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Successful Dentist Advertising #2

Published by Galen Stilson
Direct Marketing Copywriter/Consultant
Relationship Marketing (for dentists) a speciality


Understandably there are still many dentists who are trying to come to grips with the idea that advertising may be necessary to compete successfully in the coming decade. And when these dentists make the first move into advertising, the usual attempt is analagous to a 350 pound person trying to walk across egg shells without breaking any. They go about it very cautiously. They worry about image ... consumer perception ... patient backlash ... and probably more than anything, the opinions of their fellow dentists. For many, it represents a huge step in the journey of a successful practice. For that reason, many of the ads put together for or by dentists are of the sterile variety. They look clean, they look professional, they don't risk saying much ... and they seldom work well(unless they're the only dental ads in the paper). These are commonly referred to as "professional-style" ads, and are usually nothing more than an attempt to put the dentist's name in front of a lot of people and hope it gets favorably remembered. These ads usually, in effect, say "this is our name ... this is what we do ... aren't we wonderful ... please remember us."

The reality of these types of ads is that they primarily build name-recognition ... IF (and this is a big IF) ... you're willing to run the ad on a near-daily basis. Dentists who use them would like to believe that the quality of the practice, as reflected in the professionalism of the ad, will cause a rush of prospective patients to the practice. But it seldom happens. Don't misunderstand me, these ads can help if you stick with them on a regular basis. But ... There's a better, more effective advertising approach to draw quality patients to your practice. And it doesn't require the same intense (or expensive) advertising schedule to attract the same number of patients. DIRECT RESPONSE advertising is designed to get a direct response from interested prospects ... NOW ... not next month or next year. It is written and designed in such a way as to first attract the prospective patient's ATTENTION, then stimulate his/her INTEREST in some aspect your practice/skills, spark some DESIRE to know more, then prompts the prospect to take ACTION (pick up the phone and make an appointment, now). One of the copywriting techniques I use to do this is to present the reader with a problem/solution scenario ... "If you have this problem and would like to eliminate it, we have this ideal solution for you. Please call and talk to us about it." That's obviously over-simplified, but it gives you an idea of what I mean. As I've often told my dentist clients: My job, via the ads I create, is very simply to get qualified prospective patients to pick up the phone, make an appointment, and be willing to let you look in their mouth ... with the expectation that you can help them. That's it. That's the essence of what dental advertising should be about. Once that prospect is in your chair and let's you look in his or her mouth, the ad's job is over. After that, it is your -- and your staff's -- skill and ability (and the patient's perception of your practice) that takes over. Advertising can't convince the patient to agree with your evaluation or to your recommendations ... it can only get him to your office in a receptive mood. Does that make sense? By the way, direct response dental ads can easily be as image-enhancing as the "professional-style" ads. In fact, I would suggest that they can be used to enhance your image as a truly skilled dentist more than the typical professional-style ad. And, if you're worried about consumer perception, patient backlash, or image in the community, don't be. If your ads are tasteful and honest ... you've got nothing to worry about. Next issue I'll talk about the #1 advertising mistake made by dentists and how to avoid it.

An Offer For Dentists

I see there's still discussion among dentists about the fallout (and how to handle) the scathing 2/97 "Reader's Digest" article about dentists. Shortly after that article appeared on newsstands, I was asked by one of my clients to write a piece for his newsletter to de-fuse the potential impact of the article on his patients and prospective patients. I did ... and the response from his patients to the piece was truly remarkable and gratifying. Instead of hurting his practice, the RD article ended up helping him develop an even better relationship with his patients (because of his response via the piece I wrote). If you would like a copy of the response I wrote to the RD article, please contact men at my website, and I'll e-mail you a copy. Free. It's copyrighted so you can't use it verbatim, but it'll give you some good ideas on how to handle the situation.

If you'd like more background on my copywriting/consulting service for dentists (or have a project you'd like to discuss with me), e-mail me. If you send your mailing address I'll send you a full packet of info. NEW SERVICE FOR DENTISTS: I've been developing a new advertising service for dentists that I'm about ready to begin offering. Because my fees are quite high for creating new ads I've been trying to figure out a way to offer my ads (display and editorial-style) at less expensive rates ... but still give the participating dentist exclusive rights. I've about got it solved. It's going to be an AD SUBSCRIPTION service where a dentist will get exclusive rights to a variety of my ads. He or she can renew every year if they're happy with the results. I haven't set the fee structure yet. If this ad subscription service sounds interesting to you, contact me and I'll send you full information when it's ready. Talk to you next issue. Continued success, Galen Stilson

Copyright 1997 by Galen Stilson. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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