Patients today have more choices than ever before when it comes to their dental care: whether to visit a corporate dental practice, an independent group practice, that solo dentist right down the road from you, or your practice.
This is where brand matters most. Brand is the compass that your patients use to find you to then become loyal to you.
Marketing guru Seth Godin writes, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
The common misperception is that brand is created by the practice in the form of logo, signage, name or trademarked designs. This idea has practices creating marketing materials that they think will attract and retain patients. This approach is a phenomenal waste of time and resources.
The reality is that your patients create the brand. Forbes says, “Put simply, your ‘brand’ is what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your brand name.”
The most successful dental practices define their unique brand before creating any branded materials like logo, signage, name and marketing materials. They take the time to survey patients and truly understand what they think of the practice. What they love most about the dentists. What they believe works well. What they wish the practice would improve.
This survey process extracts the essence of the memories, stories and relationships that patients have about and with the practice. It allows the practice to download exactly what the patients think. More than that, it shows the practice what to replicate and what to change in order to delight patients, attract more of the same caliber patients, and keep patients coming back for treatment year after year.
Most dental practices don’t give brand the necessary time and energy. The result is shoot-from-the-hip marketing. The dentist likes green, so the website is green. The office manager is impressed with the practice’s state-of-the-art technology, so he touts that in the direct mailer. The dentist’s spouse doesn’t like the word “unique,” so it’s never used in marketing text.
Not one of these things matters in the patient’s mind. The patient is buying a relationship, not dental work.
What is it about your relationship with your patients that keeps them choosing you rather than your competitor for their next checkup? Why should they choose you? Have you asked them lately?