Not a single ounce of ouch

Katherine is my dentist.

Her profession is one that is typically associated with apprehension.

Not for me.

These days, I love going to the dentist.

One of a kind

Katherine is a smart person.

She has great social skills and presents herself as a class act.

As far as I can tell, and based on her availability, Katherine has built a successful practice – no easy feat these days.

During my visit last week she noticed the 1000WATT logo on the back of my iPhone. This segued into a discussion about what our firm does. During our brief conversation, her assistant commented on the need for better marketing in their profession. Like real estate professionals, dentists have their go-to visuals, slogans and promises. A lot of it is trite, callow stuff like this:

Dentist marketing materials

As the two women began jack hammering the inside of my mouth, I sat back, cranked up Pandora and thought more about dentist marketing – and the many similarities it has with real estate. The common marketing foibles are obvious and reflect a generally self-centered, uninspired approach to the marketplace.

And then I thought about Katherine, whose practice is anything but these things. She’s one of a kind. And that’s why I drove one hour each way for my hour-long visit.

It’s not what you say, but what I say

I’ve never seen any of Katherine’s marketing materials. Or visited her Website. But if she asked me to help her further grow her brand, I would take a much different approach than that which most dentists have chosen.

I wouldn’t ask Katherine to tell me about herself. In fact, that’s the last place I’d start. I’d start with her customers. And ask them what they think about her practice. Why they’ve chosen her. And what words they would use to tell their friends about her when making a referral.

Those words, and the feelings that accompany them, are the essential oils that serve to lubricate an effective brand message and smoothen the connection between business and customer.

This is too rare. The friction created by the dry hump of marketing without taking the time to understand those with whom you hope to create a relationship often gets in the way.

Katherine’s brand

Katherine’s brand is really built on my words. My feelings. My experiences.

Here’s a taste:

I never have to wait. My last appointment was at 3:50. I entered at 3:50. I was greeted by the receptionist and within ten seconds Katherine appeared and escorted me directly to the examination room.

From the hygienists to the assistants, everyone in the office is soothing, fun and professional. They succeed at taking my mind off whatever nerve-wracking procedure I’m there for. Within seconds of being seated, I find myself lulled into an unexpected calm. And this is prior to the administration of nitrous.

Every visit, Katherine begins with questions about my life. She asks about my wife. My children. My health. Work. And throughout she’s not using the conversation to then talk about herself or tell me about her work, kids, husband, etc. Unless I ask.

When seated, I often feel as if I am in the front row seat of a great performance. I don’t clamp my eyes shut but rather like looking up and observing her work. She’s graceful. Methodical. And magical. I’ve never once seen that needle that pricks my gums with Novocain. I marvel at that.

Her team is sensitive. Knowing that the bright overhead light is hard on the eyes, they have a special set of wrap around sunglasses that eliminates the need to squint.

Not a single ounce of ouch

Katherine escorted me out to reception on my last visit exactly one hour after I arrived. Right on time. We talked about my next appointment and had Candy, her receptionist, work out a time for a follow-up visit that fit my difficult schedule.

She gave me hug goodbye.

The next day around 1:00 p.m., my phone rang. It was Candy. Katherine wanted to know how I was doing and was I experiencing any discomfort. Despite an aggressive procedure, I felt great.

Not a single ounce of ouch.

After I hung up, I realized I never addressed Katherine as Dr. McFarlane. I feared I had slighted her. I made a mental note to correct this next time.

There are many, many dentists who fill cavities. Clean and whiten teeth. And perform root canals. Katherine does those things too. And if she attempted to build her brand on what she does, my feeling is her marketing would look, feel and sound like every other dentist in her market. And that’s it.

She’d float, adrift, in a sea of sameness.

In my words, what Katherine really is about is making people feel important. That’s the feeling I have when I leave her office. I matter. To her and to her staff.

And that’s a feeling I’m willing to drive two hours for and tell the world about.

What are your customers saying about you?