- If your marketing pieces are all about you, give yourself a 1.
- If they are all about price, give yourself a 4.
- If they are all about how your laboratory can meet the needs of your prospective customers, give yourself a 7.
- If they are all about your prospective customers, give yourself a 10.
Huh? How can you promote yourself if you don't talk about yourself? And why, for heaven's sake, would marketing price--a long-time LMT no-no--get a higher score than marketing you? Hasn't LMT always maintained that price is a poor marketing strategy?
The bare truth and hard fact is that price, while not a unique value proposition, is a singularly focused proposition. It catches someone's attention in the blink of an eye.
Like it or not, there will always--always--be a segment of the dentist population interested only in the bottom line of price. Black and white: "Whaddya gonna charge me for this thing?"
When you sell yourself on price alone, however, you set yourself up for losing clients much more easily than those who steer clear of making it the focus of a strategy. Many of us already learned that lesson the hard way: it costs a lot more to find replacements for lost accounts than it does to hold on to the ones you have. Capturing dentists' attention is not an easy thing to do. That means your task, when preparing a direct mail piece, is to figure out what you can say that will--in the briefest of sound bites or through visual impact--convince them to take a look instead of toss it out as junk mail.
They are not yet interested in you. They are interested in themselves. So the number one rule in marketing is to figure out the kinds of information that will hook them, pique their interest, offer a solution and stimulate response. A tall order in this day of communication overkill.
The trick is to show, not tell.
I have before me about 50 dental laboratory marketing pieces collected over the last couple of years. Interestingly, the bulk of them come from California. The dentist who received them was not pre-qualified as a good target. In fact, this dentist does very little--if any--work that requires the services of a laboratory. Yet mailer after mailer attempts to impress him with service capabilities he has no need for. (Watch for more in-depth analysis of effective laboratory promotion pieces in an upcoming issue of LMT.)
The visual quality of the pieces, overall, is stunning in comparison to those we received decades ago for LMT's then-annual Marketing Competition. But I think a number of them are created by the same outside supplier. The booklets with prescription forms from a lab in Miami are practically identical to the one from Lakewood, Colorado and those from three southern California laboratories.
Consider two examples from the lot: both covers hook the dentist immediately. One has the elements of a good piece except they are not well organized; the other is a class act.
The brochure that needs better organization begins with a headline that acknowledges the importance of consistency as well as esthetics. [Consistency, after all, is the number one reason dentists switch labs.] Unfortunately, the inside of the brochure misses the boat.
If a doctor is hooked by the promise of consistency, he'll be disappointed when he opens the cover to see a spread that's all about competitive pricing with page after page of prescription-style coupons. Organizing the brochure that way undermines the consistency "pledge." You lost him; the value of the cover claim isn't backed up until the last page. Chances are, though, the doctor never paged through the coupons to get to that page.
Result: The "consistency" assertion is reduced to a hollow buzzword.
The other booklet is a classy, square-shaped piece with punch. Each page has only one large three- or four-word headline accompanied by a story-telling visual with a few bullet points. There is only one singular message, page to page, from beginning to end: the importance of a good fit.
At the end, there is a tear-off postcard with a rebate offer for the next case--in other words, a tastefully done "let us prove ourselves to you" offer--that doesn't confuse the message but, instead, augments it.
Again, show, don't tell. Do it with singular purpose, one message at a time, as briefly as possible. If they want more, that's where your website comes in. If someone goes to your site, that someone is looking for you. Your brochure, on the other hand, has only a few seconds to capture that someone's attention.