If you bought a fancy new piece of equipment for your practice, how would you describe it to your patients? Would you call it by its technical name and leave it at that? Or would you emphasize all of its cool features and benefits to them?

Obviously, the latter makes much more sense from a marketing perspective. You don’t want to present your patients with a boring, minimalized version of the truth. You want them to understand and appreciate your investment.

So, why aren’t you applying the same rules to marketing yourself? Every single day, you take part in hundreds of interactions — with new patients, old patients, team members, peers, family, and friends. The collective result of these interactions is your image, or how you present yourself to the world. I’ve worked with plenty of dentists in the past 20 years to know you are likely underrepresenting yourself.

But if you truly want to stand out among your competition, you need to take control of your image and start marketing the most important part of your business: you.

Let’s do a quick exercise. Take 15 seconds to write a description of yourself. Pretend that one of your team members is about to introduce you to a large crowd of potential patients. What do you want your introduction to include?

You probably focused on the fact that you’re a dentist. After all, it is what you do. But think about it. Aren’t you more than that? You’re going to have to change how you think about yourself if you want to change how others see you.

Self-appoint

First, you’re deciding what you want to be. Give yourself permission to be something way cooler than just a “dentist.” Think about the description you wrote for yourself. What if, instead, you had said that you were in the business of employing great team members — of mentoring them, teaching them how to provide fantastic service, and investing in their personal development?

What if you had said that you took pride in engineering all those pieces — experiences for your team and your patients; that you create environments where people flourish and become their best selves? And you don’t just spew a bunch of mumbo jumbo, instead you give specific examples: “Here’s Suzie, I helped her to get out of debt and create a 10-year plan that’ll see her through retirement.” So, that’s what you do. And, by the way, you are also a dentist.

Here is where you embrace all the good things that you do, and make them what your job is all about. You aren’t just a dentist, and the sooner you recognize that, the sooner you will be able to market yourself effectively. And the result of this goes way beyond. It begins to shape the culture of your office and engages your team. It seeps into the community, attracts new patients, and supports retention.

Can you imagine how this would set you apart from your competition? You have appointed yourself as a life changer — as an engineer of experiences. And in the process, you have taken control of how other people perceive you.

Self-promote

I know, it sounds horrible. For some reason, everyone hates the idea of self-promotion. But if you want people to know you are more than the DDS at the end of your name (and you do!), you need to take this exercise to the end. The most influential, life-changing, impactful people in the world are those who leverage their resources or position and determine their identity.

So, maybe you want to take your team on a mission trip and spend five days providing dental care to people who may never have seen a dentist in their lives. Or perhaps you hold a local free dentistry event. You’ll bond with your team, you’ll make a difference, and you’ll feel great doing it.

Don’t be embarrassed to talk about it. Hang a picture on the wall where all your patients can see it If this is a part of your identity, give yourself permission to fully embrace it. Let other people know that you’re not just a dentist — you are so much more than that. You are an educator, a mentor, a leader, a generous giver, a pillar in your community.