An original brand identity can help boost your patient base, build patient trust and create a loyal following.
Clients are ever more discerning and sophisticated in their purchasing habits these days. They are not in the business of self-diagnosing; when new patients look for a new dentist, they look for service, expertise and a professional environment. To compete in the current climate, you have to stand out for the right reasons, which start with creating a strong brand.
1. Stand out from your competitors
Spend just a few minutes looking at dental websites and you’ll find a staggering number that look, read and feel the same. Featuring unoriginal brand identities with little personality evident on their site, dental practices often make the mistake of offering a dry list of treatment-based information instead of communicating the patient experience. So how can you expect a new patient to pick you over another practice when you look the same?
2. Create a brand
tribe Many companies make the mistake of thinking that they can categorise consumers based on common demographics. They may, for example, say that their brand is targeted at 30- to 60-year-olds. However, this can be a terribly arrogant and naive method, as a ‘one size fits all’ approach assumes that people stay the same throughout their lives when, in fact, our purchasing habits change and evolve with us.
Instead, targeting patients based on their consumer habits is a much better way of marketing your practice. These people – your brand tribe – are defined as ‘formal and/or informal groups of consumers who share the same awareness, passion and loyalty for a brand and/or portfolio of brands’. People in a brand tribe come from all walks of life but they have one commonality – they buy into the brand. If you can create trust in your brand values, your brand tribe will be intensely loyal – just ask Steve Jobs!
3. Communicate on an emotional level
The fact is, people like to buy and we buy from where we trust, spending more when a brand links to an emotional response. Consumers are more guarded about unknown brands, so the key for new dental practices is to create a clear emotive brand with personality, brand values and emotive marketing. If you achieve this, your brand will serve as a familiar surrounding for patients throughout their contact with your practice and they will know what to expect from the patient journey before it begins. Ultimately, you are much more likely to achieve a higher turnover from new treatments with an established brand.
4. Converting web hits to enquiries
A lot of practices are happy with thousands of hits on their website while failing to realise the importance of new enquiries. Too many get to number one on Google by devaluing the look and feel of their website with busy pages that are cluttered with key words. These websites fail on the 10-second website wow factor and have a high bounce rate as a result. As most of your web traffic is from other dentists anyway, it’s important to seek out the genuine enquiries and target your website at them!
It is possible to appear high up on page one of Google, but with a website that attracts the intended audience and offers a higher conversion rate. By combining beautiful design with clear USPs and a strong brand, you will generate a higher proportion of enquiries with genuine value.
5. Expand to more practices
Some dentists have more than one practice but it’s amazing how often these are not linked with a single brand identity, leaving potential patients unsure about what to expect or even whether the practices are connected.
By creating a strong brand, you can build your reputation as a trusted, established clinic. When the time is right to expand to more practices, people are more likely to accept the new location as part of an existing and valued business. Where they may have not been a patient because they lived too far away, they may seize the chance to sign-up to your patient list when you open a clinic closer to home.
From a business point of view, it is much quicker, easier and cheaper to expand to more practices when you utilise an existing brand. Your marketing has more impact, as do word of mouth recommendations.
6. Save money on meaningless untargeted advertising
In a world of Smart Phones, tablet PCs and social media, consumers are subject to advertising and marketing messages that increasingly intrude on their days (and nights). With so much advertising around, people are unlikely to remember the details but they will subconsciously remember the brand if the advert has been properly targeted to the right audience.
So many practices spend money on untargeted generic advertising, casting the net as wide as possible in the hope that it catches a few of the right fish! Advertising is much more successful when it is targeted and relevant. Communicating a strong brand to the right people has a huge impact on the long-term cost effectiveness of your advertising strategy.
Although patients are aware that most practices have a membership scheme, the key is to convince consumers that they need this membership, which can be difficult in the current climate. Most practices market membership based on the price, but by giving your membership scheme a unique name, identity and set of values, you can encourage patients to look at the benefits based on quality and value, instead of cost alone. One client of H&P did this recently, achieving a high proportion of patients signing up to the scheme within six months of its launch. The figures speak for themselves. Experience shows that if this is done properly, in both design and marketing, patients feel special and that they are truly valued as a customer.
8. Create value for purchase
By creating a strong and established brand for your clinic, you add a premium to the value of the practice should you decide you wish to sell it. With well-branded clinics, patients are much more likely to stay or return to the brand even if their dentist leaves. This is an attractive draw for potential buyers and offers a higher rate of return for you, the seller. Although brand value is intangible, it is undoubtedly a significant factor and certainly something a valuer will consider when setting a sale price.
9. Be the first brand to market
By knowing your brand and your target patients, it is easier to look for gaps in the market or identify new opportunities. If you can be the first clinic to do something different or take a tired feature of your business and revitalise it, you you will stand out as the first brand to market, which allows you to complete with competitors with bigger marketing budgets than you.
10. Be the first brand to mind
Consumers buy from the first brand that comes to mind – this isn’t necessarily the biggest brand, but the one that speaks most effectively to them. By using the right design company and promoting your practice creatively and innovatively, it is possible to break into existing, saturated areas without investing too much money. Whether you’re opening a practice from squat, want to bring your existing practice up to date or you’ve just brought a practice that needs a new lease of life, it is possible to compete with bigger practices – it just takes the right brand.