This week’s post is part 2 of a two-part post on “branding” your dental practice. If you missed last week’s blog post, here’s “Branding” a Dental Practice – Part I, where I covered the first couple rules of branding your office.
Now we’ll carry on with…
3. Get to know your audience before deciding on your brand.
Whatever brand you decide on, it can’t just be something you are happy with—the most important thing is that it resonates with the audience you want to attract to your practice.
In Anthony Bourdain’s (celebrity chef) book “Kitchen Confidential,” he makes an example of a wealthy businessman who funded his wife’s pet project: a restaurant themed after the movie Casablanca. He spent hundreds of thousands of dollars decorating it to the nines, making every last detail perfect so it was like Rick’s Café from the movie. It was a very cute idea and his wife loved it. Personally, I like the movie and it seems like a cool idea. But…those hundreds of thousands of dollars ended up going to waste because nobody showed up at the restaurant. They never stopped to find out if there was actually an audience of people who wanted to go to a Casablanca themed restaurant.
Maybe there are a ton of people who would go to that restaurant, but the owners never reached them with their marketing, and accidentally promoted to the wrong people instead. I don’t know. The point is: it doesn’t matter how much you like an idea if it doesn’t resonate with your target audience.
So, how do you know what will resonate with your target audience?
Well, there are a few factors that go into this:
- Survey your patients. At the MGE New Patient Workshop, we focus on the importance of surveying your best patients to find out what’s important to them; i.e. what they look for in a dentist, and what motivated them to come to your office—so that you can represent that in your marketing to attract more patients like them.
Now, when you’re settling on a brand for your practice, it’s vital to take this surveyed information into consideration.
- Research demographics. There’s two parts to this:
- Look at the demographics of your patient base. Find the most common demographic in your patient base, and
- Look at the demographics of your locale:
Examples: I’ve worked with one client who’s located in a city with the highest number of runners/exercisers per capita in the country; a very health-conscious area. Appropriately, he’s the only 100% Green office in the city. He promotes eco-friendly dentistry and the people in his area love it.
Another client is located in a smaller town in the Midwest. What’s worked best for him is promoting that the practice is very family-oriented and “close to home.” The whole family comes in because they’re great with kids and real, honest people.
Then there’s another client who does a lot of cosmetic work (veneers, Invisalign, etc.) and found that his best patients for that, by and large, are fashion-conscious women between the ages of 20-35. Being hip, fashionable, and promoting the “beautiful” or “aesthetic” dental work that they do works like a charm.
So pay attention to these things when you’re deciding who you want to target and how you want to represent your office to them.
Then dig deeper: Now, once you’ve targeted your target demographic (depending on your locale, it could be conservative men over 50, or fashion conscious young women, or young families, etc.), survey and research some more to find out how you should craft your message.
Survey people in this demographic to find out what they care about, like, don’t like, think is cool, etc. Also look at the directions other companies have gone in successfully to target that demographic. You’re trying to get a little glimpse into the psyche of your target audience. Your message and design style should reflect this.
For instance, organic health drinks, Clif Bars, or “green” products often go with something that makes it seem like their product is your ticket to going on an adventure, or reclaiming your youth.
Brands that want to seem “cool” like Apple or Urban Outfitters or Diesel emphasize edginess and independent expression.
High-end designer or high-tech brands generally want to appear discerning and exclusive. Minimalist designs with simple, clean lines work best for this. Minimalism is the key for these brands, generally. Even the text is simple; like a fancy perfume ad might just whisper “intimate” or “beauty.”
Some brands attempt to induce nostalgia, bringing childhood memories or bits of the past to form a connection with the customer and feel meaningful, loyal, trustworthy, or like part of the family.
4. Stand out from the rest.
You want to be unique.
Don’t just say the same thing all the other dentists in town are saying. Do something different. And if you can’t do an entirely new concept, at least say it in a different way.
Even if it’s clear that the correct concept for your office is “family friendly,” and that’s what the other office in town advertise themselves as, find a different way to express it so it seems like an entirely different concept.
5. Be memorable.
This is kind of the crux of the whole branding thing. People have to notice and remember your dental office. And that’s not simply a matter of yelling a lot or getting lucky that your brand “catches on.”
There are a few specific things you can do to be memorable:
- Use iconic design or symbolism. Use a logo or feature in your designs that is immediately recognizable and associates your office with the positive image you want. This could be a landmark or symbol or just a striking design feature. Liberty Mutual uses the Statue of Liberty. Mercedes just uses a tasteful, minimalist design.
One long-time MGE client, Tony Hatch and his wife and office manager, Laura Hatch, ran with the “rock & roll” concept in their practice, Scripps Rock Dental. They use music symbols, decorations of Elvis and 1950s Americana throughout their practice and marketing. They held a classic car show outside their office. And they and their staff are fun, outgoing, rock n’ roll type of people. Their office stands out from the rest in town and is very memorable.
- Craft a catchy (and relevant) slogan. And when crafting slogans or titles, it’s best to use short and punchy language. The slogans we remember are simple ones like “Just do it,” “I’m lovin’ it,” or “Save Money. Live Better.” Another helpful trick is to use alliteration in names and slogans. Alliteration is when each word starts with the same letter. Cartoon names do this: Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Peter Pan, etc. And business names: Bed, Bath & Beyond, Coca-Cola. And slogans: Intel Inside, Baby Back Ribs, Don’t Dream It—Drive It.
- Keep repeating the message. The fact is, repetition is the key to memory. The more times a teacher makes us repeat something, the more likely we are to remember it. I don’t forget to put on my shoes every morning, because, well, I put on my shoes every morning. And I remember that Geico can save me 15% in 15 minutes or less because they’ve been telling me that same line for 10+ years.So keep reaching out to the same people with the same message. Don’t expect people to remember something after seeing it only once—no matter how unique and cool it is.
6. Get your staff on board.
A lot of businesses make a new logo or put something on their postcards, but then neglect to tell their staff about it. That’s a big oversight!
Your staff interact with patients and potential patients every day in the office, on the phone, and in some cases through letters or emails. That’s the face of your practice just as much as a postcard or street sign is.
So make sure you go over the practices brand with the staff, and make sure they’re all on board with the message you want to present to the public and the attitude you want them to have.
Branding is an entire science in itself, and if you really want to get serious about it, go out and learn more. But with just the tips we just covered, you should be able to improve your dental office’s branding. If you have any questions feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And remember, if you want to increase the new patient flow in your office and get better return-on-investment with your marketing, attend the MGE New Patient Workshop. We deliver it once a month in rotating locations—New York City, Southern California, and St. Petersburg, FL.