Lack of Differentiation in Dental Clinics: An Obstacle to Success

A study carried out by Marktest in 2023 revealed that 55 per cent of patients in Portugal don’t believe that dental practices make an effort to stand out. This alarming statistic begs the question: why do so many dental practices appear to be the same in the eyes of patients?

Homogeneity of Services

The main reason for the lack of differentiation lies in the homogeneity of the services offered. Most clinics focus on basic procedures such as cleanings, restorations and extractions, with little differentiation in terms of technology, techniques or patient experience. This lack of innovation leads to the perception that all clinics are the same, making it difficult for patients to choose.

Focus on price as a differentiator

Fierce competition in the dental market drives many practices to focus on price as their main differentiator. This strategy, while it may attract some patients, can be detrimental in the long term. Excessive focus on price can lead to the commoditisation of services, where quality and service are sacrificed in the name of economy.

Ineffective marketing

Ineffective communication is another factor that contributes to a lack of differentiation. Many dental practices don’t invest in strategic marketing, limiting themselves to generic adverts and discount campaigns. This approach fails to convey the practice’s value proposition and differentials, making it difficult to connect with the target audience.

Read more about Marketing for Dentists.

Lack of Patient Focus

Some clinics may have a dentist-centred approach, prioritising the efficiency of procedures over the individual patient experience. This attitude can lead to impersonal and cold service, generating dissatisfaction and driving patients away.

Consequences of a lack of differentiation

Lack of differentiation can have several negative consequences for dental practices, such as:

  • Difficulty in attracting new patients: In a saturated market, clinics that don’t differentiate themselves struggle to stand out from the competition.
  • High patient turnover: Lack of loyalty leads patients to look for alternatives in other clinics, in search of a more personalised and differentiated experience.
  • Reduced profitability: The need to compete on price to attract patients can reduce clinics’ profit margins.

Strategies to stand out

To overcome the homogeneity of the market and win the trust of patients, dental practices can implement various strategies:

1. Offer Differentiated Services

  • Investing in innovative technology, such as intraoral scanners, 3D printers and conscious sedation.
  • Offer specialised procedures, such as dental implants, invisible orthodontics and sleep dentistry.
  • Implement additional services that add value to the patient experience, such as a dental spa, home care and personalised follow-up.

2. Create a Unique Patient Experience

  • Implement a humanised and personalised service, focusing on the needs and expectations of each patient.
  • Create a cosy and relaxing atmosphere in the clinic, with modern design, relaxing music and amenities for patients.
  • Implement practices that reduce patient stress and anxiety, such as aromatherapy, animal therapy and relaxation techniques.

3. Communicate your Value Proposition effectively

  • Invest in strategic marketing to convey the clinic’s differentials and the benefits it offers patients.
  • Use different communication channels, such as the website, social networks, online adverts and content marketing.
  • Create a strong and consistent brand that conveys the clinic’s personality and values.

Read more about Digital Marketing for Dental Clinics.

4. Focus on customer loyalty

  • Implement loyalty programmes that reward frequent patients.
  • Offer discounts and exclusive promotions to build customer loyalty.
  • Maintain a close relationship with patients through communication channels such as email, telephone and social networks.

The lack of differentiation in dental practices is a real problem that can affect the reputation and financial success of these establishments. By investing in differentiation, whether through innovative services, patient experience or effective communication, dental practices can win customer loyalty and stand out in a highly competitive market.

Below, we’ve listed some additional considerations to help dental practices walk the path of differentiation:

Focus on Specific Niches

Rather than trying to meet all the needs of all patients, some clinics may choose to specialise in specific niches, such as:

  • Paediatric dentistry: Focus on dental care for children and adolescents.
  • Geriatric dentistry: Specialised care for the elderly, taking into account their specific needs.
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: Speciality that deals with dysfunctions, traumas and malformations of the face.
  • Endodontics: Field dedicated to root canal treatment and other dental pulp care.

By becoming a reference in a specific area, the clinic positions itself as a specialist and attracts a better-defined target audience.

Strategic partnerships

Creating partnerships with other healthcare professionals can be an excellent way of adding value to services and differentiating yourself from the competition. Examples of strategic partnerships include

  • Nutritionists: To advise on the relationship between diet and oral health.
  • Psychologists: Helping patients with dental phobias or difficulties adapting to treatments.
  • Aestheticians: Offering complementary treatments aimed at facial aesthetics and rejuvenation.

These partnerships create a more complete experience for the patient.

Transparency and education

For many, a dental appointment can be anxiety-producing due to unfamiliarity with procedures and terminology. Clinics can differentiate themselves by practising transparency in diagnoses, budgets and treatment options.

In addition, investing in educational content in different formats (blog, social networks, videos) can:

  • Help demystify procedures
  • Empower patients in their oral health care
  • Position the clinic as a reliable information centre
  • Social Responsibility

Dental clinics can also stand out for their commitment to social responsibility. This can include

  • Participation in projects to assist underprivileged populations
  • Sustainability initiatives and reducing environmental impact
  • Support for charitable organisations and social causes
  • Investing in the community demonstrates the clinic’s values and reinforces a positive image in the eyes of the public.

Faced with a highly competitive dental market, differentiation is an indispensable strategy for dental practices to survive and thrive. By implementing these strategies, the clinic moves away from the perception of being just one of the crowd. It comes to be seen as unique, innovative and centred on the real needs of the patient. In a world where choices abound, being different is ultimately what makes the patient choose you.

It’s important to emphasise that the process of differentiation is continuous and requires effort. Self-knowledge, an understanding of the market and a willingness to innovate are fundamental allies on this journey.

marketing digital para dentistas

About Luís Horta

He has been a teacher in Portuguese Public Education for over 25 years. So far, he has helped create and develop more than 700 businesses in different areas in his career.

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