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Marketing Genius or Misleading the Consumer? You decide…

Woman frowning while holding up yellow smile signI’m a sucker for a nifty marketing angle. I love usable swag and unique branding. So imagine my delight at Spring Training this year when from across the stadium and through the stands and outfield laws,  I observe a sea of bright yellow fan/shade handheld items with a simple “Smile” printed on one side and www.smilegeneration.com on the reverse side.  My existence as a geek of all things dental, I have to ask the promotional crew manning the Smile Fan/Shade popsicle stick delights, “What exactly is www.smilegeneration.com?” Well the answer I was given was interesting.  “This is a group that ‘selects’ only the best and most qualified dentists in your area and provides you a referral to an office in your geographic are. Only Smile Generation Approved dentists are listed on the website. There is a variety of criteria they base this decision on and there are more than 40 offices they have selected in the Phoenix area. And, none of the dentists listed pay to be on this list such as with 1-800-DENTIST.” Hmmmm… when asked how this group was funded, I was told by “sponsorship.” Indeed?

A quick search on my IPhone tells me, www.smilegeneration.com is a website owned and operated by Pacific Dental Services. That’s right, a dental services organization with more than 250 affiliate offices on the west side of the country. What “approved offices from a variety of criteria are selected” for the referral? Well naturally PDS offices! The same search functionality that exists on both websites www.smilegeneration.com and www.pacificdentalservices.com. Put in the same search fields and the offices listed are exactly the same.

But www.smilegeneration.com also includes user reviews!! It must be legit. Of the 100’s of reviews that are posted and more than 300 that I personally read… all offer only a 5 smile face rating. There was also no mechanism for me to post an unbiased review on www.smilegeneration.com or the practice’s individual website.

“Why do you care?” Paul Lindsey, CEO of Gold Dust asks me. “Is it because you didn’t think of first.” My honest gut reactions is …maybe. Except, I know the integrity of your marketing message is as important as the message itself. I care because I know there is a fine line between marketing genius and misleading the public, while in the process discrediting what I think is a terrific organization like 1-800-DENTIST. Why else do I care? Because hundreds of practices that I’ve personally worked with are being out-marketed. The demand for a practice to be social media savvy and market direct to the consumer has never been greater!

Over the next 3 months, Gold Dust’s initiative is to bring our clients the best in Social Media coaching with webinars focused on attracting the dental consumer. Check our blog on April 2nd for a schedule of world class speakers. We look forward to support your inner Marketing Genius!

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