By Luc Wade, Management Consultant at Hive Business

If you’re working in the dental sector, either as a practice owner or as a supplier of marketing, you’re lucky because the market is characterised by undifferentiated brands and mind numbingly generic advertising. It’s easy to set yourself apart by being just a little bit original, and if you combine that with competent planning and execution you’ll be ahead of the pack.

Marketing is like sport in that there is a desire for simplicity and an emphasis on process among top performers. Handle the basics well and over time things should work like clockwork. But practice owners get led astray by the kind of ‘growth marketing experts’ that litter Facebook and make claims like “I achieved 137 new patients in three days. So can you!” The dentists that respond to these bombastic claims forget some critical steps in the marketing process.

Here are five tips for effective marketing that should serve as a checklist to make sure that’s not you.

Plan a media strategy with reach
You won’t grow your brand if you only target your patients, social media followers and niche markets. Most purchases rely on repeated conditioning over time and dentistry, especially high value dentistry, is no different. You need to use broad reach media over the long term. There will be wastage, it’s a fact of life when you are reaching as far as possible within your budget. Consider a blended approach, combining anything from SEO and social ads to newspapers, radio and billboards.

Create campaigns that get talked about
Prioritise ‘mental availability’ and try to get your brand into people’s heads. Campaigns that focus on building ‘fame’ tend to be more effective in driving profit and market share. Fame builds a sense of shared excitement and making a break from category norms creates a buzz around your brand. Use your brand’s distinctive assets (logos, colours, font, imagery, tone of voice) consistently to establish emotional attunement among your audience.

Hammer home big ideas
With dentists everywhere doing Invisalign open days, why not do an Invisalign week? Think bigger and bolder than your competitors. Dentists are scared of the GDC and they are conservative and conventional. Be different by building memorable, distinctive platforms to show off your brand. The simpler the better.

Assume that no one cares about your brand
Advertising mostly works through nudging, not through bringing about instant enlightenment. The push and pull of your marketing strategy across a blend of digital and traditional media will help but people are generally not active consumers of advertising — this is why brand building activities are so important. Most dental business are not proper brands at all, they are undifferentiated, unattractive and have no clear message, all of which will give you a massive advantage.

Get a treatment coordinator and go digital
If you set yourself up to provide advice, set expectations and build trust you will sell treatments. Your TCOs can spare your dentists from low margin work, provide a full time focus on customer service and build relationships with patients. Enhance this further by going digital to show patients how their teeth will look before they agree to start treatment. If you have digital intra oral scanners you can fabricate smiles for your patients to take home to gain approval from their partners and friends. Your TCOs can perform the scans to save time, and your conversion rates will soar.

Good luck.