How a Dental Company Is Building Its Brand With Content Marketing

CMO Spotlight: Patrick Bernardi, Hu-Friedy

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In the spirt of the famous song, 'It's Five O'clock Somewhere," the same idea can be applied to content. Somewhere, somebody is looking for information on how to be better at something. And while the dental industry may not be considered the hotbed of content marketing, you might be surprised by some of the innovative approaches that are being applied by one of the leading players in the dental category, Hu-Friedy.

Founded in 1908 by Hugo Friedman, the dental instrument and products company is a global leader in its category and takes pride in still executing 80% of its manufacturing process by hand. This same care and attention to detail also governs its content marketing initiatives under CMO Patrick Bernardi, who was recognized with a prestigious Content Engagement Award at The CMO Club Awards.

While prioritizing marketing goals is like treating a waiting room that never empties, Bernardi tells me that content gets the first appointment of the day at Hu-Friedy. "The bottom line is this," he says. "Relationships are the vehicle for brand advocacy and that vehicle requires fuel in the form of value-add content, loyalty experiences and simple ways to engage with our brand." In other words, when it comes to content marketing and delivering information that helps dental professionals perform at their best, Hu-Friedy has really been stepping on the accelerator.

Take one big bite
While Hu-Friedy's reputation for manufacturing the highest quality dental instruments is legendary, Patrick Bernardi tells me that selling through distribution can sometimes make developing direct relationships with customers challenging. This is where content plays a critical role, he says. "We have been working on getting closer to our customers over the last few years by improving our web site experience, our social media platforms, and [in 2015], we really focused on delivering utility by creating and distributing value-add content." Because the brand is so prominent across a wide spectrum of dentistry, content topics abound.

To support its broad portfolio, says Bernardi, he and his team developed a content calendar format called the "Thud Factor." "During each quarter, we focus on a specific area of our business, anchor it with a significant piece of content and execute a series of integrated campaign elements to drive maximum impact." For an example, take a look at the #ShowUsYourPurple campaign, which was built around National Dental Hygiene month last fall. This program targeted dental hygienists, explains Bernardi, "to express our gratitude and to deliver a rallying cry for this special group to celebrate one another." And yes, drilling down, the results are worth smiling about. Says Bernardi, "As we've had more user generated content, social sharing and overall engagement tied back to this campaign than anything else we did in 2015."

Where does it hurt?
When it comes to content, Bernardi believes that while you can never create too much, quality trumps quantity. In other words, stay on topic. "There is nothing worse than being hooked by a provocative subject line that introduces a piece of content only to realize that the content is of limited value and really doesn't deliver the value it promised."

To ensure voice of customer relevancy, Bernardi's team keeps in close contact with the target. "At Hu-Friedy, we ask a lot of questions to customers which informs our content creation. We also do our homework on industry trends." Bernardi says that, for example, his team noticed that general practice dentists are taking more and more specialty cases in-house rather than referring out. "To address that trend, we developed an eBook designed specifically to deliver education on dental implant fundamentals," he says.

Go deeper than leads and sales generated
To learn whether the content has any bite, Bernardi's team gauges success by overall engagement and the data gathered as a result. The company's online dental hygiene community, called Friends of Hu-Friedy, in particular, provides Bernardi's team with a barometer for effectiveness. "We have over 30,000 dental hygienists as members," he says. "A significant portion of our content marketing efforts are designed to deliver information to this group so that they can perform at their best clinically, in addition to learning about methods and techniques to ensure career longevity."

The data mined from interactions with content further informs a campaign's success. "As we are trying to develop stronger and more direct relationships with our customers, data collection is very important," says Bernardi. "It has been gratifying to see how many new emails we have been able to collect this year based on engagement actions like eBook digital asset downloads and email newsletter registrations."

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