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The difference between ongoing and permanent marketing elements.

Patrick Fischer, Creative Director

When I was young, both my dad and younger brother visited the chiropractor. The chiropractor treated them in the office, and then sent them on their way with a list of exercises to practice before their next visit. Upon their second appointment, both of them were diagnosed with new ailments, given new exercises, and had a follow up scheduled. This cycle continued for about a year, with the issues evolving over time.

One argument could be that the body is complex and things like pain are difficult to resolve in a one time visit. But it’s difficult to know if that professional isn’t leveraging his/her knowledge to get you to pay more.

My point is, if we don’t know how to do something, or we don’t have the time to do it, we pay someone else to do it. By exchanging goods, services and experiences for money, we ensure a free open market. Credibility is established in an entity through the value it provides, but as consumers, we have to admit that sometimes we don’t know enough about that specific service to contest the price. In other words, we don’t always know whether or not we’re being duped.

Let’s apply this same mentality to marketing. Technology has a tendency towards optimizing sharing. With all the photos, posts, tweets, videos, memes, and emails we produce and consume in a day, one could almost say that everyone is being conditioned to be marketers. There’s a lot of ways to get your name in front of people. Attaching the word “celebrity” to one’s title is used so often that it blurs the intrinsic meaning of the phrase (think, “I’m sort of a Youtube celebrity.”).

But outreach is outreach, no matter which outfit it wears. It just takes time and attention like anything else.

Marketing gets a bad rep because it always requires long term investment in order to see results. Not to discount marketing – we do it every day, and it does work – but just because television advertisements were essential for politicians in the 1980s doesn’t mean that it will work for dentistry. Political television advertising may be ineffective today, but someone is going to get paid a hefty sum because it’s “tried and true.” Unfortunately, nothing in marketing is tried and true when our attention is constantly shifting in media outlets. How do we know that politics wouldn’t be best suited for Snapchat? Can we truly denigrate print advertising just because newspapers are going under? Which demographics use Twitter as their primary network? How can we know for sure? How do we know those statistics won’t change tomorrow?

Just like medical practitioners, marketers wield a level of expertise that increases their value. And they will tell you their form of marketing is going to be “best for you” in their humble opinion.

How can we know who to trust?

First, let’s outline the difference between External and Internal Marketing.

External marketing is everything that you do that is intended to be seen. This is your advertisements, your Facebook posting, your sign on your door, etc. The there is a paradox in external marketing: it often falls trap to fluff and gimmicks, but it is also the most easily quantifiable. In the end, you have to show people something, but it’s more effective if it is pointed and appears to have purpose.

Internal marketing, on the other hand, is generally the more intangible of the two. But it’s also the style of marketing that yields the best indication for successful business.

I’m talking about Brand.

The first thing I look for when I start working with a client is how they are positioning themselves. Do they have something to offer that is unique? Do they find purpose in their work? Do they themselves actually believe they can be great? These questions shouldn’t stump you, but it’s amazing how often I hear dental professionals scramble to answer.

The world is becoming more transparent every day, and it’s not uncommon for various outlets to do external marketing for you (think news stations, or online reviews) which means it’s more important than ever to refine your practice internally. Brand does more than just give you a logo, a font, and some colors. It helps define culture, how success is defined, what we stand for, and what we want people to think when they hear our name or see our logo. It allows you to create your identity and use the multitudes of mediums to distribute your voice with consistency and grace.

I’ve heard “brand” defined a number of different ways, but my favorite has always been this:

“Brand is a desired perception.” – Re Perez, Branding For The People.

Just like with marketing, anyone can come up with a Brand. Technically, even if someone doesn’t have a brand, that is part of their brand. It’s whatever thoughts and emotions people get when they encounter you. But if you are intentional with your brand, and you form a perception that is to your advantage, its effectiveness will extend to those inside and outside of the business, and it will steer the ship that is your business.

In the dental industry, Brand has historically been neglected, and for good reason. Business has been steady and self-sustaining ever since it was decided that every human being should visit the dentist twice a year. Everybody is a potential patient, and patient’s don’t often switch providers. As a career, dentistry sounds pretty appealing.

Fast forward to 2017, and the field of dentistry is more saturated than ever before. So why do people choose their primary provider? Do people go through an intensive interview/trial period to find the perfect dentist?

Here’s a polarizing and controversial thought: Every dentist does the exact same thing.

Does that sting? If it does, consider that the average patient believes it, even if you don’t. And unless you start doubling down on something that can help provide better value than the other six dentist offices on your block, you will always be one faceless option among many in your patients’ minds.

And as for external marketing? This is why we at SkEye believe in a partnership approach. The reason so many marketing firms offer so many different methods of outreach is because most methods do work. At SkEye, though, we believe every client and market is unique, and our approach reflects that through simultaneous experimentation and implementation. With today’s technology, you can determine the effectiveness of most digital advertising platforms in about a week. A month at most. This allows us to measure and adjust on the fly, focusing and refocusing until we find an effective method (or two, or three). External marketing is a moving target, but that’s why you shouldn’t invest all of your eggs into one basket, and we help our clients make the distinction between platforms.

In the end, people want a Brand. They want to see your face, hear your voice, and know that you have a personality. And when you start defining those things, it makes your external marketing that much easier, because you have all the tools, it’s just a matter of how you use them.