13 Aug Dental SEO, Plastics, Purpose and Accountability
Who are your accountable to? Well the answer to that question depends on your role and position in the practice. Of course for many the first thing that will come to mind will be the GDC, or perhaps another business partner or stakeholder. Increasingly though we are seeing patients challenging dentists about plastic and that means your patients are now holding you to account not just for their results, but also for the impact that dentistry has upon the environment.
The big plastic debate is thankfully no longer new news and it’s great to see the BDA taking some initiative along with some industry suppliers. But when a patient asks a question about where that interdental brush or plastic cup is going next, they are holding you to account and they are testing your values. Whilst for now, regulation is probably encouraging the amount of waste that a dental practice produces, there are of course plenty of well documented ideas and best practices that can be applied, despite the existing regulation. Most of these initiatives are just common sense.
All of this sits within a much bigger and changing business landscape. I think that we will look back at the current period and recognise that right now there is a shift, a shift that has been building for 20 or 30 years, before ‘business purpose’ becomes mainstream, partly due to the global plastic and environment issues. Businesses that are clear about their purpose tend do better over time, than those that don’t understand what their purpose is. And of course by purpose we don’t mean profit (as Simon Sinek reminds us, profit is a result, it’s not a purpose).
I’ve clocked 5 big plastic initiatives in the last month, including a plastic reduction initiative from one of the biggest global hotel chains and this is great news, but there is a problem. The problem is that consumers can be sceptical and that means they might question the motivations behind these initiatives, which means we are back to the importance of consumers understanding your business purpose if you are going to be successful in the long term.
Let me give you an example. 20 years ago I financed a business that supplied major supermarket chains and it was a horrifying insight into how the supermarkets abuse their suppliers. Many of the same practices exist today, they are well publicised and cause us to question their business purpose. This means that it’s hard to believe their motivations at face value, when the supermarkets all want to be our best friend and trust them again through shouting about reducing plastic in their packaging and selling less than perfectly straight carrots.
We have been having the ‘green’ conversation with all of clients for a while, and we are rolling out ‘green dentistry’ pages for all of our dental websites. For us that is just common sense and it is having a positive impact upon their dental website SEO. Our advice though is also to be careful with your green credentials. Remember that consumers are sceptical and patients are particularly sceptical of dentists and dental practices. This means that it’s just not enough to shout about the fact that you are reducing plastic in your dental practice, you have to be smarter than that.
Your green dentistry credentials will provide you with a narrow window of opportunity to differentiate your dental practice. But do it right now and before it becomes mainstream and before the regulation catches up and you have to do it anyway. Do it because you want to, do it because it’s consistent with your business purpose, and do it because your patients are going to make your accountable for it.