Successful Marketing – It’s All About Principles, Part 3

This is the final installment on the principles that drive purchase decisions and therefore marketing efforts. If you understand the principles behind something, you can speak intelligently about it, regardless of the any ancillary facts or figures you might know about that subject. In fact, many times people will use statistics, facts and figures to mask the fact they don't know the principles. (Think of the last time you listened to a political debate.) In the last two newsletters we have been discussing the Dental Branding principles of brand and marketing strategy. (You may download them on our site at: In this final installment, we will discuss principles 6 through 10.

Principle 6 - Trust is earned or lost through increased knowledge.
As we learn more about anything, we either increase or lose trust in whatever we are learning about. Think of when you were deciding on which dental school to attend. As you weighed your different options, different pieces of information lead you to trust one school over another. It may have been price, credentials, location, etc., but all of these things helped you to make an informed decision. As you market your practice it is important to remember that everything you say is either building trust in your services or losing it. Combined this with principle 5 and you can understand why it is very important to convey information in a logical manner that builds trust. Sometimes even the best information can lead to lost trust if it is received at the wrong time.

Principle 7 - Purchase requires trust.
We don't purchase products or services we don't trust. (If you do, I have some land I would like to sell you.) Moving someone to a sale after they have become aware of your services is all about giving them enough of the correct information to help them reach the required point of trust to make a purchase. In the dental industry trust is especially important. Many patients fear dental work and therefore more trust is needed than someone looking to purchase a box of cereal. Business tends to look at sales as numbers that add to the bottom line. I prefer to think of them as individuals putting their trust in me or my product.

Principle 8 - Rewarded trust leads to subsequent purchases, unrequited trust leads to lost opportunity.
When was the last time you put your trust in a product or service and felt disappointed in the results. Maybe you've seen an ad for a new restaurant that promised outstanding cuisine. The food turns out to be bland and overpriced. What are your chances of going back? What if the opposite were true. The food was excellent and worth the cost. Now what are the chances of you going back? If building trust is important for the success of a practice, rewarding trust is critical. How much is a patient worth over their lifetime? If you want to keep patients, reward their trust.

Principle 9 - Continually rewarded trust engenders loyalty.
As you continually reward the trust of your patients, you develop deeper loyalty and the deeper the loyalty you create, the more room for error you have. An important part of building loyalty is to understand the expectations your patients have so you can continue to reward their trust. Regularly gather feedback from your patients so you can continually improve your practice and continue to reward trust. The other advantage to patient feedback is that if a patient has a bad experience, you now have an opportunity to make things right and regain their trust. WIthout that feedback, you will most likely lose that patient.

Principle 10 - Loyalty is necessary for the long term success of the business.
No business can survive without loyalty. The reason most small businesses don't last more than five years is that they are unable to create a loyal customer base. It is too expensive and too time consuming to continually attract new customers. Everyone knows referrals are the best way to find new patients. How likely is someone to refer your practice to a friend or family member if they don't trust your services? It is your loyal customer base that will drive referrals. Your goal in all of your efforts should be loyalty.

These last three principle demonstrate why marketing correct expectations is so important. If you make promises you can't keep, you might get them in the door, but you won't get them back. Your marketing therefore should be an accurate reflection of the true experience that a patient will have. Anything more and you could be setting a patient up for unrewarded trust. Anything less and you might not get them in the door in the first place. All of these principles lead us to branding. A brand is defined as the internal vision of your practice (How you see yourselves), and the external perception of your practice (How others see you). If your brand is defined correctly, it should drive all of your business decisions as well as your marketing. This will be discussed in more detail in the next newsletter.

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Author: Doug Sligting
Published: 06/26/2009
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