Successful Dentist Advertising #3Published by Galen Stilson
Direct Marketing Copywriter/Consultant
Relationship Marketing (for dentists) a speciality
Give Your Prospective Patients A REASON To Make An Appointment With You Last issue I promised to talk about the single biggest mistake most dentists make with their advertising. Here's a little poem written decades ago to introduce that theme for this issue. I've taken some liberties with it to make it more applicable to the dental profession.
------------- I see that you've spent quite a big wad of dough to tell me the things you think I should know. How your practice is so big, so fine and strong ... and your history so rich and long. So you started your practice in '82? How tremendously interesting that is to you. You built up the thing with the sweat and blood of your life. I'll run home like mad and tell that to my wife. Your equipment is modern and, oh, so complete! Your "rep" is so flawless; your employees so neat. Your motto is "Quality" with capital "Q" ... damn I'm getting tired of hearing about "you." So tell me quick and tell me true ... or else my friend, to hell with you! ... Less about you and your practice and how it came to be ... and more about what you can do for ME! Anonymous --------------- REMEMBER THIS: The prospective patient's single overwhelming concern -- if s/he takes the time to read your ad -- is clearly reflected with this question ... "What can you do for me and how will it better my life?" When reading an advertisement, a prospective patient has very little initial interest in you, your background, your beliefs, your equipment etc. What s/he is most interested in is HOW CAN YOU HELP ME?! How will responding to this ad benefit me? Only after deciding that you do, in fact, offer something that is of potential personal benefit will s/he switch into this thinking mode: "What's this person like and why should I trust him/her?" It's a "HEART then HEAD" Process ... People generally make the initial decision to respond to an ad based on their heart (emotions) ... which is triggered by clearly and powerfully stated benefits. Then, once the initial decision is made, they look for practical justification ... "am I right to make this decision." This is where the prospect's "head" kicks in and your education, background, equipment, etc. have some relevance. It's a facts/features versus benefits game. Benefits target the heart/emotions and create the decision to respond. Facts/features target the head and help the prospect justify the response decision. But to win the game consistently you must focus on benefits. As indicated above, most dental ads are FACTS/FEATURES loaded. For example: Here's where we're located. Here are the procedures we do. Here's a picture of me. Here's one of my staff. Here are the organizations I belong to. Here's my motto. Here's a list of the equipment we use. And so on. Now, IF the readers are actively seeking a dentist at the precise moment they see your facts/features-only ad ... you'll probably get a response. But that type of ad is unlikely to persuade someone to call you if, let's say, they're occasionally bothered by loose partials. Or they have worn down teeth. Or if they get depressed because of their less-than-attractive smile. Of if their breath smells. Or if hot/cold causes a tinge of pain around one of their teeth a couple of times a day. Or if their gums bleed when they brush. They simply won't make the leap from sterile dental ad to "Oh, I have this problem that this person can probably fix for me ... quickly, safely, painlessly. I should call and make an appointment." DON'T EXPECT prospective patients to consciously translate your dental degree, marvelous facility, state-of-the-art equipment, personable staff, etc. into specific solutions to their oral problems. It seldom happens. Instead, you need to "YELL" in some in-print design way to get their attention and then focus their attention on a specific problem -- or problems -- in such a way as to get them to say, "YES ... that's me." "But," you ask, "why wouldn't they go to their own dentist and ask him or her to do the same procedure you'd be doing ... rather than make an appointment with you?" Some probably will. But many won't ... for a variety of reasons ranging from being less-than-thrilled with their current dentist, to not having one, to rewarding you for bringing a possible solution to their attention. Of course, to improve your chances of getting their response you must clearly tell the prospect HOW to contact you (don't hide your phone number) AND tell them to respond. Yes, tell them -- in effect -- to pick up the phone now and make an appointment. You'd probably be surprised by the "power of suggestion" and the effect of "directed action" when made appropriately in a print ad. Before I close this issue, here's a little story about the importance of selling specific benefits to a specific target audience ... When Michael Faraday invented the first electric motor, he wanted the interest and backing of the British prime minister, William Gladstone. So Faraday took the crude model -- a little wire revolving around a magnet -- and showed it to the statesman. Gladstone, obviously not interested, asked "What good is it?" Faraday, instead of going into a long spiel about it's various uses and quality, said simply, "Someday you will be able to tax it!" It was the perfect product benefit for his politician audience. What benefits do you have to offer your target audience? They are numerous. Beauty. Romance. Comfort. Confidence. Freedom from pain. Higher quality of life. And the list goes on. Of course, how you present those benefits to the reader will have a real impact on how persuasive they are. Until next issue ... Continued Success, Galen P.S. NOTES ... >> If you haven't requested a copy of the response I wrote (for a dentist's patient newsletter) to the Reader's Digest 2/97 article -- and you would like one -- e-mail your request to me. It's free. >> Remember the ad subscription idea I mentioned last issue? Here's a quickie breakdown of some of the basic "features." 1. Participating dentists will be able to pick the newspaper in which they want to run my ads ... and will have exclusive use of those ads in that newspaper for the subscription term. Only one dentist per newspaper. 2. There will be a trial period so that if it's not what you envisioned, you'll get your money back. 3. I'll be adding new ads on a consistent basis. 4. If you prefer a different ad from the ones I make available (there will probably be about 10 initially), I'll create a new one based on the approach you'd like (see #3 above) ... assuming I see it as having a good possibility of working. . 5. I will be creating ads to cover most services you're likely to offer ... to most every type of audience. 6. Participating dentists will be expected to keep me abreast of the ads they are running and how the ads are doing so I can make changes if necessary. I see this as a synergistic opportunity for all participants. By working together and sharing results we can greatly enhance each individual dentists effectiveness and profitability. If it becomes clear that a certain ad is working successfully for a number of dentists, I'll recommend that others try it. And vice versa. 7. I'm not sure how I can screen this yet, but I only want to work with dentists who are skilled, who respect & appreciate their patients (without your patients you've got zip), and who are easy to work with. 8. I will be offering charter subscription discounts so that if you decide to subscribe early your investment will probably end up being about the equivalent to a high-end dental cleaning each month (around $65-$70/month). 9. All charter subscribers will be assured of ALWAYS getting the lowest renewal prices available each year. 10. Because only one dentist will get exclusive use rights to each newspaper, the decision as to which dentist is chosen for each newspaper will be based strictly on a first come, first served basis (with the exception that I can refuse a dentist based on my desire as stated in #7 above). Although the above is subject to change (before I begin offering the service), my guess is it'll be close. If this subscription program is something that interests you ... e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) so I can put you on my notification list. If you are convinced it is something you definitely want to be a part of, let me know. And following this issue's theme, I'll pose for you this question: "What's the benefit of this subscription program for me?" Here are a few ... More patients. Better patients. Higher income. A thriving fee-for-service practice. Bigger cases. Exclusive use. No competition. Recession-resistant (I'll tell this story in a later issue). And all of those benefits translate into these benefits. Less stress. Less worry. Better image. More comfortable relationship with patients. And on and on. Don't forget to e-mail me if you're interested. Why not do it right now ... while you're thinking about it. :-) 'Til next issue ... Galen
Copyright 1997 by Galen Stilson. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.