"Like a visit to the dentist..."

The most common expression among marketers (aside from “It isn’t rocket surgery”) must be: "They see (insert unpleasant but necessary purchase here) like a trip to the dentist". So your intrepid blogger/marketer just went to the dentist to see how the analogy stands up. And curiously, while there, I learned something about marketing.

At the heart of it, dentistry is about getting your teeth cleaned and fixed. But like so much of the world's commerce today, dentists make a significant portion of their revenue through up-selling services, such as cosmetics, little plastic things they put in your mouth to stop your teeth from grinding, and so on. The challenge for a dentist office is to know when to offer these up-sells, and who to offer them to.

In my case, they really went about it all wrong. As the hygienist was poised to attack the plaque on my teeth, and I was in the midst of that terror that only dentistry elicits, she offered something to stop the grinding, for some enormous sum of money, “because”, she explained, "you grind an awful lot". Then, after investigating the depth of the problems inside my mouth, she offered up caps, replacements, and whitening, all of which I knew would cost a small fortune. Enough, already! Besides the cost, it made me think that I was in grave danger of severely offending my dentist because of the gravity of the situation in my mouth. I nearly got up from my chair and left.

Curiously, though, I was much more open to suggestions once the appointment was over.

So what could my dentist learn about marketing?

I refer to the first law of up-selling: provide the basic service and then maybe I'll believe in the value of other services you offer.

First-off, listen to your patient (or customer). I didn't go for extra services. Just give me the basics when I ask for them. Do not tell me the myriad of ways you want to separate me from my money while you've got your dentist tools hovering over my mouth.

Secondly, provide the dreaded service professionally (which my dentist did). Wait until we've gone down that road together. Once I have reached that sense of achievement and my teeth are clean, then, by all means, tell me how they could be even better. At that point, you've proven the quality of your service, we've gotten to know one another a bit, and I know you've listened to me. As a customer, I'm ready to move to the next step. And I may, after all, end up with that grind-stopping plastic thingy.

No comments:

Post a Comment