If you’re a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram user then it’s likely that you have a “friend” or “follower” that has jumped aboard the MLM (multi-level marketing) wagon – also referred to as a pyramid scheme or network-marketing. With the rise of social media networking over the past decade, such organisations have been rebranded for the digital age and digital platforms are fuelling their comeback.
An industry dominated by a new generation of young entrepreneurs looking for a “get rich quick” solution by selling a manufacturer’s health-related products on their behalf often have little or no understanding of the effectiveness of the tooth whitening kits they are marketing. These teams of MLMs are coming together in their thousands, hounding your patients on social media and enticing them to buy from them, when they should be asking your practice about professional whitening. In order to fight back you should:
- Educate your patients on the benefits of professional chair-side whitening – Clever marketing and social pressures shouldn’t outweigh patient education. Ask patients at their routine visits if they have used any online-purchased whitening products. Questioning their effectiveness is a great way to let patients know about the whitening treatments you offer.
- Market whitening in your practice – With the rise of MLMs, embrace this opportunity to invest in increased promotion on social media. Ask your whitening manufacturer if they can provide your practice with free customisable marketing and education materials templates and use these to target patients as effectively as possible. Perhaps someone in your practice is social-media savvy and can help you get started online.
- Promote an established, well-recognised tooth whitening kit – Brand recognition is important to the millions of Generation Ys and Zs, so it’s vital you reassure them that the whitening manufacturer you use is established and approved by the profession. For example, chairside whitening treatment with products such as SDI polaoffice+, use a highly concentrated whitening gel of 6% hydrogen peroxide and built-in desensitisers, that can be applied to the teeth in one or several increments in one appointment and removed to reveal immediate, visible results.
Whitening is a relatively simple service to sell within a dental practice, often selling itself thanks to the coverage it receives across the media. However, charities like the Oral Health Foundation recognise the online enticements and are working hard to combat the serious risks that consumers face by purchasing potentially unsafe whitening home kits or pastes over the internet. The role of the dental professional now is to support them by educating patients and emulating the MLMs.