What's the difference between these slices of cake? They're cut from the same cake but one is put on a paper plate and sold at the county fair for $4; the other is served on fine china, adorned with strawberries, drizzled with chocolate sauce and sold at a cafe for $12. The product is the same but the experience and presentation are different and, therefore, so is the perception of its value.
This principle can be applied to marketing your laboratory services. If the quality of the case is the same as your competitor's, your objective is to differentiate its value to your clients. How they perceive your presentation determines the price they are willing to pay for it. A bit of drizzle can transform your $100 case into one that sells for $140, explained Greg Harris, president, The Harris Group, during his presentation at the DLOAC's second annual CAD/CAM Technology Symposium and Expo last October (click here for coverage of the meeting). "People are willing to pay more for something they perceive as better," said Harris. "Dentists want to have a nice experience, and the lab owner is in charge of creating that experience."
He offered some simple ways you can enhance your lab's presentation. Make sure your models are clean and free of pencil marks. Don't reuse your shipping boxes (or worse, use another lab's box with your label on top) and don't use newspaper to wrap the cases; make sure your packaging is professional looking.
Tackling the commonly asked question, "How do I get new clients?" Harris answered, "The same way you got the ones you have. By building relationships, socializing the sales experience and using your technical expertise as a marketing tool. Technicians have a lot of technical and product knowledge and see a lot more impressions and models every day than does the average dentist. Sharing that knowledge and helping your clients filter through all the new technologies on the market can work to your advantage."
Harris offered marketing strategies for selling CAD/CAM services; however, the promotional principles he recommends could be applied to any type of new technology. The first step is to invest in yourself and practice what you want to sell. "When you take the time to teach yourself, you'll gain confidence and that confidence will be communicated to your dentist-clients. Confidence sells," said Harris.
With CAD/CAM being relatively new to the market, it's the innovators who are currently involved and that's exactly the type of dentist-client to whom you should target your initial marketing efforts. Harris offered three marketing strategies that can be done for a total of $300.
First, focus on your most innovative dentist-client. Ask him if he'd like to test out a new product and offer him a free CAD/CAM restoration in exchange. This exposes the client to the technology and gets your foot in the door.
Next, target a dentist who you know is innovative and respects your work but doesn't use your laboratory. Ask him if he will evaluate a CAD/CAM-fabricated crown at no charge and give you his honest, objective opinion. Make sure you ask to be chairside when the dentist seats the crown; this gives you an opportunity to see how the doctor works and learn his preferences, knowledge you can later use to try to develop him as an account.
Make dentist-clients who are using a chairside system your ally by offering to hold a course in staining and glazing. These dentists are already on board with the concept of CAD/CAM and believe in the technology. If you can take a partnership approach, you may be able to capture the larger cases they don't want to do chairside.