Welcome to 2024!
This is the time when we think of all the exciting changes that come with a new year. We swear all those “old” habits that have held us back will be kicked to the curb and replaced with “new,” life-changing ones.
This “out with the old” idea brought to mind recent conversations I have had about embracing new ideas in the world of dentistry – sort of “in with the new” for where dentistry is going.
Obviously, modernizing and embracing new technologies took center stage in these discussions. Clinical, human resources, business office…they are all being dramatically impacted by the evolution of AI and the growing digital world.
Dentists ignore this at their peril!
But it is not just technology that is changing dentistry. So are the changing generations…what they value…and how they communicate.
I recently listened to a podcast where Melissa Turner, a millennial hygienist and well-known speaker/influencer in the United States, emphasized the importance of using “marketing language” when talking to millennials and Gen Y’ers. According to her, these young groups are accustomed to people always selling to them. And they have come to expect it.
For her, “marketing language” is a millennial’s “love language.” And if you do not speak it, they may not trust you. So, they will look for someone else who understands that language and speaks it eloquently.
Contrast this with the approach of many of my fellow Gen X’ers. They would see “marketing language” as a way to “commoditize” dentistry and resist it with all their might. But should they?
Let’s consider this potential debate, not by looking at dentistry, but, rather, by looking at the world of pop/rock music.
Back in the 80’s, our music icons had to be very cautious with making money from corporate endorsements. While the “yuppy” generation was in full force and our rock stars were allowed to dress in suits (it was “Hip to Be Square” after all), we still expected a certain level of rebellion from rock and roll.
We Gen Xer’s would never have forgiven our favourite rock stars for “selling out” and endorsing large corporations for their own personal gain. Doing so could have ended a career! Instead, we cheered wildly for those who “shot down” a big paycheque and stayed true to their fans.
Compare that to today where Time’s 2023 Person of the Year, Taylor Swift, is in the midst of her Eras tour, brought to you by Capitol One!
Her concert venues put commercial endorsements on prominent display. And nary a Swiftie bats an eye! What my generation considered musical sacrilege, today’s generations are perfectly okay with.
Perhaps the dental world needs to take notice of this change when communicating with younger patients. Perhaps finding ways to “sell” dentistry might be ok with some patients – as long as you do it right.
Nobody is advocating “buy one crown, get the second for half price” promotions. Millennials and Gen Y’ers will run fast and hard if they think your sales pitch is unethical and not really “about them.”
But maybe Melissa Turner is onto something! Maybe younger generations want you to sell to them, as long as you tailor your conversations in a way that informs them about their needs and encourages them to accept the best treatment option.
Don’t just provide a laundry list of options and say you “educated” your patients. It is ok to sell to them if you do it right!
Not every patient will have the same “love language.” Your patients may still include plenty of us Gen X’ers for whom any form of sales pitch will not sit well.
So, take the time to get to know your patients so you can understand what language resonates with them. And be prepared for the possibility that some of those patients will want you to “up” your salesperson game!