By: Abe Kasbo
There’s an old English expression:“May you live in interesting times.” Well, perhaps there’s never been a more interesting time for Dental Market CMOs and CEOs than right now. When thinking about how to efficiently and effectively advance his or her business goals, the CMO has more than enough to consider, including industry dynamics, downward budget pressures, the shift toward corporate and group practice models, as well as the rise of the grey market and social and digital enterprise. We believe the following are key business driven ideas that can be implemented right now by Dental Market CMOs as part of their integrated marketing strategies:
1. Drive Brand Through Product Focus Only – Dental manufacturers are famous for over-messaging in their advertising as they try to gain mind-share of dentists. But in reality, that type of messaging leaves the audience with a “meh” feeling about your messages. Dental market CMOs must better understand the buyer journey, just like retailers, airlines and other industries already have. Look, dental manufacturers have lots of products and services that they have to sell, but let’s take a moment to examine McDonald’s. Yes, McDonald’s. The famed global restaurant spends millions of dollars advertising just coffee every year. Why? Because they know that consumers can really only focus on one thing, and not the hundred plus items they have on the menu. Once the consumer comes in for coffee, McDonald’s sells them other items. Dental manufacturers and distributors have to take the same approach in order to make their advertising more efficient. Focus on specific products, then as dentists respond, help them learn more about other products and services. We suggest your product become the major brand with the company as the subordinating brand simply because it speaks more directly and specifically to the dentist’s needs – think Platinum by American Express. This strategy becomes even more important in the age of digital and mobile advertising as you roll out your Search Engine Marketing ads. It speaks directly to the buyer’s journey, plus it helps to separate you from the competition. Moreover, you can directly measure the success of your marketing efforts. By using this approach, you can tie you service line revenue directly to campaigns.
2. Your Social Enterprise is a Distraction and Inefficient – Refocus your website. We are going to go on a limb and call organic social marketing for dental brands inconsistent at best and a failure at worst (wink, wink…while anecdotal evidence of social media success abounds in trade publications and should be celebrated, it’s hardly reliable). According to Forrester’s 2014 North American Consumer Technographics Customer Life Cycle Survey, “In fact, 45% of US adults stay in touch with the brands they like by visiting those brands websites, while just 16% stay in touch by visiting brand’sFacebook pages or becoming Facebook fans…” To be clear, there is lots of activity and hype in this sphere, but there is no credible evidence that organic social content delivers brand awareness or direct-response that is either equivalent or more efficient than traditional advertising. In fact, organic social is actually a lot more work. Social advertising, on the other hand, and its impact on dental brands is another matter; there are certainly opportunities there, and we will discuss that in a later post. Nevertheless, organic social campaigns on Facebook and Twitter, if positioned appropriately, do offer opportunities to create “digital events” which can drive more engagement and offline PR delivering tangible and immediate results and prove valuable to your integrated marketing strategies. But be careful where you drive engagement. These campaigns should be carefully crafted to drive traffic to your website, and not to social media pages since space in social is effectively “rented” by your organization. In other words, do you want to “own” your followers, by engaging with them directly and building a proprietary contact list or “rent” your followers from Facebook or Twitter, where your interactions are strictly limited by a third party? We’re strong advocates of owning both our media and our audience.
One of the more critical ways for dental brands to think about organic social is from a customer service perspective by actually delivering customer service via your preferred social network. Long a successful staple by industries such as retail, hospitality, airlines and others, dental companies can find delivering good customer service by say Twitter or Facebook an excellent way to drive customer satisfaction and customer service.
3. Seek Value – Needless to say, your marketing budget may not be the same as Coca Cola’s. Dental industry CMOs who face budget challenges must find new ways to extract value from their enterprise, including renegotiating advertising and media contracts for better terms, prices and value adds. You may be surprised to find just how much outlets are willing to create media plans that work for you! The fragmentation of media may be frustrating but also presents ample opportunities to redirect budget and leverage one media channel against another to grow your marketing footprint. And of course, measure.
You may also consider taking advantage of a managed marketing organization to drive down the costs of human resources, administration, creative, media buy, web, events, PR and social. Managed marketing organizations have long been used in other industries and can deliver real value to your company’s bottom line and a more agile approach to your marketing enterprise. Here, you can negotiate a single predictable fee for all of their services. The trick, as always, is to find a reliable partner, but they are out there.
4. Be An Entrepreneur – There’s never been a better time for Dental CMOs and CEOs to be entrepreneurs and live the spirit of entrepreneurship than right now. Establish an innovation team to look at how your company can deliver better services more efficiently, explore revenue generating partnerships, or expand your services via digital or off-line subscriptions. That may require a culture shift in your organization, but it’s worth it. There’s plenty of “blue oceans” to swim in as we hack it out in the “red oceans” with the competition. Find your blue ocean, make sure it aligns with your organization, and go! We often talk of innovation in terms of dental technology, or some new procedure. But, consider that the CMO is actually the perfect leader to drive business innovation in the dental space: you have in depth knowledge of the products, services, competition and the coming technologies or business trends that may affect the business. Start with your innovation team and build from there.