If Apple did dental practices...
A notification popped up today highlighting an article I’d written five years ago for one of the dental publications. It was regarding the newly released iPhone 4 and the efficacy of their marketing campaigns in driving queues of people to wait hours in line to get their hands on the newly released device.
Later in this article I will look at how, in my opinion, Apple has shot itself in the foot with its latest iPhone release.
For now, I wish to look at why many marketers feel the company is the optimal example of effective branding thanks to sleek and well-designed products and iconic adverts or launches.
What if I were to suggest that Apple is so successful because of something much simpler, the functionality of its products. I say this with a degree of certainty having just tried to help a 52-year-old friend with her first Samsung product. In the end, she gave up trying and went back to iPhone. Even I, as somebody tech-savvy, found the hour on a Samsung device as a deeply unpleasant and unintuitive experience. I’m sure many may disagree, but for me it was ghastly.
Having started my marketing career over two decades ago with an emerging mobile provider before moving into the healthcare sector, I have extensive experience in the pitfalls some brands have made. How many people still have Nokia or Blackberry handsets? Very few, and I feel they became so focused on features they forgot about ease of use and benefits.
So how does this relate to dentistry?
Let’s focus first on your brand. I have seen many smaller independent practices fall into the trap of trying to emulate the slick branding efforts of the corporates. Why? If you cannot compete with their marketing budgets why try and beat them at their own game?
Play to your strengths if you are an independent practice, focus on the level of personal attention you can give. If you’ve had a steady team for many years they are at the heart of your brand, let them shine. Make a range of short treatment videos outlining the benefits of each treatment you provide and have your associates and hygienists present them.
The key to a thriving online social media presence is to start with your existing patient base and reach out from there. If people see sage advice in a short video presented by their dentist they are more likely to share it, which in turn makes the second-tier views more likely to book an appointment through a personal recommendation.
How can your practice be more ‘Apple’?
As mentioned above, I believe functionality and benefits are at the core (excuse the pun) of their offering. Often when I carry out a dental practice evaluation and look at their website I see a plethora of Orthodontic options, yet much rarer is the benefit.
People who are looking for Orthodontics wish to have straighter teeth. Why not focus on that benefit to begin with? Talk in emotional language about the benefits of straighter teeth including improved confidence and self-image and an improvement in biting efficacy.
Likewise, the features of dental implants are often discussed and quite frankly, I know of nobody who has undergone the treatment based on the grade of titanium used. People do so to improve appearance and self-esteem, to eat with more ease and in a more comfortable and natural way.
Other steps to being more ‘Apple’…
As you are probably aware Apple has an army of advocates and a serious chunk of their marketing spend is targeted towards existing customers who will upgrade with each new release. You already have a patient base with whom you need to be communicating regularly. A recent seminar at which I was a guest speaker (with approximately 30 practices in attendance) were posed the question ‘when did you last send an e-newsletter?’, to which over 50% replied they never have.
This shocked me as a client of mine has been able to increase revenue by 15% in one year simply by carrying out this one marketing activity. There are cynics out there who argue e-newsletters don’t work, I’d argue they’re not doing it correctly, our testimonials and client revenue figures can prove otherwise.
So, how did Apple shoot itself in the foot?
You may have seen the press articles asking why their legendary queues for a new iPhone release had dwindled to a dozen people (if you didn’t then click here) last week.
In my humble opinion the failure, their first to be such a significant one, was outdating their product before it was even released. They launched the iPhone 8 at the same event as a higher spec iPhone X which is being released a few weeks later. It makes sense that their core market will wait for increased functionality (albeit at a slightly higher price, but if you’re committing £800 to a phone why not go all out for an additional £200) and shun the outdated ‘new’ model. There’s perhaps a learning opportunity for clinicians about pitching the ‘best’ treatment to patients. Always give people a range of options and don’t base your solution of what you feel they may be able to afford.
What to do next?
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