How to find the men in your patient base
Shaz Memon explains how your marketing might be missing out on 49% of the population.
British cultural perceptions of masculinity are slowly edging away from the idealised archetypes, with their archaic associations with power and strength, and heading for more enlightened paths.
Notwithstanding the results of a 2018 Yougov poll (futuremen.org) – which revealed that damaging male stereotypes persisted to impact on our general perception of gender – boundaries, in the context of marketing at least, are broadening.
Social media has a huge influence in shaping 21st-century culture. Heavily focused on aesthetics and the concept that we should all aim to ‘become the best version of ourselves’, the digital sharing of many different masculine ideals fuels the general desire to seek ways to enhance appearances.
Ostensibly, what this means is a more discerning male consumer who is influenced by what he sees and experiences online.
Modern masculinity, therefore, appears to be as much to do with male grooming, style trends and fashion, as it is gym bodies, healthy eating and fitness fads.
Today’s cosmetically focused, body-conscious male has a part to play in developing business marketing strategies – and this includes your own.
Currently, the state of play within dentistry varies. For some dentists, a broad-brush approach to promoting practice treatments and services is the default. With others, their websites feature stunning smile makeovers and supportive testimonials of satisfied female patients but lack a male presence. Whilst women are perhaps more likely to share their patient journey and give feedback, even the blogs and stock images favour the female and the imbalance should be addressed.
It is well documented that men have a notoriously poor record of self-care when it comes to their teeth and gums – seemingly there is a huge disconnect between lifestyle habits and practices and the influence these have on their wellbeing.
Yet there remains little effort by dental practices to engage directly with this demographic on this level, too; feeding specific information to help enlighten an untapped audience with targeted and tailored posts not only helps them achieve dental fitness, but also promotes a practice to current non-attenders.
Interesting to note, perhaps, is that many mental health agencies are now working hard to raise awareness of relevant risks to men’s wellness. This action was prompted by the statistics that often reveal a nation of troubled men but, for whom, mental health remained a stigma. Dentistry should take note.
When GQ’s State of Man survey (gq-magazine.co.uk) was published last year, there was much lamenting over the muddy world of modern-day masculinity, with ‘sensitivity’ and ‘suicide’ just two topics about which its findings raised immediate concern. Overall, it unearthed a mixed-up male psyche with little value to the marketer looking for hooks on which to hang key messages.
Men, on the one hand, are deemed to be more empathetic, but an ad for Gillette razors recently polarised views on the concept of ‘toxic masculinity’, which some men took as a generic attack on their gender.
Men are a global community influenced by trends, say others, but elsewhere it’s argued men, as individuals, are keen to maintain their individuality.
Where figures show they are now spending more now on grooming products – 66% of GQ readers spend more than £15 on grooming products each month – elsewhere reveals that they are not so great at oral hygiene, fail to visit the dentist as often as women, and are less particular about the frequency of changing their toothbrush or toothbrush head. So, whilst social media drives their hunger for improvement, seemingly they’re a little lazy about effecting change.
Men’s Health Week (menshealthforum.org.uk) takes place 10-16 June and this year its focus is on the impact of inequality and deprivation on men’s health.
Below, I’ve included some dental content marketing tips to help you redress the balance of your content and ensure you’re not depriving 49% of the population of their all-important oral health care. Additionally, these tips may also create an opportunity to talk about your cosmetic treatments and boost male attendance.
How to engage with your men
- Plug in to those who are technology driven. Talk about the cutting-edge equipment you use in your surgery and link it directly with what it can do to improve their oral health as well what their appearance. Men are on Instagram, too, so post images and videos demonstrating the use of said technology in your clinic. Make sure the patient you are using it on is a man to make it instantly relatable
- Show the red card on sports drinks. Enlighten your male audience by posting advice on energy drinks and how they are likely to be impacting negatively on their teeth and gum health. With recent studies by the likes of Professor Ian Needleman demonstrating that elite athletes felt that their oral health was negatively affecting their performance thanks to sports drinks, an emphasis on rehydration and remineralisation via other, more health-friendly drinks is important. Consider offering water in the reception area – perhaps go as far as to branded recyclable bottles for use in the gym? Or why not buddy up with a team to share promotional opportunities in the reception areas of each other’s business
- Are they still a smoker? Do they love a beer? Let your followers know about the statistics relating mouth cancer cases to smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol to excess. Men are more likely to be victims. Signpost to smoking cessation support and open up a discussion online about healthy dietary and lifestyle habits
- Talk about the elephant in the room. If bad breath is a persistent problem, then they may not have sought advice due to embarrassment. However, the problem can often get those who have been avoiding the dentist for one reason or another into the chair. Men are no exception
- Some of your male followers are likely to participate in contact sports. Talk about how they run the risk of trauma to mouth and teeth if they are not wearing a mouthguard. If possible, post evidence on your social media platforms of injuries to illustrate. Seeing is believing
- And, if all this evidence fails to convince them, hit them with your trump card. Let them know how scientists have discovered that men with poor oral health are more likely to suffer with erectile dysfunction. Bacteria caused by poor dental hygiene enters the blood stream and can eventually impair the blood flow to the vital organ.
futuremen.org/future-men-2018-survey (2018) accessed 15 April 2019
www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/gq-state-of-man (2018) accessed 15 April 2019
www.menshealthforum.org.uk/mhw (2019) accessed 15 April 2019