Podcast: Doug Foresta on how podcasting can help your dental practice

Hello and welcome to Ascent Dental Radio. A program dedicated to the balance between the clinical aspect of health care and the business of health care. And now here is your host, Dr. Kevin Coughlin.

Kevin: This is Dr. Kevin Coughlin, owner and creator of Ascent-Dental-Solutions, with a focus on education, development, training and coaching. I’m excited today to bring to you a guest, Mr. Doug Foresta, who specializes in podcasting for businesses.

In full disclosure, I created Ascent Dental Solutions sometime ago and noticed that it was spattering. And after meeting Mr. Foresta, he introduced me to the concept of podcasting and what it could do for my business. And I cannot explain how it has rocketed to a more successful level that I never dreamed possible. With no further ado, I’d like to introduce Mr. Doug Foresta. Doug, thanks so much for taking time with this podcast. Can you just give me a little background about yourself and the business, please?

Doug: Thank you so much, Kevin, and thanks for having me on. When I first started podcasting, I didn’t even know what podcasting was. I moved here to Massachusetts from New York in my late 20s and went back to school, became a therapist and I wanted to get the word out about what I was doing and the work I was doing and thought I would go into radio.

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At the time, I was working with a business coach and I said, “Why don’t I go into radio?” And she said to me, “Do you know anything about radio?” And I said no. She said, “Do you have any connections in radio?” And I said no, and she said, “Why don’t you try podcasting?” And I said, “What is podcasting?”

I started off podcasting as a way to get my own messaging out and overtime people started asking me how do you do that, how do you do podcasting, can you help me with podcasting? I never thought when I started doing it that I would be helping anyone else. It was never my intention to do that. But as I found it to be very effective, other people wanted help with it and so here I am.

Kevin: We’re glad you’re here and we’re excited about not only what you’ve done for my business, but what you can do for other businesses. Could you briefly explain the diverse clients that you’re currently dealing with?

Doug: Sure. One of the nice things about podcasting is it works for such a wide range of people and organizations. I can tell you that I currently have a large portfolio of clients in government and nonprofit, probably because of my social work background. But I produce podcasts for the National Association of Workforce boards, California National Association, San Diego Metro Career Centers as well as lots of speakers and coaches and authors.

I’ve trained literally hundreds of speakers and coaches from all over the world to do podcasting. And I produce podcasts for people including speakers, including Jennifer Brown who is a inclusion and diversity expert and many other coaches, speakers, authors.

I think that the common thread between all of the different organizations and people that I help is a desire to create some type of positive change in the world. So that probably would be the common thread.

But that’s what’s so cool about podcasting is that whether you’re a nonprofit organization, a profit, I also produce podcasts for Insurance Licensing Services of America, so truly quite a wide range of people and organizations. But again, I think the common thread being a theme of creating positive change in the world and the desire to use podcasting as a way to get the message out in a larger way.

Kevin: I know most of our listeners are in the healthcare industry, and in particular with an emphasis on oral health and dentistry. But one of the things that I found that was so amazing with the podcast is the diversity of the listeners and the contacts that I’ve been able to make with your expertise and your knowledge.

Just briefly, I was able to do a podcast with Ms. Debra Rowe who has just a phenomenon background and expertise in communication and health care, along with several other individuals. In particular, I’m now talking to the Kellogg Foundation on oral health and how to improve it for children.

Recently, we did a podcast with Judith Brown who coaches, teaches and consults on inclusion in the office for Fortune 500 companies. All of this would not have occurred without the expertise of your business, your contacts and podcasting in particular. Is that common or have I just been exceptionally lucky?

Doug: One of the things that I think people don’t realize about podcasting, people ask me what’s the difference between podcasting and radio, I think one of the ways of looking at podcasting is absolutely it’s a broadcasting tool, but it’s also an amazing networking tool.

I’ll tell you when I realized this was, I remember I was sitting in Barnes & Noble — we live in western Massachusetts — I was in a Barnes & Noble in Holyoke, Massachusetts and I was reading a book called Imagination First by Scott Noppe-Brandon and this book was talking about the power of imagination and education and workforce. And I thought to myself boy, I’d love to get involved with the work that they’re doing and I thought I’d love to interview the author.

The thing is that the author of that book, Scott, was at the time the executive director of the Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts and I thought well, there’s no way that they’re going to come on my podcast. But I reached out and almost immediately I heard back from them. And it was really funny because I thought why would they do this?

We did the interview, it went really well and afterwards I thought I’d like to run one of these imagination conversations that they have. At the time, they were doing these conversations all across the United States in every state and so I reached out, they said, “Well, we already did one with the governor of Massachusetts.” And I thought, well I’m not the governor but I thought what about doing one in the western part of the state.

From that, I was able to facilitate an imagination conversation. From that, I was then invited to something called America’s Imagination Summit and there were all of these amazing people there. There were NASA astronauts, the people from IDEO, all these amazing companies and organizations, Deepak Chopra was there, Sir Ken Robinson whose TED Talk has been watched more than any other TED Talk.

When I went there, I said, “Hi, my name is Doug Foresta,” and they said, “Oh, we recognize you from your podcast,” and that’s when I realized the power that podcasting has in terms of being able to get the word out and connect with other people.

So yes, podcasting is a great broadcast tool, but it’s also a great way to get access and to meet people that you would just never meet otherwise. And for that reason alone, I think podcasting is such a powerful tool.

Kevin: I would say I’m 100 percent convinced of that analogy. I’ve seen it in my own business, Ascent Dental Solutions. Let me ask you another question, Doug. Is there particular metrics that someone new to podcasting like myself and people listening if they wanted to go in it, do you expect 50 people to listen to the podcast, 50 million people? Is there a way or a metric system to determine how powerful this is and is it working for you as an individual or a group?

Doug: That’s a really great question and I could tell you that the average number of downloads, according to Libsyn, which is a leading podcast hosting service, the average number of downloads for a podcast episode over 30 days is 160 downloads. So that gives you some kind of idea of a metric of if you’re doing better than that, you’re doing better than average. But it really is a good question because one of the first things that I ask clients to think about when they start a podcast is what does success mean for you.

For me when I first started with podcasting, I wasn’t really worried about making money from it. I wanted to get my message out in a bigger way, I wanted to build up thought leadership. But for other people, it might be podcasting is a way to get more opens for your email list, which might ultimately mean that you’re trying to sell more products and services, get more clients.

So it really depends. You have to decide for yourself. Some of the organizations that I work with that are nonprofits, definitely their goal isn’t necessarily the goal of making more money, but it might be getting more people to utilize their services or staying top of mind with clients.

So you really have to decide for yourself what does success look like for you. And actually my number one piece of advice before you start a podcast is to really think about it and make sure that you know what success looks like for you. Because otherwise, let’s say if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.

So it’s really important to decide for yourself what that metric of success is, but certainly you can watch the downloads and see if you’re growing your listener base and audience base. That should certainly be at least one part of that metric of success.

Kevin: For some of the listeners here that may not be familiar with podcast, this podcast, how does the vast majority of people download it? What are the actual steps and systems to download a podcast so that the listeners have access?

Doug: That’s another great question, Kevin. What I can tell you is that iTunes is definitely the primary way. From what we know from watching the statistics is that iTunes is the king of podcasting. People are accessing iTunes via their iPhones and now we have, as well, iHeartRadio, Google Play, Stitcher Radio which are allowing people to listen from their android phones.

Podcasting is definitely mobile. I would say that that’s one of the nice things about podcasting is you can download it to your mobile device and listen to it on your tablet, your iPad, your iPhone or your android phone whenever you want.

Having said that, one of the things I hear people say is what if I have an audience that isn’t really mobile savvy? What I have found is that we can get people to listen to your podcast in a variety of ways. You can send it out as a link in an email, I definitely recommend doing this, putting it as a player on your website.

So even for people who, let’s say, aren’t that savvy with getting a podcast off of iTunes and don’t normally listen to podcast, if you put that podcast on your website, put that player there, that gives you an opportunity for people to very easily just click on a player and be able to listen to a podcast, even if they don’t go to iTunes. So really depending on your audience you can tailor the ways that people do listen to your podcast.

Kevin: That’s a nice segue because almost every dentist and health care provider that I’m aware of they have a website. So you strongly recommend that the podcast be downloaded to the website so that there’s access to it, not only along with iTunes and iHeart, but also on their particular website?

Doug: Absolutely. I definitely recommend putting the podcast on your website. Because again, some people are going to find you on iTunes and Google Play and these other ways, but if you’re getting traffic to your website, you’ve got a built-in audience of people that are already going to your website. Just make it clear, make it easy for them to find and click on and that’s a great way to just get a head-start in building that listener base.

Kevin: I suppose my business with 14 dental practices, practicing dentistry full time for the last 30 somewhat years, most of the dental offices that I’m associated with, we have some kind of marketing in the reception room.

We have flat screen TVs which promote products, services and care and we promote this podcast on those flat screen TVs so when people are sitting in the reception room, they have the ability to hear different topics. Would you recommend that also?

Doug: Right. The bottom line is go where people are. If you know that that’s where your audience is, go where they are. That’s just a great marketing principle in general. Absolutely.

Kevin: Some short facts about podcasting. I know when you were coaching me, introducing me into the strength of podcasting, generally you want to keep the podcast at what timeframe for an average listener?

Doug: What the data tells us from medicine research is that there’s a drop-off after about 22 minutes of podcast listenership which really correlates to the average American commute. My recommendation is good average podcast like this, 22 minutes. People can then subscribe on Stitcher Radio, soon to be an iHeartRadio, Google Play, et cetera. If people are listening and they want to go to do that.

Kevin: And we’re trying to expose the health care profession in general, but dentistry in particular, the power and the strength of promoting a message that’s interesting to the general public and to our peers. And I can tell you with 14 dental practices, 150 employees and practicing dentistry full time for the last 34 years, there’s very few things that I found that has created the reach and the power of podcasting.

And I have to give a plug and full disclosure. I could tell you until I met Mr. Foresta, I met Doug, he coached me, we talked about it, we came up with a strategy, it’s been a tremendous shot in the arm for my personal self-satisfaction and the business. And I have no one to thank, but you. And I say that publicly and I say it in private. How can people get in touch with you, Doug, if they need additional information or perhaps your expertise developing their podcast?

Doug: They can go to www.dougforesta.net and if they go there, they can actually get a free gift there. So they can go to, again, www.dougforesta.net. They can also email me at dougforesta@gmail.com.

Kevin: I don’t want to put you on the spot, but as we get ready to close today’s podcast, can you give the listeners a general cost? What kind of investment would someone have to make to start this podcast and get things rolling? Do you mind answering that question?

Doug: I can tell you that you can certainly learn this yourself, but it is something that you have to think about your time and whether it’s worth it for you. If you’re a dentist and your job is your business, do you want to stop what you’re doing to learn podcasting? In the beginning, I used to teach people podcasting, but it was really clear that people didn’t want to learn how to do the technical aspects of podcasting. They just wanted it done. So primarily, now that’s how I work with people, is we handle all the backend, me and my team handle the backend of things so you don’t have to take time out of your business to learn podcasting.

The other thing I would tell you is, first of all, I tell people not to look at it as an additive cost, but rather to think of it as how could I switch over some of my marketing dollars from things that I’m doing in more traditional marketing to podcasting which has a longer shelf life than a flier or a brochure. And I could also tell you that it really is very cost-effective when you think about comparing it to having a professional video done.

You could literally have a year of podcasting for what it would cost you maybe to produce one or two professional videos. So very cost-effective. And like I said, one of the things that I do is help you so that, if you really decide podcasting is right for you, you don’t have to waste your time, which is money, learning podcasting, learning the technical aspects of podcasting.

Kevin: Just one last point I’d like to make; what I’ve personally learned is the frequency of the podcasts are also important. And as I’m doing my own research and getting more familiar with the podcast system, someone who does a podcast once every other year isn’t as effective and yet some people do ten podcasts a day, that also may not be effective. In your expertise, what’s perhaps the best rate to promote a podcast, the number of times it should be done in a week, a month or year?

Doug: I often say that podcasting is like exercise. If you go to the gym once, you say I tried that, it didn’t work. Podcasting is not one of those things that you can do once or twice and then walk away from it. The most important thing is consistency. I have organizations that do podcasting once a month, but they do it consistently and they do well with it. I would recommend at least once a month, ideally twice a month. And what I tell people is try it twice a month, see if you like it, and then you could move to weekly if you think that it’s something that you really want to do.

But even if you do it once a month, you’ve just got to be consistent about releasing it at the same time every month. And when you do, you’re definitely going to see more results with two podcasts a month than one podcast a month. So consistency and don’t overwhelm yourself, but give it some time and allow yourself to see what the results are.

Kevin: Doug, I want to thank you so much for your expertise. I want to thank you personally for what you’ve done for me and my company, Ascent-Dental-Solutions. I hope our listeners have enjoyed tonight’s podcast and I look forward to talking to you in the future.

If you have any questions or comments about how you can be helped by Ascent-Dental-Solutions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me and my contacts. Thank you again, Doug, for a wonderful evening and I appreciate your expertise.

Doug: Thank you so much.