In 1962, rental car company Avis was losing money FAST and They needed to find a solution because they were almost out of business.
The problem was that Hertz rental cars were way ahead of Avis in terms of market share, and Avis knew that a lot of people were going to Hertz first. As any company would, Avis wanted a way to close that gap and get more customers.
In order to do this, Avis reached out to well-known advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) for help. After the team at DDB got together, they noticed the fact that most people knew Avis was the number 2 option, but what they did with this information was genius…
DDB decided to use this knowledge of being number 2 as an advantage instead of running away from it. DDB created the tagline “We Try Harder” and spread this message throughout the brand by constantly showing that they try harder in every customer interaction.
After all, how could you not like the brand that is always trying harder?
The results of this change were massive.
Within just 1 year, Avis went from losing $3.2 million to turning a profit of $1.2 million for the first time in 13 years. Although it was effective for them at the time, they ended up dropping the slogan in 2012.
However, that slogan helped Avis not only live on as a company but become more of a huge success and close the gap that existed between them and Hertz.
Once Avis established their brand positioning of “We Try Harder”, it was very easy for them to not only attract more customers to the message but to also consistently push the message out to people.
In this article, I will explain why brand positioning is just as important to dentists & doctors as it was to Avis. I’ll also cover how you can begin to establish your brand positioning as a dentist or doctor.
Let’s get started, shall we?
The truth is, your brand or business is most likely like AVIS before “we try harder”
The hard part is, people don’t know your practice is different the moment they find you.
Assuming you’re a dentist or doctor, how do people find you? Research shows that people find dentists in the same few ways…
- Friends & Family
- Insurance lists
- Online directory (ZocDoc)
When you look at all 4 of these sources, only friends and family give a proper chance to tell someone about ALL of the great things about you and why someone would love going to your business.
They can talk about how you go the extra mile, how you are always speedy, how they never wait long, how your staff is friendly, etc.
None of the other sources give that chance to create word of mouth marketing which can generate more free promotion for your brand than you would know what to do with.
This is where brand positioning comes in and can change everything for you, helping you feel like you can get a breath of fresh air.
Since most of the online interactions we see today are flat and straightforward (ex. Finding a dentist via online directory), having strong positioning can help you say, “Hey! I’m the exact dentist/doctor you are looking for!” without standing in the middle of the street and shouting it like a psycho.
I am going to touch on how you can get started with establishing your brand positioning, but first, let’s get clear on exactly what brand positioning is.
What brand positioning is
According to businessdictionary.com, brand positioning is defined as:
“A marketing strategy that aims to make a brand occupy a distinct position, relative to competing brands, in the mind of the customer.”
Now, in my own words:
Brand positioning helps customers understand exactly where you stand within their needs, and also helps them understand when to call you and you only based on what they need.
It’s kind of like when you find a restaurant that has just one or two good things on the menu that they highlight and talk about, so you keep going back and ordering just that.
In your mind, that restaurant has positioned themselves as the one you explain to your friends as “they’re ok but they have really GREAT _________, I usually just go for that”.
Making this type of distinction in the customer’s mind takes time, so positioning must be done strategically and repeated over an over (and over) to people before it really sticks.
There are multiple ways you can do this, but it’s important to make sure that there is some sort of logical message that you are delivering consistently.
If you would like to begin establishing brand positioning for your practice or brand I can help you, but here are some actionable steps for getting started on your own.
How to start establishing your positioning
When beginning to establish your brand positioning, there are 2 key questions you can start with that will put you ahead of your competition
- What makes you unique
- Who do you serve and why
These two questions will get your mind moving on not only who you want to serve but also, what you want to serve people, allow me to explain further…
- What makes you unique?
When you start seriously thinking through your positioning, one of the most helpful questions you can ask yourself is what makes you unique, what is the one thing you do (or can do) that makes every other practice or brand seem like they are different from you? You also want to pair this thought with what your customers need in order to paint the entire picture.
In some cases, this might mean that you go out on a limb and make yourself the choice that is way out there, something that might feel risky. Maybe you’ll be the best dentist for people who like donuts or the best dentist for people who drink coffee daily, either way, it must be unique.
2. Who do you serve and why?
Another great place to start when thinking about brand positioning is who you serve and why you serve them.
This helps because you’ll have much more clarity around who you are hoping to work with and why. Knowing these two things can help you attract more of these types of “target patients”.
You want to start thinking about these things because when positioning works well, it works MAGIC.
It might sound like something that is just “nice to have”, but not establishing brand positioning can have major negative consequences…
The negative impact of ignoring positioning
There are many people who think they do not need good brand positioning because they get customers through Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, Facebook advertising, or another similar source.
This is a dangerous way of thinking because of how paid advertising works. I don’t want to get super technical so I will keep the explanation as concise as possible.
(the cost of advertising goes up because it’s designed to)
Having a platform like Google or Facebook allows people to run advertisements because there are people constantly on these platforms searching, interacting & doing who knows what else, so there are always eyeballs there.
Because there are always eyeballs there, you can pay to reach them and even reach ONLY the people who might be interested in what you are offering through advertising targeting.
Because people reach who they want to and see results, they continue to tell other people about the advertising and pouring money into these advertising channels. This causes more people to advertise, making the advertising service even more expensive as the cycle continues.
Sure, advertising can be effective and most businesses should be using it, even I advertise. However, do you really want to just rely on a system where the cost is forever rising? Nevermind the fact that most people advertising aren’t seeing a return on investment already (which isn’t inherently a bad thing).
I found this quote from Jennifer Plotnick, owner of Grand Street Dental in Brooklyn, NY. As you’ll see soon, she is NAILING her brand positioning and even sees it.
In fact, it’s going so well that she sees it as a way around SEO and other typical marketing solutions people follow today.
“We probably need more of a life,” Plotnick says, laughing. But “all that money that most practices are gonna put toward their mailers and SEO and all that? This is my SEO.”
Not to say that SEO isn’t right for anyone, but you need to know if it is right for you.
Begin to establish your position so that people can find you and spread word of mouth about your amazing practice that gives quality service. You have one million things to worry about, so you should at least make acquiring customers a little easier!
A great example of Dental positioning: Grand Street Dental
When someone says the word hipster, what comes to mind?
I don’t know what a “hipster” is to you, but I think we would agree that any “hipster” would INSTANTLY choose Grand Street Dental as their dentistry upon first glance, maybe some hipsters would even leave their current dentist.
Grand Street Dental is located and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and accurately reflects the Brooklyn “hipster” Culture. An excerpt from an article in The Cut said.
“The hand soap in Plotnick’s bathroom is — what else? — Aesop, and the artisanal dental-floss samples she gives to patients at the end of appointments (in a brown paper bag ink-stamped with her logo) are made with coconut oil. In other words, Plotnick is no ordinary dentist; she’s a hipster dentist.”
Of course, their Instagram supports this “hipster” feel
Brand positioning can be worth much more than the latest advertising tactic. Keep this in mind before making your next decision with your advertising budget and overall marketing activities.
Interested in getting clarity around your brand positioning (& much more) for your practice?
- I help dentists & doctors with social media, videography & advertising to help make their businesses grow. You can learn more about my services here.
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