October 11, 2020
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If you build it, they will come.” – Field Of Dreams 1989

The movie starring Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster is one of my favorites. Being about baseball and a father-son relationship, it spoke to me when I first saw it.  As a dentist, coach and consultant, it still speaks volumes as clearly as it did back in 1989.

My dad, who would have turned 95 this week, spent most of his early life with baseball on his mind. He played in high school and then during WWII for the Navy.

His claim to fame was that, while playing for Navy, he pitched in the same bullpen as Johnny Vander Meer the only pitcher ever to throw back to back no-hitters. He spent his first year in the Navy in Miami playing ball while going to Radioman training school.

Upon his discharge after the war in San Diego, Dad continued to play ball and was scouted and offered a contract with the N.Y. Giants. My grandfather urged him to turn down a questionable life as a ball player in lieu of going into the family’s fabric business, a business still functioning in New York City since 1890.

Back to the quote: If you build it, they will come”. WILL THEY?

Mendel Goldberg Fabrics survived because it has changed and adapted to a changing market.  It made it through 2 World Wars, The Great Depression and 2 dozen recessions.  Today, under the guidance of my cousin Alice, it bears little resemblance to the pushcart that my great grandfather, Mendel originally founded 130 years ago. Success leaves clues.

The following scenario seems to be the strategybehind most dental practices. After years of study and perhaps a few years resembling indentured servitude, a dentist, with the aid and support of a bank and a supplier, builds or buys an office.

Will the “THEY” come?

Then comes marketing; the race to the top of Google, building Keywords into your website, promoting them with Google AdWords, creating back-links, posting on social media, Tweeting, having a YouTube channel, an Instagram account and hiring others to do this!  It’s a never-ending RAT RACE.



And, perhaps even more importantly…


The problem with the strategy above is a failure to identify the “THEY”.

When you try to be everything to everyone, you accomplish being nothing to anyone.”

– Bonnie Gillespie.

This Covidemic has amplified and accelerated everything. It has amplified problems such as fundamental and foundational cracks as well as accelerated their effects.  So many businesses are failing.


NOW is the perfect time to begin to right the wrong, trim the sails and sharpen your focus and get back on track.

It starts by defining YOUR “THEY”.  Who is your audience?


An avatar is “an icon or figure representing a particular person.”

Every dental practice should clearly define at least 3 avatars.

1. YOUR ideal patient: ​​PATIENT AVATAR
2. YOUR ideal referrer: ​​REFERRER AVATAR
3. YOUR ideal team member: TEAM MEMBER AVATAR


Now, more than ever, defining YOUR target market is critical. Who is “hot for what you’ve got?” And, is “what you’ve got” unique, attractive and magnetic?

If you are just another dental treatment provider, you will become irrelevant or forced to lower your fees to the point of insolvency. It’s happening all around us.

If however, you have some unique offering, you can capitalize on that by clearly defining WHO wants or can benefit from your offering. That is your PATIENT AVATAR.

Your REFERRER AVATAR might be a little trickier to define. First, you have to define your patient avatar. Then, you must identify who else has access to these patients?

In Dental Sleep Medicine, such a referral avatar might be Sleep Physicians, DME companies or companies that sell anti-snoring devices or aides.

In a TMD practice, a referral avatar might be an ENT practice or Physical Therapist.

Once a referrer avatar is identified, you can directly target that market to encourage referral. Such a narrowed and focused approach will have an infinitely better yield than some random, episodic marketing scheme.

You might be asking yourself why I included the TEAM MEMBER AVATAR on this list.

The answer is that if you do not identify your ideal team member for each position in your practice you risk getting a hodgepodge of B and C players.  

Want a high performing team?  ONLY HIRE “A” PLAYERS.  YOU, YOUR PATIENTS and YOUR EXISTING “A’s” deserve it and more than ever, NEED IT.

This Covidemic has presented an opportunity to upgrade your staff. This might be a once in a practice’s lifetime’s opportunity to build an ideal team. First, that “ideal” needs to be clearly defined for each position.

Once defined, you can seek out where such people hide out. Today, many of them are looking for jobs. This is an opportunity.

What you build means little if you haven’t defined for whom you are building it?

And, during and after this Covidemic, WILL THEY CONTINUE TO COME?

Want to discuss HOW to define and then attract YOUR AVATAR?

Want to get off the Marketing Hamster Wheel?

Schedule a FREE 20-minute AVATAR strategy session NOW.  





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Dr. Michael Goldberg is one of the leading educators on dental practice management in the United States.

Michael ran and sold a prestigious group practice in Manhattan and has been on Faculty at Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Medical Center for 30 years including Director of the GPR program and Director of the course on Practice Management.

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