What is your Purple Cow?

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Seth Godin’s book, “The Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable,” shares how a cup of coffee became Starbucks, ice cream became Häagen-Dazs®, and a secretarial chair became the Aeron Chair. The Purple Cow is about turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Selecting a different path in branding and marketing can help your dental practice become known as something special. But how can you apply this concept?

Cosmetic skills were so different 15 to 20 years ago. Now, it seems like cosmetic procedures are done by everyone; it is nearly a commodity. Some dentists have begun to feel like the competition is based on price. To continue to stand out in dentistry, make yourself different by applying the Purple Cow principles and seek a new treatment modality to add to your repertoire. How can you turn the ordinary into the extraordinary?

In some areas, dentists are pining for new patients. What are you doing now that could be done differently to turn an ordinary experience into something creative and memorable? Find a new skill to add to your armamentarium that will bring different clients to your practice.

To make this transition successful, revisit your vision of excellence and your way of caring for others to make a difference. What could you do that would be consistent with your vision? What you add must also be consistent with who you are in order to be successful.

At our “Purple Cow” seminar in Chicago, five general dentists shared five new skills they have added with great success. Interest, curiosity, and an investigation of need in their area were combined to create excitement in the community. A professional DVD of these five dentists is available on our Web site, www.blatchford.com. In this short column, I will share just two of the five “Purple Cow” ideas presented.

How about adding cosmetic dentures? What? You hate dentures? For many dentists, the lowly denture hasn’t been broached since dental school. Think of this: What do you charge for a full-mouth reconstruction? People who lost their teeth early would give much to have a full set of beautiful teeth and gums that fit well, occlude properly, and are possibly even implant-supported. There is a whole segment of population, many with financial means, who may have had ill-fitting and embarrassing dentures for years. What they really dream of are beautiful smiles and teeth on which they can count. They want teeth like everyone else!

What would it take for you to turn a disliked treatment such as dentures into something rewarding? Review current classic literature from Drs. Carlson, Massad, Turbyfill, Barotz, and many other talented dentists. Occlusion, proportion, gums, and shading are all important considerations.

To successfully offer cosmetic dentures, you and your team must shift your paradigm about denture-wearers to turn needs into desires. Those who wear dentures strongly desire to have what others have, so the sales process is based on desire, not technique. Make these patients feel special.

As you shift from looking at dentures as a commodity to something that is desired, you will want to treat your guests with as much service, fuss, and artistic endeavor as you would a cosmetic case. Consider your fee plus the lab fee and make your patients a spare set of dentures. In doing so, you will relieve one of their greatest fears.

Another “Purple Cow” idea is sleep apnea, an area of great medical concern in sleep clinics around the country. Few simple solutions exist, yet people with sleep apnea have a shortened life, decreased brain activity, and increased heart problems. Sleep apnea can occur even in our youth. Consider investigating the skills needed to successfully treat sleep apnea with a dental appliance where patient compliance is much more successful than other modalities.

To become qualified to provide treatment for sleep apnea, contact the Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (ADSM) for a list of courses at www.dentalsleepmed.org. For sleep apnea information, visit www.quietsleep.com and also look at Ihatecpap.com. It is so important to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to treat sleep apnea, since it is a medical issue and as such, medical insurance will be billed. Aside from skill, you must follow the protocol of testing prior to prescribing an appliance and conduct appropriate testing afterwards.

It would appear that as the boomers mature, other dental and medical specialties will claim sole ownership of sleep apnea relief. If you are interested in treating this medical issue, qualify early. Some of these patients could develop into larger dental cases. How do you begin marketing for sleep apnea? Start by asking your patients, “Does your mate snore?”

Dr. Bill Blatchford is a leading dental business coach who has worked with more than 2,000 offices to help dentists achieve more time off, more net, and more enjoyment. His book “Bringing Your ‘A’ Game – Inspirational Coaching to Profitability” and the Purple Cow DVD are available or call (800) 578-9155.