Write your website part 2: Marketingon 13th May 2019
Kathy Nathan explains how you can grab the attention and interest of potential patients through your website
Marketing, sometimes described as ‘a truth well told’, is the means by which we promote our products and services, in this case, dentistry. There is a handy operatic acronym to remind us how to do this when writing for our website: AIDA.
First, grab reader ‘attention’; get to the point quickly and highlight the benefits of your practice with a captivating or intriguing brand name, taglines and section headlines. Then, generate ‘interest’ with attractive words, images and offers. Next, create ‘desire’ with testimonials, and finally, invoke ‘action’ with your call to action (CTA), for example by asking readers to telephone or email for a consultation.
When writing, remember to represent your particular brand with reference to our industry norms and regulations. Before you publish, ensure your practice capacity, products, services and aftercare is capable of satisfying the demand a successful website marketing campaign generates.
Having carefully considered your brand identity – your practice name, slogan, target market, CV and services, you are ready to share your offerings with existing and searching patients on your website. But how best do you maximise your marketing power?
As always, your first obligation is to your patients. To effectively gain attention, your communications must answer the one and only question your patients are really asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’
According to clever psychologically minded people, once our basic physiological needs for food, clothing, shelter and security are satisfied, we are motivated by higher level needs relating to love, belonging, self-esteem, learning, beauty, self-fulfilment and transcendent spiritual experiences.
Simply put, most people are not particularly interested in the superior specifications of your restorative materials, your low-radiation digital radiography, your high-resolution operating microscope or even your stringent infection-control protocols. Sure, you may be justifiably proud of these important features describing your services. But when promoting your products and services, think in terms of the power, pleasure, profit, prestige and other associated benefits they bring for your patients. Always prioritise benefits over features.
A tooth whitening kit is not simply a set of carefully crafted, custom-fabricated trays with professionally prescribed gel (its features). It is a sensational smile-brightening system that transforms career confidence, social success and brings lasting luck in love (its benefits).
An endodontic treatment is not just a highly technical, rubber-dam isolated, operating microscope-guided procedure (its features). It is your patients’ passport to lasting comfort, smile-saving security and peace of mind (its benefits).
Even a stick of sugar-free gum is not merely a flavoured, food grade comestible designed to be chewed. It is a mighty, minty, magical, masticated marvel that attracts interesting people and makes love blossom.
Give every person, product and service mentioned on your website a benefit focused marketing makeover.
Seek to understand your ideal patients, especially their lifestyle and barriers to seeking dental care. Then, address these preferences and concerns throughout your website to attract and reassure patients by generating interest with appealing professional images and words.
Style your team in suits or uniforms to project images of well-groomed, smartly dressed, confident, friendly and successful health care professionals. Alongside portraits (it is worth paying a professional photographer for these) enhance respect and attraction further and convey their authority with their titles, qualifications and expertise.
Adding personal information and stories about your team increases their likeability and is an essential part of helping patients feel connected to, comfortable with and trusting of you and your practice.
When writing narratives for team members, do not let their specialist knowledge or qualifications get in the way of also sharing information about them in an accessible way. Make your team into human beings (yes, we are!) that are interesting and relevant to your ideal patients. Use unexpected questions and statements to create mystery and engage reader curiosity. ‘Did you know, Dr [Name] supports a very special charity, [charity name]? If you ask her why, she will donate a pound to this charity on your behalf.’ Or, ‘Dr [Name] is a lifelong fan of [football club] and offers a 10% discount to patients wearing their club scarf (of any colour) to appointments.’
Seek to find common ground at a shared level of understanding with your ideal patients. ‘Dr [your name]’s goal is for your child to reach adulthood with perfectly healthy teeth, healthy gums and a beautifully straight, white smile.’
The anticipation of having to pay large sums of money for dental care is a common barrier to seeking treatment for many potential patients, particularly in the private dental sector.
Although discounting and price wars have been billed as a ‘race to the bottom in which no one wins’, offers may be a highly effective form of persuasion. These can be as straightforward as advertising free toys or dental product samples with every child or adult visit. Social rules of reciprocation mean that if we give something away, others feel prompted to return the favour, in this case with loyalty to our practice.
Making large but reasonable requests, eg offering highly priced treatments that are likely to be turned down, actually increases the likelihood of a smaller requests for more modestly priced services being accepted, a reciprocal concession. Conversely, gaining commitment can be attained by starting with small requests that are unlikely to be declined, eg regular hygiene appointments. Agreeing to these requests makes it easier for long-standing patients to agree to larger, more complex treatment plans in the future.
Implying scarcity is another technique used to promote interest, for example, a time or availability limited offer. ‘Keep your sparkling smile brilliantly clean at home! Half-price electric toothbrushes on sale until stocks run out.’ Or, ‘Be dazzling! Don’t miss out on our 20% discount for Smile Whitening before Valentine’s Day.’
Other incentives include free consultations, interest free/low interest financing with easy terms, discounts for bulk purchases, loyalty discounts, money back guarantees, free repeat / in-between appointment / emergency consultations and ‘practice specials’. Offers can be a ‘win-win’ means to generate interest in your practice and its services.
Humans are social animals. We are more likely to adopt behaviours demonstrated successfully by other members of our tribe, a phenomenon known as ‘social proof’. Referring to many others adopting similar behaviours increases the likelihood of uptake, for example, ‘Join the thousands of other delighted patients who have had their lives transformed at [practice name].’
But perhaps even more personally and effectively, create social proof by giving prominence to testimonials on every page of your website and on a dedicated testimonials page. People care more about individuals than the many. If you already have the material, obtain your patients’ written consent for publishing their images and quotes from feedback forms, reviews, thank you notes, letters, cards and videos.
Or, use a guided interview technique to gain material for testimonials from satisfied patients.
1. How did you hear of us? (Their source.)
2. What prompted your enquiry? (Their motivation.)
3. What treatment did you receive? (Their story.)
4. Are you satisfied? (The outcome.)
5. How has our service changed your life? (The benefits.)
6. What advice would you give to others considering our service? (The legacy.)
Successful testimonials are understandable, memorable and effective in changing thoughts and behaviour. When writing and editing testimonial content, aim to promote identification by highlighting common experience, eg ‘I needed a new dentist when I moved into the area,’ or, ‘I had toothache, but I didn’t know who to trust,’ and allow the patient’s own words to guide the story, for example, ‘I wanted my teeth straightened but didn’t like the look of braces. I looked everywhere for a dentist who could do invisible braces. Then I found Dr [Name].’
Let the experiences of your most satisfied patients inspire others to see how their dental problems might be helped by your expertise. ‘After only two days of Dr [Name]’s home smile whitening treatment, I could already see my teeth lightening. After two weeks, I was ready for my wedding photos. I can’t believe how confident I feel. My mother-in-law asked if I had had something done to my teeth. They look so good, she’s now having hers done too.’
Prompting action is the hallmark of successful copywriting. Your campaign success is measured by the increase in enquires, bookings and uptake of services you experience.
Ideally, complete testimonials by quoting a rousing call to action (CTA) directly from patients themselves: ‘I only wish I’d had my teeth fixed sooner. I’d like to tell all those people frightened of the dentist to pick up the phone and call Dr [Name].’
In addition, place your own CTA alongside your contact links and details, eg ‘For your winning smile, call today for your consultation on… or email us at…’ Position your CTA strategically and conveniently throughout your website, on every page, with testimonials, beside your services and on your website contact page. Make it easy for your patients to find you and contact you.
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.