A dentist needs to emphasize his/her Point Of Difference, as this will help stop their practice from becoming a “me too” and distinguish it from it’s competitors. It’s POD will usually be based on it’s competitive strengths (whether it’s treatments, quality of care, experience, location or ability to understand patients’ concerns). The goal is for a dentist to find a feature or benefit that is valued by patients. When the point of difference is also an emotional benefit (rather than simply a practice feature), the claim is strengthened by then providing reasons to believe in this benefit claim.
For this reason, brand positions often rely on image to provide a rationale for a benefit point of difference. The endorsement of testimonials can greatly help to provide patients with a reason to believe – that a particular practice will look after their dental concerns. But it is important that the image then ‘fits’ with the reality of the practice and does not appear to be ‘grafted’ on.
Leading brands generally adopt the benefit that motivates category use as their point of difference, whereas “follower” brands often need to choose a niche. Example: A leading detergent may simply announce it is superior at cleaning clothes. Follower brands may find it more powerful to make narrower claims: i.e. ‘cleans clothes in cold water’ or ‘strong at stain removal’.
So bigger, better known practices may justifiably and more easily offer a broader dental service, whereas smaller practices may find it more effective to concentrate on narrower ‘points of difference’.
In choosing a point of difference, prefer benefits that reflect existing patients’ beliefs. So it’s important to first ‘know’ your audience (your patients) and what they are looking for. If a practice was to wish to distinguish itself with a benefit or belief that patients have not yet accepted, efforts to change their opinions or ‘educate’ them, can be more costly than adopting accepted beliefs about benefits. For instance, Listerine mouthwash was successful in overcoming consumers’ negative perceptions of its taste by convincing consumers that the unpleasant taste indicated that it was working to kill bacteria and combat bad breath.
For most brands or practices, a single benefit can serve as the point of difference and convince the patient of the benefit’s importance when making their choice.
Value is enhanced by increasing the perceived benefits and also reducing the costs. To illustrate this value equation, a benefit can often be largely emotional. Patients need to feel confident that their dental health will be in safe hands, i.e. through careful monitoring of their progress and/or frequent proactive suggestions of related treatments.
When selecting benefits, it is also important to assess their fit with each other. For example, when the value proposition is that a brand or practice has high quality, a low price might undermine this belief.
Adrian Adler is “the Wizard” at Dental Focus Web Design.
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