Are you too ‘professional’ to market your business?
Today I’m off to speak with a group of dentists based up in Oxfordshire. I’ve partnered with my financial advisor ‐ who happens to work a lot with dentists ‐ and he has asked me if I’d deliver a marketing ‘shot in the arm’ to them. He can help with managing their wealth in the long term ‐ I can help them focus on building it in the short term.
So, in putting my presentation together, it made me realise the very specific marketing dilemma many of the dentists in the audience will face. And, unless they overcome any pre‐conditioned barriers they may have, they are going to be deaf to what I have to say.
Because the thing is, dentists and other clinicians often worry that any ‘marketing’ they might engage in will be perceived badly by their patients. Too salesy and manipulative. Greedy and money making, I guess. And in that sense they are demonstrating the far extreme of a spectrum of attitudes/ behaviour that runs from ‘pile it high and sell it cheap‘ at one end to ‘oh, I couldn’t possible risk sounding like a tacky salesman‘ at the other.
For dentists it’s about acknowledging that patients can also be customers. It’s OK to sell ‐ you won’t stay in business if you don’t. And great marketing is essentially about making sure your ‘customers’ are attracted to you to buy, rather than you foisting unwanted goods and services upon the unwary.
Finding the right balance
I’ll be talking to them about Michael Gerber’s fabulous book, The E‐myth, where the author talks about separating your inner ‘technician‘, from your ‘manager‘, from your ‘entrepreneur‘. All business owners need to have a piece of each of these characters and we all demonstrate an imbalance of one sort or another. Some of us are better ‘doers’ and others have a more natural ‘gift of the gab’.
Dentists will often find safety in reverting to their ‘technician‘ ‐ the clinician ‐ and may be more reluctant to demonstrate their inner ‘entrepreneur‘ ‐ the marketer or salesman. It’s about understanding that it is possible to have both patients AND customers ‐ it all depends on what hat you are wearing at any one time. And it is very possible to stay credible, responsible and professional at the same time.
But, lets be clear, this attitude is most certainly not unique to the medical profession. Anyone who has wondered if sending emails to their customers more frequently than quarterly will cause offence and appear too ‘pushy‘ is suffering from the same dangerous ‘it’s rude to make a profit‘ syndrome.
As a business owners, with responsibilities to yourself, your family and your staff, it’s your duty to market your business powerfully. If you don’t, you won’t have a future, and nor will they. And your customers? ‐ they’ll just buy from someone else.