I think it’s always fun to make comparisons between different businesses because it makes people think outside the box. When you only read dental content you might miss some great ideas on how other people are doing business.
Since most dentists are engaged in some sort of marketing, I thought it would be interesting to see if the experience of running a dental office can translate into running a marketing company.
In a 2014 ADA survey, “Why adults forgo dental care: Evidence from a new national survey,” they draw some consistent conclusions on why people don’t or won’t go to the dentist.
The biggest? Cost. In almost every demographic, cost was the number one reason people don’t go to the dentist. Well, guess what the number one criteria small businesses use to pick a marketing company? Cost. It seems in both dentistry and marketing, displaying value without sacrificing service is a challenge. Straight out of the gate, a dentist will know how to relate to a marketer’s biggest challenge.
The second issue a dentist can relate to is not feeling like they need marketing until there are major problems. Oh, I bet this sounds familiar. Here are the years of neglect coming back to haunt you. I bet there have been numerous cases where a new patient has walked into the office in pain and needed help. The issue here is that the treatment plan is generally much more complicated and much more expensive.
This is very similar to needing 50 new patients a month with a limited budget and no brand. The marketing plan is going to take longer and cost more.
We know we need to go to the dentist the same way a small business needs marketing. The issue is making that decision can be difficult. There are numerous choices and they are all trying some gimmick to get the business. People don’t relate to this as much anymore.
A dentist, however, has a unique advantage. Building a brand people trust is the same as building a great relationship with a patient.
These similarities demonstrate that the businesses can be very similar. So could a dentist start a marketing company? Sure, they would need to educate themselves on marketing, network with local marketing professionals and find innovative ways to market their ideas.
The biggest challenge with starting any business is knowledge. Unlike dental school, a dentist doesn’t need four years to learn marketing but they will need experience. There are numerous specialties in marketing: Here’s a list of 131 different types of marketers.
What type of dentist would be successful in marketing? One that focuses on the needs of the client’s customers not just the needs of the client.
I say this all the time to our consultants: Selling a dentist a marketing package is short-sighted. Making sure their community understands their brand and wants to interact with them will build a long-lasting relationship.
If a dentist is building great relationships in their practice, then there is no reason to think they couldn’t build great relationships in marketing. Figure out your specialty and start educating yourself. There are businesses out there that need marketers who have run businesses. Don’t forget to be an advisor, not just a marketer.