgate’s “4 out of 5 dentists” claim to be misleading to consumers.
But you won’t believe what else is going on in toothpaste news!
Pirate Toothpaste Is a No-Go
Pirates of the Caribbean has become a billion-dollar movie franchise, with a third movie about to be released and countless co-branded products lining store shelves. But the movie’s marketing moguls were recently snubbed by star Johnny Depp.
When Depp, who plays Captain Jack Sparrow, was asked to endorse toothpaste, the actor scoffed at the idea. “Captain Jack toothpaste seemed all wrong,” Depp told the Daily Star. “How can a guy with gold teeth sell toothpaste? It’s like a bald man selling shampoo.”
Zero Out of Five Dentists Recommend Poison Toothpaste
Here’s an idea even worse than pirate-themed dental care products – poison toothpaste.
Panamanian officials recently discovered thousands of tubes of poisonous toothpaste. The announcement of their discovery has prompted scares in other countries, with an Australian recall already announced.
There have been no confirmed deaths due to the toxic toothpaste; Panamanian authorities reported that most who tried it found it tasted funny and spit it out.
However, the toxin is a confirmed killer that’s been making all kinds of headlines recently: diethylene glycol, an ingredient found in antifreeze. At least 100 Panamanians died last year from ingesting contaminated cough syrup.
It’s also the same toxin that caused the recent pet food scare in the US.
In all these cases, the tainted ingredients have been traced back to China.
It appears that diethylene glycol was sold as glycerin, an additive in many products. Diethylene glycol has the same slippery, gel-like consistency as glycerin, making the change impossible to detect without testing. Diethylene
glycol has the advantage of being cheaper to produce, but the considerable disadvantage of being poisonous.
What do you think?
Come on, I know I’m not the only one with lots of opinions! You can share your own thoughts by posting on our blog.
Jim Du Molin
Survey: Tooth Whitening
In this poll, we asked dentists if today’s consumers are over-whitening their teeth. Not surprisingly, most dentists had nothing but good things to say about tooth whitening.
Four out of five dentists in our poll responded, “No; whether done at home or in the dental office, modern tooth-whitening technology is only improving people’s smiles.” The remaining 16% replied, “Yes; home bleaching kits and too-eager dental practitioners have left many people with ‘toilet bowl teeth.'”
It’s worth noting the role of geography: the more rural the dentist, the more likely he or she is to feel that over-whitening is a serious problem.
Here are some of our dentists’ comments:
“If people want ‘toilet bowl teeth,’ so what? Too white? Isn’t that like being too rich?”
“I had one patient who became so addicted to bleaching that her teeth resembled bright white copy paper, and she still was not ready to quit!”
“I still see 5-10 patients daily asking about bleaching who have never done any bleaching previously. In my practice, ‘Toilet Bowl Teeth’ are few and far between.”
“Fashion is not a medical decision.”
“Some people will overdo whitening no matter what.”
“Many patients have unrealistic expectations of bleaching.”
“Too many people have the Regis Philbin look – teeth that are too big and too white that look too fake!”
Post your own comments on our blog!
Faith Healer Specializes in Dental Health
Rev. Steve Jones is a dental faith healer. The evangelical West Virginian has been praying for people’s teeth for 20 years. One of his alleged specialties is the “gold fillings” phenomenon, where Jones turns amalgam fillings into gold. (If you have observed this phenomena and have any before and after photos…PLEASE send them to us for inclusion in our next newsletter!) He also claims he’s seen teeth straighten themselves and cracked teeth heal.
He’s got worshippers not only across the US but also in Asia and the UK. Some have reported finding crucifix-shaped precious metals in their mouths. During worship, Rev. Jones prays for people’s teeth and touches their shoulders or
jaws. Some report instant numbness or reduced pain, while other dental miracles take days or weeks to come to fruition.
“It’s two years since we’ve known him; we’ve never gone to the dentist since,” said one of his followers, a Sarasota woman who believes that Jones’ prayers have transformed five of her filings to gold or silver. “The Bible says, ‘If you
believe, you will receive.'” (It’s worth noting that the Bible actually says “Ask, and you shall receive.”)
Managing a Direct Mail Strategy—and Your Expectations!
By Melinda Spitek
When a new patient arrives at your practice, it’s always a delight. It’s the kind of gift you just can’t get too many of. It’s an extra special treat to find that the patient is responding to a direct mail solicitation from you.
A gratifying boost in production can be the result of a carefully planned campaign that is tailored to your practice. Often when I ask which potential patients the dentist wishes to target, the response is, “Well, as many as possible!”
But a closer look at your practice can isolate both the quantity and the quality of patients you want
to attract. So before you develop your direct mail strategy, consider several things:
- What are my expectations?
- Is there something special (e.g. cosmetic dentistry) I wish to be known for?
- What are the demographics of my ideal patients (upscale, middle class, working class, etc.)?
- Which incentive works best for my target audience?
Just as important as managing your strategy is managing your own expectations. I have heard questions like this: “Melinda, I sent out 200 solicitations and only got 10 bona fide new patients. Did I do something wrong?”
If these were the quality patients you sought, you just got a 5% return on your solicitation—a huge percentage! But there’s also a dollars-and-cents way of evaluating your campaign:
- Find your break-even
point (when revenue from the new production exceeds the cost of the campaign).
- You can estimate this
by dividing your cost by $750 (the national average profit on a new patient).
Plan to do at least three mailings. People need to be contacted multiple times with the same message to penetrate their subconscious minds. And remember: patients don’t show up when they’re needed by the practice; they come when they need dental care! Direct mail means that when they’re ready to make a decision, your name is recognizable
and your offer is actionable.
Melinda Spitek is CEO of
Hycomb Marketing Inc. Hycomb was founded in 1980 for the
purpose of helping dentists market their practices.
Melinda has had plenty of hands-on experience as well, having worked 23 years in
dental offices. If you need help with marketing, just call Hycomb at (800) 523-6961 or visit