Most progressive thinking, Health-centered dentists are comfortable with the idea that they must promote their practice in one form or another to maintain growth and success in today’s marketplace.
I prefer to call all strategies associated with practice promotion “market development” strategies, as they should represent a key component of a long-term strategic plan. In other words, any marketing initiatives which are unrelated to a strategic vision and an associated strategic plan, represent nothing more than advertising, and advertising -in my view- has no place in dentistry due to its self-serving focus.
Market development strategies can be broadly broken down into two areas:
1. Positioning – Starting with a Positioning Statement, which represents a precise articulation of WHAT it is you have to offer, TO WHOM it is ideally suited, WHY it is specifically relevant to them, and HOW it is uniquely different from other choices prospective patients have available to them.
Positioning Statements are clear, simple, fact-driven, and contain no fluff…no spin, and they serve as the key connection between a practice’s capabilities and the way it is perceived by the community. This means that positioning is key to everything you do once your Practice Philosophy has been clarified, and therefore it should lie at the center of every decision you make from website design to brochures, to any other internal or external marketing efforts.
2. Branding: Branding is associated with how your practice projects its Philosophy, and therefore “position”, on an emotional level. And this emotional appeal can be conveyed through words, tone of voice, colors, smells, design, imagery, and the feelings that these things -when put together in a strategic fashion- create.
For the truly relationship-centered practice, both positioning and branding initiatives MUST represent an authentic expression of who you and your team are. This is because both positioning and branding create expectations…emotional expectations which when violated, will immediately turn down a patient’s trust and turn up their cynicism – making your future communications much more challenging.
So, your clarified Philosophy helps to define your Positioning Strategy, and your Positioning Strategy helps define your Branding Strategy, and none of these things are useful unless they sincerely come from your heart and genuinely reflect who you are, what you believe in, and how you believe you can help others.
Paul A Henny, DDS
Thought Experiments LLC, ©2017
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