How national trends will shape dental marketing by 2030.
If you know me, you know I like to think ahead. My number one attribute on the StrengthsFinder assessment is Futurist. My number two is Strategist. So I guess you could say, when it comes to looking ahead and planning, I do pretty well.
Combine that with the start of 2020 and it seems like a good time to talk about marketing trends. But... instead of focusing on the next year (which really isn't a good strategy for understanding trends), I thought: what if we zoomed out to look at larger trends affecting our nation over the next decade? Then we could ask how our businesses (and marketing) should respond. That might help us understand our strategy even better.
So, let's take a look at four Megatrends and how they will affect our businesses for the next decade.
1. Population Increase
In ten years there will be at least one billion more of us. And we'll be living longer.
The world’s population is projected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030 (up from 7.3 billion in 2020) – the result of the nation's two largest generations co-existing. Baby Boomers will be in the height of retirement and will create the first billion-plus population over the age of 65. At the same time, Millennials will be taking their place as the primary economic influencers.
Poverty will continue to decrease as the middle class expands to its largest size in history. Urban city centers will attract the majority of the growth but master-planned tech cities will fill-up almost overnight. By 2030, two-thirds of people will live in an urban city.
The Marketing Response
How does this affect your practice and marketing strategies? It's actually pretty simple: more people equals practice growth.
There will be no shortage of practice growth over the next ten years. We'll continue to see the expansion (and consolidation) of group practices. We'll have a startup boom and private practice will continue to grow to new levels. And all this will all happen at the same time.
Those that understand marketing and invest in their brand will be fine. Those that don't will feel the effects of falling further and further behind.
2. Climate Change
There's a lot of uncertainty about how this will play out, but there's no uncertainty about the dramatic changes in our climate. New technology and Big Data are giving us better predictions for the next decade and they're alarming. In the next ten years, we will know for sure the effect a melting Arctic ice cap, deteriorating ozone layer and increased temperatures will have on our planet.
Much of the responsibility will fall to businesses to analyze and reduce their carbon footprint. "Going Green" won't be a marketing play, it will be expected. More and more manufacturers will begin introducing clean tech. From electric cars to sustainable energy in our homes, environmentally-friendly businesses will likely fuel a larger portion of the economic growth by 2030.
The Marketing Response
As a dental practice, how does this affect our marketing efforts? NO MORE DIRECT MAIL!!!
I'm kind of joking, but not really. Just think about direct mail in light of our environment and you can see why it’s a strategy that’s quickly dying.
As you adopt more "green" practices or add sustainable tech, make sure you let your patients know about it. In the last decade, patients were impressed by new technology. We marketed lasers, CEREC, cone beam and anything else we spent $60,000 on. This next decade, patients will be impressed by our environmental responsibility.
3. Increased Transparency
By 2030, our world will be more open and less private, and that will be less concerning then we all think it might be.
The trend to track everything isn't going anywhere as companies compete to serve consumers better. Given the choice between information privacy and convenience, humans choose convenience. That was proven in this last decade and will now accelerate.
Big Data will single-handedly change sociology and how we interact with each other. Healthcare stands to make some of the biggest gains as global data changes standard of care and decreases early deaths from diseases we've been fighting for years.
In exchange for our privacy, consumers will expect the same transparency in return. We'll expect companies to act human and treat people like we want to be treated. We'll expect less fine print and ambiguity. We'll expect more reviews and social proof to create trust before we’ve even met you.
The Marketing Response
I think the application for this one is pretty straightforward, but to be blunt: you don't have a choice about transparency. Consumers now expect it from the companies they interact with. From how their data is handled to treatment recommendations, they expect trust to be won before business is assumed.
Also, make no mistake, the largest generation in U.S. history is coming to age. A generation that lives by transparency and social proof. I know lots of practices that have held off marketing to Millennials because "they don't need a lot of dentistry." That’s a short-sighted decision at best. The next ten years will see Millennial influence begin to change the entire way we do business. For some that's scary. For others who have invested in reviews and social media, they will have created the social proof needed to establish trust.
4. Acceleration of Technology
The last decade in dentistry saw an exponential increase in technology. A 4x growth curve from anything we had ever seen before. From dental implants to 3D printing, orthodontic aligners, CBT imaging and too many others to mention. It was amazing to watch.
But hold on because the next decade will see an 8x increase.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is here and every technology company is scrambling to get their products to talk to each other. From our homes and cars to refrigerators and clothing. Smartphone sales have plateaued as worldwide adoption has reached a saturation point. Tech companies are chasing after the next world-changing device, rapidly pursuing wearables, folding screens and implants to integrate technology at the next level. Chances are we'll see the next "big thing" by 2030.
Where AI has been something futuristic and fun to talk about the last ten years, it will be integrated into EVERYTHING in the next decade. Once "things" start talking to each other, we'll see the birth of a new language. And while artificial intelligence clearly has many benefits, we'll watch humanity start to wrestle with a force potentially more powerful (and threatening) than anything we've ever seen.
The Marketing Response
High tech requires high touch. The need for human interaction will become even more important for the business owner. Just because we can implement technology and AI to make our practice more efficient doesn't mean we should. Every business owner will have to decide how they "speak human" and maintain the integrity of a human relationship.
This is an especially important conversation for healthcare. Some will lose sight of the "humans serving humans" aspect of what we do in the pursuit of profit. While others will elevate their game to create unprecedented levels of customer service. Success in the next decade will depend on keeping people at the center of business.
All in all, the next ten years will be an exciting ride that will require no small dose of courage as a business owner. One thing is certain: we will face uncertainty. For many, that's scary and intimidating. If I could offer you one piece of advice for the next decade it would be this: don't get stuck. Keep an open mind. Keep learning.
I'll leave you with the words of the late and great Walt Disney who did his part to leverage the latest technology and trends to serve our world in a very human way:
“Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”