Someone had switched the #5 preset button from the local 600-pound news talk gorilla to a local Hot AC station.
I am not a Hot AC kinda guy.
Dance pop. Power pop. Adele. One Direction.
Mmm. No. Not me.
But there I was, bathed not in the music, but a whole new sounding stop set.
And that was where I was exposed to a branding and advertising lesson that made me go, “What the?!”
DOCTOR, HEAL THY MARKETING
I was drinking bulletproof coffee and almost did a spit take on my monitor. Mmm. Buttery.
The commercial was for a business called The Wisdom Teeth Guys.
And if you happen to live in Utah, there’s a double spit take in here.
Utah brought the world the piano supergroup The Piano Guys, and Utahns love them their Piano Guys.
Anyway, The Wisdom Teeth Guys are a dental clinic specializing in...guess.
Yes, extracting wisdom teeth.
The radio commercial is voiced by the doctor himself. Not the smoothest voice talent. But he sounds like a real guy, probably a nice guy, who’s doing something that isn’t his specialty: reading ad copy on the radio.
BUT HE SOUNDS CONVINCING ENOUGH, APPROACHABLE AND NON-THREATENING
And he’s offering to extract all four wisdom teeth for $899.
And despite my disbelief that there’s a brand called The Wisdom Teeth Guys, I have to know more.
So, hello, Google!
Google, of course, serves me a bunch of dental advertising which is going to come back to haunt us later.
But right now, I gotta know more about The Wisdom Teeth Guys.
I click on their website and I am greeted by...fun.
‘CUZ NUTHIN’ SAYS FUN LIKE ORAL SURGERY
But there it is: a nice, friendly website with a fun, retro logo that says, “The Wisdom Teeth Guys.” And there’s a smiling, clip-art man in surgical scrubs pushing a hand truck that’s loaded down with a giant, sparkling tooth.
I cannot believe I’m seeing this.
In the home page banner is a familiar, friendly font spelling out, “Safe affordable wisdom teeth removal in one appointment.” There’s a Unique Selling Proposition for ya. It’s stated immediately and consistently.
And there’s a slideshow photo of the doctor and his team, a happy, smiling man and three happy, smiling women.
The slideshow flips through images of the happy, smiling doctor and his equally happy, smiling patients. (Including a 20-something guy with a man bun, so you know: if you’re a hipster, you will not be judged--and you may even infer irony with regard to the retro logo and the little clip-art surgeon wheeling the gigantic wisdom tooth. It may even make you say, “This is the place.”)
THE WEBSITE COPY IS JUST WHAT IT SHOULD BE
It is pithy and relevant.
It says things that matter.
If you click on the local doctor’s bio (I say “local” because they also have offices in Texas), you get the story of The Man--starting with his Boy Scout merit badge in dentistry, his life-changing experiences with grateful patients, his dental missionary work, and his love of family and bowling.
I am surprised and pleased.
I bet his patients love him.
And here’s something else I’m going to bet. Not long after this screed goes live, I’m going to get an email from a very smart ad guy in Pensacola, telling me exactly who created this brand and the advertising. It’s got a certain wizard’s fingerprints all over it.
And I salute it.
THIS BRAND IS SIMPLE, MEMORABLE, EVOCATIVE, AND MOST LIKELY PROFITABLE
Who wants wisdom teeth removed? Nobody.
Who loves the dentist? Nobody.
Who has ever said, “Hey, that’s a fun & friendly oral surgeon!” Nobody.
I guarantee you, The Wisdom Teeth Guys is penetrating the clutter of 21st century psychic noise pollution and making the brand known.
AND IT’S A KILLER EXAMPLE OF SMART, HOLISTIC BRANDING AND MARKETING
At Slow Burn Marketing, the fabulous Honey Parker and I helped create a million-dollar juggernaut of a dental implant brand in Phoenix.
Prior to that, while working radio, I had done a lot of local dental advertising in California.
And in every case, the way we were successful was by making the dentists human and approachable, and making the brand evocative and relatable and comfortable and inviting.
But The Wisdom Teeth Guys? That takes it to a level I’ve never seen in dentistry, much less oral surgery.
And here’s the thing: if you compare that brand to everything around it, the problem of so much marketing comes right at you like a hypodermic needle full of mind-numbing anesthetic.
Think about it: what’s the first thing someone’s gonna do when they want to know more?
The same thing I did.
Remember those Google ads I said were going to come back to haunt us?
Google knows that I’m doing a search related to wisdom teeth.
The first ad it serves me (after The Wisdom Teeth Guys) is for a guy in my area.
The title of the page is, “Wisdom Teeth, Dental Implants, Most Insurance accepted.”
Well, I wasn’t searching for implants.
But I click on it.
The first thing I see is banner images of the local mountain ranges. In the upper left corner is a logo (evoking mountains), with the name of the clinic, which includes a) the geographic location and b) the phrase, “oral & maxillofacial surgery clinic.”
NOPE, IT’S NEITHER SEXY NOR FRIENDLY
But, let’s give the guy the benefit of the doubt.
I scroll down.
It tells me that “Dr. John Smith is a Board Certified Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon who practices a full scope of oral and maxillofacial surgery with expertise ranging from wisdom tooth removal to corrective jaw surgery. We also specialize in a full range of dental implant and bone grafting procedures, diagnose and treat facial injuries and TMJ disorders.”
After another long and droning paragraph containing run-on sentences of facts about oral surgery, I’m told that his staff is trained within their state of the art office setting.
I wonder if the doctor’s bio is any less stiff, banal or frightening.
Well, seems he was born, raised, graduated, post-graduated, tooth removal, bone grafting, IV anesthesia, implants, pathology, trauma, corrective surgery, board certified. And snowboarding.
LET’S GO BACK AND CLICK ON THE NEXT AD, SHALL WE?
Interestingly, it’s another wisdom-teeth-only brand.
It doesn’t have nearly the finesse and clarity of The Wisdom Teeth Guys.
But they’re trying. Sort of.
“You can trust your surgery to our experienced team!!”
Two exclamation points!! It must be so!!
Friends, using exclamation points in no way compensates for the banality and pointlessness of your ad-speak.
“Our skill, training and years of professional experience means you can trust us!”
Well, maybe. But if you show me that I can trust you, if you illustrate it instead of getting chirpy and exclamatory and empty without any actual story, I’m more likely to pay attention.
BUT HEY--AT LEAST IT’S A BRANDED VERTICAL
Unlikely to win against our wisdom-tooth leader, but in the ring.
Next ad: the page is called “Free Pano X-Ray” with the dentist’s location.
If you don’t know that a pano X-ray is in your wisdom-tooth-extraction future, this doesn’t mean much. But I click.
“Healthy smiles! The whole family! Advanced technology! Convenient scheduling! Flexible financing! Your busy schedule! New Patients Welcome!”
That last one is my favorite.
Because I’m so used to dentists saying, “Go away, we can’t take you.”
Another tip: Blah blah blah blah blah doesn’t become relevant or meaningful just because you’ve added exclamation points.
BUT MY FAVORITE GOOGLE AD?
The one that says, “[CITY NAME] Dental Office” and the very generic domain name.
“Oops! That page can’t be found!”
Ya know, based on a cursory search in Google AdWords, my one click probably cost that dentist about 8 bucks.
His brand doesn’t say anything.
And the page he's paying to advertise is dead.
Imagine paying for a radio commercial and broadcasting 60 seconds of dead air.
Welcome to the Google equivalent.
ANYWAY, ALL THAT ASIDE: HOW’S YOUR BRAND?
Does it say anything that matters?
Is it remotely memorable?
Does it make the prospect feel something relevant and inviting about your business?
Does the marketing have a voice that sounds like a true, actual, sympathetic human being who cares about the customer?
Is the unique selling proposition clear and have actual value?
Does the advertising speak to the needs, fears and desires of a customer who has a problem and is possibly even in pain?
Or is your brand just going through the motions?
Does it make you feel “safe” and “professional” because it doesn’t tread too close to anything resembling surprise and humanity?
If so, maybe it’s time to muster a little marketing courage. It’s not nearly as complicated or as painful as a wisdom tooth extraction.
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in
Blaine Parker helps people sell their stuff. An advertising Creative Director and Copywriter at Slow Burn Marketing, he specializes in big-brand thinking for small-business marketing. He has the voice of a much taller man.