Over the last several years, we have seen the dental industry transition from a traditional workflow to a digital workflow. However, the dental industry isn’t the only one that’s experiencing this change. For many businesses, creating an online presence is becoming more important to their overall business strategy. We sat down with John Hughes, Marketing Director of Whip Mix to get his take on the on the changing landscape of marketing, how Whip Mix has adapted and his advice for dental labs.
Q. John, as we see marketing transition from traditional tactics to digital, how has Whip Mix made the transition and what advice do you give to labs?
A: Whip Mix and indeed the dental laboratory industry as a whole has entered a “Renaissance”, or a period of re-birth. The re-birth embodies the laboratory’s evolution from analog to digital technology. It has become commonplace for lab owners to wonder if they are keeping up with the changes that will effectively propel their businesses into the future. In the traditional sense, a renaissance can be considered a bridge between an old way and a new way. That’s where we all are today – on a bridge to a new way of doing things.
I can’t help but draw correlations between the graphics industry (where I spent my first 10 working years) and the dental laboratory industry. In the 80’s it took a team of specialized craftsmen to create an ad; there were key-line artists, type setters, stat operators, waxers, assistant designers, and designers…. just to create the physical artwork! Almost overnight, computer generated artwork came into being and washed these people away. I left a job I loved because I saw it coming. It wasn’t because I was so wise, but I knew a few visionaries in the industry who opened my eyes to what was coming. The company I worked for refused to “see” and embrace the changes happening to the graphics industry. The same thing is happening in the dental business. The digital age is here. Embrace it or not.
Working for Whip Mix over these past 20 years, I have had the unique experience of watching a company known for gypsum and lab equipment grow into a formidable player in the new digital technology boom. It’s an exciting time in dentistry and for Whip Mix.
Just the way manufacturing and design has been influenced by technology, marketing has also been experiencing a paradigm shift. Customers and patients are better educated today than they were in years past. They now search the Internet for information regarding their oral health, dental procedures and products. If they are told they need a certain procedure, they are very likely to Google it and learn as much as possible regarding its pros and cons. They can even search the web for dentists or services and see their personal ratings, much like you might search for a good restaurant. The growth and use of mobile devices and social media allows this information to be seen and shared in an instant. This new education-based approach to buying has a very real influence on how companies market their products and services.
Today, there are nearly 2 billion users of Facebook and 500 million users of LinkedIn. These numbers have grown by 20% since last year and there are no signs of it stopping. This growth in social media has enabled Whip Mix to increase our reach to customers and potential customers to a level that was previously unimaginable. Our YouTube channel alone has over 450,000 views to date. We use social media and, in particular, blogging to drive traffic to our website. Our web traffic has doubled since we started using social media techniques, and it continues to grow. We produce weekly blog posts covering products, services, techniques and general, useful information. We also create eBooks to deep dive into certain subjects that help the laboratory community to enhance their businesses.
I think it would benefit every dental laboratory owner out there to explore these free resources to expand their reach, enhance their customer’s buyer’s journey, and increase profits. This approach is called inbound marketing.
Image via Creative Commons