There are two main areas in dental marketing. The first is that of the marketing of dentistry services. The second is that of the marketing of dental products. Both are geared towards improving the revenues of dental practitioners, manufacturers and distributors of dental products and services.
Inasmuch as dental marketing is a reference to the marketing of dental products, it presents no major challenges (since these are products that can be advertised like any other). It does get a little tricky when it gets to the sorts of dental products that are only used by dentists in their clinics, or that are only used by dental patients with a dentist’s prescription. For the others that people can buy ‘over the counter’ and proceed without specialist supervision, ordinary advertising strategies, which target the ‘mass markets’ would work just as well. But for those that people have to use under dentists’ supervision, or those that are only used by the dentists in the treatment of their patients, a different dental marketing approach becomes essential.
Where dental marketing turns out to be a reference to the marketing of dental practitioner services, however, the whole venture can be rather challenging. Dental practitioners (with the exception of those in cosmetic dentistry) are, like all other medical practitioners, not allowed to engage in open advertisement of their services. But, as all properly trained marketers will tell you, there is considerably much more to marketing than advertising – as we will soon see.
Getting dental marketing right
Where dental marketing is all about the marketing of dental products, the usual marketing strategies can be deployed. Generally, the idea is about showing the targeted audience how the dental products in question can be of help to them, and having succeeded in passing that message along, going on to show them why the particular brand of dental products being advertised is better than others. Naturally, dental marketing for products that are aimed at preventive dental care is likely to be easier than marketing for products that are meant for treatment of already manifest dental problems. It is a common practice for manufacturers of dental products (and equipment) which are only meant for use by the dentists, or which are only meant for usage under prescription alone, to send out marketing representatives to the dental clinics. Sometimes, they may present the dentists with free samples of the products, as well as things like branded pens, branded prescription books, branded coats and so on – the idea being to try and firmly etch their brand names into the dentists’ minds.
Where dental marketing is about the marketing of dental practitioner services, it can turn out be extremely tricky (due to advertising restrictions previously alluded to). What usually needs to be done in a situation like that is look at the wider picture of marketing, beyond advertising. This is like where the four Ps of marketing are deployed. With regard to the first P, which stands for product, the dental practitioner keeps on offering quality service (which is naturally expected of him), but then goes a step further to show genuine concern and kindness to his patients. Done consistently, this breeds a reputation for the said practitioner, as word of mouth about his dedication, care and kindness spread.
With regard to placement, we have dental practitioners being advised to ensure that their clinics are located strategically, where people can actually see them. When people experience dental problems, they tend to try and recall where they usually see dental clinics and head there (meaning that if yours is a clinic people see frequently, they will turn to it at the crucial hour of need).
Turning to the third P, which is promotion, the dental practitioner may consider organizing and running frequent free dental service clinics and dental health awareness seminars. On those, they can go on to offer simple services such as dental check-ups, and in the process make people aware of their existence and the services they offer.
With regard to the fourth P, which is pricing, the dental practitioner would endeavor to ensure that his or her services are reasonably priced; both in absolute terms and relative to other (nearby) practitioners.