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a blog by Chris Barrow

How your practice brand creates communities

I’ve written in the past about the book Tribes by Seth Godin and the relevance of his theories to dentistry. In summary, Godin and others correctly identify that, as consumers, the community of a brand attracts us. We want to own products by:

  1. Apple

  2. Jimmy Choo

  3. Omega

  4. Prada

  5. Mercedes

….and a host of others, not just because the stuff ‘works’ but because it’s also ‘cool’ or ‘fashionable’ and we define ourselves as individuals (how weird is this?) by the communities and brands with which we associate. Defining the branded experience My previous focus has trended towards converting dental products and services into branded experiences. Let’s take an imaginary practice called Purple Dental. “You can buy a crown anywhere in town but you can only buy a Purple Dental Crown™ at Purple Dental.” The use of the trademark here is intended to create something ‘special’ that cannot be purchased elsewhere. But what would that ‘special’ include? Imagine a drop-down menu of added value services that would be offered:Ordinary CrownPurple Dental Crown™Free assessment**New Patient Consultation**First appointment (prep)**Second appointment (fit)**Personal conversation with technician*Review meeting with dentist*Complimentary hygiene appointment*Invitation to membership*Discount on further treatment*Warranty*Invitation to regular client evenings*Special offers and promotions*Discount with local leisure club*Complimentary portrait photograph*

Now please don’t evaluate my list – that’s not the point. What I’m trying to do here is illustrate a principle – which is that the consumer wants to feel ‘special’ about the decision they have made to reward themselves with the best. There are plenty of patients out there who want to pay for the ‘upgrade’ in life – and so your responsibility is to make that upgrade available in your business – and to be able to clearly spell out what it means. You can populate your own list of extras that could be offered by your practice:

  1. Treatment co-ordinators

  2. A dedicated care nurse

  3. Flexible appointment times

  4. Access to restricted areas of the building (a members lounge)

  5. An invitation to take part in a video testimonial

  6. Membership of a patient focus group

  7. An invitation to the annual county show

  8. A private area on the website to make appointments and chat with team members

  9. A social media presence through which you provide with tips and advice

The list can reflect the style of your practice and the demographic of your patients. Dentistry used to be a cottage industry with lots of little healthcare tinkers, tinkering away in their little hidey-holes. This has changed and the winners will include those who understand the power of patient and team communities.

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