Interesting column by Kevin Lewis in Dentistry magazine last month. He argues that it’s vulgar for dentists to build their personas by marketing their skills and personalities like celebrities do.
The best dentists let their work speak for itself and the GDC created a “platform for deceiving patients — not educating and informing them” when it relaxed advertising restrictions. It would be good if he had some examples other than Charles Dickens.
I agree that banging on about how technically brilliant you are is bad form in any field, but what does your potential customer think? Does Joe Bloggs want to hear a pilot boasting about his maths skills and rubbishing his rivals? Probably not. Does he want to know roughly how many flights the pilot has flown? Why not?
There’s a streak of vitriol in Lewis’s prose that reminds me of the invective laid forth by Martin Kelleher. One of my favourites is The Uberization of orthodontics — or how low can you go? Like Lewis, he’s furious because the marketing people have trashed the integrity of dentistry.
Some years ago my dad shared a platform with Kelleher to debate the role of marketing in dentistry but barely got a word in edgeways. He articulated his position afterwards in a blog called Lies don’t sell. Truth well told does.
When we came across the mail order ortho company Your Smile Direct in 2017 it seemed like the epitome of what Kelleher loathed, but dad simply pointed to the numbers. It was undercutting its rivals on price by two thirds and growing exponentially, so who was ‘right’?
If you are a specialist orthodontist with 20 years experience, you need to tell the public how that differentiates you from mail order ortho. Otherwise they won’t know. Then they can make up their own minds. I think, deep down, Lewis and Kelleher get this. That’s why they don’t even pretend to offer solutions for people attempting to cope with the commercial reality of practice ownership in 2018. They are just angry the good old days are well and truly over. Understandably.