DEFINING YOUR MESSAGE

Putting myself through college I took a job bussing tables in a popular restaurant that also had a popular night club, common practice in the ’burbs. It was the 80’s.

The morning after my twenty first birthday I was promoted from the restaurant to the night club where I would keep the bartenders supplied with the liquor, mixes and ice. Seeing the money that the bartenders were making, I decided that I wanted to be a mixologist.

A few months later I got my big break when a bartender was needed for the Sunday brunch shift. My first day as a bartender was not very exciting. I only made two types of drinks, gin fizzes and bloody marys.

Having little opportunity to establish myself as a great nightclub bartender in the solitude of a Sunday morning shift, I decided that I needed to focus on one thing. If I was only going to get to make 2 different types of drinks, I would make the best gin fizzes and bloody marys in the world.

I can’t say that I achieved this goal with the gin fizz, but 3 months after my proclamation, I had built a steady regular crowd of 40 customers who would come in to the bar area just for my bloody mary.

One of the simplest concepts to understand in marketing is also the most challenging to accomplish. Every business owner understands that “standing out” is a way to get noticed, yet very few – especially dentist – know how to make their practices “stand out.”

If you practice general dentistry you might find it hard to distinguish yourself from other general dentistry practices. After all, you are all just… well… general. To find your platform, you need to take a hard look at your practice and determine what it is that you do different from others in your market.

When I ask this question to dentists and their office managers, I hear similar replies.

“We can do it all” So you can do crowns in a visit with your CEREC, straighten up a grill with Invisiline, or total reconstruction with implants- do you think the public knows that you would send them elsewhere if you could not do these things? Doing it all is more of a benefit to your practice then it is to the patient.

“We care more” I can’t help but shake my head in disbelief when I hear this one. It’s your job to care. It is part of being in the healthcare profession. Your customer is not calling around asking “Do you care for your patients, or just drill and dash?”

“Blah Blah Smiles” A lot of dentists think that there platform should have something to do with smiles. Sorry, that message is over used and underwhelming.

I have to say that at least these dentists made an effort to say something. About 20% of the dentists I talk to have no message at all and the others simple state what they do, Family, cosmetic or children. If you’re the only family, cosmetic or children’s dentist in your market this could work.

Find your plat form. In my bartending days, mine was the world’s best bloody mary.

If you can’t think of something that you can stand on that will lift you above your competition, invent it. This is the road block. I find the trouble with this road block is less of not knowing and more of not willing.

If ninety percent of your competitors operate 8 to 5 Monday through Thursday, Maybe your platform could be later hours, or weekend appointments. Few of you are willing to do that and that’s why it works. I have a client in a large market that is making a killing because they are the only ones delivering this message. Even though others were already delivering nights and weekends, my client was the only one to make that his platform.

You could also decide to specialize in one thing. You could focus on pain or missing teeth. There are a lot of ways to market to these people.

It is better to target to a small audience with a pointed message then a larger audience with a broad message.
Whatever your message, say is load, say it often and say it consistently.

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