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Chapter 5: Ways We Create Confusion

When it comes to advanced or elective services for both dental and medical practices, we can all agree the market needs educating. Therefore, you approach marketing to educate the customer on the value of your services and procedures. You and your services have a highly desirable and worthwhile value, right?

Well, when your message agrees with the audience that price should be considered first, you're adding to the general misinformation in the marketplace about the value and price of elective medicine. Here's an easy rule to go by. If you use these symbols - $ or % - in your marketing, you're creating a problem for yourself.

If you lead your marketing messages with price, specials offers, discounts or any of the other sales techniques designed to snag calls and contacts with price, you are confusing the audience on the most important point about your services: value. Worse, you're minimizing your reputation for quality. By focusing on price, you're adding to market confusion about the most important values of your services.

In general, discounts and price specials are lazy marketing. It's easy and a crutch. It's marketing designed to troll using price to spur conversations. Best case, you turn up some new relationships, all of whom are starting with a lower expectation of your services and what they can pay for them. Worst case, you waste a lot of time with comparison shoppers who have already de-prioritized the value of your skills. Even worse, current patients see the discount and now will pay less going forward, expecting a discount.

I've heard it many times over the years: In slow times, specials and discounts keep the phones ringing. I won't disagree that a great sales team can take a price-oriented lead and build value, but those are conversations you are having. What about the ones you aren't having with a marketplace full of people seeing discount after discount from you and your competition? This is what gutted the Botox Cosmetic™ market years ago. Remember the days when Botox Cosmetic™'s value was all about the skill of the injector? Now the first question from anyone about Botox Cosmetic™ is, "What's your price per unit?"

Consistent focus on price and discounts will do that to any service, turning the doctor's value into a transient factor associated with a price-focused commodity.

To make matters worse, a focus on price in marketing means you are de-valuing your own services because you're accepting less compensation for the same service. So, how do you avoid this troubling kind of communication, when it's so easy (and lazy) to discount? Seriously ... you can do better.

Here are some quick tips to avoid creating this noise in your market:

Have confidence in your message about value.

If you are unsure about your message and how it builds value, engage a professional in marketing to fix this problem for you. Then, listen to them. Your message about value should be confident, strong and assertive. It should be approachable, charismatic and attractive. This is the counterpoint to discounts and specials. Compare a confident, engaging, leading message versus one that offers to take less for a service. When you look at these offers side by side, you can see that discounts have a desperate feel to them. This is a comparison you can do on your own. (It's OK, the first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one.)

Be prepared when a prospect says, "I can get the same thing with another doctor for less."

If you are not offering discounts or specials when others are, this comment will come up. It's the perfect opportunity to build value that justifies your price. At the same time, by justifying your greater value, it makes the discounting practices look like they offer less. Give people credit, they can recognize when something is not right. Your sales people must be trained to build value in response to a price question. You build trust when you shoot straight with a prospect. Get them to listen to you by listening to them. Understand what they need and match your value to that. The money follows.

Don't be pressured by everyone else doing it.

You can't control how competitors market their services. So, if you are in a market with discounting competitors, find a way to rise above their level of marketing and change the message. Yes, this may mean more or new expenses. However, done properly with a good sale team in place fielding leads, your new expenses will bring you new business. And that business will not be at a discount. Fighting marketing peer pressure takes resolve and willingness to do better. If not, following the crowd will lead to discounted prices and a commoditized market for services. In time, you'll wonder where your practice went. Don't follow the crowd or feel peer pressured. Step out and lead. Do it with your message of value.

Understanding the negative power of a discount message can be difficult concept to absorb. Avoiding it requires the most resolve possible in marketing, because when things get tight, it's easy to assume lowering the price softens up the market. The truth is, discounting softens up the businesses in the market, lowering the bar for price associated with value. Dealing with price is a constant battle for most business owners. The best advice I give my clients on the topic is to be strong, confident, attractive and to state your case. There are ways other than discounting to get the phone ringing. And, when it does ring, build value. Listen and build value.

If you need help resisting discounting in your pricing, let me know. Dog Star Media can help with better marketing programs and messages. Reach out at helpme@dogstarmedia.com and we can help you.

The Rules of (Increasing) Engagement
Chapter 4: Ways We Don’t Listen

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