by Chris Bez, opportunity engineer
There’s something about magic that compels attention. At some point you know there is slight of hand or trickery involved, and yet you’re drawn to watch. Repeatedly. Perhaps it’s curiosity or the unspoken challenge of catching the magician in the act that draws you in, but whatever it is, one thing is certain; the better the practitioner, the more it looks like magic and the less it appears to be simply manipulation of reality.
As a career marketing professional, I have always been drawn to watching the environment surrounding brand and product promotion. Over the course of time, I have come to realize the effectiveness of marketing is affected by economy, politics, entertainment, trends, scientific discoveries, in fact virtually anything that catches the public’s imagination. The result can leave the care giver who is attempting to gauge the best approach to take, challenged by a moving target that often seems intent on confusing, much the same as well-executed magic.
Sometimes, when the environment changes completely but does so gradually, we only sense the change in hindsight or we get lost in the process instead of recognizing the call to action. We are at such a point. For years we have looked at dental sleep medicine as a world apart – different from general dentistry and different from the medical model. Some thought marketing dental sleep medicine as a consumer directed product would be inappropriate or ineffective. We worried about alienating referral resources and generating negative feedback from those who, for years, had seen CPAP as the only viable treatment for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea – ignoring to some degree the conflict a DME supplier might have with referring a patient to us.
Things have changed. The public has clearly shifted in their approach to things once reserved for “those who know better.” They are asking, actually demanding, greater transparency in everything from labelling and pricing to health care. There is an outcry for information so that when they make their treatment choices, they are better informed and knowledgeable about options.
Accessing media usually reserved for consumer advertising takes a leap of faith (and for some, a learning curve), but consider the implications of well done, well placed, advertising. Public education leads to informed choices and informed choices, according to long-term compliance studies, lead to growth for dental sleep medicine practices that are positioned as educators and accessible resources. “Yes, but,” is the response most often received to this statement. The tried and true model of wooing referral resources is deeply ingrained. It strikes fear into the hearts of many when the suggestion is made to, (dare I say it?) market directly. In response to this, I submit that there are good magicians and there are those who are less skilled.
When we own that providing information as a service that moves patients to be treated, often getting them to seek diagnosis instead of avoiding it for fear of the prescribed treatment, it shifts our perspective. Letting those who suffer from snoring or sleep apnea know there are alternative, viable, treatment options, does not translate to performing sleight of hand, nor is it manipulating reality. In fact, in pulling away the curtain, the conscientious care provider is actually showing them that there is less to be feared and much to be gained when addressing snoring in a manner that is acceptable to them. Good referral resources understand and respect that approach and share the desire to act on behalf of patients in a way that encourages compliance and supports overall health. It’s not magic, it’s just intentionally good patient care – the true magic wand of marketing.