Last week I had the ‘pleasure’ of visiting the dentist for the first time in a few years (yes I know I should go regularly). After my experience, I got thinking about various things that resonate with my digital marketing business.
As people, rather than marketers, I believe we can use unrelated personal experiences like this to:
- Understand how our clients may be feeling / thinking at different stages.
- Reinforce or confirm things we already thought or have put in place.
- Use them to better our overall approach and processes.
Anyway, here are some thoughts that you may be able to apply to your business or takeaway as a client:
1. Health Checks
To join any dentist as a new patient you first have to pay for a checkup. This lets them assess the situation and offer you the most suitable treatments, often to referred to as a treatment plan. After my initial check-up and x-rays I was talked through an advised treatment plan to fix any problems I might have. This was completely optional and introduced very gently so I didn’t feel I was getting forced or pushed into anything I did not want to go for. They also backed up their points by referencing the x-rays and a mouth model to break things down into simple points.
This reminded me how important the initial assessment of a client’s situation is. Call them audits, digital health check’s or whatever you want. But any client worth their salt should understand that you can’t advise the best path forward without understanding what has been and what is.
2. Offering Related Services
During my visit, I noticed various posters and promotional material for cosmetic treatments such as botox, dermal fillers and massage. I personally wasn’t looking for anything but getting my teeth seen to, but I can see how some people will find this a natural succession.
I know not all dentists offer these extras but it reminded me of those creative / digital agencies who branch out into other services to capture more of the market or client’s budget. Sometimes this comes across as a “jack of all trades” so its worth ensuring you are able to retain consistent quality across all you offer. One way the dentist and others do this is by hiring specialists. For example, the hygiene appointments were handled by a dedicated hygienist, not a dentist doing this on the side.
3. Do It Yourself
Being the mixture of a control freak and a tight pursed Scotsman, I did have several occasions where I thought “I wonder if I could do this treatment myself from home”. From a quick search on Amazon I am not the only person who thinks of trying their hand at some amateur dentistry:
So Yes, technically your client can carry out some amateur digital marketing from home or their place of work. But if they want professional results then this amateur guessing game is not going to succeed. It is our role to help the client understand the difference between their knowledge / experience, and ours.
4. Education is Key
Whilst at the dentist the most important element, for me, was coming away with a better knowledge and understanding of how and why to do or not do something. For example, I learnt:
- Don’t bite down when working out as this can wear down teeth.
- Don’t brush after food, brush before as this prepares your teeth to fight the acid in food.
- Change your electric toothbrush head every three month’s not every month. I was wasting money…
- Don’t use mouthwash straight before or after brushing as it washes away the fluoride in toothpaste. Use it after eating or drinking acidic food like smoothies.
Some of these may seem like common sense to you guys but I had my routines all wrong and this information was a real eye opener. I came away out of pocket but felt these little bits of information (along with my treatments) had made it worth while.
Digital marketing is very similar, in that educating the client on why something is important is as crucial as just what you are going to do. Think about what your client comes away with from calls, email, meetings and reports. Are you simply presenting the facts or are you dressing them in a suitable level of knowledge?
5. A Necessary Evil
Having just bought a house and with Christmas coming up, spending £X on dentistry treatments is a financial burden I could really do without. But, at the same time, I realise that if I want a certain result then I have to put up with the painful process or financial costs associated with the treatments. At least what I have and when I have them, is up to me, as the client.
Clients must understand that, sometimes, spending on the cost of a website audit, website implementation or the optimisation of a self-run PPC account are just necessary evils. If you want to improve something or achieve a result, then action needs to take place. Ultimately, if you do nothing, then nothing will change. Managing the implementation process or priorities to match their budget and timescales is the responsible thing to do. The experience shouldn’t be like “pulling teeth” (pun intended).
6. Results Are Subjective
Whilst at the dentist I was asked to fill out a form that describes what I dislike about my smile and what problems I have with my teeth (e.g. sensitivity, discolouring, pain etc). During the consultation I was told about various options that could improve things. I was told that if having straighter teeth was a goal of mine then there are treatments for that. I was told I could have my fillings changed from metal to a tooth-like white version. None of these things were on my agenda. I was essentially there to learn about oral hygiene and get a filling sorted.
This makes me realise that what good ‘looks like’ is completely subjective and personal. As a client of the dentist what I was trying to achieve was not perfection but maintenance. Clients of ours can be the same. They don’t always want to achieve every possible result, just the ones that matter to their business. There is nothing wrong with that and learning I don’t have to push to achieve everything for them perfect is a valuable lesson.
7. Results Are Not Guaranteed
As the dentist talked through one of the recommended treatments she mentioned that ‘yes it costs X hundred £’s but like any medical procedure the results are not guaranteed’. I guessed this was the case but it still took me aback a little as I associated a treatment that costs so much will have a high success rate.
This reminded me that in the digital marketing industry there are lots of factors that determine success of a campaign or activity. Some of these are in our control as marketers, some are in the client’s control as the website owners and some are out of both our hands. Understanding what falls into each of these areas is important. Ensuring the client understands this is even more important.
Have you learnt a valuable business lesson from a personal experience? Share it with us in the comment section below.