Dentists [Lesson Learned] - Local Lead Generation

36 replies
This is almost comical - and it's all my own fault. Have you ever heard the cliche "too much business is a good problem to have"? Well, not so, my fellow warriors.

Here's the deal: I've busted out 2 or three "dental emergency" websites recently. In addition, I have a couple of videos ranking right up at the top. Needless to say, in the cities I have them ranked in, they are generating a boatload of calls.

....great right? Well, not so much.

  • I've literally called every single dental practice in my target city that claims to offer these services.
  • I've sent many FREE leads (live phone calls) to a few practices.
  • I even had few discussions with dental office managers.
  • Some I've even sent a screencast to walking them through the process (skipping the technical stuff and talking all about benefits/results to them).

Well...here's a few things I've learned since I actually took some time to study the niche a bit more in-depth.

1. There are plenty of dentists advertising on Adwords and even their own websites for "Emergency Dental" type of services, but guess what: they really don't specialize in that sort of thing.

You see, normally in a bad economy, there is a huge majority of people who skip out on regular dental care - hell, I even do this myself! So, most (but not all) of the time what you have with someone who is looking for "emergency dental services" is someone who has no insurance or no money.

So even if the dental practice is willing to offer a "free" exam, they are going to set the patient up on a payment plan or their going to have some other means to pay the bill.

2. From the dentists' perspective, these types of patients are 1 shot deals, very low rate of repete business.

3. Also, if they do come in for work, the dental practice will usually have to chase this patient down to get paid - or wait forever on a collections company to do it.

4. "Emergency Dental Services" implies 24/7 type of services - right? Well, Dr's don't work 24/7. You call, you get forwarded to an answering service that will then try to "schedule you in" for an appointment as soon as possible -- Aspen Dental does this quite often. Do you think someone with a painful toothache wants to wait a few days or even a day? Nope.

5. This last one I can only attribute to plain ignorance and distrust. I just called a dental practice this morning who has AdWords campaigns saying they offer these services. I got the office manager on the phone, introduced myself, and mentioned I noticed they are advertising for these services - she confirmed it. I then asked if they are looking to take on even more new patients - she said yes.

Then I mentioned that my website in her city is generating a ton of calls and I was looking for a dental practice that would like to have a few calls for FREE and then possibly either rent the website on a month-to-month basis with no contract or ONLY pay per call.

.....you know what her response was?

"We already work with a marketing group but thank you for your call" - click.

LOL! The best part is, her "website" was at the bottom of the page and it's a YellowPages site....but she hung up before I had a chance to bring that up. Anyway, clearly she didn't trust me because she doesn't have the slightest clue who I am. But I'm putting the ignorance part on her!

So there you have it warriors! KNOW THY NICHE before you invest time and money!

(I'm off to my next niche)

- Shockwave....out
#dentists #generation #lead #learned #lesson #local
  • Profile picture of the author malia
    I have a question for you. What do you mean by boatload?

    And the other is about the emergency services. I've looked for that exact thing but it was a result of dental trauma (when you have kids...) as opposed to neglected care. Did you explore that part of it at all?

    Just curious.
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    • Profile picture of the author jimbo13
      Originally Posted by malia View Post

      I have a question for you. What do you mean by boatload?
      One down from shedload but above a bucketload. He means lot's.

      Dan
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    • Profile picture of the author shockwave
      Originally Posted by malia View Post

      I have a question for you. What do you mean by boatload?
      I think Dan summed it up pretty good

      Do you mean have I looked at Pediatric Dentist or Emergency Pediatric Dentist? No, I haven't.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mbrownseo
    Do you think you picked the wrong niche...or did you pick the wrong target for that niche?

    If you had targeted higher end dentalproducts ...such as implants...veneers...bridges...bonding repairs...etc... do yo think you would have had a better reception from the office managers?

    Was "emergency" dental the problem...or just dentists in general?

    I am putting a lead gen for this market using higher end items. I am surprised that someone who is spending money with IM that is not really producing would be so negative about a program on a pay-per-lead basis that could bring them clients immediately for the right price.

    Look forward to sharing your response and sharing ideas.
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    • Profile picture of the author shockwave
      Originally Posted by Mbrownseo View Post

      Do you think you picked the wrong niche...or did you pick the wrong target for that niche?

      If you had targeted higher end dentalproducts ...such as implants...veneers...bridges...bonding repairs...etc... do yo think you would have had a better reception from the office managers?

      Was "emergency" dental the problem...or just dentists in general?

      I am putting a lead gen for this market using higher end items. I am surprised that someone who is spending money with IM that is not really producing would be so negative about a program on a pay-per-lead basis that could bring them clients immediately for the right price.

      Look forward to sharing your response and sharing ideas.
      I have to say that I don't think it's a bad niche to target as there are PLENTY of "cosmetic", "dental implants", "invisalign", "sedation" websites out there in almost every city.

      Clearly these particular niches are high-value clients to dentists. I also believe that just good 'ol "family dentist" and "pediatric dentists".

      I specifically chose the emergency niche for 2 main reasons:

      1. Sense of Urgency: Clearly the user has an immediate need and is more likely to take an immediate call to action. (i.e. - they most likely won't be shopping around looking for quotes - they just need help NOW). Whereas something like Invisalign braces other cosmetic procedures like that is something that people tend to research, sit around and think about it, more research, go price shopping...etc.

      2. Competition: Obviously, with lead-generation or even any online marketing effort for that matter, you have to know how to pick your battles. I like "low hanging fruit" when it comes to competition. This niche wasn't ridiculously competitive unlike the others I've mentioned above.

      As I mentioned, I don't think it's a BAD market to target, I just think I probably didn't choose the correct niche within the market for all the reasons I've already outlined.
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  • Profile picture of the author SirThomas
    You need to find out who is that "marketing firm" and offer them leads wholesale. They have insider position with dentists and could possibly use extra leads. Or look for a lead broker who deals with dentists.


    Thomas
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    • Profile picture of the author shockwave
      Originally Posted by SirThomas View Post

      You need to find out who is that "marketing firm" and offer them leads wholesale. They have insider position with dentists and could possibly use extra leads. Or look for a lead broker who deals with dentists.
      Thomas
      Agreed. This particular dental practice I called today literally hung up - click (no joke).

      Last week I contacted 1800dentist - and they buy leads. Of course the person you need to speak with is quite difficult to get a hold of. But once I finally did, they weren't really interested in these specific types of leads.

      They like to bang out the high-dollar leads.
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  • Profile picture of the author VegasGreg
    Throw some adsense ads on there. If you are getting traffic, you might as well get paid for the clicks.
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    • Profile picture of the author shockwave
      Originally Posted by VegasGreg View Post

      Throw some adsense ads on there. If you are getting traffic, you might as well get paid for the clicks.
      It's not really the website that's driving the calls. The website is ranked at around #7 or #8. My video is at the top of the page (above the maps) with the phone number in the Title - and doing exactly what it's supposed to do: Stick out like a sore thumb. That's what's driving the calls.
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  • Profile picture of the author TGforever
    What service are you using to capture the calls, So you can sell the leads? Good luck selling to larger marketing firms.
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    • Profile picture of the author shockwave
      Originally Posted by TGforever View Post

      What service are you using to capture the calls, So you can sell the leads? Good luck selling to larger marketing firms.
      CallFire is what I use for the calls, and I just use Wufoo for the email capture (but have literally only got 1 email in the last month). It's been all calls.
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  • Profile picture of the author ADukes81
    I'm doing the same and generated 9 calls this month. I use Call Fire too, sent some free calls at first, but didn't realize it was an answering service. After 2 dentists, I started recording my calls.

    Haven't got any new calls to see of this an actual "emergency dentist"

    Have a few set up around the country, but only one has generated calls
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  • Profile picture of the author malia
    I know what boatload means, I wanted to know what he meant by it. For some people a dozen calls is a relative boatload and for others, the bar is higher.
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    • Profile picture of the author mraffiliate
      It's amazing how businesses are unable to see the value in things. They will spend 10 times more for something through a corporate supplier when they can get it much cheaper down the street from a local business.

      Mind PMing me your method of ranking videos?

      Thanks
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      • Profile picture of the author shockwave
        Originally Posted by mraffiliate View Post

        Mind PMing me your method of ranking videos?Thanks
        There's no big secret:

        1. Know how to assess your competition.
        2. Keyword in Title, Description, and Tags
        3. Backlinks

        ....it really is that simple.
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        • Profile picture of the author jadesource
          This may border on a rant, but I felt like venting.

          I wanted to chime in about my experience with Dentists, that has proven right. And my uncle (who was an original Mad Men guy in New York in the 1960'2-1980's (booze in the office and all) once told me.

          Dentists are worse than Architects.
          Architects are mostly highly educated, artistic and underpaid. BUT, they need to feel like they know everything because they are highly trained. Not in all cases, but most. And they get paid nothing, so they have little Napoleon complexes intellectually.

          I used to work as the in house graphic designer for one of the top 4 Architectural firms in New York. The arrogance was tiresome. I guess you have to justify the bazillion of dollars for Yale Architectural School then earning 30,000 a year and working 60 hours a week.

          Dentists are worse because on top of being educated, they feel BORING, and have lots of excess cash to throw around. And they need to feel like the guy they are paying a lot of money to is doing a great job.

          I've found that you can't tell them anything UNLESS you are their guy, and then you know EVERYTHING.

          Just a little story.
          Maybe the Philippine heat is getting to me. It's summer here.

          Mark
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      • Profile picture of the author imlogic
        Originally Posted by mraffiliate View Post

        It's amazing how businesses are unable to see the value in things. They will spend 10 times more for something through a corporate supplier when they can get it much cheaper down the street from a local business.

        Mind PMing me your method of ranking videos?

        Thanks
        You have to understand that these businesses are getting bombarded with calls trying to sell this and that. After being burned so many times they just stick to what they know.
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    • Profile picture of the author shockwave
      Originally Posted by malia View Post

      I know what boatload means, I wanted to know what he meant by it. For some people a dozen calls is a relative boatload and for others, the bar is higher.
      This site has generated 22 calls this month and it seems to be picking up every day. The exact match searches for my keyword phrase is 170/month and my video is in #2 organic position.

      I wouldn't be surprised if it's generating 50 - 60 calls/month by middle of next month.
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  • Profile picture of the author pwk2000
    How frustrating! Had similar pain (different niche). For a test offered service for free and some were still skeptical!
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  • Profile picture of the author narendras83
    Banned
    The list of features included with the initial dental market for each New Patient Marketing Machine includes a comprehensive mix of historically effective and new internet marketing tools: dentist marketing website, directory listings for lead generation, email marketing systems, mobile marketing capability, search engine optimization (for dental market segments and geo-targeting for local search), lead tracking and reporting, and social networking.
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    • Profile picture of the author maxdev
      Problem is you're appealing to their rational mind, and they're too stuck in their circumstances to see/hear/understand the value of what you're offering, which is pretty straightforward by all accounts.

      This could be an interesting challenge, but if you have patience the rewards will be sweet. In my market I find dentists are being driven by different a number of non-obvious factors.

      1. They are already too busy. They want to see less patients but earn more
      2. They are under serious pressure from the funders/insurers - how would you like to work and not get paid? And they are trapped here
      3. They are worried about not having enough for retirement, and do not want to risk spending money on anything
      4. Their lives (admin/personal) are a mess and they do not want to take on one iota more of duties/tasks/responsibilities
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  • Profile picture of the author janhill123
    Hey Shockwave,

    I clicked on this link just to see what it was - I have worked in the Dental Profession for 20+ years. You are right - every dentist will advertise that they see dental emergencies, but the bottom line is NO dentist likes to see emergencies because it messes up their schedules! In this economy a lot of people are just looking for emergency treatment, not long term treatment so it really isn't in a dentists best interest to see these emergency patients that will probably never come back. Focus your efforts on higher dollar treatment - ie: implants, invisalign etc.. you will have better luck selling it to the dentist as those patients usually have the money to move forward with their treatment and are worth a lot more to the dentist. I hope that sheds a little light on dentists for you! ;o)
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    • Profile picture of the author shockwave
      Originally Posted by janhill123 View Post

      Hey Shockwave,

      I clicked on this link just to see what it was - I have worked in the Dental Profession for 20+ years. You are right - every dentist will advertise that they see dental emergencies, but the bottom line is NO dentist likes to see emergencies because it messes up their schedules! In this economy a lot of people are just looking for emergency treatment, not long term treatment so it really isn't in a dentists best interest to see these emergency patients that will probably never come back. Focus your efforts on higher dollar treatment - ie: implants, invisalign etc.. you will have better luck selling it to the dentist as those patients usually have the money to move forward with their treatment and are worth a lot more to the dentist. I hope that sheds a little light on dentists for you! ;o)
      Thanks! I had a feeling my suspicions were correct. Good to have it verified from someone actually in the profession.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bruce NewMedia
    Just some thoughts about dentists:

    I've had some success with them, but not nearly what I expected for the effort.
    After many casual conversations with two, both my own personal dentists, for different work, I've noticed something.

    Many dentists are actually trying to make their practices SMALLER. Odd, yes, but I notice many in my area, being open fewer days and 'gang scheduling' all patients into 4 days a week. Then they take the rest of the week off.

    This is definitely NOT the case with newer dentists trying to get their practice off the ground. They, by comparison, have lots of debt to pay off, and are usually open to advertising and lead deals. Doesn't mean they'll bite, just that they're less likely to hang up. Their paradigm is growth more than 'lifestyle', imo.

    That's why I like contractors so much. Every one of them wants to be a big fish and hopes to grow. They'll usually take chance on something much more readily.

    Also, I definitely found dentists need to be 'courted'. I can't see getting far with dentists off of a cold call. But, many do buy 'marketing services', as the big practice management guys have large rosters of dental practices as clients. However, I've also heard, since the recession, some bigger dental marketing guys are hurting - big time.
    Ed O'keefe may be one?
    _____
    Bruce
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    • Profile picture of the author shockwave
      Originally Posted by Bruce NewMedia View Post


      Many dentists are actually trying to make their practices SMALLER. Odd, yes, but I notice many in my area, being open fewer days and 'gang scheduling' all patients into 4 days a week. Then they take the rest of the week off.

      This is definitely NOT the case with newer dentists trying to get their practice off the ground. They, by comparison, have lots of debt to pay off, and are usually open to advertising and lead deals. Doesn't mean they'll bite, just that they're less likely to hang up. Their paradigm is growth more than 'lifestyle', imo.

      That's why I like contractors so much. Every one of them wants to be a big fish and hopes to grow. They'll usually take chance on something much more readily.

      Also, I definitely found dentists need to be 'courted'. I can't see getting far with dentists off of a cold call. But, many do buy 'marketing services', as the big practice management guys have large rosters of dental practices as clients. However, I've also heard, since the recession, some bigger dental marketing guys are hurting - big time.
      Ed O'keefe may be one?
      _____
      Bruce
      All good points Bruce. Thanks for the input. It certainly makes sense that NEW dentists would be hungry for business.
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  • It isn't just dentists who do this. Trust me. Quite a few years back, while I was managing a local business, we had a plumbing emergency on a Saturday morning. It was a Restaurant and plumbing emergencies could have shut us down, so it was a BIG DEAL. I looked in the phone book and ALL the plumbers had Yellow Page ads advertising 24/7 "Emergency Service". Not only could I NOT get anyone to come out, most of the calls were answered by a sleepy "hello" with no indication that I had called a business!! Unbelievable.
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  • Profile picture of the author thomasmps
    I am curious,possibly anyone can answer do you find that your videos are generating just as many calls as a regular lead gen site on the first page?

    Thomas
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  • Profile picture of the author bluecoyotemedia
    Shockwave

    great post and I can understand exactly what you mean. what I have found to be successful is there are various levels of interaction with offline businesses and each has their own frequency so to speak.

    little variable and details that only come from immersing your self in the niche and start thinking like they do.

    it's like tuning in to different radio stations and then you find one and you begin to tune into to get the best reception.

    every niche has it own frequency and once you penetrate a market you will find these little nuances that allows you to speak to them in their language

    this mindshift has completely turned around my business.

    example: when we were focusing on the restaurant niche. we had tried many forms of lead gen methods and although some were working i still did not find that sweet spot so to speak. and the restaurant bunch is a very disorganized group ( aside from the corporate chains) they came from all different backgrounds so it was hit or miss.

    tough group

    then one day I was doing a sales call to a restaurant 2nd trip back since he missed our first appointment.

    while waiting in the reception area I noticed the owner and his staff were ignoring me and greeting someone that came in after me like he was some sort of celebrity.

    being curious

    I asked who he was and he was the local pennysaver food critic HA HA!!!

    imagine all this courting and he write reviews for pennysaver LOL

    buy my mind began thinking hmmmmm.....

    sure enough once I got back to the office ( no sale ) we brainstormed some ideas..

    built an online restaurant review site built out content and it looked really good

    and we had our very own food critic

    then we got fax lists from all the restaurants in NYC and sent out a 1 time fax blast inviting restaurants to receive a visit from our infamous food critic

    we hired a local writer and in 1 year he had eaten in about 1000 restaurants in less than 1 year

    the pitch was we offered a food review but we also gave them to opportunity to also let us present some of our services.

    and we had a banner year.

    sold the company a few years later. not millions but it was a nice chunk of change for that time.


    my point was that once I tuned in to his frequency they opened up thier mind to what I was offering whereas before they kind of shut me out so to speak.. disengaged

    every restaurant in NYC thought that they were the best and this alone was going to make them successful.

    hope this was helpful

    eddie
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  • Profile picture of the author TraderG
    I happen to be a dentist, so I can provide a few insights. Several of the posts above were on target.
    Most dentists tend to be introverts, and like engineers, highly analytical. As the saying goes, paralysis by analysis, so it takes multiple contacts and analysis before a decision can/will be made. Top it off with having spent thousands of dollars on previous advertising that promised pie in the sky and wasn't worth crap, and maybe you can understand why no one wants to talk with you. The polished marketing firms sucked since they didn't deliver, so why would one individual be any better. I don't even take calls from the "pros" anymore, but that's probably cuz I do my own.

    You also picked a bad niche. I haven't advertised "emergencies" for years. Not only do they (emergency patients) disrupt normal office flow (if they happen to actually call during normal office hours), but they usually tend to be people that rely on emergency care so tend to have bombed out mouths with no intention of trying to get healthy, want free care and/or extended payment plans (This can legitimately be because of lack of funds or other reasons. Not trying to dis anyone or make anyone feel bad). Usually, this means that if any treatment is chosen, it is an extraction. The fee for which is usually barely meeting overhead, if the dentist does extractions at all. The exam fee covers the cost of sterilization, room breakdown and setup, and salary of the assistant with not much left over. Most dental offices run about a 70-75% overhead, so we tend to not want to take on very many unprofitable/low profitable procedures such as emergencies or single extractions. We do it because we do have compassion and want to help people, but we definitely cannot be overrun with negative cash flows, so have to pick and choose what kind of losses we can accept.

    If the practice is in an affluent area, emergencies would be more welcome since that would mean more profitable procedures due to people being able to afford to save their teeth, but it would have to be to a highly targeted market. More in line with direct mail or some other venue.

    Someone mentioned above about younger dentists were more apt to bite at the offers than older dentists because they are hungry to build their practices. While that may be somewhat true, the younger guys haven't learned yet what the older guys already know, after being burnt any number of times and wondering how you are going to make the next loan payments for your equipment and still pay the staff and yourself, you don't jump on the next offer without severe scrutiny.
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    • Profile picture of the author shockwave
      Thanks TraderG - it does indeed look like I chose a bad niche. Too bad these videos/sites are picking up traffic every day (thought I was about to get rich! lol).

      Although these aren't the ideal client base, I'm wondering if I can still rent these out for a ridiculously low flat fee. I think I will start at $197/month and see if anyone bites.
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  • Profile picture of the author mojo1
    The advice from fellow Warriors and former dental professionals have been keenly insightful.

    If you don't want to give up just yet, perhaps you'll figure out how to get in front of these professionals in different way.

    Here are a few links that might help you to shortcut things:

    1. Home - American Dental Association - ADA.org (find out if a local group exists near you and possibly present your information there)

    2. http://www.ada.org/newdentistconf.aspxn (look down the page where sponsorships are and you'll see 'yodle dental marketing')

    3. Contact Yodle Dental Marketing (looks like yodle might consider partnerships)

    4. Read Yodle's case studies to pick up some common dentist pain points :Dental Success - Yodle Dental Marketing

    5. Do some JV work with other companies who provide services or supplies to dentists. Here's a list of dental supply products to get you started with ideas of such companies.

    Save Money on Dental Supplies-Every Day | SmartPractice Dental
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  • Profile picture of the author fitzpatg
    Seems like the people responding to these videos likely do not already have a dentist, and do not have a dental plan. What about modifying your videos so you can sell the leads to dental insurance companies?
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    • Profile picture of the author mojo1
      Originally Posted by fitzpatg View Post

      Seems like the people responding to these videos likely do not already have a dentist, and do not have a dental plan. What about modifying your videos so you can sell the leads to dental insurance companies?
      You've hit the nail on the head with this suggestion. Based on your line of thought, would you say dental insurance or health insurance agents might also be good candidates for these type of leads?
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      • Profile picture of the author shockwave
        Originally Posted by mojo1 View Post

        You've hit the nail on the head with this suggestion. Based on your line of thought, would you say dental insurance or health insurance agents might also be good candidates for these type of leads?
        Hmmmmmmm......I don't know if I agree with you on this one folks.

        Based on my non-expert opinion, I think you would have some major challenges:

        1. These videos/lead-gen websites are set up and are focused on converting the emergency dental services seeker to make a phone call right now to a dentist for help. Are you thinking they might want to first talk to an insurance agent before getting treatment? Or are you saying switch out the videos on the sites and the site content to push for dental insurance?

        If so, I can say that it is highly unlikely - based on the calls I've listened to. These people have $$$ problems. That's why they have avoided dental maintenance to begin with.

        2. If what you mean is: sell the leads to dental insurance companies/agents for them to follow up on down the road.....mmmmmmmm I don't know. Again, $$$ factor for the patient. The ONLY thing that might work in the agent's favor would be timing. But that would be AFTER the treatment anyway, not before.

        Who know's though, you could be on to something. Hey, if you want to buy the leads from me to resell to agents just let me know cuz I got plenty!
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  • Profile picture of the author mojo1
    @shockwave,

    I've seen really cheap dental plans sold previously by independents. Similar to Prepaid legal plans where help and assistance is needed immediately.

    I agree with the notion that often these folks may have money problems.

    However the dental plans that I recall seeing in the pastr, have marketed themselves as affordable dental plans to include addressing emergency problems just like these and immediate access to a network dentist. Check out the FAQ here to see what I mean. Frequently Asked Questions | It

    I'm no expert nor pretend to be one. Just trying to help a fellow warrior not let a good thing go to waste.

    Best of luck either way.
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    • Profile picture of the author shockwave
      Originally Posted by mojo1 View Post

      @shockwave,

      I've seen really cheap dental plans sold previously by independents. Similar to Prepaid legal plans where help and assistance is needed immediately.

      I agree with the notion that often these folks may have money problems.

      However the dental plans that I recall seeing in the pastr, have marketed themselves as affordable dental plans to include addressing emergency problems just like these and immediate access to a network dentist. Check out the FAQ here to see what I mean. Frequently Asked Questions | It

      I'm no expert nor pretend to be one. Just trying to help a fellow warrior not let a good thing go to waste.

      Best of luck either way.
      Will look into it - thanks for the heads up!
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