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Inside Dentistry
January 2016
Volume 12, Issue 1

What Big Brands Can Teach Us About Dental Marketing

How to be successful when emulating the strategies of top brands

Jonathan Fashbaugh

Some dentists want their prac­tices’ brand to emulate certain fine brands like Rolex, Gucci, and BMW. They want to break away from traditional dental practice branding and market their brand and logo, almost hiding the fact that the brand represents a dental office. There’s no question that the strength of big brands makes their companies hugely profitable. We can borrow big brand strategies to improve our dental marketing efforts, but there are also limitations to consider.

What Does Success Look Like?

High-end brands embody the goal of a successful branding and marketing campaign. They are well known for making the finest products in their respective industries. Customers understand the companies’ values and feel as though they belong to an exclusive group. They act as an extended sales force, talking up the brands to friends and colleagues.

These brands have spent decades developing themselves as symbols of excellence and exclusivity in their industries, focusing their efforts on the creation of a singular brand image. Advertising nurtures a company’s relationship with their existing customer base as much as it attracts new customers.

Dentists tend to overlook the fact that developing this relationship with patients is a long-haul strategy. A successful dental practice brand takes years to build and it takes very clear direction. If your practice hasn’t had this in the past, decide what success looks like and aim the practice in that direction. Align every aspect of your practice with that new path and give the new messaging time to mature in your market. If you can’t change everything at once, change what you can when you can, but make sure each change is oriented toward the same goal.

Owning Your Local Market

For a dental practice to develop a preeminent brand, it has to own the local market. Your brand will become top of mind when people think of the type of dentistry you offer. To get there, your message must be broadcast across every medium that your target audience consumes. Be inescapable, but only to the type of person you want in your practice. If you’re targeting high-dollar reconstructive cases, for example, don’t bother with bus stop advertising. A well-placed billboard along a commuter route between an exclusive suburb and the financial district might be a great buy.

Online marketing is an efficient way to start crafting a brand image when traditional mass media might be out of your budget. Be aggressive online, but only target traffic that falls in line with your practice goals. Your online marketing company needs to know your definition of success and design a custom strategy to achieve it.

If you are using offline advertising, you still need to be aggressive online. I work with a practice that regularly gets phone calls and emails through their website that say, “I heard your ad on the radio and I’m interested in an appointment.” This practice does no radio advertising. Their practice name is just similar to one that does, and when you Google the other practice’s name, my dentist’s website shows up. Without a prominent presence on the Internet, much of your offline advertising will end up converting online as new patients for your competitors.

Big Brands Know Their Audience

Big brands don’t try to be everything to everyone. Rolex does not sell tablet computers, and Gucci does not have a line that you can buy at Walmart. Their message sounds slick, elegant, and concise, primarily because they know exactly what they want to say and they know their audience. Dental practices can do the same thing.

Once a practice knows what success looks like, and sets sights on the local market, the practice needs to talk the talk just like the big brands. A marketing campaign that is hard to miss, but also clear in its message is key. If you rush this part and say, “I want people with teeth in Seattle,” you will struggle. Your marketing will be scattered and prospective patients won’t be “sold.”

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