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a blog by Chris Barrow

Elective, routine, perio and broken 7's - don't get trapped in the hamster wheel

Trending this week - an increase in the number of patients whose oral health has deteriorated over the year, due to lack of dental hygiene visits, and the arrival of those who have done so much grinding and clenching since lockdown that their teeth are breaking.

As if you didn't have enough to deal with - then along comes Chris Barrow and asks - "what about your marketing?"

I’m the first to admit that it can be tough to get clients to listen to me on marketing right now because it really is raining patients all over the place:

  • patients who are spending cash on elective treatments because they didn’t spend it on lifestyle and experiences in 2020;

  • patients who are chasing their entitlement to plan benefits, having maintained their payments all year;

  • The above mentioned patients who are now presenting perio problems and “broken 7’s” because they have missed routine care and are clenching;

  • patients who have been abandoned or refused by their NHS providers and are looking to register with a new practice.

Patient demand:

  • that is keeping the GDP community incredibly busy and

  • is keeping my specialist referral clients equally busy with those GDP as well as patient referrals.

What, then, of the economic outlook? Surely that suggests that marketing needs to take a back seat?

  • despite the media gloom on unemployment it’s worth noting that economists predict a peak at 7.5% by Easter 2021, back to 1.5% within 2 years (in David Cameron’s 2012, the rate was 8.5% and I don’t recall any dental businesses suffering);

  • retail spending in the UK is almost 9% up on the same time last year - people are spending more money on different things and in different ways (+60% online).

When CB arrives on Zoom and says “what about marketing?” it can fall on ears that aren’t necessarily deaf but distracted by long working hours in tough conditions coping with what seems like huge demand.

I maintain my beliefs that:

  • everything is cyclical and the current boom will reach a conclusion at some stage - perhaps when folks can start catching up on their experiences again post-vaccine - watch out for record numbers at holiday destinations, sporting and arts venues, hospitality et al.

  • you don’t dig a well in a drought - you dig a well when it’s raining.

So I keep hammering on about all the usual internal marketing stuff that has a track record of working (as you know) and I’ve adapted some of the vintage Barrow stuff to the Covid environment.

The good news is that many are listening after the trust we established either over the years or this year - Covid increased my average client numbers from around 50 to 140 at any one time. We have 130 signed up for 2021 already (and it's not too late to join us just follow the link.

Don't get trapped in the hamster wheel and then get caught when the current boom ends.

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