I’m still going through the “Contagious” book I previously blogged about and wanted to share some more lessons I learned from it.
Remember: word-of-mouth marketing works best when you employe the 6 STEPPS (that’s not a typo): (1) social currency, (2) triggers, (3) emotion, (4) public, (5) practical value, and (6) story.
Let’s look at this a little deeper, shall we?
Are you a cool dentist? Is your practice cool? Is your website cool? Are your staff cool? Are you the James Bond of the dental world? My wife, Paris, likes “Harvey” from the Netflix show “Suits” (a show about lawyers). He’s a lady’s man, a charmer, a great orator, a knowledgeable lawyer, and a skillful negotiator. And she thinks he’s also pretty good looking. Bottom line: he’s cool. And she likes talking about him to her friends because of his character. I like James Bond. He drives a fancy car, has cool gadgets, has nice watches and suits, and has a license to kill. He’s also fit and is a charmer (he usually wins at cards as well). He’s cool too.
So, going back to your practice, think about this: do you consider yourself, your team members and your practice remarkable, unique, and cool? Are you doing anything different from other practices? If you want to see some “cool” examples of businesses, just look at restaurants. Sure, lots of them fail. But every now and then you come across a restaurant that is just “cool”. Like those restaurants that offer a unique dining experience – completely in the dark! Or what about a restaurant that is in a pirate ship? Or what about a restaurant in a haunted house or top of the CN Tower? Just watch one of my favourite shows – Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and you’ll see what I mean! And within those restaurants, in addition to having a unique theme, they may offer something truly unique – like a $35,000 bottle of alcohol I was told about (apparently, the CN Tower acquired one recently).
Is the atmosphere in your practice ‘cool’? Do you and your staff dress professionally but in a noticeably different fashion from other dental practices? Does your practice smell different from other practices (think: white tea as per Westin Hotels)? Do you have spa-like amenities like a massage chair, foot bath, espresso machine, big screen tvs, and magazines? Do you have a play area for young children with the latest gadgets and gizmos? Think about how you can make yourself and your practice ‘cool’. The ‘cooler’ you are, the more likely your patients will tell others about it / you / their experience going to your office.
This is a tough one, I think. You need to look around your (prospective) patients’ environment and get them thinking about coming to see you when they need to. Triggers are all about connecting two or more ideas together so that they seem to go hand-in-hand. Eggs and bacon. Hockey and beer. Politics and @$#@^@#. You get my point.
So when your (prospective) patients are drinking coffee, for example, or wine or tea, they might think about the stains that they are creating on their teeth. How can you get into their heads that you offer teeth whitening services? In the morning, before leaving their house, they typically eat breakfast, take a shower, and brush their teeth (among other things). When they go to brush their teeth (something they should be doing regularly), but have pain, where is your practice in their mind? Where is your presence in their bathroom? What if they have a special occasion coming up that makes them think they need to get a cleaning / treatment? A job interview, a date, professional photos, a wedding, etc. Think about these things and how you can position yourself to make them think about coming to see you when they are going thinking about these special occasions. What about if they’re doing something routine – like going to the gym or shopping for food or filling up on gas. How can you create a ‘trigger’ so that they think about your services during these routine times? Here’s your chance to be creative.
Remember: top of mind means tip of tongue and the more likely it is they will call you / your office.
In future blogs, I’ll discuss Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Story.
These days, I’m pretty addicted to researching why certain things catch on. I previously blogged about a book I read entitled “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell and how your practice could benefit from the lessons in that book.
I just picked up another book written by Jonah Berger entitled “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” and it offers additional lessons into why things go viral via word-of-mouth. In a nutshell, there are 6 principals or STEPPS (as the author calls them) of contagiousness:
#1: Social Currency
People talk about cool and remarkable things. And they want to show them off as part of their social status.
Triggers are stimuli that prompt us to think about related things. Eggs and ham. Cats and dogs. Dinner and a movie. You get the point. So you need to design a product, service, or experience that is frequently triggered by the environment and you also need to create new triggers by linking to prevalent cues in the environment.
Emotions like fear, peace of mind, frutstration, etc. make it easier to remember messages.
People need to be seeing what your customers are doing. That’s why car license plates have dealership names on them. That’s why businesses put their names prominently on shopping bags (to alert others where you have shopped). That’s why dental offices on the ground floor have large windows and signs for those passing by to peer into. Make your practice observable.
#5: Practical Value
Make your offering useful. Will it take the pain away? Will it improve your lifestyle (e.g. a big, bright, beautiful smile will help get you a better job, a beautiful date, make you feel more confident, etc.)? Will it save you money? Will it improve your health? The benefits of what you’re offering need to be concise and packaged neatly so that others can pass it along.
Your message needs to have a human context. The benefits of using a product, service, or experience needs to have a place in our daily lives. And we connect with other humans through stories that contain morals and lessons.
Look at your dental practice. Look at your branding and your messaging. Think about your target market (i.e. your ideal patient) and the distribution channels in which you attract them (e.g. you’d be focusing on your connectors, mavens, and salespeople if you read the previously linked blog!).
Now re-read the above 6 STEPPS… Your dental practice experience needs to be cool, different, and remarkable (social currency).
People think about going to the dentist when they are in pain or to do some active care treatment typically every 6 months; you need to focus on these and other types of triggers (e.g. wedding = teeth whitening) in your environment (triggers). By the way, are you targeting couples about to get married? They need to have their teeth fixed (e.g. perio work + teeth whitening + a crown to fix a nasty tooth?) What a great idea!
Now, you need to tie your product or service offering into an emotion. What about the fear of smiling with crooked and yellow teeth at your wedding? What about having a better chance of landing a job when you expose a beautiful set of pearly white teeth? (emotional).
Next, think about how you can encourage your patients to tell others about your practice when they show off their perfect smile (public). If it’s a wedding, there will be plenty of opportunity because of the pictures being taken, videos being recorded, and attention being paid to the lucky couple. But who else should you think of? Why not those who the wedding couple typically meet in preparation for their wedding – like photographers, wedding planners, caterers, cake makers, flourists, graphic designers (for the invitations), etc. These are all individuals who the wedding couple will typically see on their question to getting married. And if these individuals all have beautiful and nice teeth, and you’re the practice that provided those services (because you did so deliberately), then you’ll be more visible to your target market (i.e. ideal patient).
Your service offering must have value. This is probably the easiest part when it comes to pitching your offering to patients. They want exceptional service by a competent and trustworthy professional in a timely and cost-certain manner within a clean and aesthetically pleasing environment where the team members care about their interests. These are all values that patients care about (practice value). In certain unique practices, for example, the values may require further competencies (e.g. specialty practices) or further accommodations (e.g. in the dentist’s schedule for emergencies).
Finally, you need to be able to wrap everything up in a story or two. What kinds of funny jokes or interesting stories do you have that include important lessons? Are these about you, your practice, a former case, etc.? (stories). You’ve got to tie everything in with cool stories that trigger emotion, include your practice values, and which leave patients with social currency (so they feel compelled to tell others about how great you and your practice are)!
In future blogs, we’ll take a look at these 6 STEPPS in greater detail.
And by the way, you should definitely pick up your copy of “Contagious” from Amazon.
David Mayzel is your legal risk manager. He is a trained courtroom lawyer and has spent many years resolving disputes both in and out of court. He knows how to prepare documents and execute transactions in a way that avoids or mitigates legal risks. He can be reached at 416.528.5280. or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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