A FEW YEARS AGO, researchers asked the 75  members of the Stanford Graduate School of Business  Advisory Council to name the most important capability for leaders to develop. They all agreed the answer was self-awareness. “Executives need to know where their natural inclinations lie in order to boost them or compensate for them,” reported the MIT Sloan  Management Review in this survey. 

In fact, studies show that self-awareness is critical to our development: it improves confidence, and creativity,  and even leads to better decision-making.2 Self-awareness improves our communication, and when it comes to business, leads to more effective leadership with more satisfied employees, and more profitable companies.  

Most likely, you are extremely self-aware when it comes to your role as a dentist. You have spent years studying, nurturing your craft, identifying your weaknesses and meticulously finding ways to improve them, constantly gaining more knowledge. But what about your self-awareness as the decision-maker for your practice? Whether you’ve been in business for less than a year or a few decades, you need to identify where you are now in order to forge the right path moving forward. You need to become self-aware of where your practice stands now and why that is, based on your experiences, results, and mindset. 

The Bell Curve Model 

We’ve created a simple way for dentists to identify where they stand today, including the reasons they fall into that category, and how they can move into the next tier to grow their practice. We call this the Bell  Curve Model.  

Picture dentistry as a bell curve, where each dentist (that owns a practice) falls somewhere among the curve. Their mindset, results, and decisions all contribute to where they are on the bell curve. Taking  the time to identify which type of dentist you are and  what decisions, fears, comfort, and results have led you  to believe that, will help you become more self-aware  in your role as practice owner, and help you better  understand how to use the knowledge and tools you  will learn in this book.  

The At Risk Dentist 

There are a number of dentists that fall at the  bottom of the bell curve. These dentists are, to put it  plainly, At Risk.  

The reality is, their results are up and down, often  more down than up, and unreliable. This puts them  in a desperate position. These dentists are constantly  making reactive decisions, instead of proactive  decisions, because they are scrambling for results. 

These dentists face an impassable line (or at least  that’s what it feels like), where they are frozen in fear, in  ignorance of what to do next, of how all this “marketing  stuff” works. At Risk Dentists often wonder, how do  you get seen in these busy markets, and convert all of  these patients? It feels out of reach to them. 

The Struggling Dentist 

The dentists that have made it past that line are in  the next zone of the Bell Curve. While they are not At  Risk, they are Struggling. These dentists have either  struggled with their marketing or they are struggling  with their practice as a whole. These dentists have been  able to weather the ups and downs at the practice, but  they may also experience a plateau in results for far  too long. The Struggling Dentist is not in a desperate  place, but it’s not a happy or fulfilling place either. 

The Struggling Dentist chooses cookie-cutter  marketing strategies. The problem is, everyone in  this section of the bell curve is using cookie-cutter  marketing strategies so they all look exactly the same to  patients. None of them stand out in their marketplace.  Even if these dentists are doing something really  unique or special at their practice, their cookie-cutter  approach does not reflect that, so no one outside of  their current patient base knows about it! 

The Searching Dentist 

The next section is the Searching Dentist.  

These dentists are searching for an alternative,  something better, to help them take the next step in  their practice growth. These dentists are doing well,  they are moving up, their results are better than most  dentists and they are happy about it. These dentists  are consistent with their marketing. It might not be the most unique marketing out there, but it’s consistent,  connected, and reliable. 

But the Searching Dentist knows they could achieve  even more, they know there is a next phase for their  practice and their career, there is “untapped potential”  for their practice...they just haven’t found the right  path to get there. Similar to the At Risk Dentists, the  Searching Dentists are met with what feels like an  impassable line at the top end of the bell curve. This is  what we call the Good Enough Line.  

The Good Enough Line traps a lot of Searching  Dentists. They get to this point and think, because they  are getting good results, that’s good enough! So these  dentists just keep doing what they’re doing, even  if they have that inkling that there is something out  there that could take them to the next level. They feel  it’s not worth the risk to make any changes because  they've been consistent this long and decide to settle  with that. 

The Dominating Dentist 

The dentist that crosses the Good Enough Line are  dominating in their market, and so are aptly named  the Dominating Dentist. These dentists truly  understand something that the rest of the dentists in  the Bell Curve do not, which is the power of uniqueness.  These dentists are seeing exponential results, they are  very happy with the marketing they are using, they  see reliable results and always have a clear vision to the next step that’s going to reap rewards for their  practice.  

The Dominating Dentists have harnessed what  makes them different to stand out in their market,  become the top choice for their ideal patients, and  make decisions that separate them from the rest of  the industry. 

Categories of Marketing 

Each type of dentist is drawn to a certain marketing  strategy, and that choice is keeping them in their  respective category.

The At Risk Dentists are drawn to do-it-yourself  marketing. These dentists make it up as they go along,  often throwing ideas at the wall hoping one of them  will finally stick to book more new patients. These  decisions are often determined by gut feelings and  marketing fads, and are inconsistent. Many times, this  results in a scattered approach. The At Risk Dentist may  have one person running their ads, a company running  their website, and the dentist themself is taking over  another part of their marketing, such as social media.  The At Risk Dentist is all over the place and unless they  choose a different approach and mindset about their  marketing, they will remain on the low end of the bell  curve.  

The Struggling Dentist makes decisions driven by  price, choosing externally cheap marketing because  it feels low-risk. However, the reason these strategies  are externally cheap is because they are internally  automated, cookie-cutter strategies. The company  or agency that the Struggling Dentist hires for these  strategies is giving every client the same website, the  same ads, and so on, which allows the company to  drastically reduce their prices. The Struggling Dentist  feels that they (at least) have something in place, and  pat themselves on the back for keeping the cost low  to do so. But they don’t realize it costs them more  than they could ever imagine: opportunities. Yes, the  Struggling Dentist does not see a large line item on  their balance sheet, but this type of marketing does not  serve them. They end up missing out on new patients, revenue, the results they want, and the years of their  career where they could have been achieving their  goals and growing. The Struggling Dentist’s decisions  about marketing do not yield stable results, reliability,  and definitely does not make their practice unique. 

The Searching Dentist has a solid marketing  strategy running, it’s connected and consistent. But  the Searching Dentist is a hesitant decision-maker.  This dentist does have a nagging feeling that there  is untapped potential, but the fear of losing the  results they already have outweighs that feeling. The  Searching Dentist is often questioning their next move:  do I REALLY want to make a change right now? Take  a risk? I’m doing well. Searching Dentists will often  stick with their marketing partners long past when  they should have made a change, they may meet with  other marketing partners, but they are too afraid of  moving forward, and settle at the Good Enough Line. 

The Searching and Dominating Dentists both  have uptrending results, but the Searching Dentist  maintains incremental growth, while the Dominating  Dentist gains exponential growth. This is because of  the one thing that allows the Dominating Dentist to  surpass the Good Enough Line: the willingness to be  decisive, making the right decisions at the right time.  

For many dentists, the biggest risks they have ever  taken were choosing dentistry as a career and opening  their own practice. The Dominating Dentist holds onto  that entrepreneurial mindset long after their practice  doors open, and keeps taking calculated risks to continue moving upward and grow. This allows them  to feel more confident in making decisions that are  different from what the rest of the industry is doing,  embracing their own uniqueness, and achieving their  vision. These dentists do not dawdle or overthink their  decisions until it's too late to make a real impact on  their results and their careers. The Dominating Dentists  are serious about making investments in themselves,  their practice, and their future, and adapt and change  as much as they need to so they never slide back into  the Searching zone. 

From Struggling to Dominating 

Based on your past experiences, results, and  decisions, you should be able to clearly place yourself  into a category on the bell curve. Where you fall on  the bell curve is subject to change based on how  those factors change. There may be a dentist reading  this right now that remembers when they were the  Dominating Dentist, but when a corporate office  moved in down the street or their market changed,  they did not change with it, and are back in the  Searching or Struggling zone. 

However, many practice owners believe they are  closer to the Dominating section of the Bell Curve than  they actually are, and that's what makes genuine self awareness so critical to your success. If you believe you  are a Dominating Dentist, but you do not realize you  are currently settling at the Good Enough Line, then you are letting opportunities pass you by. These are  opportunities to book more new patients and grow  your practice. If you believe you are a Searching Dentist,  but you are actually Struggling, then you are not only  missing opportunities, but losing money or settling for  an unpredictable patient flow, when you could have  stability and exponential growth. If you believe you  are a Struggling Dentist, but you are actually At Risk,  then you may be in a dangerous position with your  practice, and you will not move out of that position  until you confront any fear or ignorance you have  about marketing.  

From what my team has learned in our experience in the dental industry, and what we can take away  from the MIT study, we must understand that self awareness that errs on the side of prosperity is not  true self-awareness at all. Analyzing the hard truths  about your practice: the reality of your market, your  situation, the marketing you have in place, and your  decisions and results, and adjusting accordingly is the  only way you can move into the prosperous end of the  Bell Curve. 

To move into the Dominating Dentist category  and achieve exponential results, you need to have a  marketing system and a practice that is truly unique,  that stands out in the community and gives patients  a clear understanding of why they should choose  your practice over anyone else. Every single dentist is unique in their own way. You have  something that you do that no one else does, but your market doesn’t know about it. Automated or one-size fits-all marketing strategies will not help you achieve  this; they won’t show patients why they should choose  you over another dentist...and only you can decide if  you will take the steps to show patients exactly why you are different. 

The only way you’re going to achieve that is  through proper self-awareness and having the right  mindset for this type of unique marketing. The power  of uniqueness is going to separate you from the rest  of the pack: while everyone else opts for cookie-cutter  marketing strategies that seem cheap on the surface,  but make them all look the same, the Dominating  Dentist is the one that is investing in their uniqueness,  and will reap the rewards. 

Embracing uniqueness is the key to move from  Struggling to Searching, finally pass the Good Enough  Line, and become a Dominating Dentist. 

You can learn exactly how to make those  decisions and what to do to achieve your remarkable  and rewarding practice. And you won’t be alone.

Click here if you are ready for our expert, unbiased perspective on the marketing of your practice. Schedule your Practice Growth Acceleration Call today.

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