What is the biggest mistake dental practices made with their marketing?
Being too aggressive? Often they are, but the mistake is worse than that.
Selling all of the time? Many practices try this tactic to, in my opinion a mistake but again not the biggest one.
Not having a website? Okay, this is a pretty serious oversight but again there is one even bigger than this.
So what is it?
The big marketing mistake
The biggest mistake I see dental practices make is not knowing who their patients are! The typical response to the question ” Who are your customers” when asked over dental practice is ” Everyone!”. BIG MISTAKE.
Are you sure? Do you really want people that are not motivated to look after their teeth, with no ability or desire to spend any money and who are going to moan about you all of the time? Okay, so that is an extreme example I’m guessing not many practices want these type of people… But the point remains you do not want everyone… So who do you want?
Look at the way large companies structure their marketing, they will be very clear about who they are talking to. If you make an attempt to talk to everyone the reality is that you actually speak to know one.
Look at it like this, if you try to appeal to 25-year-old single women you will need to use youthful women in the images, perhaps a splash of pink, softness, girliness and generally appeal to this type of person. If you want to appeal to both men and women over the age of 65 then you’ll need to use appropriate images that they can relate to, perhaps more classy images of country estates, fine dining and quality wines.
The point is, unless you are absolutely clear about who he was talking to you cannot define the images, the wording and even where your marketing goes. You’ll just end up spraying it all over the place with very little effect.
Think back to the 1980s when Yorkie were promoting a chocolate bar, they even went as far as saying “It’s not for girls”. All of the advertising was very male oriented. Nestle have products that were designed for women and Yorkie was designed exclusively for men.
So how do we bring this back to dentistry?
Segment your dental market
There is no set or definite way to segment will categorise your market, and to be honest it doesn’t really matter, so long as you do. Here are a few examples of different ways segmenting your market.
You can segment your local market by:
- Socio-economic group.
- People that have just moved into the area vs. people looking for a new dentist because they are unhappy with their existing one vs People that have never been to a dentist before.
- Stay at home wives.
- Women that go out to work and are financially independent of their husbands.
The key is to play around with a few different segments, your patient old, young, one particular gender, new to the area, unhappy with their existing dentist, a particular type of person?
Even if none of this makes sense you can segment around treatments that people may want, such as:
- People wanting to replace missing teeth.
- People wanting to straighten crooked teeth.
- People wanting to have healthier teeth.
- People wanting to have better looking teeth.
- People wanting fewer wrinkles.
We all know that the antiwrinkle market is generally speaking different to the dental implant market – I have a wholly different type of person going for each of the treatments. I remember being told my marketing module of my MBA the golden rule of marketing is:
“Segment, segment, segment then target, target, target.”
You could even segment your market into:
- People that actively want to come to the dentist and motivated.
- People that have been told by others that they have to go to the dentist,
Which of these groups will be more motivated to follow your instructions? Which of these groups would you prefer?
Here’s an example of how you can begin to then combine these segments into a matrix. Once you do this you can then ask whether these people hang out, what type of person are they, what motivates them this will then inform the images, where you do your marketing and what type of message you need to put across.
The axes on the matrix provide different segments and the intersections on the matrix itself define each segment. I’ve put some likely characteristics of that segment in white and then some possible marketing strategies in yellow.
Looking at the image above, you could decide that women are more likely to read the local magazines than men hence I have decided that to attract women I will put adverts in the local magazine. These adverts, as they are there to target women, will use appropriate images for women, with relevant wording and associated text.
This isn’t the definitive guide to exactly how you should segmented your market and then how to target, I provided the image above purely as an example of how you can take a few segments, placed them into a matrix and then have an educated discussion about what would motivate each of these particular groups of people.
Once you do this you will realise that you are actually attracting everyone into your practice, but we do it in a smart way with a customised message to each of the segments so that those segments can instantly say “Hey, that’s me”. If the people reading your marketing messages aren’t able to instantly recognise themselves in that message variable for on deaf ears!
If your marketing is falling on deaf ears, you may as well not bother!