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Successful Dentist Advertising #11

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

PROSPECTS: Quantity versus Quality When asked what they would like their advertising to accomplish, most dentists say, "bring in lots of new patients." But that's not precisely what they mean. The problem with "lots of prospects" (quantity) is that many of them may not be "good" prospects (quality).

How does one distinguish between a good prospect versus a not-so-good one?
The answer is obvious.

A good (quality) prospect is someone who ...

... has a self-identifiable dental problem, and,
... is looking for a solution to that problem, and,
... has the money to pay for the solution to the problem.

A not-so-good prospect is someone who ...

... doesn't have the money to afford quality dental care, and/or,
... is only looking for the cheap solution, and/or,
... is only looking for information.

This obviously doesn't tell the entire story of who are, and are not, good
prospects and patients.  But for the purpose of creating successful dental
advertisements, the above definition will work just fine.

The question is, how can you construct your advertsing so that you get
primarily quality patients to respond?

Here's a rule of thumb:  The more generalized your ad and the more you
feature (or infer) low-price, the higher the number of prospects who will
likely respond ... and the lower the overall quality of those prospects.
(Of course, if your practice is geared towards lower income patients, this
approach will work.)

Conversely, the more specific your ad message, without the inference or
perception of bargain-basement pricing ... the fewer the responses but the
higher the quality of prospect.

Example:  A few years ago I met a highly skilled dentist with an upscale,
high quality practice who had just started  mass mailing in his community
using a beautiful four-color postcard offering a set of x-rays for $10.
The response was terrific.  The problem was, the prospects who responded
weren't.  The overwhelming majority (almost 100%) got their -x-rays and
left.  Many made appointments and never showed up.  High quantity response,
but low quality.

There were a couple of problems with this particular dentist's advertising
approach ...

1.  The type of prospect that this type of ad appealed to was the lower
income ... due to the x-ray price break.  That is NOT the type of patient
this dentist wanted to draw to his practice.

2.  There was an image conflict.  Four color printing generally reflects
higher quality, while big-time discount pricing generally reflects lower
quality.  Thus, my guess is that the lower income group saw this as a  good
way to get inexpensive x-rays from high quality practice that they knew
they could not afford long term ... while the higher income group avoided
it because of it's pricing suggested cut-rate dentistry.

The result was a lot of advertising money (printing and mailing costs)
being wasted ... in addition to the cost of staff time required to deal
with the respondents, etc.

So, how does one go about constructing an ad message that brings in more
high quality patients?

That will be my focus in the next issue.

But before closing this issue let me put you at ease IF you are offering
free first appointments in your ads:  Offering a FREE evaluation
appointment or consultation does NOT reflect bargain basement pricing --
nor will it necessarily bring you a bunch of low quality prospects -- if
you present it correctly.

Conversely, if you discount or offer a free cleaning appointment for new
patients, you are likely to get lots of people responding ... and few
sticking with your practice.


For those waiting for my Ad Subscription Program, it's getting close to
completion.  I've had the opportunity to work with a surprisingly high
number of dentists recently on some new ads (which will be made available
to all participants in the Ad Program).  Some of these ads will "break" the
mold of typical dental ads.  It will be interesting to see how they work.
My guess is that they be extremely successful.

If you would like to receive information on the Ad Subscription Program,
and have yet to request it, please e-mail me your complete mailing address.
 As soon as it's ready I will mail you the complete info packet.

Copyright 1998 by Galen Stilson. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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