By Dan Fine, Sales Manager at Hive Business.
All too often people are happy to make business decisions without the facts. They believe that if something has worked for them or someone else in the past it is the right option. But as Aldous Huxley said, facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
Much of our recent content has been about the potential pitfalls of buying a practice; Ross recently wrote about the extra 20% you have to cough up because there is no longer tax relief on goodwill. We have encountered a significant number of dentists continuing to rush forward with cash from the bank to purchase practices for 150% to 200% of turnover, many without a plan or a clear understanding of what they expect to earn and, most importantly, without engaging an industry specific professional to advise and hopefully solve the former two problems. They are proceeding without the facts.
If facts are being overlooked on what is possibly the most expensive purchase of your life to date, where else are they being missed?
Here’s one of the most obvious places: marketing. There is a misconception that marketing is easy and you can make it up as you go along. As someone who has seen the impact of both good and bad marketing, please take it from me that this is not the case. Marketing is an empirical process. Clearly you have to make assumptions, but you have to use the facts available to you to mitigate your exposure to risk, and you do this by gathering facts to make informed decisions.
In the past I have come across a few dental practices with pink websites. Upon enquiring why I have been told that this is to attract women so they will bring their families to the practice. Wow; besides being a gross and potentially offensive simplification of the purchasing habits of 50% of the population, it is wrong, or at least the process behind it is wrong.
Why is it wrong? Aristotle explained that by using two facts you can come to a logical conclusion. The problem arises when the facts are not facts at all but assumptions built upon assumptions. Take the pink website strategy. It relies on two facts being true:
- Women have the highest cash value to the practice because they bring the whole family and;
- Women find the colour pink irresistible when buying professional medical services.
The first point could be true, but why not do the research? You have reams of data at your hands, do you make more from a family doing eight check-ups a year or by selling implants to a single member of the Saga set (someone who is over 60, has plenty of disposable pension income, no overheads, and is likely to be in need of big ticket restorative treatment)? And is it actually true that mothers bring their full family to your practice? Why not find out the answer instead of guessing?
The second point is actually more a question of branding. Branding is the bedrock of your marketing communications which allow your audience to understand your business. When discussing what other brands you have a similar brand personality to, you could have thought Sheilas Wheels were perfectly aligned with your practice and clicked with your desired audience. You could have done, but you probably didn’t.
Marketing your business starts with branding it correctly. To do it right you must gather as many facts as possible so you are not relying on lightweight assumptions. These could be local demographics, other dentists in the area, other retailers, your current client base, the client base you want in five years, the list goes on.
This is just the start of the information gathering mission that is marketing, and it always gets better if you track it correctly. After six to 12 months you won’t have to rely on a single assumption because you will know what is working and what return you can expect from it. You will have the facts at your disposal.
Please get in contact if you would like to discuss your marketing strategy on 01872 300232 or email us at [email protected].