How Do I Differentiate My Practice?

Let's start with the question of why you should differentiate your practice. The other day I sat down with a dentist and talked to him about an ad he was running in a small local newspaper. We looked at the ad together and then looked at the other ads that his competition had produced in the same paper. There were about 8 ads for dentists in this particular edition. As we looked at the ads I pointed out that all of them had the following in common: a picture of the dentist, (most with his or her family) an offer about teeth whitening, and some other coupon for a discount of some sort. Most of them also had a picture of a pretty female smiling and amazingly enough all of them were a quarter page ad. I asked him if he were choosing a dentist, what would make him choose his own practice over all of the others? Essentially, they were all the same ad.

The human mind naturally seeks out differences in order to help it make choices. Without differences we guess, or leave things to chance. With differences, we can choose confidently. In the case of all of these ads, the actual message of the ad was the same, so the next logical step for the potential patient would be to use secondary items in the ad to help them make the choice. They might like a certain color, the dentists face, or the address is closer to their home. Ultimately, each of these dentists left it up to chance as to whether a potential patient chooses them. Imagine if one of these dentists had exploited the idea that they use technology, or come up with a clever way to show how they treat the customer like family. Now they would stand out, and they would offer a clear choice and appeal to more people.

To differentiate your practice, you first need to look at what the competition is saying (not what they are doing). Then examine your practice and list those things that are different or that you do exceptionally well. Pick the one that would best appeal to your audience. If it is the same as what your competition is saying, it becomes important to present this in a way that seems different to the viewer. Remember that perception is reality, and you are trying to build a perception. Every marketing effort you do that is intended to build awareness should then be focused on this difference. This is what you are going to hang your hat on so make sure it is appealing. You may want to survey a few of your patients and ask them what would appeal to them the most.

For help defining your differences, or to learn more, call Dental Branding and speak to one of our consultants at 1-866-375-5511, or visit:

Author: Doug Sligting
Published: 07/22/2009
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