In the third part of his series on marketing, Toks Oyegunle explains how to craft your practice’s unique selling point to better attract patients
Imagine you have suddenly been given an opportunity to give a brief presentation about your dental practice to a group of new potential patients who all match your perfect patient profile. This group represents potential “best patients” who could easily be worth thousands of dollars to your practice.
There is no time to prepare for this presentation, so what exactly will you say to them? Why are you communicating this particular message over others? This scenario highlights the need for having a unique selling point (USP) — a clear benefit to your “perfect patient” that sets you apart from the competition.
In this series, I am using my “triple M” profitable marketing framework as a tool to clarify what needs to be done to significantly improve your marketing efforts. This framework is a simple tool that helps us simplify, understand, and apply the essence of what profitable marketing really is. It is about getting the right message to the right market using the right media and methods — effectively, efficiently, and profitably.
In the last issue, we explored the concept of developing a “perfect patient avatar” for your practice. If you did the exercises suggested, you should now have a detailed profile of the ideal patient you want to attract to your practice. This will become the foundation on which to build subsequent stages.
Let us now take a dive into crafting an ideal USP for your practice.
Unique selling point
A USP is usually a phrase or sentence that clearly summarizes and explains the key benefits you can offer your patients ahead of any competition. It is a simple marketing message that you can use to easily convert potential patients into actual ones.
There are a few pointers that should help you develop your personalized USP. Consider the following questions, and answer them as clearly as you can:
- What are your core strengths?
- What are your patients’ biggest needs?
- What are your patients’ biggest wants?
- Why will patients choose you over others?
To help, keep the profile of your perfect patient in mind while answering these questions — a great USP must speak directly to patients’ wants and desires.
This process confirms one of the reasons for initially developing a robust perfect patient avatar as a foundation for your marketing strategy.
To help you answer these questions effectively, let us look at them in more detail.
What are your core strengths?
Think about the strengths of your practice — is it your extensive experience or your customer service? Is it the fact that you are the best specialist in your market, or the fact that you offer the best payment plans?
There must be some areas where you are clearly stronger than other practices in the local area. Discussing them with your team will help you come up with a list of your practice’s true strengths.
What are your patients’ biggest needs?
Having studied your patients, you should have a good understanding of what their needs are. You need to be careful not to get too technical with this; as a dentist, you will obviously see their needs from a clinical viewpoint — however, this should be described as simply as possible.
When patients come to you, what do they ask for? What exactly do they think they need from you as a solution to whatever challenge they may have?
What are your patients’ biggest wants?
This is a tricky one — it requires you to read between the lines. In many cases, our needs differ significantly from our wants. You must try to understand the unspoken desire that is really driving your patient.
When your patients say they need implants or a sparkling white smile, is that what they really want, or do they simply want to regain their self-esteem after a painful divorce? Or do they want to look their very best for a major upcoming event, like a wedding? Make sure you really understand this as people generally prioritize their wants over their needs.
Why will patients choose you over others?
This is a critical question. By now you should understand your strengths, your patients’ needs, and even their unspoken wants. The next thing is to single out what exactly makes them choose your practice over the competition — what features or qualities make your practice special in the eyes of the patients? Once you fully understand this, you must make it a core part of your unique selling point.
There are a number of ways you can get this, including testimonials and referrals. Hopefully, you already have a system for collecting both, so you should check to see what patients are saying in their testimonials. What exactly did they enjoy so much about their experience with your practice, and why do they come back?
You also need to understand what patients referred to you were told about your practice, as this is one of the best ways to know what your market really thinks about your practice.
Target your market
Once you have answered these questions, you are ready to progress to the next stage, which is to research and understand what other companies are using as their own USP. Ideally, you want to study your competitors, as well as a few other general companies to get a feel for other USPs: Check advertisements, websites, and available directories; and write down different company USPs.
This exercise will help you understand the ways other companies are developing and communicating their USP, giving you great ideas for developing your own.
Now, couple your answers from the three earlier questions with examples of other USPs from your research, and come up with a few sample USPs for your practice.
There are a number of factors to bear in mind as part of this process; if you study your perfect patients thoroughly, you will be able to understand their deepest fears and desires. For example, do they come to you for health reasons or for cosmetic reasons? The more detailed your understanding of your perfect patients, the easier it will be for you to communicate effectively with them. You must communicate your USP using words and phrases that patients can easily understand and relate to.
When developing your own USP, feel free to use my company’s perfect client avatar as a basis; it can sometimes be easier to do these things if we have an example that makes us take a position. My company’s perfect client avatar follows: “A professional dentist who owns his/her private dental practice or is a partner in a small private dental practice with a maximum of two owners. They will have extensive knowledge and experience in dentistry and will be quite passionate about it. At the core, they are a professional intellectual but increasingly find themselves having to become an entrepreneur in order to succeed in business.
“They may struggle with this transition as they prefer the operational side of dentistry, and need to understand and accept the importance of effective and efficient marketing as the real source of wealth creation. As experienced professionals, they are clearly technically competent but may lack business savvy and need to be educated on the many benefits of strategy, marketing, and technology as major contributors to the growth of their practice.”
What features or qualities make your practice special in the eyes of the patients? Once you fully understand this, you must make it a core part of your unique selling point.
A complete avatar will be more detailed, including demographic and psychographic details, among others, but this will give you a general overview of who your company is targeting. For instance, my company provides a mix of top-end marketing education, coaching, consultancy, and community to clients who are typically the leaders — or aspiring leaders — in their fields.
This leads to our USP being crafted as follows: Thriving Practices — profitable marketing solutions, experience-based, technology-driven.
Painting the future
Consider how this USP communicates our key strengths and benefits (experience-based, technology-driven, profitable marketing solutions) directly to our target market (private practice owners). You need to use your answers to the earlier questions, coupled with your research on other USPs, to adapt and personalize this USP for your practice.
Your goal here is simple: When perfect patients see your USP, they should be automatically attracted to your practice because you have clearly communicated a benefit they specifically want.
Next month, we will explore the media concept further. Now that we are crystal clear on who you should be targeting with your marketing and what you should be saying, we are ready to explore where exactly you should communicate your message with your target market and why.