Write your website part 1: Brandingon 23rd April 2019
Kathy Nathan starts a new series on creating and writing for dental practice websites. When it comes to outstanding branding for your practice, it comes down to the person who knows all about it – you!
Your website is your dental practice virtual shop front window. It is a cost-efficient, flexible and enduring online medium, owned by you, which reaches your existing and potential patients. Successful writing for your dental website is matchmaking – bringing you and your ideal patients together. To build relationships, consolidate trust marketing and create content which aligns your brand vision (your business interests) with your mission (your ideal patients’ interests), start with your business plan.
Your business plan
A good business plan clarifies your goals, shows how to achieve them and informs all your branding and marketing to follow. Take time to formulate your business plan, focussing on your vision (the financial goals of your business), mission, (how the business is intended to improve your clients’ lives), objectives (what needs to happen for your vision to be achieved), strategies (how your objectives will be reached) and action plan (what actions will be taken, by whom and by when).
Your home page
Use your home page to show patients what they are looking for, where to start and to highlight additional offers and opportunities. Prominently display selected written or video testimonials relating to your service on your Home page. Establish credibility and trust, keeping content simple and accessible to convey the big picture.
Your welcome blurb is the brief description of your site on your Home page, usually displayed in a block at the top left or in the centre of the content space. Speak to your ideal patient and share your mission. Consider asking open questions or flattering with rhetorical questions, such as ‘How do you find the dentist you deserve?’
Your brand name
Naming (or renaming) your dental practice is an opportunity to highlight your specific identity. Consider what your ideal patients (see ‘Your Target Market’ below) need from you. Add value beyond your core dental services to stand out, attract and retain patients. Be relevant. Ask, ‘How does my business make my patients’ lives better?’ Strive to be different from your colleagues and adopt a strategy of meaningful niche marketing.
Then, choose your practice name to speak to this purpose – your brand of dentistry. Have fun thinking of words, phrases and even proverbs which best describe you and your practice.
If you are blessed with a surname like ‘Paradise’ why not put ‘Dental’ after your name to form a delightfully promising and personal practice name? Or, choose words that fit with your mission; ‘Gentle Dental’ does what it says on the tin. Another alternative is to associate your practice name with its purpose, for example, ‘Spit and Polish’ for a direct-access hygiene clinic.
Marketing advisors suggest incorporating your location into your name to enhance Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This works especially well if your name alliterates (makes sounds or letters that repeat) with your geography, for example, Orpington Orthodontics.
Whatever name you choose, let it speak to your specialty within the limits of our wonderful but highly regulated and somewhat conservative dental industry. Keep it simple, self-explanatory and brief, ideally with an attention grabbing ‘hook’. And before you order new signage and stationery, search online to avoid accidentally imitating local colleagues.
While your beautiful brand name might say who you are, it doesn’t necessarily sum up what you offer. Sometimes a brand name is nothing without its slogan; taglines (as slogans are known in the copywriting trade) create great memory hooks for products and services.
‘No pain. No gain’ is probably not the slogan you would choose to convey your brand values. And while we’re at it, ‘If it’s not hurting, it’s not working’ or ‘Drill. Fill. Chill’ won’t encourage uptake of your services either. ‘Sore teeth? Dental relief.’ Maybe. Or, ‘Prevention, restoration, aftercare.’ Better. Or, ‘From shy to smiling.’ Best? Be creative. Dream, free associate and play with active, alluring words to describe the essence of your brand.
Your target market
Your ideal patients are the people who you work the best with, get the best results for and are the most economically viable for you. Your target market collectively represents these ideal clients. Your target audience are the readers your content needs to reach to impact your target market. Often, your target market and audience are one and the same – adult patients usually fall into this category.
If your target market (children, for example) differs from your target audience, direct your content toward your audience, in this case, parents of children in your target market, since these are the people making purchasing decisions.
One way to reach your target market/audience is to first create a ‘Customer Insight Map’ summarising your ideal patient’s motivations, aspirations, challenges, attitudes and lifestyle. Use www.streetcheck.co.uk or similar based on your practice location and where your ideal patients live and work to assess your target market demographics; age, location, disposable income, gender, etc.
Then, be guided by what your ideal patients need to think and feel about you in order to trust you and buy from you. For example, a suburban orthodontic practice might appeal to the parents of their school aged patients with the phrase, ‘Your child’s straight teeth are their best friend’, while a city clinic catering for young adult professionals would do better with, ‘Your smile is your first impression – make it count.’
Next, consider the balance of ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘my’, ‘we’ and ‘our’ words compared to patient focussed ‘you’ and ‘your’ words on your website. ‘Your smile is your star asset at [practice name]’, is more outward looking than, ‘At [practice name] we pride ourselves in offering the best in modern dental care’.
Lastly, avoid prescriptive, negative or hard selling content that blames the victims – our patients suffering tooth problems – for their troubles. ‘Does your smile let you down? Don’t neglect your teeth any longer’ leaves patients feeling shame and fear of being ‘told off’ if they go to us. Sadly, for many patients, going to the dentist is their worst nightmare. Encouraging them to visit with aggressive self-promotion or blame puts their feelings and concerns in last place. To build trust, relationships and our businesses, we need to engage with patients from their perspective. We need to write for our patients, not to them.
Your about page
Begin by drafting a specifically updated and deliberately personal CV. A professional CV showcases your qualifications, employment, skills, dental interests, specialties, achievements and references. Your website CV, however, requires more. This expanded CV is essential for creating personable and engaging website content, particularly in your profile on your ABOUT page. ‘People buy people not products’, and, ‘people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’, it is said. Your ABOUT page first and foremost explains what visitors get from your site – but then, current and prospective patients need to know your story in order to build a relationship with you, trust you and ultimately buy from you.
Why did you become a dentist and why did you set up or join the practice where you currently work? What are your interests? Your favourite pastimes, books, movies, songs, artists, fashion designers, galleries, eateries, clubs, advertisements, cup finals, opinion leaders, sporting legends, social media platforms and apps/whatever of all times, where you live, how you live, where you come from and anything else grounding and relevant to you as a person is all grist for the website content mill.
Is there something surprising about yourself that you might share? Use it. Be as open, honest and authentic as you appropriately dare. Be a human that does dentistry rather than a dentist that may or may not be human.
Gallery, services and fees
How we present our services helps prompt uptake of our treatments. Combine your show-stopping gallery of before and after treatment photographs, patient stories and testimonials (with written permission) with your services and fees on your website. Provide your patients with all the information they need to know about your services on one page to ease their decision-making process.
Carefully curate inspiring photographs and delectable descriptions of your stunning, life transforming services to encourage your patients to say ‘yes, please, I’ll have that’ to your treatment plans. Use the mandatory display of fees (listed in whole numbers and without currency symbols to help patients focus on your products before your prices) as an opportunity to build trust and loyalty with transparency. Prominently locate your most expensive ‘anchor’ items, eg full mouth makeovers, alongside your more often prescribed, high profit, moderately priced items to enhance the value of both by comparison. Create tantalising high value discounted treatment packages to reward uptake of appropriately prescribed multiple services.
Think of your services page, with photos and fees included, as being akin to the menus offered in the best managed restaurants. Whet your patients’ appetites with irresistible pictures, juicy words and promisingly positioned prices. Let your website Services page justify and support your patients’ choices, referrals and recommendations. Make it easy for your patients to choose the best and most you have to offer.
Dr Kathy Nathan
BDS BSC DGDPUK MGDSRCS
Dr Kathy Nathan is the founder and director of ‘Writing for dentists. She provides extensive writing and training services for UK dental professionals. A published author, speaker and teacher, Kathy has over three decades of award winning experience and qualifications in dentistry and communication. ‘Write your own Website’ articles are excerpts adapted from her book of the same title.