Director's Message: Grapevine marketing

Aug. 24, 2006
Hygienists are pioneers once again!

by Kristine A. Hodsdon, RDH, BS
Director, RDH eVillage

Since Irene Newman graduated from the Fones School of Dental Hygiene, educating patients has been a foundation of dental hygiene. We prove daily that we have the power to boost the bottom line of manufacturers by spreading messages about their products to our patients. Hygienists are the time-honored best practice for word-of-mouth marketing.

In fact, as of late, many dental and dental hygiene companies have begun to recognize our presence and our effectiveness. Manufacturers have established Key Opinion Leader conferences and invited only hygienists. They have established roundtable opportunities so they can sit down with us one-on-one to learn our thoughts about their product mix. In my opinion, the best opportunity for any dental hygiene manufacturer is to exhibit at RDH's Under One Roof Conference. The intimate atmosphere leads to genuine relationship building and information sharing. We hygienists can't help but go back to our offices and either purchase their products or promote their products to our patients.

So when I was reading "I Sold It Through the Grapevine," by Robert Berner, in the May 29, 2006, issue of Business Week, I chuckled. The article was talking about the new and emerging marketing phenomenon called "word-of-mouth" marketing. In fact, Procter & Gamble has established a new advertising division called Vocalpoint. Vocalpoint's goal is to reach the "most influential group of shoppers in America: moms." Their framework is to hire what they term "connector moms."

The criterion for being a connector mom is talky-talk. On average they speak to 25 to 30 people a day (nonconnector moms average five). The purpose of these conversations is to spread the word about P&G's product offerings and pass out coupons. Sound familiar? Hygienists can easily speak to that many consumers a day in our professional and personal lives. The only hiccup in the "word-of-mouth marketing" arena is lack of disclosure on the part of some of the connector moms. And the Federal Trade Commission is handling that.

Another such company called Word of Mouth Marketing Association mandates full disclosure and has a very impressive list of company members. Yet, I write with a self-confident grin, the dental hygiene profession would leave those companies dead in the water.

We have the American Dental Hygienists' Association, American Academy of Dental Hygiene, National Dental Hygiene Association, lister groups like Amy Nieves', CE gatherings, etc., as contacts. Plus, in regard to recommending products, well, we have a built-in disclosure policy. We only advocate products that we believe to be efficacious and that will support improved oral health. Am I right?

So the next time my daughter tells me that I am not hip or connected to what is "in," I can respond, "Oh, yeah? I have been influencing the purchasing decisions of consumers through oral health education long before it became the newest marketing cottage industry!"

Well, it's not a belly ring, but it is a pat on the back that all hygienists can share!

A thank you goes to…

Thanks again, Sharon Zastrow, District XI ADHA trustee, and Michelle Hurlbutt, past president of the California DHA and past trustee to ADHA, for working the ADHA membership table at last month's UOR program. They confirmed that we had 20 new members, 30 renewals/reinstatements, and one student conversion.

Welcome, and welcome back!

Thank you for reading RDH eVillage.