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Successful Dentist

Successful Dentist Advertising #3

Published 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!



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 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

Until next issue ...

Continued Success, 


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

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 ( 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 ...


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

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