This article originally appeared in the January/2024 issue of the Academy of General Dentistry’s AGD Impact magazine.
Why Diversity in Marketing Matters
By: Jackie Ulasewich Cullen
In today’s evolving marketplace, where patient expectations continue to shape the way dental practices operate, one key aspect has made its way to the forefront: diversity and inclusion in marketing. The call for representation in marketing has grown increasingly louder in recent years, with a majority of Americans demanding more inclusivity, underscoring a fundamental shift in the dynamics of the modern market. This shift in expectations should be a wake-up call for dental practices, prompting them to rethink the way they engage with their target markets and build trust with patients.
Defining Diversity and Inclusion
Most people will agree that diversity means representing people of different races and ethnic backgrounds. While this is certainly true, there is much more to it than that. Diversity encompasses gender, ability, religion, age, origin, identity and sexual orientation. We must remember that the United States has always been known as the melting pot of the world; however, that is not often reflected in the marketing that businesses, including dental practices, produce. Inclusion, therefore, means genuinely welcoming all people, regardless of how different they may be from you, to reflect what our society actually looks like.
Keeping an Eye on the Future
The future is here. Many baby boomers are well into their 70s, and Generation X has reached midlife. The average millennial is in their 30s, with a career and a family, while the oldest members of Generation Z have graduated college and entered the workforce in earnest. What do the newer generations have in common? They were all raised to respect diversity and inclusion. In fact, millennials and Gen Z especially, are demanding it, and it shows in the consumer choices they make.
The Growth of Diversity in Business
As the consumer landscape changes in general, so does the dental industry. It should be no surprise that business ownership has diversified along with society, which means there are more women- and minority-owned dental practices than ever before. This is a positive shift for the dental industry, but, unfortunately, dental marketing is lagging on this trend, as it continues to be mostly aimed at a limited demographic. It is therefore imperative for practices to adapt their marketing strategies to resonate with the diversity of society and not just their own markets. Targeting a diverse patient base and representing diversity through your team builds trust and authority and ultimately attracts more quality patients to your practice.
How to Integrate Diversity and Inclusion in Marketing
The Bottom Line: Your Patients Expect More
Authentic representation matters. Today’s patients, especially younger generations, demand more. They are increasingly insistent that the places where they spend their money and the professionals they choose to trust with their health value diversity and inclusion in their public image and behind the scenes. This shift in behavior has not gone unnoticed by the big brands, who are quickly realizing that a commitment to diversity is paramount to their success. Small businesses, like many dental practices, should be following suit if they want to remain competitive now and in the future.
To achieve diversity in marketing, dental practices must begin by building a diverse workforce, adapting their existing marketing strategies, creating new content with diversity in mind, and adding diverse voices to their teams. Dental practices that have not already started changing their strategies should be seriously considering it. Businesses that embrace this trend are not only more likely to succeed in today’s market, but also to contribute to a more inclusive and equitable future.