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Elevate Yourself Above the Rest


Communication differentiation marketing ppos Mar 24, 2022

You’ve got the money to spend on your practice, but what are you going to do with it? You’ve heard that marketing is the key to growth, so spending it there makes sense, right? Allocating money towards marketing is important, but you need to be smart about it. Historically, dentistry hasn’t placed a large emphasis on marketing; however, only in the last couple of decades have dentists really grasped the importance of marketing. But it’s more than just increasing your spending. You can’t just throw your money into marketing and expect to suddenly be successful—you need to set yourself apart from your competition. You need to differentiate yourself. 

At its core, differentiation is a business tactic meant to provide your patients with something distinct from that which is provided by your competitor. The patient needs to be able to perceive, see, and feel something different from you—something that makes them say, “I need to see Dr. Straub because he and his team do this.” The “this is your differentiator. You can certainly market your practice without differentiating yourself, but you will not be doing so effectively. 99% of dental marketing is simply a list of procedures and technologies, and the patient doesn’t learn anything from that. Moreover, when you say the same things as every other dentist around you, then you’re just a commodity, and there’s nothing to tell a patient why they should choose you. Differentiation is not simple or quick, but as Kirk says, “It’s the hard work that makes marketing easy.” If you put in the time to reflect on yourself and your practice, you will see the pieces fall into place. 

Who do you want to attract?

When you begin the process of differentiation, you need to ask yourself what kinds of patients you want to market to. Look at your current patients, pick five to ten of the best ones, and write down why you love seeing them. These are the qualities that make them great patients—your core customers. They may be patients who are always happy, positive, accept treatment, always show up on time, or always pay their bills on time. Your core customers should match the core values of your practice, and they need to be the focus of your marketing energy—don’t spend it fruitlessly chasing after “C” patients. Chris Savage, CEO of Wistia, says that the secret to marketing is to “spend the rest of your life talking about what you care about,” because that will attract other people who care about the same things. When you can fill your practice with core customers, you’ll know that they value you.

Focus on your strengths

You can’t differentiate yourself if you don’t know what it is that makes you different, so it’s essential to identify your core competencies. These are your strengths—the skills you’re naturally good at because of who you are. Your core competencies need to adhere to a couple of rules: they can’t be easy to imitate, and they must be sought after by your patients. For example, don’t just say that you do great fillings or crowns or have excellent customer service—every dentist says that. And marketing yourself as someone who’s good at gold foils would be a waste of time because no one wants those. A simple way to create a list of your core competencies is to speak to your core customers and ask why they come to you. Then you can take their responses and focus your energy on marketing them.

Nobody’s perfect

When searching for your core competencies, you’ll also likely discover some areas in which you are not as competent. These weaknesses are important to identify, because you don’t want to waste your energy on skills that are outside your core competencies. This is certainly not to say that you shouldn’t work on improving your skills—you still need to be performing good dentistry and smoothing out any small weaknesses—but you don’t want to invest too much time, money, or people. It’s difficult to identify your own weaknesses, so let your team help you. Discovering that you have a blind spot or aren’t good at something can be a painful process, particularly if you’re learning it from a team member. The natural response is to get defensive, but you need to be able to take a pause and accept feedback. It’s never easy to admit a failing, but Think Again by Adam Grant does a fantastic job of explaining that you need to find a balance between being under and overconfident—you need to know that you can accomplish anything, but also understand that you need help to do so. Let your team be that help. Not only will they assist in identifying your weaknesses, but your team members can also help fill in any gaps in your own competencies. 

At its simplest, differentiation is the answer to the question “Why would anyone come to me versus the guy or gal down the road?” To find that answer, you need to think outside the box. “Think smarter,” as Kirk says, and put in the hard work of figuring out why you’re different because when you offer patients something they can’t get elsewhere, they’re willing to pay for it and remain loyal. If you need help answering that question, our fantastic team of coaches is at your disposal, so reach out today!  When you differentiate yourself, you will stop throwing away your money on wasteful, generic marketing; instead, it will be efficient, focused, and put you that much closer to a Better Practice, and a Better Life!

Dr. Barrett Straub is a former ACT client, a general dentist, and the Director of Education at ACT Dental.

Kirk Behrendt

Kirk Behrendt is a renowned consultant and speaker in the dental industry, known for his expertise in helping dentists create better practices and better lives. With over 30 years of experience in the field, Kirk has dedicated his professional life to optimizing the best systems and practices in dentistry. Kirk has been a featured speaker at every major dental meeting in the United States. His company, ACT Dental, has consistently been ranked as one of the top dental consultants in Dentistry Today's annual rankings for the past 10 years. In addition, ACT Dental was named one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States by Inc Magazine, appearing on their Inc 5000 list. Kirk's motivational skills are widely recognized in the dental industry. Dr. Peter Dawson of The Dawson Academy has referred to Kirk as "THE best motivator I have ever heard." Kirk has also assembled a trusted team of advisor experts who work with dentists to customize individual solutions that meet their unique needs. When he's not motivating dentists and their teams, Kirk enjoys coaching his children's sports teams and spending time with his amazing wife, Sarah, and their four children, Kinzie, Lily, Zoe, and Bo.