Creation of An Authentic, Contiguous, Awesome, Successful Brand & Business

Smiley Face is unlike anything in orthodontics. When we unveiled the brand and the model we could hear the collective groan from our orthodontist peers and were told things like, “you can’t make money at 3000 dollars” or “emojis are a fad and it’s not a good idea to base a brand on emojis” or “those colors are horrific – no medical professional should have office colors like that” or “you’re cheapening/ruining the profession” (like I hadn’t heard that before 😁). We chose our office location based on population density, household income, minors per household, traffic count, visibility and a few other business metrics that had nothing to do with what Bridget and I wanted or thought or believed – and we were told that our location is terrible for any number of reasons. We took what we learned in other innovative orthodontic businesses and new delivery channels and applied it to our new model. You can guess what our peers had to say about that.

So here we are, just shy of three months since our super successful Smiley Face open house and after 21 patient days. Overall, our marketing efforts have garnered more than 800 leads and we have started an average of 5 patient contracts per patient day (we are starting more per day recently of course with the most contracts in a day being 9 thus far). We have so much fun listening to consumers freak out over our awesome pricing and freak out again when it becomes clear that our fee is ALL INCLUSIVE. Talk about creation of raving fans.

We have also had the luxury of doing dozens of free cases for people in need, for contest winners, for friends and neighbors and for random people who just seemed super nice. We expect our average starts per day to steadily (and rapidly) increase as our targeted marketing continues to drive leads and because more and more happy patients spread positive word of mouth reviews (we see this happening already). As with anything there are always detractors but we just ignore them and keep doing what we do. Our results guide our actions and the results are pretty darn fantastic!

It takes a great deal of planning, implementation and the right mindset to do what we are doing with Smiley Face. Far too much to cover in one little blog post but I wanted to take a minute to give you an update, some details of what we do and show you one example of what authentic marketing looks like. July 17 was World Emoji Day so that was kinda in our wheelhouse. Lauren Schroeder, Angela Weber and the rest of the OrthoSynetics team have free reign to work within our marketing budget and come up with creative, authentic, effective marketing. This is what they suggested we do:

Of course we loved the idea and couldn’t wait for the appointed day. Remember that we were very young in practice and only had about 650 Facebook page likes on July 17.  But despite that the post reached more than 15,000 people and received over 200 comments in less than 24 hours.  See for yourself at Here are some screen captures from the contest.

As you can see, the contest is perfectly aligned with our brand and model. It’s well executed and no one can see this for anything but what it is – an authentic extension of our brand. It’s not the idea for the contest itself that did well, it’s the selection and appropriate application/implementation of the idea. In a world of total transparency I hear many orthodontists speak of how they fear “competitors” copying what they do and “stealing their ideas”. At Smiley Face we don’t worry about that one bit despite the fact that there are more than a few orthodontic eyes on us. Others will try and copy our ideas but they will be no more than cute contests in their offices – they won’t have a major impact in the context of another practice because they are not grounded in the brand or remotely authentic. You’re welcome to copy whatever you see us do here but it’s much better for you IF YOU DO YOU! Don’t chase the abundant tactical rabbits and tips and pearls that overflow from the FB groups these days. Do things that reflect who you are, what you believe and what you do and you’ll have far more success. Don’t believe me? Have a look at this “contest” from Patient Reward Hub that tries to homogenize the emoji contest so that it works on any day and in any practice. How does it look and feel to you compared to what we did at Smiley Face?

In the coming weeks I’ll talk about other aspects of Smiley Face that make this brand and model and mindset damn near bulletproof. I don’t worry about the economy, what dentists think, what orthodontists think, about new patient flow or anything else. We are who we need to be, we are where we need to be, we are offering the product that consumers want for a price they can afford AND we have an awesome office, friendly staff, an experienced orthodontist AND we get great results. Hard to beat!

I’m not dumb or naive. I write all of this knowing full well that mosts of the orthodontists who are struggling and collecting less than 2MM per provider (even/especially those collecting less than 1 MM per!) will scoff in disbelief at all my assertions and that most of the orthodontists who are already collecting more than 4 MM per provider already understand this and have applied these principles in their successful practices. Still, I can’t help it and I hope one day that orthodontists will realize that we must change to thrive in the new reality.

PS On Friday August 3 we started 11 contracts. That made 32 contract starts for the week! It was awesome to hit our daily and weekly interim goal for the first time on the same day. It’s great to watch theory become reality!