These aren’t words you’ll ever hear from me.
Maybe that’s a mistake on my part. Maybe that means that other folk who claim they are “the dental marketing experts”, “the best dental SEO company in Australia”, and “Australia’s leader in dental websites” will attract all the attention from dentists who are looking for help with their online marketing.
Even after so many years working alongside dentists, helping them with their online visibility, unraveling the mayhem caused by other agencies and consultants and always striving to point them in the right direction (which isn’t always the path of least resistance), I have an aversion to the puffery of claiming such a moniker.
Maybe it’s the dentist in me…
Australian Dentists Don’t Claim To Be “The Best”
In our profession, dentists generally don’t claim to be “the expert”, “the leader”, or “the best”. At least, they’ll never say this in front of their colleagues: it’s not a popular stance to take amongst professionals.
If dentists use these sorts of claims in their advertising, they risk running afoul of AHPRA. For good reason.
These are clearly self-appointed titles. There is no independent body in this country that compares dentists, ranking them according to a specific set of criteria. There aren’t any competitions or award nights.
At best, claiming to be “the best” is puffery. At worst, it’s misleading.
But I think we don’t hear many dentists making this claim because we’re a humble and realistic bunch of professionals: none of us really believe that we are “the best”.
Don’t get me wrong. We know we’re good. We know we’re a darn sight better than the dentist down the road or the one across town- you know the person I’m talking about, right? The one whose infection control is awful and who outsources all their lab work to the cheapest offshore lab they can find.
But we always know that there is someone better than us, at least at something.
- Better at creating restorations that are anatomically correct
- Better at molar endo
- Better with LA
- Better with kids
- Better at retaining staff
- Better at making a difference in their community
Generalists vs Specialists
In dentistry, the majority of us are generalists (and love it!). We cover the entire range of dental treatments in our practice.
This doesn’t mean we can’t be really, really good at some aspects of dentistry. You might have an eye for dental aesthetics, a passion for dental implants or a special interest in orthodontics. And because this is a passion and a skill set, you invest additional CPD hours into honing your skills and increasing your knowledge in this area.
You’re not a specialist. But you are someone with skills that are superior to a general dentist who doesn’t have the same interest in or passion for this field.
Does this make you THE expert? Would you claim to be one?
I think you’d claim to have a certain level of expertise. But I think you’d be humble about it, professional. I think you’d acknowledge your commitment to your area of interest, but you’d never let anyone call you “Sydney’s Dental Implant Expert”, or “Melbourne’s Leader in Orthodontics” or “The Best Cosmetic Dentist in Hobart”.
Even the specialists I know don’t claim these monikers. Probably because they also know that, while they’re bloody good at what they do, they’re probably not “the best”. At least, not in every aspect of their practice.
Whether you’re a general dentist or a specialist, we’re all still learning, still honing our skills, still keeping up with the latest advances in many different fields and altering our practices accordingly.
If we sit on our laurels, we know we can fairly quickly lose any advantages we might already have had or earned.
About Dental Marketing “Experts”, “Leaders” and People Who Tell You They’re “The Best”
First off, let me tell you that the people making these claims do so because it’s good for business. Dentists naturally want “the best” assistance with their marketing, and this is what they might google when searching for an agency. If agencies use these words in their marketing, they’ll show up higher in Google search results.
Claiming ‘Expert Status” or “Leadership” is also a positioning device. In fact, it’s a tactic taught to agencies by some industry ‘gurus’. If you claim the title, you’re likely to be believed to be a premium provider. That’s sometimes before they even have their first client. I find this practice to be very misleading.
Dentistry is seen to be a good profession to target, and every year new agencies pop up with dentists firmly in their sights. We’ve all got to start somewhere, but claiming ‘expertise’ or other forms of greatness when you’re just starting off is just poor form.
Importantly, some of the people with these titles actually are good at what they do. They are good generalists, and sometimes have a particular skill that is very good. So I’m not belittling the agencies who use this tactic and these titles, at least not as far as their services go.
Also, consider that ‘full-service’ agencies are very much like a general dental practice: they cover every aspect of marketing at a general level. They might ‘specialise in’ (or “target”) dental practices, but they are generalists.
There are also ‘specialist’ agencies: these are the ones who do one type of marketing really, really well but don’t handle other types of marketing. Website development agencies are a good example of this: they are awesome at building beautiful websites, but they don’t understand SEO, website content or social media. It’s up to you then to hire other specialists or generalists to fill the gaps.
Whether you choose a generalist or specialist agency, you just need to be sure that what they are offering is
- something you need
- something that complies with the Advertising guidelines, National Law, copyright law, Googles terms and conditions and other relevant regulations
- something you understand (not a “black box” or “our proprietary IP”)
- not trapping you into something if you change your mind in the future.
If I’m Not An Expert, What Am I?
When I started Dental Web Strategies, it was my aim to demystify online marketing for Australian Dental Practices and to create a place where dentists could turn to for up-to-date information about marketing best practices, so that they would know what needed to be done and were able to select the best person for the job, based on their own criteria at the time.
I consider myself a generalist, a highly motivated one (because I’m working with my former colleagues in a profession that I still love), and one that’s still learning every day.
I don’t consider myself to be an expert in any field. However, I am mentored by and follow the teachings of some of the most highly-respected people in specialist fields of digital marketing. These are people who will also tell you that they don’t know everything and that they’re still learning.
When I come across something I don’t know, I do what you do: I research, study and ask colleagues and specialists.
If I come across something I can’t do, I do what you do: I refer.
Dentistry and online marketing are more similar than you might ever have imagined!
Working With Marketing Agencies
I’ve always believed that dentists can’t afford to abdicate their marketing to a consultant or agency. Dentists now need to understand the big picture, the available tactics and the rules of conduct and be involved in their marketing as much as time allows.
- You need to own and control the properties that marketing agencies build for you
- You need to read and approve of EVERY piece of marketing copy BEFORE it’s published
- You need complete portability of all your marketing assets
- You need to be involved in developing the marketing messages that are used for your practice
Your agency, whether generalist or specialist, whether they focus on dental practices or work with businesses of all kinds, needs to support you in these areas.
Remember that, like dentistry, there is no independent body that compares dental marketers, ranking them according to a specific set of criteria. There aren’t any competitions or award nights.
At best, claiming to be “the best” is puffery. At worst, it’s misleading.