Ask Yourself: Do you really understand the difference between advertising and marketing your dental practice?

First – a couple of definitions from Wikipedia:

Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling that product or service.

Advertising is a form of marketing communication used to encourage, persuade, or manipulate an audience (viewers, readers or listeners; sometimes a specific group) to take or continue to take some action.

So both are forms of communication but the way I read it (from the above) is that:

– Marketing has as its end goal the proof of value.

– Advertising has as its end goal an action.

Now I don’t want to tie myself in knots here – or labour a point but…

When you place an a-board on the pavement outside your practice:

– If it shows a photograph of a patient with a beautiful smile and quotes her as saying “ABC Dental helped me to attend my daughter’s wedding with confidence” then by rights I suggest that is marketing – explaining the value of the difference you have made to that lady’s life. Its interesting to note that you don’t have to say what dental product or service you delivered – the value is in the difference.

– If your a-board says “10% off orthodontics for one month only” then you are clearly advertising – discount with a deadline so apply now!

I’m thinking that marketing changes the way people think about dentistry, whilst advertising is just another sound bite to add to the thousands we see and hear every day, screaming ineffectively at us from every billboard, hoarding, media channel and web page.

Advertising is lost in the noise and becomes a competition for an ever bigger poster (think about those giant screens on the way into London from the West), an X-Factor commercial or a stupidly expensive Google campaign.

For me, the value (and the fun) is in marketing – in telling stories. We recently published a storygraphic with a blog post entitled “marketing is storytelling” that has been very well received. Click here to view storygraphic.

Bottom line – you have to do both – and when you do, the resulting increase in influence and activity is algorithmic, not linear.

MagicBox is advertising – very good advertising at that – but it will not bring all the prospects in that you deserve if you don’t combine it with storytelling – and that means an endless supply of patient testimonials – one a month forever and a system to get those testimonials out to your audience.

Having built MagicBox to provide “done for you” advertising…

We are now building Artisan – a “done for you” solution to marketing – an exciting project that is just beginning.

Keep your eyes on us – and the clients who are using these services – in future posts we will report back on the numbers. And I’ll prove my point.


Published by

Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.