I am certain strong and stable is a statement, whichever side of the political divide you are on, that you’re probably fed-up hearing. Please don’t punch your laptop/pc screen or throw your mobile device from the nearest window, there is a relevance to your dental practice and the delivery of key messages in the election campaign of the last few weeks.
How can a message go wrong?
The key to selling any treatment or marketing your services successfully is predominantly reliant on the strength of your message and how it is delivered.
You may have been asking yourself the question above time and time again, and I suspect there are communications experts across the country devoting much of this week to writing case studies on that very topic, based on recent events.
Before I launch into this article it is worth stating that it has no political bias, indeed the team at Practice Growth Agency has members of all ages and political persuasions. This post is not about the virtues of any policies or manifestos on either side, rather a comment on how they were communicated. Being mixed in our outlooks has given the team and I a chance to digest the messages from all sides and analyse how they were delivered.
It all appeared to start so well for Mrs May, her core message of strong and stable leadership being the buzzwords of the first week of the campaign. This was at a stage when a landslide was being predicted. Perhaps there was a feeling that ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ so this message was never veered from and became the central focus. What wasn’t accounted for was the boredom threshold of the general public, all slogans have a shelf-life and will crash and burn without a clear message (or messages) to back them up. This might seem counter intuitive when juxtaposed with Donald Trump and his Make America Great Again slogan, however it was just the icing on an unsavoury group of policies and promises.
So back to that landslide, where did it go wrong?
For a start Corbyn and his team released their manifesto first and stole the oxygen of publicity. It’s worth noting the entire document was leaked to the Mirror a week before being published, bad luck or a great opportunity to rectify unpopular policies before the official launch? They became the story for the week preceding the official launch in Bradford on 16th May and continued to be the story until the Conservatives launched theirs on May 18th.
Timing truly is everything, getting your message out first and setting the agenda for any conversation is crucial. Yes there are times when it gives the competition an opportunity to tailor their message however it also give you time to clarify your position. The person who comes late to the party has to be more reactionary which was borne out in the response to the ‘dementia tax’. As I mentioned earlier in this article we are not passing political commentary, merely analysing the situation. For me, this was the specific moment the campaign was lost.
Has there ever been a more poorly communicated message, an adult social care policy which was manipulated by the tabloids into a headline capable of scaring even the hardiest Tory.
What happened next was crucial, Teresa May made a U-turn. Read that line again. The election campaign thus far was built on one message, strong and stable leadership. The person charged with that strong and stable leadership just made a U-turn. Surely the writing was on the wall.
What has all of this got to do with my dental practice?
In conjunction with the power of a message there’s another lesson to be learnt for practice principals. No ship sails with only a captain. Many of you will have seen it in a growing practice, a new associate starts yet everyone still wants to see the principal who is booked weeks in advance rather than have a same day appointment with an unknown name. Gamblers need to ‘spread the risk’ and I would argue practice owners need to do the same and not have a business built on one name.
Frequently communicate the message of what your team offer, focus on the treatments which everyone excels at, sing the praises of the hygiene team and how they can protect your dental health. If a practice has its goodwill build predominantly on one name what happens if that person has a number of months off with illness or when the practice is due to be sold? Make your practice a team of dental superstars, not one superstar with an anonymous chorus line.
How do I successfully deliver a message?
Every message should focus around the benefits. The point I made above regarding the strong and stable leadership message was how one dimensional it was. It’s the equivalent of ‘Adult Orthodontics’. What does that actually mean to an average member of the public? If the benefits are outlined there is always a higher treatment uptake.
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Focusing on the benefits and the message is only one part of the equation, delivering it is the other.
You will undoubtedly have heard a lot about the rise of the youth vote last week, with a 12 point increase in under 35’s voting (up to 56%, of which approximately 2/3rd are Labour voters). How was this demographic tapped into? Largely by social media and very targeted adverts. When we work with clients on their social media campaigns we always ensure the message is central and the audience relevant (find out more by clicking here).
In summary, in our humble opinion (and removing any political bias) the reason behind the much stronger than expected performance by Labour was the clarity of the message, the delivery of the message and intelligently using data.
There is a lot to be learnt from this, and the next time you decide to launch a campaign to attract new patients or increase revenue from existing ones, it will be worth remembering the lesson.