In this episode of Dental Marketing Mastery, we discuss dental practice branding, and the difference between branding and being branded.



Podcast Highlights:

  • Definition of Branding and Branded
  • How people FEEL about you, their perspectives
  • What is achievable for the average dentist
  • The amount of TRULY branded dental practices
  • How long does it take to establish a brand?
  • Newer practices vs. transition of ownership
  • How far should you try to brand?
  • The dangers of price incentives on dental practice branding
  • Mismatching your advertising with who you are
  • Avoiding the “race to the bottom”
  • The ideal mix of traits to showcase

Podcast Transcription:

Hello, and welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery series. This podcast is brought to you by and New Patients Incorporated. I’m Howie Horrocks, the Founder of New Patients Incorporated, along with me once again, as my friend and partner and the President of New Patients Incorporated, Mark Dilatush.

Howie: Hello, everybody. Welcome to our podcast. I’m Howie Horrocks. That guy over there across the country is Mark Dilatush. He’s the president of NPI.

Mark: Hello, Howie!

Howie: Yeah. How’s it going, man?

Mark: All right. It’s late January, in New Jersey and we haven’t had one snowfall yet.

Howie: You’re kidding.

Mark: We had was like, I can. I’m sorry. I was just informed. We’ve had one.

Howie: Okay. Wow, that’s unusual.

Mark: And when you look out your window at the mountains, what do you see Howie?

Howie: I see snow on top of the mountains here in Las Vegas. Yeah. It’s not falling down on the on the floor, the valley.

Mark: Oh, it’s not? Okay.

Howie: In Fact, It’s like 60 degrees today. I think I’m going golfing later.

Mark: Attaboy.

Howie: Anyway, let’s talk about something. It’s a topic that pops up every now and then on the dental forums that we monitor and participate in and that is branding.

Mark: Branding. Well, why don’t you give everybody your definition of branding? And then I will give everybody my definition of branded.

Howie: Yeah. Yeah. Well, branding is, it’s basically you have to change your point of view. It’s not about you, as much as it is about your public or the people that you’re serving. It’s basically how do people feel about you and your service or your store or your practice? And things they might know about it. It’s from their perspective.

Mark: Okay, so. So, non consumer or noncustomers perspective of a business?

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Okay. So, That’s the definition of branding.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Okay. Dentists call me and they say, or they call any one of our advisors and they say, I want to brand my practice as the X.

Howie: Right.

Mark: You can fill in the blank,

Howie: The gentle dentist of Tucson

Mark: Right. exactly, or the Sedation Dentist or the sleep dentist or the short term ortho dentist or the implant dentist, you know, just fill in the blanks. And I hear this word of branded, bandied about as if it’s even achievable for the average dentist, okay. So now, before everybody thinks what I’m about to say is, you know, Debbie Downer, or we own a marketing firm, where we send out whatever, 11 to 14 million impressions a month. We’re all about advertising. We’re all about dental practice branding. But when I hear a dentist, say, I want to be branded, it brings up the definition of what it really means to be branded in dentistry is the following. Is when someone who is not a patient of yours refers to your dental practice.

Howie: Yeah, that’s very good.

Mark: Okay. That’s when you’re branded. Now, the difference between branding and branded is years and tens of thousands of dollars of properly placed advertising. In order to reach out and impress upon someone who’s not even your customer, not even your patient and convince them that you are the deal. You are the guy or the gal in town. Right. To go to for anything dental. Doesn’t matter what it is.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: You know, my dogs got a broken tooth. Well, I don’t know about anybody else. But Dr. Smith. Okay. Dr. Smith may not be a veterinarian dentist, but he’s the only one I know, and I heard lots of good things. There’s the name I’m going to give you. Dr. Smith, right?

Howie: Yeah, the dog dentist.

Mark: Yeah, that’s the example of branded. Howie’s example of branding was right on, it’s the perception in the mind of the non-customer?

Howie: Right.

Mark: In order to get from branding to branded, I think many dentists think that’s a short travel?

Howie: Oh, no. Oh, no.

Mark: Oh, no, no. You and I wouldn’t have to get away from our fingers to count the number of truly branded dental practices in the country. Really.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Maybe to our toes, maybe. Right?

Howie: And, you know, what is probably unconsidered by many dentists is that, you know, again, how long that might take to bring about. And, you really, actually, I don’t want to say that you ignore it, but you’re not trying to do that. You’re just trying to market your practice and get your name out there. Okay. The brand will develop over time. It might take a long, long time, it usually does. I mean, you take companies who are concerned about branding, are like, you know, Nike,

Mark: Budweiser.

Howie: Yeah, Budweiser. But also note, they have a bazillion dollar marketing budgets, and they’ve been at it for many, many years. That’s what it takes to really get welded into the minds of the public. And that’s another reason that one off one-time, Super Bowl commercials usually fall flat because they’re trying to achieve that branding, and in one fell swoop, it doesn’t work.

Mark: Exactly. So, dental practice branding, is what your non patients think about you.

Howie: yeah, and maybe they don’t think about you. Right?

Mark: Right.

Howie:You have to continue marketing.

Mark: Exactly. Yeah, the answer to that question might be I don’t know anything about that person.

Howie: Right

Mark: That’s an example of, you know, you just haven’t impressed them yet. Or impress them enough.

Howie: Yeah, or they haven’t received enough impressions.

Mark: Right. So that’s branded. Branding, or excuse me, that’s branding. When we get the question branding. It’s often in relation to the beginning of the image of the practice. Things like logos,

Howie: Oh, yeah.

Mark: Practice names, tag lines, URLs, things that you set out to do, set out to establish when you first either purchase a practice or establish a start up, or maybe the transition of ownership within the same practice. A lot of people say I want to brand my practice, and that’s the initial branding, are those pieces. We will tell you that… I’m cautious when I say this, because I don’t want to say it’s unimportant because it is on there, there are pieces of a dental practice branding or an image package, which are very important.

The practice name and the URL need to tie together, and they need to tie together in a way that is not difficult for a searching consumer to spell. So dental practice branding, logos, names, tag lines have a lot to do with all the future advertising you ever do. I’m not going to say it’s unimportant. But I, I know, Howie, and I agree that dentists and their team spend inordinate amount of time mired in the selection of the critique of things like logos.

Howie: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, we kind of laugh, we’re not particularly making fun, because, you know, we spend a lot of time on our own thing, logos. But really, it’s not that important. You know, and it’s, it’s funny to watch, somebody throw up a logo on a dental forum and ask for opinions. And it’s wild. You know, you get everything from its trash to, it’s great. Or you should do this, or you should do that. And all of a sudden, everybody’s a logo designing expert.

Mark: Yes.

Howie: You know, just laugh.

Mark: None of it. None of it ever generated one patient in the history of dentistry.

Howie: Exactly. Oh, he has a great logo, I’m going to go to his practice.

Mark: Yeah. No, it doesn’t work that way.

Howie: Said no one ever.

Mark: Exactly, exactly. So when we say that, we say that with all the love and consideration in our hearts, because we understand that when you’re building a new practice, or you’re taking over a practice, and you want to put your own personality, your own style, we understand, right? But you have to look at it from our perspective, too. If we have, let’s say, 11 marketing projects. They’ve all been prioritize based on the avoidance of risk, and based on your available budget, and they’ve all been organized and deployment order.

Guess which one of the projects comes first. The logo design. Okay, so if you hold up a logo design for four months with your designer, whether it’s an NPI design, we’re not talking about just NPI, anyone you go to any marketing firm, they’re all going to have the same issue. The logo has to come first because it’s, it’s in absolutely everything else after it.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Okay. Here’s the lesson to learn. Logos are not dental clinic branding, and they’re not branded anywhere in dentistry. While they are very emotional, and subjective things that you do want to pay attention to at the beginning of your career of ownership. We get it, absolutely. Do your due diligence, find your logo designer, get your logo done. Okay? But don’t let it hold up everything else after it because everything else after it is more important.

Howie: Right.

Mark: For your future success, everything after the logo design is the most important. And after you know what, after you decide on a logo. How many years have I been doing this? I’ve never had a dentist come to me and say, you know, I settled on that logo six months ago, and now I don’t like it. I’ve never heard that, have you?

Howie: No.

Mark: Never. Okay, so it’s not the process, it’s the decision. Make a decision and move on. Right?

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: And then all the other projects. So whatever marketing firm you use, or whatever other service you use, or website, developer, whatever. Whatever you’re doing for your marketing, don’t let that project hold up the really, really, really important project.

Howie: Yeah, yeah. If you’re messing around with the logo and seeking the opinions of people that you know, are not trained you know, and then the four or five months go by and you’re having these arguments, and each person is defending their point of view. And yes, meanwhile, the mail isn’t going out, your radio spots aren’t running, your website isn’t built, you know, you’re losing patient after patient after patient that you could have had. I mean, that makes a logo really expensive.

Mark: Yes, very expensive. And it’s futile, it is absolutely futile. Actually, on one of the dental forums, now there’s somebody else just posted their logo last Friday or Saturday. And, of course, every expert in dentistry is posting their opinion. And when they get all done, they end up more confused than they were before they started. They’re more unsure and uncertain of themselves after than they are before.

Howie: I got a good little story. I gotta tell you,

Mark: Okay, go ahead.

Howie: You may not remember this client. It’s quite a while ago. They had a very successful practice, and we helped him get there. But, he had a logo. He was a he was an avid duck hunter. And his logo was, you know, ducks.

Mark: Okay.

Howie: And it was, you know, hunter green, and, you know, all of this stuff. And it was actually not, you know, it was kind of weird. You know, what do ducks have to do with dentistry? Absolutely nothing.

Mark: Right.

Howie: But it didn’t, it didn’t seem to affect anything. You know, he still had a great practice people showed up and they all, “yeah, you’re a duck hunter that’s great.” So, you know, that just illustrates to me that it. It doesn’t really, it’s not all that important.

Mark: Right. Right. So now we get to branded, which is where I think most dentists want to go, but they get it kind of confused. The difference between dental clinic branding and branded, branded a good, a great example of branded is if you’re in a black room, everything is black around you, and all I do is flash the Nike symbol at you. And I say what brand is that? And you immediately say Nike. That’s an example of branded. The ability to do that costs in this case probably close to a billion dollars, okay? And no dentist on the end of this microphone is ever going to get there, okay.

Howie: Nor do they need to

Mark: Nor do they need to, right? That’s the good news, okay. But you can get pretty darn close. You really can. Because the good news about dentistry is you’re not trying to be an international brand. You’re not even trying to be a brand in your country. Most of you don’t want to even want to be a brand in your state. Maybe some of you want to be a brand in your whole town. But the majority of you really only want to be a brand and about a 10-mile radius around your practice.

Howie: Yep.

Mark: Right? Okay, think of it. These are all dental advantages, right? advantages to being in the dental business, okay. You don’t have to pay for impressions worldwide. Or country wide or statewide or county wide or city wide. You just need to concentrate your marketing dollars on generating impressions within your core draw area, maybe a little bit beyond but for the most part, your core draw area. And you need to keep generating impressions like that. Time and time again, right on top of each other, okay.

Now, why is this really important? There’s lots of reasons why it’s really important. Number one, it’s good for everyone to understand that they’re never going to be Nike. It’s good because you’re never going to ask someone else to make you or make you become Nike, help you become Nike. When that is such an unbelievably off the wall expectation which will never be met, and it will keep you in a constant state of disappointment. Okay.

Number two, when dental practices consistently promote their practice based primarily on a price incentive endlessly to the same core market month after month, year after year. How do you think they’re branding their practice? How do you think the non patient in that circle feels about that dental practice? In converse, let’s say you had a dental practice that promoted within that 10-mile circle on a consistent basis year over year that use the benefits of today’s dentistry rather than a price incentive. How is that practice perceived by the non-patient in that market area?

Howie: Right.

Mark: Now you know why we brought up branding?

Howie: Right

Mark: Okay. Because there’s dentists out there who are saying I’m going to brand myself to be a really high quality, almost fee for service or total fee for service practice, maybe with a cosmetic element, a station element, sleep element, six month smiles element, whatever element additional niche dentistry services, and their marketing, and their advertising is totally, totally mismatched to what they’re trying to build. Because they go out there and they brand themselves as the cheap dentist in town. And once you brand yourself the cheap dentist in town, boy, ys it expensive to unbranded yourself.

Howie: Well, yeah, not only that, that you have a boatload of competition because there’s a zillion other dentists doing the same thing.

Mark: Right.

Howie: Competing on price.

Mark: Right.

Howie: We call it the race to the bottom, you know,

Mark: Right. So that’s why we brought up branding, we brought up branding. Fred Joyal has a book called marketing is everything. Right?

Howie: Everything is marketing.

Mark: Yeah, that’s right, everything is marketing. And everything you do is a part of your brand. The message you send out on the street, or the message you have on your website, or the deals you have, or the deals you don’t have, or whatever. Everything, the service you provide, the reviews you’re getting, whether or not you can schedule online, everything is branding. Okay. Be very careful, everybody listening to this, be very careful about what the words are that you’re putting out on the street about your dental practice, because that’s how people who are not your patients are going to perceive you.

Howie: Yeah, it’s typically the only thing they have to go on.

Mark: Exactly. Exactly. You know, have we? I’m sorry, Howie go ahead.

Howie: I was just gonna say it if you present yourself, as a problem solver, that is so convenient, and so technologically, up to date, and so friendly.

Mark: Right. And so inclusive of the whole family. And you know, and with so many wonderful charities that you provide access for and all this stuff, right.

Howie: That’s a pretty good brand, right?

Mark: That’s a great brand, right? That’s an awesome brand. There’s nothing wrong with that brand. It’s a great brand to be within your 10-milecircle. Okay. So anyway. Have we beat dental practice branding up?

Howie: I think we have. Yeah,

Mark: Well, if anybody has any questions, or we have a mailbag now.

Howie: Oh, yes. A mailbag.

Mark: What is the mailbag? Do we have a mailbag address? It’s [email protected] [email protected] So if you have a subject, please don’t send us your logo and ask us what we think of it.

Howie: That might be kind of fun.

Mark: If that’s the case, I’m posting it to Dental Town immediately.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: And then we’ll just sit back and have a sandwich and watch what happens. Anyway.

Howie: Yeah. send us questions or a topic you think you might want to have us cover. And we’d be glad to do it.

Mark: Yeah. If you’ve had a promotion media type that has been wonderfully successful, or a media type that you’ve implemented, that really didn’t work well. You know, share with us, you know, what are you doing? How did you do it? Where did you do it? How much did you spend on it, for how long? Right, give us some details, and we’ll be happy to bring it up in one of our topics.

Howie: Yeah. Good idea. Yeah, we’re going to sign off now. And we’ll see you all next time. Thank you.

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