A dental practice, just like any other business, must create and implement a marketing plan to achieve long-term business success. And a successful marketing plan requires consistency. Consistency in marketing moves a business’ product or service into the category of “familiar, trustworthy, and a safe bet.”

Marketing consistency includes harmony and conformity among the goals, themes, designs, appearances, attitudes and messages that are presented in every patient and prospective patient contact and experience. Employing marketing consistency to achieve business success requires:

• Consistent branding
• Consistent messages
• Consistent effort

Consistent Branding
Branding refers a business’ style, tone, voice and personality. In this age of multiple media and crowded marketplaces, standardizing your brand is crucial so that your target audience can quickly spot you in the crowd and feel they can trust and rely upon you. Studies and experience show people are more likely to choose familiar brands over others – branding helps people make decisions more quickly. Your practice benefits every time someone recognizes your brand.

A study by McKinsey and Company found that branding consistency creates high customer satisfaction, builds trust and boosts loyalty. When you think of Southwest Airlines, you expect a low-cost, no-frills experience. Southwest communicates this message consistently across all media and with all interactions, creating public trust and goodwill that they will deliver what they promise. The success of the airline over the years has proven this consistency to be a valuable tool in building a profitable business with a strong reputation in the industry.

Typically, creating a brand starts with designing a visual style that the public will repeatedly see and come to recognize. Designing that style involves graphical elements such as shapes, colors, fonts, illustrations and imagery that dovetail with the product or service message and your practice’s personality.

Next, you need to establish your voice. That’s the tone, personality and attitude that your practice wants to project. Consider whether your practice and its offerings are reliably traditional, cutting edge futuristic, youthful fun, quietly conservative, luxury, lowest cost, or <fill in the blank>. The visual and voice elements must be consistently presented at every public touch point. That consistency helps build recognition, trust and relationships over time – and it helps people decide in your favor more easily.

Consistent Messages
Message content educates, builds relationships and ultimately boosts sales. When you provide relevant, useful information about your practice and services, your patients and potential patients learn who you are and what they can expect from you. Today’s consumer wants to be educated, not sold. So the messages you send should include well written, helpful content that builds the reader’s confidence in you.

The communications’ content should target a clearly identified audience, using a tone that stays the same across all platforms, presenting the features and benefits clearly and understandably. Make it easy for the reader to become familiar with your practice. Investing special care in writing customer-friendly communications for broadcast, written and Internet media pays dividends.

Consistency here involves not only the media messages but also the delivery of the same impression in every marketing platform and at every customer touch point: direct mail, print ads, press releases, websites, blogs, social media, email signatures, office décor, signage, stationery, business cards, invoices, and staff interactions.

Consistent Effort
For the messages – the marketing impressions – to succeed, they must incorporate the branding, send a consistent message, and be consistently repeated across numerous media platforms.  How many ads or other messages must someone see before they take action to contact your practice? Research shows it takes five to nine impressions to potentially move a person to action – but only if the person was paying attention.

In the real world, people don’t pay close attention to every message. Research shows that people receiving 27 or more impressions are most likely to act. One email, one ad, one tweet – these simply will not work. Even the famous one-time Super Bowl ads succeed only if and when people effectively share them in news stories, social media conversations and YouTube, multiplying the impressions and increasing visibility.

Your marketing plan should include using several media platforms actively. If you are not consistently marketing on the same platforms, you likely are losing potential patients because they have not seen you enough times to be on the top of their minds when they need your services. It takes many months of consistent marketing to start seeing the true impact of your efforts. By keeping the same message over an extended period of time, you build a strong, memorable presence. Nike understands this very well. Everyone recognizes “Just Do It” as the Nike slogan, and over a 15-year period, Nike’s consistency in using this slogan paid off: Their share of the sports shoe market increased from 18 percent to 43 percent.

Changing your message too often will confuse people and weaken your impact. If you stop too soon just because you’re not seeing immediate results, you’ve just wasted all the time, money and energy spent on your messaging. Reebok changed their slogan 14 times during the same period that Nike had one slogan. And during that period, Reebok’s market share dropped from 30 percent to 16 percent.

Consistency in Marketing Pays Off
Marketing takes time and patience. Successful marketing depends on selecting the best marketing platforms for your practice and budget and being consistent in all of your marketing efforts. From developing a marketing plan, to the day-in and day-out implementation of those plans across all marketing platforms, success requires commitment and consistency.

– Mike Shoun, President and CEO

Originally published at www.thedentistsnetwork.net/dmktg5.html