If any of you have followed my previous blog posts you will probably know that I am a massive fan of the book ’22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout’. The word immutable is very important with this book as these laws apply to any business, whether it set up in the 1900s or last week. Unfortunately, website’s are not immutable, they age and can break as browsers update themselves to accommodate the more modern coding techniques. For example, some browsers don’t run the flash programming language, and some websites are still made with a considerable amount of flash, causing breakages. I’ll touch on this another time, but for now, let me explain to you what this book taught me. You need to be first in the customer’s mind, no matter what. What the book didn’t touch on but inadvertently taught me is the importance of branding. Now let me explain to you what I thought of branding before I read this book.
When I was learning marketing I would have thought I don’t need branding, I just need to get a website of some sort to the top of Google, build up a ton of traffic, set good prices, get enquiries, get paid, get more enquiries, get more money… etc…’ – and don’t get me wrong, it’s a good philosophy, it works. I call this sort of marketing hard-hitting marketing, no need for the ‘look and feel’ of your service, as long as the bare-bones are there to turn over cash. Then there’s what I call soft-hitting marketing; the obsessing over the font choice in your invoicing or what the slightly browner shade of white on the website’s background ‘means’ to a patient. This is what I called the ‘branding’. I used to get frustrated at this sort of marketing, and people telling me it’s important because I don’t know what the font style ‘means’ or why the colour red makes people hungry (That’s why fast food chains usually have red backgrounds).
Then, I read this book and everything changed. Well, not everything, I still have no idea what the colours on the website’s mean or how the space between two images should be 10 pixels rather than 15 pixels; but what I have learned is that to a certain extent, branding is so important. Especially for our Dental Clients. Why? Let me break it down for you.
There’s a certain part of the dentistry that you need to focus on.
“But I want to focus on it all”
That’s fine, you go ahead and do that, but for your branding’s sake, read the book and then you’ll realise why this may be a near impossible task.
Find your certain part of dentistry that you want to set your brand’s eyes on. It could be to focus on children’s dentistry, a ‘dental boutique’, a dental practice that’s so posh you’re greeted with a liaison officer with a plate of lobster and caviar, or even on the flip side – a dental practice that’s so cheap they recycle the mouthwash (joking, don’t do that) ; it doesn’t matter what niche for your brand you choose, just make sure you choose one and then focus on it.
There’s another thing to bear in mind don’t focus on ‘A general dental practice’. You’ll fall into a very large category that will struggle to stand out. If you’re struggling with what to decide to focus your branding on then let your competitors decide. For example, if you have a high-end expensive dental practice competitor, who’s taking the cheaper mid-end or low-end part of the market? There’s nothing wrong with swallowing your pride and not being the ‘high-end’ dentist if it means your practice becomes more profitable. After all the main goal of a business is to make money. The point is, let your competitor decide what your target market is. If you competitor targets high-end posers that want all of the expensive cosmetic work, then that means the average Joe that wants their teeth looked after like every other average Joe is looking for a practice that you can offer them.
Once you’ve come up with the brand that you want to shape your practice to be you’ll need to do the following:
Example Scenario – Your website doesn’t reflect your practice branding
You attract visitors to your site that enquire, then they go to visit the practice and realise it’s not what they were looking for as they wanted something with a cosy homely feel like your website portrayed (which is great for attracting nervous patients), but in reality the practice is actually a modern glass filled sleek feel with a lot of sharp edges in its design (not great for nervous patients).
and vice versa.
Write down what you want your brand to portray. Does the website show that? If you’re struggling, ask some friends (or even better, strangers) to let you know what they would expect from a dental practice with that website. Other key areas to look our for are:
A lot of patients prioritise cleanliness, modern techniques and professionalism.
So, clean, modern and professional websites are three factors to look at. But let’s say you want to target nervous patients or an older generation (because of your local geographic); what do you think they look for?
Empathy, Cosyness, patience and a personal experience. So tailor the website for this.
I’ll sum this one up really quickly because this is standard:
Well, you’ll struggle to tailor your website to fit ALL of these traits. After all, Burger King has been trying to target the youngsters that McDonald’s has managed to do so easily. Why? Look at McDonald’s adverts compared to Burger Kings, or the happy meal with a toy, or the fact that McDonald’s almost always has a play park at their restaurants. (In fact, how many people even know what Burger King’s equivalent to the happy meal is?) Still convinced that your branding can fit all of the traits? Well, here’s another example – Pepsi vs Coca-Cola. They have a perfect branding battle because each of them targets their respected target market in their own way. The result? They’re both doing incredibly well (but Coca-Cola is winning). Now I won’t break it down too much as to why Coca-Cola is winning but I’ll tell you how their branding breaks down:
Coca-Cola – “The Original” and “traditional” Cola taste. That’s why their advertising consists of the older generation having a drink with their children and let’s not forget the nostalgic Coca-Cola Truck and Christmas advert!
Pepsi – The ‘New’ and ‘Young’ cola taste. That’s why their advertising consists of young people, dancing at parties, being individuals (a typically very millennial trait).
So Coca-Cola holds the traditional, original market, Pepsi holds the New and Young market. What would not be a good idea is if Coca-Cola started targetting the New and Young Market or Pepsi started targetting the “Original” and “Traditional” market. Read the book and you’ll learn what happened to companies that have tried this.