The Dentist Magazine.

Your story is not just for Christmas

Published: 11/15/2018 12:00:00 AM

For many brands, there are countless seasonal opportunities to market their services over the coming weeks, says digital marketer Shaz Memon.

Dental practices look to Christmas as a way of raising their profile, plugging teeth whitening, talking about the need to limit sugar intake or simply drawing attention to their guide to what to do in a dental emergency and so on.

However, opportunities for optimum patient engagement through effective dental marketing do not stop the moment the festivities are over; a marketing strategy should not be left to wilt alongside the Christmas tree or left abandoned with those perennial unwanted gifts.

In a plugged-in world, there are no end of occasions to tell your story or share the stories of those who place their trust in your business – and, whilst it is arguably a profitable move to ramp up marketing over the holidays, there is little point in all that activity if come January the last post in your social media schedule pre-dated you Christmas jumper-wearing celebrations on the 24th.

Stories are continuous, which means your brand and your team and the services they market and deliver, should combine over a period of time to continually raise the profile of your business long after the non-stop online ‘noise’ of short-term viral posts and general Christmas clickbait is over.

The festive season, of course, brings out the best in big business branding – so much so that the anticipation of the run of Christmas TV ads is now a national obsession.

Retail giants John Lewis and Marks & Spencer, competing for the great British thumbs up, most likely had their marketing wheels in motion for their Christmas gift to the nation long ago.

Indeed, this alone demonstrates that any campaign should be well planned and perfectly executed.

Stories need to resonate with your target audience, with content that is meaningful, honest and has integrity.

It needs to be shareable and tap into the goals, needs and aspirations of your audience so try to discover what is important to them and why.

The effort by the big UK supermarket chain, Iceland, is a good case in point.

The advert raised the bar this year with its Christmas TV ad focusing on the catastrophic environmental cost of palm-oil production. Banned because it was deemed ‘too political’, the restriction on the short animation (a repackaging of a film originally created by Greenpeace) about the risk to the lives of various species thanks to palm oil, sparked national outrage and has since seen a mass sharing of the advert via social media – an indication perhaps of not only the power of the internet but also the strength of public opinion. 

This connection between a public that cares about ethical issues and the online mass movement to share the story indicates how the digital world has tightened the relationship.  It should also serve as a reminder to all small businesses that they need to harness developing technologies to share stories that are not only engaging but also socially responsible.

Whatever the latest generation of phones and digital platforms afford us, you do need to be selective in how you tap into their services, how you to choose to showcase your story and where.

Focus should remain on the creative content – the stories themselves or the creative narrative – with an underlying understanding of what exactly ticks boxes for your target audience to inspire them to take action.

First impressions are now made online and word of mouth recommendations have migrated to the internet, too, which means storytelling need to inspire new customers who will, in turn, share their experience via social media and online reviews.

According to digital analyst Brian Solis, engagement is really about actions, reactions and transactions or, as he refers to it, the ART of engagement, “Thinking about engagement in that way inspires a different approach for content creation; you want somebody to feel something, not just see it.”

When it comes to dentistry, the ‘feeling’ involves creating copy and images that resonate with those looking to invest in their health, wellbeing and appearance, too. Involvement in activity online builds trust between dental practice, the dentist and the dental team with existing as well as potential patients.

Having a dental marketing plan in place to monopolise exposure at key times of the year is important – but, after the party is over, your stories need to continue into the New Year if you are to create a sustainable and profitable presence online.