Today, I spent a good part of my morning at the dentist’s office. As I was lying in the dentist’s chair while she prepared me for a crown it occurred to me that most dental work is a type of service that people purchase because having your teeth worked on is far better than the alternatives (getting a toothache, or even possibly losing a tooth).
In other words, people go to the dentist for one of several reasons:
- To keep a problem from happening (preventive care)
- To fix a problem that has already occurred.
- To fix something that doesn’t look right (cosmetic dentistry)
While a dentist can still try to distinguish themselves from other dentists, the fact remains that for many people getting dental work done is a somewhat unpleasant and sometimes painful experience. Although, nearly all dentists will take measures to make their patients comfortable–it is still true that in order for dental work to occur a patient must remain still with their mouth open while strangers poke around in it–it’s not a very appealing way to spend your time.
The marketing of a need-based service like getting your teeth worked on contrasts greatly with the marketing of other products and services that are primarily based on wants. For example, there’s a great deal of difference to the consumer between getting your teeth worked on and spending a day at the spa. If given the choice between the two, I believe that most people would choose the latter.
While the need nature of dentistry can make it challenging to market, it’s not impossible to market a need-based service.
There are several methods that marketers can use to reach the consumers of a need-based product or service:
- Educational approach–if the product or service is a need, determine whether consumers are aware of that need. If they are not, provide information that explains why the product is needed.
- Uniqueness approach–the marketer explains why the consumer should buy the product or service from a particular provider as opposed to others who offer similar products or services.
- Price approach–the marketer offers the best price alternative, either by providing credit or by making the product or service available at a low cost.
Are you responsible for the marketing campaign of a needs-based product or service?
If so, do you find it easier or harder to market it? What marketing methods do you use?