Friday, November 30

In Response To My Previous Post,

Our hero in a small town asked me the following: "Yikes...guilty as charged (usually coming from or going to the gym on my way there)
Does this show people I am a "normal" guy or does it send a not-flattering portrayal?I could see where it would go either way."

My answer:
Yes! It does matter, especially in a town your size... Remember, everything is a marketing op
portunity - even the fact you go to the gym is marketing. None of it is inherently good or bad - our only yardstick is "does it help you reach your ultimate vision" or not? Is it helping you create the practice of your dreams, or not??

I wear sweats in appropriate situations, but always with the knowledge that I take up physical space, do not magically disappear when I feel like it even when I just need a gallon of milk, and inevitably and invariably have an effect on those around me. We all do.

You are many, many things, including both a normal guy and the town dentist, which not unlike a minister, puts you in a special class in your marketplace. Other dentists in larger markets might be able to disappear when they want to - you cannot. The good news is you get to decide how to "be" in your community.

Earlier I mentioned our desire to find and obsess about magic bullet cures to our marketing woes instead of dealing with the real issue, which is that you are selling yourself to people who inherently do not want to trust you (50% of Americans are dental phobic, after all) or give you their money and time. You are selling a service that they cannot touch or feel or evaluate at the time of purchase, and which they generally really, really, really do not want to have to buy. They do so anyway because we've successfully convinced them through modern dentistry that quality dentistry leads to a quality life, and they buy it from you over someone else only because they like and trust you.

Your #1 marketing method, then, is to a. acknowledge that basic truth, and b. use it to your advantage without fear or apologies, beginning with one on one conversations and connections, trusting in yourself, your training and your ability to positively change lives through your skills, talents and experience. Once you have that core self knowledge, branding and marketing yourself as a service becomes a breeze, again because the yardstick becomes "does this help me reach my vision, or not?"

So tap into your humanity, both the good and the bad, and use that to determine how you want to portray yourself, just be sure you're in control of it and making a conscious choice.


(The only dentist in town (pop. 2000) with 2-5% growth posts his question on DentalTown. Most answers are focused on websites and SEO from website and SEO providers. But not me :)

We tend to get distracted by the latest marketing "toys", such as the websites, SEO and social media marketing of the past decade, hoping to find some sort of panac
ea or magic bullet to our ongoing marketing woes, trials and errors. But they are all only tools you can have available, part of a much larger arsenal that allows you to communicate consistently and repetitively who you are, what you're about, and why others should care. That's all marketing is - consistently and repetitively sending your message to your marketplace, and we're all already doing it all the time, whether we're conscious and in control of it or not (think about going to the grocery store in your sweats vs. your Sunday best - the result of that typically unconscious decision automatically gives others a clear message about who you are in this world and what matters to you.)

Websites and SEO are always important, but small towns function by a different set of rules, ie one on one communication and real relationships (Internal Marketing). Combine that with a finite population, a good portion of which seems to need to travel elsewhere for work, and you're actually doing quite well with a 2-5% annual growth. I'd have expected much worse...

Two thoughts:

- Continue to focus all your attention on Internal Marketing rather than paying for external methods, since a small town is all about relationships and who you know and everyone already knows you're there and available to them - incorporating a lot of external marketing could very well backfire on your current standing in the community. Meanwhile, also make sure your website is an accurate representation of the patient experience and your vision and mission as their dentist.

- Change your hours to accommodate out of town workers: late evenings, early mornings, Saturdays, in order to attract those few locals who aren't already able to be part of the practice, then begin a concerted internal marketing effort to spread the word and make it as easy and convenient for them as possible to switch.