Blue Oceans and Dentistry: More Profits with Less Competition
Ultra-competitive marketplaces are cutting into dental practice profits, while patients become more sophisticated and choosy in their selection of dentist. Your goal? Position yourself to serve high margin patients so you can boost your profits, and leave your competition behind. Your strategy? It’s all right here. Read on!
As a dentist, the soothing picture that pops in your head when you see the words “blue ocean”is one filled with tranquil waves lapping playfully beneath an azure sky. You might even see a family of graceful seagulls floating against a bright, clear sun. Or hey, why not throw in a yacht, with you as captain, while you’re at it?
However, if you plan on growing your practice – not just eking out a living, but actually thriving – in a dizzyingly competitive and increasingly fragmented marketplace, you need to envision a totally new picture in your head when you see the words “blue ocean” and that picture doesn’t have anything to do with yachts; at least not directly (more on this later).
Blue Oceans = More Value + Less Cost + New Markets
As discussed by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne in their bestseller “Blue Ocean Strategy”, there is one and only one way to achieve and sustain high performance, year after year, in a competitive marketplace: stop butting heads with your competitors in red (yes, that’s blood-red) oceans, and instead swim towards the serene and peaceful blue oceans of uncontested market space.
Or in less metaphorical terms: don’t compete with other dentists and drain cash and other resources playing tug-of-war for market share. Instead, revisit your practice and see how you can increase patient value while lowering long-term costs. Why? Because when you can achieve both of those goals – not one, but both – you find yourself smack dab in the middle of uncontested market space. You generate more profit with less competition, and you keep doing that year after year.
Blue Oceans for Dentists
So as a dentist, your question is: how do you take advantage of this knowledge, put it into action, and enjoy the measurable rewards?
In my experience as a Dental Marketing Advisor who has taken dentists and their practices from red oceans to blue ones, i.e. higher margin patients, more profits, less competition, more growth — there are core five aspects that all need to work together. These are summarized below.
1. Revisit your services. Yes, you’re a dentist. Yes, patients have visited you for years (or possibly decades), and you know what they want like the back of your hand. But if you want to find the promised land of uncontested market space, you need to step back from your services to see if there are other ways you can add value to your patients. You need to really think outside of the proverbial box and see beyond what you offer to what you could be offering.
2. Revisit your market. Again, the patients you serve are known commodities to you. So if the back of one hand is your services, the back of your other hand is whom you serve. But don’t be so sure. Do you understand all of your patients’ aspirations? Are you certain that they fully appreciate and value the benefits of your services, and are you helping them achieve that message? When you probe these questions, you deepen and clarify your market – which opens up opportunities to offer more services to more people with less competition; which, of course, is precisely the promise of a blue ocean strategy.
3. Revisit your marketplace. Just like services and markets, you take a huge stride towards your profitable blue ocean when you revisit your marketplace assumptions. Are you really serving all of the people you could? Are you neglecting a portion of the population, because it just doesn’t occur to you that they could and would purchase your services? It’s a hard question to answer, because the immediate, reflexive reaction is: “What kind of question is that? Obviously the answer is no. I serve everyone who needs my services.” But when you revisit your marketplace, you’re obligated to avoid this reaction and dig, dig and keep digging until you have an aha moment; one that goes: “Wow, I didn’t know we could serve those people,but we can!”
4. Build your brand equity. A blue ocean strategy is designed to increase profits and brand equity. Dentists are obviously familiar with the former term; not so much with the latter. Quite simply, brand equity is found in your practice’s sticking power. Think of some powerful brands out there. BMW. Apple. Coke. McDonalds. Nike. Even organizations like the Olympics are brands. We attach meaning to those brands. They speak to us, and we respond to them by giving them our attention, our loyalty and our business. As a dentist on her or his way to a profitable blue ocean, you need to identity your brand, and then strategically integrate it into everything that you do – from your website and all of your marketing material, to the way that your staff engages patients in the waiting room, and everything in between. All of your strategic actions build your brand equity, which moves you towards the higher profits of a blue ocean for years and years.
5. Don’t go it alone. The journey from a profit-draining red ocean to a profit-generating blue ocean can be a challenging one; there are traps along the way. And when dentists try to make the journey on their own, they invariably circle back and return to a familiar red ocean or, just as pointlessly, replace one red ocean with another. Why does this happen? It’s not because dentists are lazy or don’t get it. Dentists work very hard, and are more intelligent than most of the population. The root problem is a lack of specialized knowledge. They don’t teach blue ocean strategy in dental school. And it’s just not something that dentists can afford to spend a lot of time learning about. After all, you’re a dentist, not a marketing guru.
You Need Proven Help to get from Red to Blue. You need CastleCS.
You wouldn’t want your patients – even your smartest, hardest working ones – performing their own root canal, installing their own dental implants, or taking care of their own composite fillings, right?
In the same way, you need a proven and experienced Dental Marketing Advisor to guide you from your red ocean to a blue one – that is, from thin margins and increasing competition, to high margins and uncontested market space. And that proven advisor is the team at CastleCS.
At CastleCS, our integrated marketing solutions help you safely, smartly and cost-effectively make it through this process, so that you increase patient value, reduce practice costs, and enjoy life as the King or Queen of your tranquil and profitable blue ocean.
After all, as a busy dentist, you’re really the CEO of a million dollar corporation who needs an advertising agency to develop and execute brand strategy, marketing plans, and regular advertising campaigns to meet your needs
Contact us today to book a free consultation, and get ready to reap the rewards of doing business in a profitable and satisfying blue ocean instead of a tedious and ultra-competitive red one.
(And by the way, if you decide to use your new profits to buy the yacht you envisioned back when we first started this discussion, by all means anchors away!)