04 / 07 / 22

Gordon & The Onion – A Lesson About Context.

Knock Knock.

I’d like to tell you about my friend Gordon, and what a visit from his neighbour can tell us about one of the most important marketing lessons I ever learned.

Our story starts mid-way through Antiques Roadshow one Sunday afternoon with a knock at the door from Gordon’s next-door neighbour – let’s call him Jim.

Jim is up to his elbows in grease and clearly in the midst of some serious motor maintenance. “Gordon,” he says. “Do you have a sprocket I could borrow?”

“Sure,” says Gordon. But before he can go to get it, Jim reels off a load more stuff.

“Do you have a spare retro-encabulator I could use, too?”

“No probs,” Gordon says.

“Don’t suppose you have a spare turbo grommet lying around?”


“And what about a 6mm howsyerfather?”

“Yep,” obliges the reliably equipped Gordon.

“Thanks, neighbour, you’re a lifesaver,” says Jim, just as Gordon is retreating into the house to fetch his shopping list.

“Oh, and one more thing,” Jim calls after him. “Do you have an onion?”

“An onion?” Repeats Gordon, performing a quick mental scan of his workshop’s cluttered shelves.

“Dude…” he says finally. “What the f*ck is an onion?”

So what just happened?

All Jim wanted was a simple, common-or-garden onion of the popular root vegetable variety.

But his requests for engine bits put Gordon in motor mechanic mode.

Jim’s final curveball short-circuited Gordon’s brain so it couldn’t make the switch from garage to kitchen and recognise a vegetable that any child of reading age could name.

When marketers talk about contextual congruency, we don’t always mean wild curveballs like Jim’s.

It’s about creating marketing and sales messages that are consistent throughout the patient journey.

But get it wrong, and the effect is the same – you short circuit patients’ brains and instantly disengage the ‘buy’ circuit.

If you want to lose leads fast, only flushing hard drives down the loo is more efficient. Contextual congruence should be the first lesson from The Practice Owners 101, and it’s one of the most valuable marketing and communication concepts I know.

I recorded a quick solo podcast on the subject that generated a surprising amount of feedback from dentists and practice owners. They said it was half an hour of a-ha moments.

I’ve also put together a blog on congruency and context.

See you there!

Your friend,


PS – If you want to talk about how you can supercharge your marketing and sales messages by making them congruent from acquisition to aftercare, drop me a line.

I’m also happy to chat about other aspects of practice and marketing growth, but please don’t ask to borrow my root veg.

PPS – If you know someone who’ll love my newsletter, please pass it on!

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About Prav

Prav is a healthcare business growth consultant and dental practice owner who loves helping businesses and individuals to develop and grow.