Television cameras. 8,000 viewers. And a dental technician in the spotlight.
This is not a common scenario, but one day last year, Eddie Corrales, CDT, seized the opportunity to introduce his new venture—CADSmiles—directly to prospective patients when he appeared on the cable show, San Diego Living.
During the five-minute segment—which cost Corrales $1,000—he was interviewed by the show's host, demonstrated CAD/CAM scanning and design, and shared before-and-after photos of CADSmiles makeovers.
CADSmiles is an in-office service that Corrales markets to CEREC doctors. When a client has a large or esthetically challenging case, Corrales goes to his office to consult with the patient and then uses the dentist's CEREC system to design and fabricate the case—usually within hours.
"I tell patients I'm basically their own private smile designer. We talk about their expectations and, once the restorations are seated, I can immediately take care of any adjustments. So they feel confident they'll get the results they want," says Corrales, also owner of two-person Downtown Dental Designs in San Diego. "And the best part is it's usually all done in one day."
That predictability and convenience is one reason why the service is a perfect match for direct-to-patient marketing. "My goal is for CADSmiles to be a brand patients know," says Corrales. "I want them to go into dental offices and ask for it by name."
To that end, Corrales has continued to garner television coverage since that appearance on San Diego Living last year. He was invited back to the same TV station last June to promote a breast cancer awareness event he sponsored along with a local spa. It was an evening of pampering for breast cancer survivors—complete with a jazz band, sushi bar and raffles—and a chance for three survivors to win smile makeovers compliments of CADSmiles.
Corrales has participated in similar makeover events and hopes to continue to do them on an even larger scale. He is also planning a longer paid segment on San Diego Living, a professionally shot patient-education video for his website and a promotional CADSmiles car wrap. Patients who contact Corrales directly are referred to his website, www.cadsmiles.com, where he maintains a list of dentists who offer the service.
While CADSmiles has been an exciting new angle for Corrales, initially there was a completely practical business reason behind the idea. In 2008, Corrales—a long-time Sirona inLab user who marketed mostly to CEREC dentists—started to see his single-unit caseload decrease since so many of his clients had their own milling systems. "At the same time, the economy was faltering and I wasn't getting a lot of smile design cases either...so I realized I had to go out and get them," says Corrales. "I also knew this service would be a great opportunity to partner with dentists who have under-utilized systems they only use for posterior work."
Since 2009, he has done more than 200 CADSmiles cases, mostly in his home state of California but also as far away as New York and Canada. Currently, he does an average of 10 to 15 CADSmiles cases a month. Not only does he charge clients a premium for the convenience of having the work done in their offices, but he also has practically no inventory costs or overhead—and gets paid the same day. "I've worked hard on CADSmiles and right now the work is very profitable," says Corrales. "And that's something I haven't been able to say in years."
Here is Eddie Corrales' appearance on San Diego Living to promote CADSmiles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YD52M16uawU