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a blog by Chris Barrow

How do you make yourself as desirable as an iPhone 4?

The queue outside the O2 store in Manchester this morning (06:45 for an 08:02 opening) was over 100 people – and so I estimate that it will take 15 minutes to service every customer – and that there will not be enough PC stations to handle more than 6 people at a time = 4 hours wait from opening if I’m lucky.

If I had a day off I don’t think I’d do that – as it stands, I’m due at the SOE National User Day in The Lowry Theatre at 09:00, so there’s no chance.

I notice similar queues outside Orange, Vodaphone, Carphone Warehouse.

The O2 store in Salford Quays opens at 10:00 – and there are 12 people in the queue at 08:30 – but by the time Nigel Sayner pops in at noon, the phones are all gone.

A quick call to Altrincham and I can almost hear the giggles as I ask whether there is any stock.

Game over.

I join the ranks of the “left behind” and, like the limping boy of Hamelin, I struggle in discomfort as the Pied Piper leads the villager’s children into a land of plenty – and the door slams in my face.

I will have to suffer the shame of attending this weekend’s Practice Plan Majorca session without the kit – at least I’ll have my iPad with me so there will be some residual pride.

Not one of us “needs” multi-tasking, a 5Mb camera, an HD movie camera or any of the other functions – we all just want to be cool.

Apple haven’t created a better phone (it isn’t).

They have created a desirable:

  1. brand to be associated with

  2. tribe to be a member of

  3. customer service experience to enjoy

As my Facebook friend Glyn Melling said this morning:

Glyn Melling What a fantastic marketing machine Apple have developed. Apple stuff is like we used to collect football cards as kids. You needed the full set up to date.

Very true and perceptive.

Now – what does this all mean to us in business?

Apple have taken products – Ipad, mobile phone – and turned them into tribal branded experiences.

Every product launch is a Tracy Island, a cabbage patch doll, a tamaguchi.

Question – how do you do that in your dental practice?

What would have to happen for there to be a queue for your services – a waiting list?

Wrong answers:

  1. cheaper prices

  2. free stuff

  3. more clinical courses and qualifications

  4. more dental “doodads” in the surgery

  5. longer opening hours

  6. more fee-earners

  7. more hours at work by the principal

Correct answers:

  1. amazing, remark-able, customer service

  2. a cool brand

  3. beautiful buildings

  4. a team who operate at world-class levels

  5. branded products – for example, for XYZ Dental

  6. The XYZ healthy mouth assessment

  7. The XYZ Smile Makeover

  8. The XYZ Membership Benefits

  9. The XYZ Experience

  10. The XYZ Crown, Implant

  11. Special events – memorable moments

  12. Fun

  13. A “yes we can” attitude

  14. Higher prices

  15. Smart, patient focused, business systems

  16. and, finally, scarcity.

Yes – you need scarcity – because in retail, its the FEAR of “missing the boat” that is far stronger than the anticipation of being on the boat. Its the same mentality that makes us ANTICIPATE our next holiday more then we enjoy it.

Our imagination is far more powerful at influencing our emotions than we realise.

The mind is so powerful that thinking about it is often better than doing it.

So if you can communicate with your patients in a way that has them IMAGINING the outcome of their treatment:

  1. that’s the time to close the sale

  2. that’s the time to factor in just a little uncertainty

  3. let me check to see whether we can do this for you

  4. can we complete the treatment in the timescale you require?

  5. is your oral health good enough so that we can make a start?

  6. I wonder if we will be able to get financial approval?

  7. let me see if I can get the lab to set aside the time

You will see the attitude of the patient change.

Scarcity creates demand.

And I don’t have a new phone………..

……which means I want one even more.

Its not just me you know.

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