Dental Students: Should Start Understanding Marketing Right Away

This is an expanded, public version of U. of Minnesota School of Dentistry dental student presentation, set for Mid November in Minneapolis. The talk and lunch is hosted by the Northern Dental Alliance, which Niche Dental, owner Dick Chwalek, a communication consultant, dentist marketing coach is a member.

What can, should a new dentist do, and think about in the first years of practice as to dental marketing?

While it may be some years before even a senior student will purchase or build their own practice, hands-on knowledge about, and appreciation for, marketing should be built from the start. Even as an associate dentist, it will be beneficial to help the practice owner develop their presence in the market.

Niche Dental has five points for dental students to consider.

First, Understand What Marketing Does, Is and its Overall Value

Whether it’s private sector or not-for-profit, the focus must be communication; publicly communicating the value of dental care. No communication, no dental health. More communication, more dental health. Communication drives everything we do, or don’t do.

Second, Notions about Communication Are Incomplete, Yours and Consumers:

Dentists will say: Patient referrals are the best. The future is online! I don’t like direct mail, therefore it can’t work. I’ll try it once and see what happens.

As opposed to consumers: Dentistry causes pain, so I stay in pain, and don’t go to a dentist. My insurance doesn’t cover it, so that recommendation is unwarranted. My previous dentist never did that, she said my dental health was fine.

These consumer and dentist misconceptions mean: nothing is as it seems. What was said by each constituent, may be partially, but it can’t be completely correct, leaving gaps in knowledge. Marketing can fill in the gaps.

The more done, the more filled in. Not building up the knowledge base is risky if consumers are still saying the same things, so they do the same things or less.

Patients like some things about dentistry, and dislike others, so following their lead is problematic. Dentists must be ready to change their perspective to coincide with how communication works, and not doing what is liked or disliked.

Stay focused on doing what’s better for yourself and consumers. Lead, don’t follow.

ThirdConnective Communication© Provides A Realistic Structure to Overcome Perceptions:

Dentistry is different. Knowing this is good, but seeing communication differently is required, too. Some answers may be familiar, but the implementation and consumer reality must be dealt with consistently, accurately and more completely.

For consumers, the old news about dental care is almost as it always was, so merely keeping up with the ‘other dentist’ in marketing, just won’t do. Dental marketing must be connective to engender any meaningful change.

Being connective requires more than one marketing element to move the consumer or patient forward into a better place. Two work better than one, three work better than two, and so forth.

Marketing that’s not working is like dry soup mix without water. Yet, without opening the bag, neither work together. The ‘referrals are best’ axiom is a good example of incomplete connectivity. While referrals may be best, more referrals are better than fewer, and so on.

Internal generation of additional referrals is just one way to approach the dilemma, but by more effectively implementing both approaches can greatly improve the other’s success.

The key is a willingness to implement an element, then another as soon as possible, rather than travel down the lack-of-communication road.

Fourth, The Goal is NOT Overcoming ALL Resistance To Better Dental Care:

Improvement is the goal. Niche Dental’s Connective Communication© is strategic improvement. It is a dentist, and local community based formula.

While overcoming societal forces is not within reach of an individual dentist, most every dentist does have great potential to increase their patient base. Unfortunately, every dentist won’t increase their base much because they won’t focus on improving and implementing strategic communication.

It’s vital dentists understand more than the marketing alphabet. They must learn to read it better, not reject its value, and avoid fits and starts. Not merely say: Patient Referrals are the best.

FifthConnective Communication© Constructs the Solution Not Just Giving ‘Answers’:

Determining a dentist’s marketing answers is an individual process. It’s also not very productive to give answers for too far in the future especially with changing technology.

Dentists often ask when calling Niche Dental, “What is the one type of marketing I should do?”

Seems fairly straightforward, but a certain amount of situational knowledge is needed. Otherwise, many budget draining missteps can occur.

A dentist's marketing plan is similar to constructing a solution to a patient’s health needs over the phone. Communication solutions are like a health diagnosis. Both communication and health are based on complicated, evolving structures.

Many see generic structure in dental marketing communication, but differences on the margins, account for many variations. Individual habits and occurrences also affect a health diagnosis, as well as a marketing plan.

In ConclusionConnective Communication© Does Provide Ready Answers:

However, Connective Communication© formula’s upfront answers provide a proper, protective and proactive marketing structure.

The three main answers, which Dick calls elements are: Improving, Gathering and Creating. This matrix prevents dentists from running into trouble, buying over-the-phone, over-the-counter, over-a-barrel budget marketing answers.

To achieve a Connective Communication© effect: Improving. Gathering. And Creating must be done together. One element is unbalanced without the others, achieving many fewer connections.

A Guide to Improving, Gathering, Creating:
  • Improving: improves value appreciation of the office, its dentistry and the dentist’s expertise.
  • Gathering: gathers up consumers already looking. Otherwise, searching consumers are split between marketing competitors, or missed entirely.
  • Creating: creates new patients from an available pool of all demographics, and reactivates current patients by nudging them to restore dentistry’s value in their lives, calming fears, etc.
Fluoride without community involvement, not allowing in water supply, evaporates its value. Fluoride is an answer, not a solution. Without a connective strategy, even the ‘best’ can be greatly diluted in value.

Postscript: So aren’t referrals the best? Yes, but being ‘best’ is an answer not a solution. Like fluoride doesn’t help someone missing a tooth.

Here’s a specific example, when an office is 99% hygiene and insurance reliant, encouraging those patient referrers to promote ‘additional’ services is globally difficult.

Yet, just 10 patient testimonials with before and after photos publicly promoted in a connective manner will exponentially multiply services value and prestige. Rather than looking in a follow-the-follower marketing mirror, generate 3D, value building communication, which is influential in your community and worthwhile to the consumer.

Thanks to the staff at the Minnesota School Dentistry for their invitation to speak.

Dick Chwalek is a member, co-founder of NorthernDentalAlliance.com

Contact Oli,

Niche Dental Co-Consultant, Strategic Partner from Fallbrook, CA.

1+888.380.0020 • EMAIL Oliver (Oli) Gonsalves

Written, Edited, Posted by,

Dick Chwalek
Developer of Connective Communication©
EMAIL Dick@NicheDental.com


Other Members of the Northern Dental Alliance:

No comments:

Post a Comment