This is how the conversation went on my follow-up visit to the oral surgeon,
10 days after he removed 2 lower wisdom teeth.
“Go down the hallway, enter the second door on the right and take a seat in
the dentist’s chair,” said the receptionist after calling my name out to the
5 people in the waiting room.
“How is it all going?” asked my oral surgeon slapping on a pair of
“Great” I replied truthfully. “I’ve been totally pain free since the
“You won’t be when you get my bill!” he said in half jest.
“I’ve already paid it and by my calculations, I reckon you’re grossing more
than one and a half million dollars a year in revenue?” I quickly asked
combining my MBA training with years spent questioning people as a
“You might be right, but I wouldn’t know, I just concentrate on the
patients,” was the last thing he said before I opened my mouth and he
examined the 2 sockets where my wisdom teeth once resided.
“They’re looking good, rinse with salt water regularly and call me if
there’s a problem,” were his last words as I was ushered out.
That was it, all over in a matter of minutes. What is the point of sharing
this with you? Well, I learnt a lot about marketing from the service I
received from my oral surgeon.
Here are my insights and how you can apply these strategies to your own
business, career or life.
1. PROVIDE SOLUTIONS TO PEOPLE’S PROBLEMS
Two months earlier I hadn’t been able to sleep because of an intense,
searing pain coming somewhere from the back of my lower jaw. Despite taking
painkillers, it got worse until the whole side of my face started to swell
up like a football. In desperation at 3.30 am, I rang the only dentist I
could find listed in the Yellow Pages with an after hours number. I woke him
up. Then briefed him and he told me how much it would cost to get him and
his dental nurse out of bed and into his surgery. I decided to endure the
pain in my head instead of in my wallet.
I was on his surgery door as soon as it opened and the diagnosis of a
compacted wisdom tooth that had become infected was confirmed. I was able to
get to see my family dentist later in the day and he prescribed antibiotics
and recommended I see an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. He would solve my
problems. In fact, he was so busy solving problems he was completely booked
out for the next 2 months.
What problems do you solve for people?
2. BUILD YOUR BUSINESS OR CAREER ON REFERRALS
My family dentist had a stack of business cards from the oral surgeon. He
handed me one and said “this guy is the best in town, try and see him within
the next 2 months.”
The oral surgeon’s business is built completely on referral business.
How can you get referrals for your business or dream job?
I’ve learnt, if you don’t ask for or have a system for referrals, no matter
how busy you are now, future work has the potential to dry up.
3. LOOK AT A BUSINESS MODEL WITH A CONSISTENT DEMAND
One of the great things about the hairdressing industry is that people’s
hair never stops growing and so they always need it cut. It’s the same for
lawn mowing services and extracting wisdom teeth. There’s a constant demand.
I’ve learnt this in my own business and understood that for certain clients,
like those who have a regular turnover of leadership positions due to set
election periods, there is always going to be a constant change of people,
and in many cases a regular demand to provide media training for new people
as they rise up the ranks and take over leadership positions.
Look for opportunities where there will be a constant demand for your skills
4. QUALIFICATIONS BUILD CREDIBILITY
I noticed my oral surgeon had his University degrees and professional
qualifications printed on his business card as well as hanging on his office
wall in his surgery.
This provides third party endorsement, which builds credibility and trust
with patients and customers alike.
How do you use your professional qualifications to build your credibility?
Interestingly, a fellow speaker who works in the health sector shared this
gem in a recent newsletter. “Part of what I’ve been talking about involves
building trust between health professionals and their clients. Consequently,
my eye was caught by the following research report in New Scientist,
(4th Jan 2003). Robert Hash and his colleagues at Mercer University in
Georgia have found that patients judge medical advice by the weight of their
doctor. They studied 200 patients of 5 doctors and found that the medical
information and advice given by doctors who were judged to be overweight
was not trusted as much as that given by those perceived to be leaner.
The article said, “If you don’t look too healthy yourself, your patients may
be more inclined to take your advice with a pinch of salt.”
(Source: Rachel’s Reflections By Rachel Green 31-Jan-2003, Number 106)
Live your message and be a walking, talking example of the solutions you
offer. Fail with this and your credibility within the marketplace will
5. COME UP WITH A UNIQUE BRAND
I noticed my oral surgeon shared consulting rooms with another oral surgeon
with exactly the same qualifications. Both of their business cards sat at
the reception desk.
One was plain, white and simple. The other had an interesting, colourful and
creative logo incorporating two faces. Which do you think got my attention?
6. PROVIDE THE CLIENT WITH THREE OPTIONS
Fresh from my new knowledge after hearing New York-based speaker, author and
consultant Alan Weiss Ph.D CSP present, I found my oral surgeon also used
He presented me with 3 options – do nothing, have my wisdom teeth out with
just a local pain killer or have them removed under a general anaesthetic.
All had varying costs and consequences.
I had previously consulted my older brother, an orthopaedic surgeon who had
a similar operation 2 years ago. He chose the latter and so did I.
What options can you provide clients?
By the way, the third option I chose was the most expensive!
7. BACK YOUR OPTIONS UP WITH EXAMPLES
Tangible examples help people make a decision and take action. Often this is
based on emotion.
My oral surgeon pulled out his ‘horror photos’ (his words not mine) and said
“this is what can happen if you don’t have your wisdom teeth removed”.
One look and I was convinced.
What examples, evidence or proof can you provide to help convince your
prospects, customers or clients they need your services.
8. MAKE IT EASY FOR CLIENTS, PROVIDE A PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE & ADD VALUE
My oral surgeon is located right next door to a day hospital. This is a new
service he has only been offering since the beginning of the year.
Convenience for clients can be a big factor. I was in hospital by 10am and
out by 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Sure it was more expensive and an added
value service. But I’m busy, am motivated by rational self-interest
(especially when it comes to pain) and am willing to pay extra for the
How can you add value to your services?
9. PROVIDE WRITTEN DETAILS
My oral surgeon provided written details of what to do prior and post the
operation. This was clear, precise and invaluable.
How can you apply this to your business?
10. REVIEW, EVALUATE AND FOLLOW-UP
Again, my specialist had a proven follow-up system to evaluate how the
How can you do the same for your business. Most of us forget the follow-up,
but it is the most important