Samuel Franks, designer at Digimax

Customers now look at how well companies look after them rather than short-term gains, Shaz Memon says.

These days, money-off incentives have a very short shelf life. A once popular default sales technique, its demise has been accelerated by the dawning of the internet. In essence, a customer would buy into a brand at a reduced cost only to see a price hike at a later stage but would (most likely) continue their loyalty indefinitely and without question. This was often due to a lack of opportunity to compare like with like.

The digital age has changed the marketing status quo forever and, with it, the fortunes of this somewhat cynical approach. With 24/7 access to online reviews, for example, today’s savvy public is able to see – with clarity – if and how well companies look after their customers.

Indeed, we have grown to expect more than just an attractive initial price point from any given business. According to those who measure marketing trends, consumers are far more interested in service than cost – and this is particularly true of dentistry, with many patients now seeking added value to their investment of both time and money.

Aviva’s latest marketing advert

In the past, insurance companies were particularly guilty of this short-term and now somewhat tired  ‘pleasuring’ of customers.

In fact, one recently built its marketing campaign upon this premise. Hailed as an industry first, the TV advert for the launch of Avivaplus, a ‘simple, flexible insurance cover’ took a swipe at the inherently unfair practice of offering new customers deals that were unavailable to existing clientele. Historically, customer renewals came in at a higher price than for new customers – something that Aviva’s retail and brand marketing director Tom Daniell describes as the ‘dark side’ of insurance products.

The ad, in which a heavily disguised existing customer tells the insurer: ‘I’m here to get one of those incredible money-saving offers you do for new car insurance customers…’ has comedic value but strikes a serious chord with many of us who feel short-changed when companies to which we’ve remained loyal entice new people into the fold with cut-price deals.

This redefining of insurance marketing and sales has relevance in a wider context. The rebuilding trust, reaffirmation of brand values and the rewarding of loyal patients are key to a sustainable dental practice, too.

Interestingly, the concept of Avivaplus was a company-wide creation, with staff working together to eke out pain points. In this way, barriers have been broken to create a strong example of what can be achieved as an output when a company does bring everyone together.

Dental marketing

Here, a few ways your dental marketing can benefit from Aviva’s innovative approach.

  1. Price is not everything – convenience, interpersonal factors, technical competence and pain control rate highly for patients seeking the perfect dental practice. An investment in their long-term care is therefore important – and these facets should now be highlighted on any dental practice website as well as shared on social media. Reaffirm your values by updating your content with new blogs, frequent posts on all platforms and patient testimonials and feedback
  2. Patient loyalty should be rewarded – of course, this does not have to be financially driven. However, incentives are an excellent way to reward and retain patients. Offer benefits to those who stay with your practice to ensure they know they are appreciated. These might be referral rewards, peripheral services or discounts on a dental health plan. One dentist, whom works closely with us, offers replacement toothbrush heads at cost price to his patients as a reward for being loyal. This may not suit your practice, but think of ways patients will feel valued and remain loyal
  3. Staff loyalty should be rewarded – how many employers actively recognise the heroes in their organisations? We may be quick to point fingers when things don’t go to plan, but do we show the same vigour when a team member is consistently being a better version of themselves every day and doing more than what’s expected of them? Recently, we launched a new initiative at Digimax that celebrates key members in the team. Celebrated quarterly, it is designed to recognise and celebrate those team members who go above and beyond. Our first recipient was designer, Samuel Franks, who had, in the first quarter, consistently over-delivered with fantastic self-development whilst building great client relationships, thus improving our business profile. Remember – team members don’t leave jobs; they leave managers. Be the best you can be as a manager to get the best from your team
  4. Always remember the 80/20 rule – losing interest in your loyal patients will cost you dear in the long term. From a dental marketing perspective, it is far easier to retain patients than to attract new ones. Nurture existing patients – these are the people who are already loyal to you, will purchase more from you and refer other people to you. The 80/20 rule – also known as the Pareto principle – suggests that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers. Be sure to cherish them
  5. Avoid any surprises but stay relevant – make sure your presence on social media is consistent across all platforms – the branding on your Facebook and Instagram accounts should match your practice website. Your patients want to know what to expect when they experience your brand wherever this may occur. However, do stay up to speed on trends in dental marketing. Stay relevant by inviting engagement online as well as off. Take into consideration the thoughts and experiences of your team as well as patients and reflect on common issues.