I was talking to someone recently about my business and they asked me what I do and why I do it. I explained that I run a marketing agency that exclusively services dentists, and they were a bit taken aback:
“Why do dentists need to market themselves?”
This is a question I’ve heard many times and it got me to reflecting on why we do what we do. In the course of this conversation, I was forced to boil down my reason-for-being to two simple messages which I will cover in this (and a following) article.
There’s a freight train a comin’
The increased levels of competition in the dental industry are well documented but less well documented is how to respond to these challenges.
Let’s put this ‘freight train’ into context (the freight train analogy works well, since freight trains are notoriously hard to stop).
In the context of my #1 Amazon bestselling book ‘The Dental Practice Profit System’, I had a look at some data from the ABS and the Dental Board. What the data shows is the numbers of new dentists in the past five years in Australia has grown two and half times faster than the Australian population.
This bears repeating:
Growth of dentists in Australia has outpaced population growth
by two and a half times in the past five years
This is a staggering figure and one that cannot be ignored. While the micro rate of this ‘unbalanced’ growth may ebb and flow each year, there’s no suggestion that the macro trend will end any time soon.
A recent ABC report suggested Australia would have a glut of dentists until 2025.
Move or become mincemeat
With such growth, I can really only think of two possible outcomes for individual practices:
- Make no changes to your business/marketing efforts, and hope for the best (this would be the ‘mincemeat’ option) – possible outcomes are:
- a buy-out by a corporate/neighbour (but only if your business stays in good shape)
- a gradual decline in your business over a number of years, or
- having to close your doors because you can’t make ends meet
- Embrace this freight train, change what you’re doing, and maintain your growth (or at least, avoid losing ground) – this is the ‘move’
This first principle is therefore pretty simple, you need to do something about your marketing efforts!
If this seems self-serving (I know I’m a dental marketer), be aware that one of the consequences of more dentists in the market is the increasing commoditisation of dentistry.
What that big word means is potential clients, more than ever, are treating one dentist as interchangeable with another, and price-based comparison leads the way. You don’t want to be in that race to the bottom.
Unless you want to become mincemeat, you need to market your practice to show the marketplace you really are worth attending.
In the next article, we’ll look at the second simple principle to guide your practice marketing.
Angus Pryor is a Practice Growth Marketing Specialist, international speaker and best-selling author.