November/December 2009, Volume 5, Issue 10
Published by AEGIS Communications
The “Mom” Factor
Mom is the driving force behind the decision-making for her family’s oral healthcare. Learning how to market to moms can substantially increase your practice’s patient base.
Moms rule. Whether it’s with an iron fist or a gentle nudge, it’s the lady of the house who is secretary, treasurer, and chief operating officer of the average American household. This is especially true when it comes to healthcare. Statistics show that women overwhelmingly make the appointments. So not only does Mom make them for herself, her spouse, and children, she will also act as appointment reminder and shuttle service to ensure that her brood is well taken care of.
Therefore, as anyone in the marketing business can attest, it’s the moms of the world who are our target market in dentistry.
Meet “Soccer Mom”
At 1-800-DENTIST®, our call center data consistently supports the “Mom Factor” theory: over 70% of our callers/Web surfers are female. That’s why we are constantly thinking of the “mom” archetype when writing and filming our commercials. Each month, these commercials air 10,000 times and generate thousands of calls. We want to be able to appeal to the widest variety of people, and targeting moms does the trick.
While it may be quite obvious that moms affect the dental habits of young children, after manning the helm of 1-800-DENTIST for over 20 years, let me clue you in on an interesting fact. You might be surprised to discover how frequently moms still make appointments for their adult children! I’m not kidding—it’s a fact.
So not only is Mom secretary and COO, she’s also each family member’s personal trainer/coach, encouraging the whole family to maintain proper oral hygiene (regardless of her child’s age). Needless to say, the Mom Factor is all-important. So when you make business—even esthetic choices—for your own practice, make sure you keep “Soccer Mom” in mind.
Mom Knows Best
As your target market, you’ll need to craft your advertising message to “Soccer Moms” all over the nation. Mom is going to be looking at how easily your office fits into her busy schedule, whether that’s with extended hours so she can fit appointments in between dance and soccer; amenities to make appointments go smoother and more enjoyable; and, of course, price competitiveness.
Mom will often drive a bit farther to get a good deal because saving money just feels good and is empowering in its own right. She holds firmly to her purse strings: money matters. And as a dental office, this fact probably affects you the most. You might feel this frustration on a daily basis when you patiently work with those who feel their co-payments are burdensome.
The average dental office, therefore, has to be able to balance Mom’s tight budget with the appearance of offering a great deal/discount available only to her. Maybe that means a 5% discount on full cash payment. Or maybe offer free whitening upon completion of a treatment plan. But whatever it is, Mom will feel better and become a more loyal patient (herself and her entire clan) when she feels her business is valued.
Let’s start with the obvious: Cater to kids. You don’t have to be a pedodontist to create a child-friendly office. And to be clear, a handful of beaten up Legos® and a Highlights® magazine from 3 years ago does not a child-friendly office make. Keep your children’s play area bright and clean (I cannot emphasize the latter enough; Mom will immediately be turned off if she’s confronted with a sloppy mess). Keep a wide variety of toys (think distraction) for kids of all ages.
For the big kids, video games are a huge hit. Get one of those lock boxes so you can keep the game system from inadvertent abuse. Then there are headphones in the operatories; these go a long way to making the teen (and Mom and Dad for that matter) feel as relaxed as possible during appointments.
You have a treasure chest, naturally. A play area replete with Xbox®, check. Headphones with iPod® dock, check. Now what?
Look around your office. Do you feel at home there? Think about your office in terms of what mom would like. Is your staff happy to be there? Does your office feel sterile? Does it smell like disinfectant? Is everyone in monochrome scrubs? If your office wouldn’t make your own mom comfortable, then fix it!
Infuse colors on the walls and throughout the practice. Invest in aromatherapy. Brightly display thank-you cards, patient testimonials, and patients’ artwork. Set your office apart from all the others “Soccer Mom” has been to in her life. Then make certain your team loves what you do as much as what they do. That joy and job satisfaction will come across in their words and deeds. And then you’ll start inspiring loyalty—not just satisfaction—in all of your patients.
Because when Mom’s happy—everybody’s happy.
About the Author
Mr. Joyal is the CEO of 1-800DENTIST® and author of Everything is Marketing: The Ultimate Strategy for Dental Practice Growth. As the industry’s foremost expert on dental consumer marketing, Fred has written over 200 television and radio commercials and interacted with thousands of the most successful dentists across the country.