For many dental practices, brand marketing is a foreign concept, but the reality is, if you’re not branding yourself, you’re being branded by your competition. It’s time to take charge. By Amanda Lohan
Carolyn Dean, director of healthcare website specialist Wellsites, warns that if you are not presenting a strong brand to your patients, you will still be assessed by what you’re not saying. “If you’re not saying ‘we can do this’ and ‘we are the specialists’ then people are going to go to the specialists,” she explains. Branding, however, is more than just a logo. The key, according to Dean, is differentiation—“to be called ‘White Smiles’ or ‘Happy Smiles’ doesn’t really differentiate you. You have to know who you are and who your target market is.”
The first step for any dentist in differentiating a practice is to sit down and work through your strengths. “Everybody has a strength,” says Dean. “Once you’ve got that, then you can articulate it.” Dean is quick to note that this does not mean replicating the sleek styling of a dental spa. In fact in some cases Dean says your differentiator may be, ‘We’re not the dental spa, we’re not doing all this funky weird stuff and we’re not doing teeth whitening’. In playing to your strengths, you may instead say, ‘we are the village dentists, we have been here for 70 years and it’s still Doctor Jones’. “That in itself is the brand,” she says.
To see a dental practice that absolutely knows its niche, one has to only look to Natural Dentistry on Sydney’s North Shore. Natural Dentistry offers natural dental therapies alongside a mix of Eastern and Western complementary health services, and targets people who are looking for a holistic approach to dentistry. The practice is a far cry from the classic clinical look, boasting a meditation room and Zen garden. With a close awareness of their niche, and noticing that most of their business was coming from online, the team at Natural Dentistry decided to cut their print advertising and invest in a renewed online presence. This is true marketing strategy.
Trends in the greater business area often take time to appear in the medical and dental fields. “The majority of small businesses have websites, but the majority of dentists are still a little bit behind the eight ball,” says Dean. Creating an online brand however is far cheaper and simpler than it once was and, if used correctly, can serve multiple functions for the practice. “People tend to think of a website as a brochure which has to look pretty, whereas using it to take work off your administrative staff has a far greater benefit on an ongoing basis,” says Dean.
“If you spend thousands on a site today that looks beautiful but can’t change, then you’re going to be behind again,” she says. The reality is the practice today is not the practice it’s going to be in 12 months’ time. Modular CMS websites allow the practice to add functionality at any time, adapting as the business grows and changes. This added functionality can include such things as newsletters, social media and blogging, but can also include educational videos for clients and online forms that reduce administration costs.
Reproduced with the kind permission of Bite Magazine – www.bitemagazine.com.au
Carolyn is the director of Wellsites