The Bottom Liine Ep. 7

The leadership organization's perspective on marketing collaboration, with Emily Rose of Lightwave

Emily Rose joins us to discuss her role as VP of Marketing for Lightwave, a dental leadership organization. We learn about her top-line marketing metrics, how she collaborates with dental leaders, and what separates the highest performing dental practices from the rest.



Ken: All right. Welcome back to The Bottom Liine. Today, we have Emily Rose. Emily directs marketing strategy and brand development for Lightwave. Lightwave’s, a dental leadership organization. She leads an enthusiastic marketing team providing dynamic support to dental leaders by amplifying their voices with patients, communities and vendor partners. With over 15 years of professional marketing experience, Emily believes marketing communications play a part in informing, inspiring, and improving people’s lives. She holds her B.A. and MBA from Wayland University in San Antonio. She’s a California native who has lived in seven U.S. states and Europe and Asia. Well, that’s pretty.

Emily: I’m an army brat.

Charlie: That. Oh, that’s right. You told me that. Yeah.

Ken: And along that journey, she settled in North Carolina, which is where we are. Very cool. Where her family has resided for over a decade. In her free time, Emily enjoys teaching at her local community college, spending time with her husband and three children, reading, traveling to new places and practicing yoga. Awesome

Emily: Thank you.

Ken: Yes. Thanks for being here.

Charlie: And unfortunately, she’s reading Coach K’s book right now, which she will talk about in a little bit. Mad respect for Coach K, just saying, but we’ll talk more about that.

Ken: Yeah, we got a couple of UNC grads in here, so. All right. So marketing is a topic. We obviously have someone who’s an expert in the dental space, but I think most of this will apply for pretty much any growth focused health care practice. So I guess let’s kind of kick off with what’s the top of your dashboard, Emily. What are the high level metrics that you’re kind of checking every day, every couple of days?

Emily: The things that are most important to me that I report to are practices back to right, which they hold me accountable. Is lead count. Right. So how many leads did we generate and what was the cost per lead? Right. So when you think about like that, to me, that’s like when I go in and look at how a campaign is performing.

Those are the things that I look at. Those are what I hold our vendors accountable t. That’s what I report to the practic back to. It fits sort of like as a marketing team at Lightwave. My mission or my purpose is to amplify the voice of the dental leaders. Right. And so you amplify that voice by doing marketing and generating leads.

And so that’s what I look at.

Charlie: One of the things I’ll throw in there that’s so hard and Liine can help with this – side note. The word lead, right? So one one thing I always tell people to challenge is when they have a number that’s like we generated X number of leads. It’s just what does that mean? Where does that information come from?

What is the exact definition? And what it should be is a human being, at least for now. Maybe at some point non-human beings as well. But that could come in to get services from us, reached out to us. And that is a lead, right? There’s different ways they can do that. They can call, fill out web form, online booking, chat, a lot of different options.

Yeah, sounds simple, but I think a lot of people are operating, in my opinion. I don’t know if you agree, Emily. A lot of people operate with a lead count number that isn’t accurate. And if you’re doing that, like your dashboards jacked up and then everything that flows from there, hard to make the best decisions. If you don’t have that lead count dialed in.

Emily: I think you’re absolutely right. So one of the things we’ve had conversation with vendors on is how do we define what a lead is, right? So when they report out, like have to be very clear, a lead is a phone call, a form fill or an online scheduled appointment. That’s it. Right. Anything else is just extra to the funnel that helps us make better decisions in regards to like the marketing channels that we may be taking on.

But ultimately, like we report to the practice leadership team, the lead out and that’s again, yeah, phone calls, form fills online appointments.

Charlie: Yeah. For example, I come I’ve come across some practices where sometimes people only think of web form submissions as leads because they have to manage the leads and those are the ones where they have a list and they’re following up or maybe just in their email inbox and they don’t think of a phone call as a lead, which just sounds insane, right?

But it’s because of they’re not looking at it from that the perspective that you’re talking from. Yeah. And/or they’re assuming that everybody who calls schedules and so they’re like, well, yeah, they’re lead, but they’re in our booking system, something like that. So might sound simple, but like people that are new patients calling you are definitely leads and you should know how often that happens.

Emily: Well, right Well because then it goes into like to your point, like you need to know how many come in and then you’ve got to go to the next level and say, well, how many actually like schedule an appointment. Yeah, right. Or how many went to like voicemail. Right. So when I think about I can my marketing team or the marketing activities can get to a certain point, but then operations sort of needs to pick up or your sales team needs to pick up and there needs to be a conversation around like, you know, leads to appointment conversion rate, right?

And that goes to how many times do they follow up on a form fill, how much was or how many calls are going to voicemail, which is one of my like huge. Did you follow up on the form and are you sending calls to voicemail? Because if you send a call to voicemail, that’s like the graveyard of leads.

Charlie: Yeah. When we were talking and you just alluded to this, but when we were talking earlier, you mentioned that the team culture specifically in this example, marketing, even people, multiple people in the marketing side helping each other, but then also the next step with operations as a general category term of handling the intake and the conversations with new patients and the follow up trying to get those people booked for an initial appointment.

And I know in my experience, those two things in any industry, whether it’s health care, especially otherwise, it’s easy for those to be siloed. Like Ken’s on the marketing side here, I’m on the sales side. We have to we go to lunch every other week just so we know what’s going on. Right. Ken, we should start doing that.

I actually go over and I distract him. He thinks I’m joking around, but what I’m really doing is creating a team, culture. In all seriousness for you, when you say that, Emily, what do you how do you do that? Like, what are the specific things that you guys do in your life? Wave practice groups to foster true team connection with marketing ops?

Anybody else that’s important? Is that just like staying in touch? Is it? Hey, we set the tone early and have consistent meetings. What are actions people can take to accomplish that?

Emily: I think regular engagement with the practice leadership team, right? So when I say practice leadership team, I’m talking about the practice manager, right? And then any kind of lead doctors or clinicians that are part of the organization. Right. So we my team is on a reoccurring weekly conversation. So as Lightwave our practices use the entrepreneur operating system so that we have a level ten call every week. The marketing team is a part of that.

Charlie: That from Traction?

Emily: Yeah.

Charlie: Yep. Familiar.

Emily: And so we like w’ere on that call so we can help bring up issues or resolve issues or celebrate wins right with them directly on that call to help kind of keep that team engagement with them as much as possible. That’s really helped a lot. I think one area that I’d like us to get better at is reporting.

So we are reporting on leave, but we are reporting so much on like lead to appointment conversion or appointment to new patient conversion or treatment acceptance. Right. So as an operations market team, we need to collaborate better and kind of come up with those ways to talk about those things. Right. Whether that’s the report or we have our scorecard or a metric that talks about that.

Charlie: Do EHRs have anything like that? Typically in dental, like, like, like showing percentage? You know, is it is it fairly easy? I’m sure you can export data, but is there any good native reporting in most of them? That’s like giving you a chart of that type of stuff.

Emily: Patient management system.

Charlie: Or patient management system, yeah.

Emily: There’s not not that I have been able to find. I feel like where we have to piece different reports together, right? So we’ll be pacing, will be using like our communications system where all the phone calls come in to. Right. So we’ll be tracking that versus the new patient that came in versus like canceled appointments, kept appointments. There’s a lot.

Charlie: Yeah.

Emily: And I think that that’s a huge opportunity for us to grow into and improve upon that, because I’ve been we talked about Coach K, so as I started to dig into the data, I mean, I, I can’t I’m.

Charlie: Super proud of the all time wins, all time wins, can’t say anything. He won I’ll you know I’ll, I’ll, I’ll do some stuff later You keep going this way.

Emily: Well I think part of what I’ve always been very team and collaborative approach when I watched recently the new show Bear on Hulu, there was all this conversation about working together and everybody has like an action and a thing that they do that benefits the whole right and a part of that show, she. one of the characters is reading the book, right?

Coach K’s. I can’t remember the name of it. It made me think about. I was like, What? Why is that connected? Or how is it the basketball coach connected sort of community and everybody working together and started reading his book and I was realizing that, like each team is different. So every year he has a different sort of culture on the team.

Charlie: Yeah.

Emily: Right. And that he builds up everybody’s strengths and communicates with one another and everybody’s in it, right. When I think about like, I think when I think about working with practices, each one is different. Each one has a different culture. Each one has different skill sets or things that they bring to the table. And as the marketing team, we modify how we engage interact with them to get the optimal results.

That’s why that was I think that’s why I’m so passionate about Coach K, right now, just because I’m very sophomoric about books.

Charlie: Yeah, Yeah. I mean, look, Coach K’s record speaks for itself. And also he made the transition from not having like the best NBA talent and then did. And so, like, obviously you have to change a lot of stuff probably to be able to do that. Um, so, but just for the listeners, I did attend his retirement party in April of 2022 in New Orleans.

He got a huge he invited like 80,000 people. I was there and they lost to Carolina.

Emily: Carolina okay, I’m guessing there’s a joke here.

Charlie: Final Four, the Final Four.

Emily: Oh, okay.

Charlie: Retirement party. Actually, he went to the other one was in Durham. We spoiled that out. But the next one was great. But obviously he’s, you know, one of the greatest coaches of any sport to ever live.

Emily: Well, if we can take from him, we can take the ideas that he generated and created to get all those wins. Yeah, maybe I can make my you know, I can have a positive impact on my team.

Charlie: For sure. And I think it’s like, you know, this is that that’s just really good advice for anybody. But, you know, if you’re a practice owner and you have multiple locations, if you’re a part of a, you know, managed services platform, whether it’s a DSO or something in another specialty, there are different teams that have different personalities and it’s human beings.

Emily: That’s right.

Charlie: That’s the deal. And having a structure of how what you’re what you’re trying to implement definitely helps, but you just need to at least be aware of that. And the way that you communicate with different teams and people has an impact on how they receive that. So that’s cool that you’ve been you’ve been thinking through that and that we’re thinking about this, we’re talking about marketing, and this is how important this is to being able to market successfully.

Because if you don’t do that, then there’s the the classic rift between marketing people and sales or ops.

Emily: Yes.

Charlie: Where the worst case, the worst example is ops is like look at all the our sales marketing is like, look at all these leads we’re generating. You guys can’t close anything, right? And then sales or ops is like these leads suck and A, neither side is correct typically. And then B, there’s insight that they’re both missing that would make the whole thing more effective and easier for all of them.

And they totally should be on the same page. So if you don’t have what we what I talked about there, but you have metrics, it doesn’t really matter because the metrics are just going to be used for one party to be mad at the other one.

Emily: Yes, right, right, right. Well, I think that goes back to the idea of like in some ways too, having a team is you all have a common goal, right? So if you’re playing basketball, your goal is to win the game, right. Or whatever it is. Right. So in the same when you’re talking about patient care, your goal is to make sure that the patient receives the care that they need.

Right. And how are we working together to achieve that as well as, you know, practice growth in those other other metrics. But as a team of we’re all moving in the same direction, focusing on that one goal that we’re all kind of questioning one another and collaborating on what’s happening at each phase of the, you know, the cycle.

Charlie: One thing that just popped in my head as well for you is, you know, you know, Emily is coming in as a part of the DSO to help and support individual practice brands. And so I feel like a lot of practices, you know, they’re starting to become a part of an organization or a family like Lightwave. They may have hesitance to, oh, this person is from corporate.

They don’t know what all this stuff is like. And then you also mentioned having the dentist or the the former practice owner involved. Like how do you specifically deal with that dynamic? Because I’m sure many marketing folks that are trying to connect with new practices that come onto their platform, this is important and I think it’s can be difficult.

So what do you focus on? You know, in in in addition to the concepts you were talking about before, too, to make them feel comfortable and like you are thinking about the same common goal.

Emily: I think ultimately, you know, you have to listen to them, what’s important to them, right? And then we create a common goal that matches, you know, their values and the growth goals that they have, the practice. Right? So I, I take a very soft approach when any practice joins. Right. And there’s a lot of questions, understanding their needs, what are the things that they’re wanting.

And then we put together kind of plan action around fulfilling those needs. Right. So if you’re you can I think from a philosophy, you know, being philosophical about it, if I’m meeting their needs and what they want, they’re more likely to hear me and be a part of the team sort of approach, right? So if if I come in with a sledgehammer and I’m like, we have to change everything.

Everything’s terrible, that’s never going to work, right? They’re definitely not going to want to listen. You know, I have to say, but if we come in and we’re, you know, we’re kind of soft collaborative team, then when I need to have a hard conversation about a vendor who’s not performing, then we can have that conversation because we listened to them, you know, before and paid attention to what they thought was important.

Charlie: Totally. Yeah. Because I think what happens a lot is people come in from corporate and they’re like, Hey, this is the Lightwave model. We know this works. Yes, data driven. We’re doing it. Yeah. And sometimes, by the way, maybe that’s true, but it’s not going to work if. Right. Because you still have to have people doing things. Yeah.

For that machine to operate, even if it’s proven. Yeah. And so it doesn’t matter if the, you know, if they’re sort of revolting against or if they just feel like what the hell I’m not, they don’t even understand what we’re all about here.

Emily: Right, Exactly right. If you just come in and like you think you’re the best you know at all, right? Like, yeah, I have one example of this and how this played out to about a year ago, maybe two years ago, we instituted online scheduling for everybody, right? We said we’re we’re picking a vendor, we’re instituting and implementing online scheduling for everyone.

Right? To this day, two years ago, I still get like negative feedback in regards to like this heavy handed approach. And now I think I don’t even the all the practices signed up for online scheduling, I probably only have four left that are doing it on a regular basis right. And so, you know, and I had an I had a regional director who was like, remember Emily, when you instituted online scheduling and you forced everybody to do it, right?

Like and that just, didn’t you know, go over well. So now I learned from that is really more like, yeah, much slower and sort of roll out of systems.

Charlie: That is a really good example, especially because I imagine I mean online scheduling is something I think a lot of people are considering right now.

Emily: Yeah.

Charlie: If they don’t already have it. And I mean online scheduling makes sense. Like every other industry has it, You should allow people to schedule and interact with you however they want to. And I know there’s other things to to consider, but I can see that being difficult if people feel like they’re being forced to do something that they haven’t thought about and whatnot, probably some workflow changes here and there.

Are they a big deal? Probably not. But who cares if someone feels like they’re being told what to do? They’re just going to, you know, throw a fit about it, which I guess I. I understand. By the way, what is your take on online scheduling – just side topic, Do you think Do you think it’s something that practices should have or what do you feel about that?
Emily: Oh, I am a huge proponent of online scheduling. I think reducing any kind of barrier for patients to schedule an appointment is like no number one thing, right? Yeah, but I’m coming at it from like a pure marketing leads driving perspective, right? There’s a lot of operational pieces that need to be put into place to make it like super effective on that side, which again, is the team sort of collaboration.

But let’s make it easy. Let’s get everybody schedule online, like let’s have every, you know, particular appointment online available, you know, new patients, existing patients, emergencies, console everything. I’m totally into that. I would like to see more opportunities for better platforms for online scheduling integration. Yeah.

Charlie: Yeah. There’s there’s we’re starting I think you know to integrate with with some and there’s a lot of different ones but I agree I think some are not as fully integrated you know as as others. And one other thing I think, you know you don’t have to immediately have every single type of appointment. I think you should. But like, you can phase it in, right, with different main categories.

A lot of times I find the practice sort of doc they’re worried about this like one particular situation. Yeah. And just don’t allow people to book online for that yet until you know more about it so.

Emily: You can you wouldn’t want to put like any like super you wouldn’t want have a root canal like you wouldn’t have someone be able to schedule a root canal right. Yeah but yeah right exactly. So the one thing that I’ve started kind of testing out and getting the conversation back into online scheduling is around doctor appointments. So we all know hygiene capacity is a significant struggle for the industry right now.

There’s just not enough hygienists to meet the demand for all the oral health care that’s needed. So we’re kind of tweaking or not like we’re just testing out the idea of doing a lot more around filling doctor’s schedules before hygiene visits. Right? So you can come in and have your your initial exam and then schedule hygiene or you can schedule like Invisalign implants, all the other kind of console emergency exams to fill the doctor’s schedule and get people to so that people can get in to care for their oral health without having to wait such a long time for hygiene.

Charlie: Interesting.

Emily: And so that’s been a kind of like a foothold or like a toe into more of a conversation around online scheduling now than it used to be.

Charlie: That’s cool. Yeah. Ken, how far away have I gotten us from where we want to be?

Ken: My job is to get conversation flowing, and if it’s flowing I’m happy.

Emily: Well, it’s easy to talk about this stuff, right? Yeah, it’s interesting. So.

Charlie: Yeah, I think I just I’ll comment on. I just love that we talked about teams and, you know, the messaging of when you’re when you’re interacting with a new culture. If you’re coming in from the platform side, for lack of a better word and we’ll talk about some more metrics to you but I mean that’s it.

Like if you if you’re, you know, you’re just not going to be able to implement anything if you don’t accomplish that. So I’m glad that that that is what you what you prioritize.

Emily: Growth of the team collectively. Like when you think about I can’t I can’t generate leads or understand what the messages that the practice wants to put out there. If I don’t have collaboration, engagement and agreement from the practice they’re like the be all end all. I will say to you like so Lightwave, if we were really focused on leadership, so are we are attention a leadership organization as opposed to like a dental support organization.

So our whole approach is to allow the doctor to be the leader of their practice. Right. And they have the final say. So I don’t ever and there’s no like advertising campaign that I’m going to put out there that they don’t approve beforehand. So that naturally creates more collaboration, right? It takes time. It takes longer, I think, sometimes to like see results because we’re doing all this sort of engagement and collaborate session with the leadership team.

But I think ultimately everybody is much more focused on results when we do it that way.

Charlie: So you guys are a DLO, right?

Emily: That’s right.

Charlie: It. Is that out you use internally?

Emily: Yes.

Charlie: You say DLO. Okay, great. I didn’t know that. I love that.

Emily: That’s all right. Yeah. So, like, our like our community is all around doctors being the natural leader of the practice. Yeah, right. And they remember.

Charlie: I, I personally went to your event two years ago maybe, and you can tell that’s in the fabric. I mean, the the leadership team on the Lightwave side, you can tell is also that way, like all the speakers that were up there, I mean, it was very impressive and so much more about the stuff that we’re talking about right now than it was.

I mean, obviously there was and, you know, information and analytics and those types of things, but it felt more like a leadership training event. Yeah. Than anything else, which it makes sense as that’s what what y’all’s identity is really.

Emily: And when I have conversations with practices around marking activities, you know, I want to empower them to understand and be like really a part of the process, right?

So yeah.

Emily: Whether that’s like, you know, making sure that they have regular communication with any kind of vendors opportunity to sign up to hear, you know, webinars or, you know, we go through the funnel and giving them information to help them make decisions, right? So even if it’s just like tracking the marketing spend so that they can see where everything is at at any point in time, then they can make better decisions just, you know, for them and their goals.

Charlie: Totally.

Emily: Really.

Charlie: Love it. Ken do we have any other big questions we got to hit?

Ken: We don’t have to. We don’t have to. But I want to ask one more. Yeah. Since you see a lot of dental organizations or practices, are there any key traits kind of separating high performers from the low performers without throwing anybody under the bus? Like what are the what are the success factors?

Emily: Okay, so from a marketing, I think there are some key key components. One, they have a solid marketing budget, right? The industry average is like 1.5% of revenue. Right? But if they’re spending 2.5 or a little more, right, then they’re spending it wisely. I think that’s a big factor. Right. I think the like we talked about before, the integration of marketing and ops, huge factor, right?

Emily: So making sure we’re tracking all of the marketing activities. Are we generating leads, but then are the leads generating new appointments and are those appointments generating new patients and making sure that there’s that everybody’s working together to get to that goal. And then I think having marketing professionals on your team. So if you have somebody that’s that’s what they do, like they’re focused on marketing activities, you’re going to naturally see more results as opposed to somebody who is like they have three other like hats they’re wearing in the practice.

And so they can’t really, like, dig in and make some, you know, positive you’re having more positive impacts in time because marketing takes time. There’s nothing that’s like quick and easy about it.

Charlie: Yeah. And like thought to right time, I’m just like thinking and you know, I think a lot of people be like, Oh yeah, you know, so-and-so is so good at Tiktok, I’ve seen it. And then it’s like, Well, we got that covered right? I mean, what, what are you going to do with it? Should you be doing anything with it while there’s other countries around the world that are listening to us through it?

What does that mean? Just kidding.

Emily: Do you think that’s true? Like, um. I really do. That’s a lot of testing that goes on right? In marketing. Are you testing the message? Are you testing that, you know, the channel that’s being used and are you willing to challenge what you’ve always done? That’s another big, I think another big piece. So do I answer your question Ken?

Ken: This is great. Yeah. Yeah. I think we need to probably call it a day though, because we’re out of time.

Charlie: We’ve got so much good stuff. Hey, everybody knows how to find the coach game, book, whatever the Bear. I love that show. I’ve seen season one, FX, right?

Emily: Hulu.

Charlie: Hulu. It’s on Hulu.

Watch it. The Bear, killer if you haven’t seen it. Phenomenal. Can’t wait to see Season two. Glad I already know about the Coach K thing. I won’t get like heated in the moment, but I love that show. Yeah, no, and I love it. I love what Emily talked about today. It was awesome.

Emily: Yeah, I remember team collaboration. That’s huge.

Charlie: That’s the deal.

Ken: Emily, tell us, where should people go to find you guys?

Emily: Oh, lightwavedental dot com. That’s our our website. Check us out on LinkedIn. Lightwave Dental. See all the happenings and amazing stuff that our practices are doing. Huge spotlights for them on LinkedIn.