By Paul A. Henny DDS
What do Mercedes Benz, Godiva Chocolate, The Ritz-Carlton, all have in common? They all have high levels of name recognition, trust and preceived quality. In other words, these names have been “branded” as being highly desirable.
Would you like your practice to be quickly recognized and perceived as high in trust and quality as well? The same branding process used to elevate the Ritz-Carlton can be used to elevate a dental practice in the eyes of the public– albeit on a much smaller scale. Here are four more concepts to consider to Brand and Position your dental practice.
“You must have it on the shelf before you can sell it.” This famous quote is attributed to L.D. Pankey, is dead on when it comes to marketing. Branding and positioning your practice as the optimal resource for fine esthetic and restorative dentistry is pointless – if not dangerous – if you can not deliver on your implied promises. The bottom line: You can not fool the marketplace. Make sure you have a thourogh and proper educational grounding from great learning centers like the Pankey Institute and the Dawson Center, and know how to apply these concepts and philosophies as the market often ruthlessly punishes imposters.
Promote distinctive benefits not features. Recently a brand and design consultant group evaluated over 2,000 US Brands. They looked at brand strength which is a combination of two properties: differentiation and relevance. Differentiation is the degree to which a brand stands out. Relevance is the degree to which consumers believe a brand meets their needs. The brands that did best were those that delivered on both counts. When the presence of both properties is missing, branding and marketing efforts become ineffective. A common example in dentistry where this understanding is violated is when a machine or technology is promoted instead of the ultimate benefit of that technology. What many fail to recognize is that the general public is simply not interested in technologies like CAD milling machines or digital radiography unless the public also understands how these technologies are relevant to their perceived needs and wants.
Match your branding message to your medium. Branding messages must be tailored to your target audience as well as conveyed via media which has a high level of the targeted demographic group paying attention. The best ads placed in the wrong media or at the wrong times will ultimately fail. So careful market planning is essential. This research and planning should be performed by someone with experience in dental practice marketing. This person typically should not be the sales representative for that media outlet.
Persistence counts. Branding campaigns often take several months to bear fruit even when the right message has been placed with the right media. Much like priming the pump, branding campaigns take time. Once results start to appear, note what people are responding to and are not. Adjust your message accordingly and keep doing the things which are working while replacing approaches which are unproductive with new pratice branding initiatives.
Strong, well-differentiated, and well-positioned practice “brands” have high profit margins, command premium fees – all while seeing fewer patients each day. They also secure more patient loyalty and appreciation, grow faster and ride through ecomonic downturns with less trauma.
In contrast, falling practice “brands” tend to have poor profit margins, depend on coupons, insurance discount programs, require high patient volume to survive, and are highly suseptible to economic downturns.
Consider a branding campaign to better position your practice and to take charge of your professional future.
Paul A. Henny, DDS
Thought Experiments LLC, ©2018