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The best way to get your practice noticed? Look in the mirror

Sept. 29, 2022
It's hard to stand apart from your competition. By examining your "DNA," you can create a marketing strategy that attracts patients you want to treat.

In case you didn’t know, standing apart from the competition and getting new patients to notice your dental office can be a challenge, to say the least.

The traditional marketing solution has been to portray your practice as the best choice due to some significant and differentiating factor. But when you think about it, how many options are there to really distinguish yourself? You might think you have an advantage over other local dentists because you offer a great location, low prices, convenient hours, or a wide variety of services.

Guess what? So does just about every one of your competitors. That’s when you realize you’re really not that different after all.

Being the same will cost you

If you fail to stand out from the crowd, you don’t give potential new patients a good reason to select your office. With a plain vanilla marketing message and brand, you can only hope to attract new patients by throwing money at the problem. You anticipate that a flashier website, bigger billboards, frequent advertising, or some other marketing shiny object will lure patients away from your competition. But none of that will work, at least not in the long run.

Having a strong, unique brand is the smartest marketing investment you can make. With it, you can steadily build brand awareness, patient loyalty, and trust. Keep in mind that most of the people that your advertising and marketing reaches won’t have an immediate need to select a new dentist. That means your marketing must have a lasting impact people can relate to and remember. This simply won’t happen with marketing that looks and sounds the same as everyone else’s.

Dentists are like auto mechanics

Surprisingly, most dental office marketing isn’t much different from advertising for auto mechanics (no offense to all the grease monkeys out there). Every website looks pretty much the same, every ad looks pretty much the same, every commercial sounds pretty much the same. That’s because for the most part every dentist promises the same features and benefits, just like auto mechanics.

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But here’s the opportunity dentists miss. People don’t really form a relationship with the person who changes their oil or rotates their tires. (I bet you didn’t even notice the name tag on the last person who recommended you replace your cabin air filter.) For patients, choosing a dental office is about more than the services; it’s about the human being providing the services. That human being is you.

This means that dental marketing has been doing it wrong for a long time. It turns out the secret isn’t focusing on what you promise; it’s focusing on who you are. And I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that your current marketing does not do that.

Is your marketing “your” marketing?

Here’s a test to see if you’re marketing who you really are. Look at your current website and imagine removing your name and logo and replacing it with the branding for one of your competitors. Would anyone even notice a mismatch? If your marketing is so generic that it can be swapped with someone else’s, then it definitely is not uniquely yours.

If someone who has never been to your office visits your website, what would they learn about you? How would they describe you? How would they compare you to other dentists? This is the type of information your marketing should convey to help people get to know you before they even meet you. In other words, your marketing should create a strong first impression of who you really are.

Look in the mirror

If your marketing is lacking personality, what should you do? The best way to improve it is to look in the mirror and honestly self-assess who you are as a person and a dentist. Ask yourself some introspective questions.

  • Why do I enjoy dentistry?
  • What led me to the field?
  • What do I enjoy doing in my spare time?
  • What are my philosophies related to patient care?
  • What are my favorite colors?
  • How would I describe my personality?
  • What do people like about me?
  • What do I like about myself?

Take your responses to your marketing agency and explain that you’d like your marketing to reflect who you genuinely are. (If you are greeted with a blank stare by this request, you may want to shop for a new agency.) This approach is a stripped down version of our agency’s DNA dental marketing process, which uses a proven system to discover the unique “DNA” of each dental practice. So, if you’re wondering if this strategy actually works, we have a mountain of data and two decades of success stories to back it up.

What you should expect

What can you expect from marketing that is tailored to you and represents your brand in an authentic way? You will attract the kind of patients you want to treat. You’ll also see patient retention rates climb and more positive reviews and patient referrals. In other words, you’ll see all the things dental marketing is supposed to deliver.

This article originally appeared inDE Weekend,the newsletter that willelevate your Sunday mornings with practical and innovative practice management and clinical content from experts across the field.Subscribe here.

About the Author

Xaña Winans, BA

XAÑA WINANS, BA, is the CEO of Golden Proportions Marketing, a full-service dental marketing company. Married to a dentist, she has been marketing dental practices for 20 years and provides strategic planning and internal, external, and digital marketing to dentists across North America. You may contact her at [email protected] or (866) 590-4476 to learn about dental marketing strategies, or visit goldenproportions.com.

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