Value and Advanced Dentistry

Working with dentists and dental laboratories since 1996, I have actually learned something that might be helpful. Most dentists know these things, but few consumers get the depth of what is going on in today's dentistry.

Most consumers see a cool new dentistry technology promoted on some TV news segment and that is all they get: 3 minutes of glitz with nothing to sink their teeth into. Unless they need it or pursue it within a few months of the broadcast - the concept evaporates from their knowledge base. Extreme makeover shows are a boost to the cosmetic possibilities of advanced dentistry; porcelain veneers got their 15 minutes of fame.

Yet even these 'popular' hits are seen by a small portion of the population and the depth bottoms out very quickly. While the value of a 'Hollywood smile' is greatly enhanced, the true value of advanced dentistry is almost non-existent. Of the 100 million people in the U.S. that need more dental treatment than they are getting, maybe 1 million people are going to get, or ask for anything, cosmetic. Many might want cosmetic dentistry changes - but few come in for that and say, "I want to look beautiful".

But if consumers knew all the things that are possible and how much more healthy they could be - even reducing their chance for a heart attack or stroke - the tide might turn. Right now the tide is mostly on the cosmetic WOW rather than on restorative and renewing VALUE. As a marketer, I know the value of WOW - but as a father and someone who focuses specifically on dentistry as a marketer, I also know that WOW can get in the way of what is really important.

Consumers not overtly interested in the "cosmetic" too often see this WOW as a reason to discount the value of what is underneath. When it comes right down to it, WOW is not what they will value. Getting in between this dichotomy (of the WOW that excites us and the lasting value we really need/want) and making headway is not easy.

What dentists should do to improve the value gap...
Start communicating in a wider sphere. It is not one mailing sent in vacuum of value ignorance. It is not a dental website consumers see before the their value base is improved. It is getting out in front of the consumer and pro-actively, consistently stating your position; whether it is a series of postcard mailings or walking back and forth with a sandwich board in front of your dental practice.

Otherwise, sit back and watch things happen the way they will without you doing anything. Of course, each choice has a cost.

What consumers should do to increase the value of their dentistry...
Ask for more than what you got yesterday. Do not assume your dentist is doing everything they can do or that is possible. Even ask how they work with their dental lab to make sure your treatment is how it should be. Let cost and insurance be a guide - but make sure these 'guides' do not entrap you in a valueless experience.

What I will do...
Be more concerned about dental care than dental marketing. Explain real value better and be more creative than simply hitting the superficial WOW button. Think beyond the status quo even though upsetting this applecart is fraught with difficulty as well.

While advanced dentistry provides many great obvious benefits, most people need its basic health improvement components. To get your attention, dental marketing will often 'suggest' it is all about whiter, beautiful smiles.

Yet just as beauty is skin deep, realize it is the next level of what we are doing that is more important. The higher value of dental marketing is when it gets you to visit a dentist or your dentist sooner than later. Thinking beauty rather than cavities can put people in a better mood to move forward and throwing in some health reality is effective for others.

While dental marketing is a small piece of the solution - it can help tip the balance in favor of action over inaction. This faster action can save teeth, smiles and maybe even lives.

Posted by Dick Chwalek of Niche Dental

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