Attention is a complex topic in 2018, right? Imagine a room with a thousand televisions each showing something different. Now try to concentrate on just one TV without getting distracted. That’s probably a good way to start this discussion.
It’s also no coincidence that this article is getting published just prior to Super Bowl 52 — the night the Philadelphia Eagles will battle the New England Patriots for supremacy of the National Football League. More importantly, the night big brands and companies will battle for our attention with clever, funny, heartwarming and whatever-it-takes, multi-million dollar commercials.
In an already oversaturated world of companies screaming to get attention, Super Bowl Sunday is the… well… Super Bowl of commercials. Television ads get ignored all year, until the first Sunday night in February when 112 millionpeople will intently watch whatever is put in front of them.
So as a small (relatively speaking), local dental practice, how do we go about getting attention? How can we stand out in a room full of a thousand televisions without giving into what I call “Marketing ADD” (attention deficit disorder)? Here are a few observations of mine:
ATTENT!ON Observation One
The first one might be a little counter-intuitive. Think back to some solid high school romance advice, “The quickest way to get someone’s attention is to no longer want it.” It’s tried and true advice. The more “desperate” you appear, the more likely you are to turn others away. That’s why $19 New Patient Exams with free Sonicare toothbrushes don’t build strong practices.
ATTENT!ON Observation Two
The second is recognizing where your marketing has ADD. Why aren’t others paying attention to you? Here are some common reasons:
You’re marketing like it’s 1998 — Are you using direct mail? It worked awesome in 1998, but I literally haven’t run into a dental practice in the last five years who was thrilled with it. For the amount of money you spend, you should be head-over-heels.
Are you spending money on television? I had a conversation with a group practice last week that spent $11,000 a month on local television.
For. The. Entire. Year.
They called me because, “it was a big investment and the growth at the end of the year didn’t reflect the investment.”
You change tactics every 3–6 months — I realize that it’s tough to know what’s working and what’s not. If something is not working, cut it. Don’t continue to waste money. However, if your attention span is short, how do you expect others to engage?
“If your attention span is short, how do you expect others to engage?”
Work with a professional to set the course and stick with it. Allow your marketing to develop a clear message and generate momentum.
You don’t have a budget — Marketing that is driven by urgency is never effective. Not even close. Creating a budget is so simple and easy, yet often overlooked. It’s step number one in creating the structure you need to develop a focused plan.
ATTENT!ON Observation Three
The last is focusing our brand so that your message can stand out.
Be different — Different in dentistry stands out. Different wins. Different competes. Last year I had a phone conversation with a client who was building a start-up practice in California, a.k.a. the most competitive state for dental practices in the country.
She asked, “Am I crazy for doing this?”
“No,” I said, “but you have to be different. If you’re different, you can compete.”
“If you’re different, you can compete.”
There are lots of practices in her community, but it’s the same old thing. 20–30 year old practices with outdated technology in desperate need of a remodel. THAT market is saturated. Don’t get scared by the brokers when they talk about competitive areas. It could be the best opportunity for you to shake things up.
Websites — In its simplest form, marketing is about attention. It’s asking, “Where are people’s attention at this moment?” Right now, in dentistry, attention is on websites. Healthcare patients are looking at websites more than ever before. They’re begging for someone to stand out. If you want to be “different,” you’re going to have to do it through your website.
Oh, by the way, the one thing that doesn’t work anymore? Just saying you’re different. You’ll have to show them.
Social Media — The fact that you’re reading this probably means that you found this article through a social media channel of some sort. This point probably seems obvious, however, I regularly speak with practices that are still trying to figure out Facebook. Whether you’re using it or not, social media is arguably the most effective platform to build your brand.
I’ve watched doctors build entire practices from Facebook over the last few years. They hustle, they engage, they learn, they adapt and they grow. Outside of your website, it is the best way to stand out and show the community that you truly practice dentistry differently.
Let me leave you with one last piece of advice to stand out in a distracted market place: BE CONSISTENT. Create content consistently and keep doing it. For years.
I heard some great advice one time on the three steps to building a great business. (1) Build something worth talking about; (2) Talk about it; (3) Show up consistently…. for years. We’ll overestimate how much we can grow in one year, but we’ll underestimate how much we can grow in five years.
Set the direction for 2018 and stay at it. Be consistent for the entire year. And the next year. And the year after that. In the long-run, consistency always stands out.