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Using clever marketing, the owners of Cameron&Co in North Queensland celebrate the practice’s differences from other dental clinics. By Frank Leggett
When Dr Cameron Arnold decided to revitalise his practice, he was determined to make it stand out. “I wanted to differentiate my business and occupy our own space in the market,” says the Townsville practitioner. “For a dental practice, being memorable and unique is one of the best marketing tools you can have.”
The practice, located in the Townsville suburb of Mundingburra, had been running since 1998. The rebranding, which took place in 2016, began with a name change. Smile Dental was rebranded as Cameron&Co and the business was given a vibrant, stylised look. Cameron&Co opened for business with a campaign highlighting that Dr Arnold is a born and bred Townsville boy running an independent practice.
“This effective marketing concept attracted new business,” says Dr Arnold. “While corporates have their place, many people prefer a clinician who solely makes the best decisions in regard to their oral health.”
Point of difference
Dr Arnold worked closely with his wife Sarah, the practice coordinator who also runs the marketing side of the business. Part of the couple’s marketing strategy is to celebrate the uniqueness of their dental practice. The striking purpose-built building has a split, angled roof, corrugated iron walls and an expansive outdoor shaded area. The interior features primary colours, a sleek logo and vibrant artwork. The practice vehicle is a Land Rover Defender painted with safari zebra stripes. The attitude is joyous and fun without ever being silly.
The Arnolds have always strived to make their practice stand out from the competition. When they first started Smile Dental 22 years ago, the most common look for a dental practice was a white, stark interior. Most practices were called ‘Dr Surname’s Dental Clinic’ or ‘Surname and Associates’. They chose a radically different path.
“We employed the skills of Brisbane designer, Rilla Alexander,” says Sarah. “She created a fresh look with a distinct corporate feel. At that time, calling the practice Smile Dental was unusual.”
Over the next 15 years, the elements that individualised Smile Dental were soon adopted by many other practices. The corporate look became fashionable and business names often included the words ‘Smile’ or ‘Teeth’. Corporate organisations also began buying practices and branding them with an integrated look. By 2015, the Arnold’s practice no longer had a point of difference.
The Arnolds contacted Rilla Alexander once again to rebrand as Cameron&Co, even though she had moved overseas. There were many emails and international phone calls as they worked on the design, look, graphics and feel of the practice. With a plan to once again differentiate their business from the rest of the pack, Alexander used blocks of colour at the heart of her design. The Cameron&Co colour palette and font template cover its website, stationery, print campaigns and the practice decor. Even the striking artwork created by Alexander follows suit.
One of the most important marketing tools for any practice is a well-designed website. Often, this is a prospective client’s first experience of your business. The Cameron&Co website is a bright, easy-to-navigate portal to the practice.
“Your website needs to be simple and vibrant,” says Sarah. “It should avoid dense blocks of text, be very readable and not too clinical. No matter what the client is looking for—dental implants, cosmetic work, Invisalign—they need to find it quickly. And they need to know how to contact you immediately.”
Sarah brought in a local photographer and models to produce a collection of eye-catching photos. When clients visit the website, they see bespoke images unique to Cameron&Co—not the repetitive stock images that are used on many dental websites.
“If you’re using clinical photos of dentistry, it has to be your dentistry,” says Dr Arnold. “It’s also important to constantly add content to your website because that helps people find you in the search engines.”
Cameron&Co runs five treatment rooms with five clinicians and seven support staff. It is a warm and friendly practice—patients feel welcome from the moment they arrive. There is a hospitality station with coffee and snacks where people can mingle and chat. Sarah also utilises social media, television, newspapers and positive word of mouth to market the business. Promotions and news snippets are regularly posted on Facebook and Instagram. These cover the likes of Patient of the Month receiving flowers, a 10 per cent whitening discount and State of Origin barracking.
Oral hygiene information is also disseminated through their social media and blogs in a non-threatening palatable form. These posts ask questions such as ‘Who needs a night guard’ or ‘Is tooth decay an infectious disease?’
“We gently educate and give information,” says Dr Arnold. “It’s not pushing a product and it gets people engaged.”
Another marketing plan that works well for Cameron&Co is to embrace traditional media in the local market. Sarah takes out advertisements in the Townsville Bulletin newspaper to reach an older demographic. Television ads are also aired in the local area. Cameron&Co’s most successful TV ads are shown during football matches and on morning television that people watch when at the gym.
“Practices outside capital cities should not ignore local TV and newspapers,” says Sarah. “They both offer great marketing opportunities.”
Cameron&Co bases its business ethos around building relationships with clients, offering comprehensive care and excellence in dentistry. It’s also committed to looking after its staff.
“Most of our staff have been with us long-term,” says Sarah, “but they occasionally go off to start families. When looking for a new staff member, it’s about matching the right person to the job. We would prefer to hire for attitude and train, rather than employ someone with skills but not the right attitude. We get a lot of feedback from our clients, complimenting us on our team. And that’s the best kind of marketing you can have.”