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a blog by Chris Barrow

You need a scratched record to make your marketing effective

There’s a risk in confessing to an audience “I worry sometimes that, when I talk about marketing, I sound like a scratched record”. The risk, of course, being that a certain demographic of listeners won’t understand what I’m on about.

For those of us old enough, the idiom relates to what happens when the stylus gets stuck in a damaged groove on a vinyl (remember singles and LPs?) and repeats a passage of music.

It’s a repetition that can be irritating to those keen to get on to the next track but a necessary evil when attempting to embed new habits of performance and behaviour into a team.

They don’t have soldiers assembling and disassembling rifles, over and over again, simply to create blind obedience. It also creates a habit that comes in very handy when a gun jams in the middle of a chaotic battlefield.

Marketing may be less life-threatening in the short term but, over time, a lack of continuously effective action will starve a business of the new patients required to replace natural wastage and keep average treatment plan value at a higher level. Those new patients may well also help to avoid some clinicians from going stir crazy delivering preventative maintenance.

So when I arrive at your practice with my monthly management meeting agenda and ask those marketing questions again – accept that this record is scratched for a purpose.

Common mistakes:

  1. regarding marketing as an occasional campaign and not a daily ritual;

  2. delegating marketing to external agencies who promise the earth and consistently disappoint on delivery (then blame the client);

  3. expecting marketing to be squeezed between other (no less important) duties;

  4. thinking that marketing is one person’s responsibility, when in fact it’s a team event;

  5. talking in your marketing about dentistry or prices, rather than talking about people and the difference that you make to them.

I left home at 04:30 this morning to begin 2 days of practice visits in The Borders and Central Scotland.

I’ll be talking to Principals and team members about the relentless performance of their marketing rituals as we move in to the thick of Q4, traditionally one of the busiest quarters of the year.

Four meetings in the next 48 hours, three with established dental practices and one (as a favour for a friend) with a healthcare start-up that is breaking new ground.

I’ll sound just like a scratched record, sharing marketing rituals that my clients are using to grow their businesses internally and organically, without the need for campaigns or unnecessary expense.


  1. Extreme 1:1 Coaching 2019 – sold out! All vacancies now taken.

  2. The Extreme Business Workshop Programme 2019 – 50% full – spaces still available for the London & Manchester workshops – to join a community of practices who are going to make 2019 a superb year in business – learn more HERE

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