Competing with “the Corporates”

April 2, 2021 Paul Henny DDS

In Seth Godin’s blog, he writes:

“In all markets, the market leader gets an unfair advantage. That’s because casual and unsophisticated customers choose the leader because it feels easier and safer. The strategy then, is not to wish and dream of becoming a big fish. The strategy is to pick a small enough pond. By engaging with the smallest viable audience, you gain the reputation and trust you need to move to ever bigger audiences.”

As dentists in private practice, attempting to be everything to everyone dilutes our value while it simultaneously puts us in direct competition with large DSOs and every other iteration of a business model that has deep pockets, the ability to survive big mistakes, and time on its side.

Instead, we need to know our strengths, make certain they match up well with our target audience, and then relentlessly become better and better at serving our target audience well. That is what L.D. Pankey, Bob Barkley, Peter Dawson, Frank Spear, John Kois, and many other dental leaders did.

None of these people pursued a business model which aspired towards a practice full of undiscriminating patients. Instead, they targeted a small market segment. That segment is composed of those who value improved health, appearance, and function. Avrom King called those folks the “values elite. They helped their market segment on a very high level, and by doing so, they created their future.

Many of us are successfully doing this still. That is how you compete against “the corporates”—you don’t.

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

One thought on “Competing with “the Corporates”

  1. Paul – Fantastic Post! We have been living this model for over 50 years in small town middle America. Through three generations of dentists and families who have learned that we respect their lives and the outcomes that fit for them at this moment and are willing to take control of their health outcomes. Discrimination is a learned skill not a dirty word.

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