Marketing for dentists means entering the customer’s world


If you’ve ever returned home after a day out shopping and asked yourself why, oh why, did you buy that pair of shoes you knew you didn’t like, that pair of jeans that obviously don’t fit properly or the jacket that, on second thoughts, you didn’t really need because you already have five that look the same?

We buy clothes we don’t want because, in a sense, we panic. Having walked into a shop bursting with marketing collateral – music, posters, hip staff – it hits us full force and we lose our ability to think rationally. That’s not to say we don’t enjoy the customer journey – it’s an entertaining day out – we just end up paying for things we don’t want.

Every time this happens it’s a victory for marketeers who have successfully bridged the gap between you and the product in your imagination. Back at home it’s harder to identify with the brand and feel attracted to the same product because it’s out of context.

Shops are different to dental clinics, primarily because you don’t just wonder into a practice as you mooch around town on a day out with the kids. Dental practices are ‘out of context’ to the shopper. You guard is up when you enter – you’re going in because you have a problem or you have something specific in mind; a check-up, teeth whitening, Botox.

Perhaps dental practices always will be ‘out of context’ to daily life to some degree, and perhaps dentists could do better if they found a way of entering the context of the average consumer’s life.

If we were inclined to treat dental health services as casually as shopping, perhaps our children’s dental health wouldn’t be in such a shocking state. As it is nearly 26,000 primary-school-aged children were admitted to hospital to have multiple teeth taken out from 2013 to 2014.

This begs the question: who is at fault? Well, as the old adage goes, the customer is always right. And the customer, at the moment, is saying dental practices are too far removed from their everyday lives.

Why can’t we provide tools and information that close this gap and speak to patients in their day to day lives? The answer is we can and we will – customer centric information is the future of dentistry – so next time you do a full clearance on a child, rather than thinking of their parents as ‘having got it wrong’, think of how much the child would have benefitted from better information.

I’d like to hear from principals interested in being at the forefront of this information revolution. Get in touch with me on LinkedIn.

Ernie Wright

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Ernie Wright is Lead coach: business processes and people management at Breathe Business. Contact her on 0845 299 7209 and

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