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How to Be The Best Damn Ice Cream Shop in Town

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Cute cat wearing a hat and sunglasses licking a delicious ice-cream coneThere's an excellent reason why Baskin Robbins offers more than one flavor of ice cream. And why the people they attract don't shop there for…say, bicycle tires. The Baskin Robbins a brand name that is known for excellent ice cream. In fact, 31 flavors, enough ice cream varieties to satisfy nearly everyone. And that's it—all kinds of wonderful ice cream for dairy-lovers who love a choice.

They think of Baskin Robbins as the best damn ice cream shop in town.

And isn't that—with some variation—the recognition that every successful practitioner is trying to achieve, and reaching a target audience that they are trying to satisfy? You have a great solution to offer to a specific somebody.

Communicating that proposition is exactly how effective branding and marketing are defined. “Your brand,” according to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, “is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Contrast this with the reverse: If your practice is not a brand, it is a commodity.

Being bland is not a brand…

We have yet to meet a healthcare practitioner who thought their practice was “plain vanilla.” Every professional we’ve talked with (over several years and throughout America) spoke about special capabilities…or their office or their staff or something special for the public.

Classic Mistake #1: These practices don’t bring their unique benefits into a distinguishing message. To the public, they are vanilla.

You have unique flavors to your practice. But there are the many practitioners who want to sell something to everyone under one roof. Generic advertising pleas: "We Care," "Family Services for Your Loved Ones," "Treatment You Can Count On." Is this about a practice or a mattress store?

Classic Mistake #2: The “everything for everybody” image becomes “nothing for nobody in particular.”

But who knows one 'ice cream shop' from another? Or one doctor's office from the next, when so many shout the same broad promises: "Great care everywhere!" "All you need for everyone you know!" With focus, be prepared to ignore some people in favor of reaching a specific audience and needs.

Over-reaching and/or over-promising doesn't appeal to a wide patient base. Because the “something for everyone” pitch doesn’t focus on anyone in particular, the audience is diluted. In contrast, your style of personal service, treatment specialties or unique benefits produce the greatest patient satisfaction.

You have a specific consumer audience that has been waiting for your kind of care. What is the excellence of your specific services that your patients need and desire? Who are the exact consumers who can't wait to take advantage of the exclusive care you offer?

5 branding tips on becoming the best damn ice cream shop…  

Creating and executing a highly effective brand strategy is a delicate creative challenge to get it right. We can provide some experience and professional help with that, so give us a call. And to begin, here are some cornerstone tips about branding.

Differentiate, differentiate, differentiate. Your brand is nothing if it is the same as everyone else. What are the unique sell points of distinction between your practice any all other service options?

Know your audience. Know your brand perception. As in all communications and marketing, know who you’re talking to first. Then work to understand how you are perceived. Your brand message is not what you say it is. A brand is like a reputation; it is what people think and say about you.

Go ahead, get emotional. Brand awareness—in healthcare and personal services—have the ability to touch the human spirit. Evoking emotions in a positive manner can make a brand message more effective and memorable.

Create a branding message that is a positive promise. Understand how to shape your brand message as a concise and memorable concept. Make it concise and easily shareable.

Be patient. It takes time. Two ice cream enthusiasts—Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins—founded the “31 Flavors” empire about 70 years ago. And that serves to remind us that brand awareness and recognition doesn’t happen quickly. Medical practices and hospitals may not need decades, but successful brand building is a long game. You need a front-loaded, five-year brand plan.

Answer the question: “Why You?”

The rewards of effective branding—in the retail ice cream world and in modern healthcare delivery—are tangible. People look for, and take confidence in, recognized brand names. They may or may not be aware of the brand influence, but the quality of a brand is part of the purchase decision. Brands have added value and command a better price.

Carefully examine who you are, what you do and who you serve. Take a good look at your location, your top-draw services, and the specific patients and cases you want to attract. Most likely, these are the areas you most enjoy as well. Give us a call; we can help.

Answer the question: “Why You?” This is your unique flavor to the patients who want to savor you most. Be delicious. And be the best damn ice cream shop in town.

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