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Successful Dentist Advertising #12

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

QUALITY VS. QUANTITY, Part II How To Get Higher Quality Prospects To Respond To Your Advertising As we discussed last issue, how you construct your ad -- and how your prospects perceive that ad -- will determine in large part whether you generate lots of respondents (many of whom will not be high quality) or whether you get less numbers but a higher percentage of quality prospects If you'll recall from last month, here's how we defined a quality prospect:

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

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

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

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

So, how do you go about increasing the number of quality prospects your ad
draws ... and decreasing the tire-kickers?

Stated as a generalization, the more difficult you make it for a prospect
to respond ... the more narrow the appeal and targeting of the ad ... the
more conditions you put on a respondent ... and the more you demand from
him or her ... the higher the quality of response.

"Great,"  you might be thinking.  "Let's make the ads difficult to respond
to, narrowly focused, highly conditioned, and very demanding so that I only
get prospects who are ready to act right now ... with their wallet open ...
without my having to do any persuading."

Sounds good.   Doesn't work.

Like virtually everything else in life, this quality vs. quantity issue is
not black-and-white.  In fact, it's mostly shades of grey.  If we were to
rate ALL dental prospects on a 1 to 10 scale (10 being the highest quality)
what we'd find is that most people fall into the 4-7 range.  And the higher
we go on this quality scale, the smaller the pool of prospects we find.

And that's the problem with going after only the 10's (those who walk in
your office with their wallet open and a no-questions-let's-do-it-now
attitude) ... there aren't many of them.  So, if you created your ads with
that seeking-only-the-best approach, you'd likely be very disappointed with
the results.  And you would be throwing away hundreds-of-thousands of
dollars.

The real money is in the mid-to-top range of the prospect pool.  Granted,
these people are more cautious and maybe a bit fearful and/or skeptical ...
and, therefore, they may need to be sold on the benefits.  But, these are
the prospects you need to bring into your office if you're looking to
maximize your practice profitability via advertising.

So, how do we get prospects from that #6 through #10 group to respond?
Here are a few tips ...

1.  Use the problem/solution approach.  It's much more likely that you'll
convince a quality prospect to come see you IF you give them a compelling
reason.  To give them that reason, identify a dental problem(s) they may be
experiencing ... promise a solution  ... and explain how their life will be
better because they took action.

When I talk about dental problems, I'm not referring only to the obvious.
Keep in mind that someone who is simply not thrilled with the look of their
teeth or smile will see that as a problem.

2.  Focus on the prospect, not yourself.  Don't clog up a big portion of
your ad with "look, aren't I wonderful" illustrations and copy.  The ad
should be about how the prospect can benefit by making an appointment with
you so you can explain the solution(s) to his/her problem.  That's
basically it.  And the best way to do that is to talk about the prospect,
his/her problem(s), and the benefits s/he'll receive by visiting you.

That's not to say that you should not include some copy which reflects your
skill and professionalism.  But it should represent just a very small
percentage of the ad space.  You'll have plenty of time to impress the
prospect with your skill, reputation and professionalism once they are in
your office.

3.  Referring in the ad to the fees you charge can have a major bearing on
response and quality of response.  The more you make it sound like your
prices are low, the higher the response is likely to be and the lower the
overall quality of prospect.  The  perception of premium prices will
produce fewer prospects but higher quality.  (Of course, the demographics
of the geographic area you serve will have much to do with how you handle
this aspect of your ad.)

The perception of high fees, high quality can be built into the ad in
numerous ways ... including illustrations, type style, layout, etc.

4.  Using larger ads gives you a better opportunity to educate and persuade
the quality prospect of the benefits of making an appointment with you.
Most people with a dental problem have to be persuaded to take action
(unless they are in pain).  They need a little prompting, a little
persuasion, a little push.  They need justification for taking their time
to visit you to discuss their problem.  That justification can often be
made only through a compelling story.  And to tell a compelling story,
space is required.

5.  The smaller the ad, the more narrow the focus.  The smaller the ad, the
more you need to zero in on just a single problem/solution/benefit and
forego the supporting copy.  In fact, in small ads you often have to simply
state the problem in such a way that it infers the solution/benefits.
Example:  "FINALLY ... You Can Have Stunningly Gorgeous White Teeth In Less
Than One Hour."  Then add the contact information.

6.  Make the ad stand out.  If your ad is not noticed, you won't get either
quantity or quality.  So try to design your ads so that they stand out in
some way.  You can do it with borders, unique photos, type style, size,
reverses, bursts, white space, etc.  The easiest way to check this is to
take your finished ad and lay it out on a page full of ads in the newspaper
in which you plan to advertise.  Will it attract the reader's eye?

7.  Offer a free consultation/evaluation.  Because we're dealing mostly
with people in the 6-7-8 range of our quality scale, you're going to find
some skepticism, some anxiousness, some financial cautiousness.  The best
way to overcome that is to give them the opportunity to talk with you at no
cost ... without any obligation.  That meeting gives you your opportunity
to WOW them with your knowledge, skill, personality, and persuasiveness.

Please note that only consultations, initial evaluations and/or computer
images are offered free in the ad.  Once you get into offering free dental
services/procedures you will generally find that you end up with mostly
tire kickers or bargain hunters.

Also, I discourage discounting service/procedure fees in ads unless one is
willing to build a practice on lower income, bargain-oriented patients.
Location and demographics may dictate it, but I wouldn't willingly go that
route ... especially if you want to prosper as a fee-for-service practice.

8.  Be sure your phone number is obvious.  While it's true that the more
difficult you make it for someone to find your phone number/address, the
higher the quality of respondent  ... it's also true that if you make it
too difficult, you'll miss out on most of the 6-7-8 people.  So, don't hide
your phone number.

In many ways, prospects will treat your ad and making the appointment like
they do buying an impulse item at the grocery store.  If the candy bar
wasn't right next to the checkout counter, they usually wouldn't go out of
their way to buy it.  Similarly, if the phone number isn't obvious at the
moment your prospect thinks, "This makes sense," there's a good chance the
moment will pass and you'll miss out.

9.  Ask prospects to call you ... NOW.  Remember, people often need a
little push ... even when they know what would be best for them.  And you'd
be surprised how effective *suggestive* copy can be.  So, suggest they call
you.

"Don't wait.  Call now to set up your free consultation appointment."  Just
adding a little suggestion like that will often be enough of a push to
cause some people to pick up the phone.

10.  Test various offer conditions ... like time limits and new patient
limitations.

For example, you might advertise a different dental problem every couple of
weeks and put a time limit on when prospects can take advantage of your
free consultation offer.  "This offer is good until {date}."  Time limits
add perceived value ... which tends to boost response.

You might advertise a limit to the number of free consults every month.
This will often cause people to pick up the phone *now* so they can be one
of the lucky few.  But, you have to be careful with the way you word this.
It should be stated in such a way that the prospect perceives it as a
reflection of how busy you are and that you are only able to accept so many
new patients each month.

Make sense?

Those are just a few of the techniques you can use to produce a nice
prospect mix of quality and quantity.  In one of the future issues I'll
share a few more tips ... plus ... give you my ideas on what to do if
you're getting too few or too many responses to your ads.

One other important element of the quality/quantity mix before I close this
issue.  If you are a skilled case presenter who is able to convince a high
percentage of prospects to say YES to your recommendations (especially on
high fee cases) ... then you'll need fewer responses from your ads to make
them pay.  Conversely, if you don't close a high percentage of your case
presentations, then you'll need more responses.  You would adjust your ads
accordingly.

If you have any questions about any of my comments or recommendations in
this issue, do not hesitate to contact me at gstilson@mindspring.com.  I'll
try my best to answer (either directly or in a future issue) any questions
you have.

**********

RECOMMENDATION on case presentations:  Although I do not personally consult
on improving case presentation acceptance rates, I do happen to know
someone who is uniquely skilled in that area.

Her name is Robin Morrison ... and I've had the privilege of knowing and
working with her for several years while she was boosting the bottom lines
of local dentists and healthcare providers.

I have always been impressed with her ability to close big cases during an
initial presentation with a new prospect ... and to do so without pressure.
 In fact, I've often seen prospects who, after committing to a
$10,000-to-$20,000 procedure, walk away with a smile on their faces.  Robin
clearly understands human nature and the art of friendly and welcomed
persuasion.  Plus, she is able to convey those unique attributes to staff
members.

In addition, Robin is also a highly skilled marketing coordinator.  She has
the ability to quickly dissect your internal/external marketing efforts and
come up with a coordinated marketing plan designed to help you squeeze the
most profit out of each and every marketing dollar you spend.

I bring this up because Robin has finally decided to begin consulting on a
national scale.  And after years of watching her work her magic directly
and indirectly, I can heartily recommend her services.

So, if your case presentations or marketing efforts could use some serious
improvement ... contact Robin.  She'll be happy to discuss your situation
with you.  You can reach her by email at rlmorrison@rlmhealthcare.com or by
phone at 727-518-9834.

Tell her Galen sent you.

*********

Final Thought:  "Be patient.  You get the chicken by hatching the egg --
not by smashing it open."  Anonymous.

I'm still hatching the Ad Subscription Program.  So, please be patient.
It's in the incubator as we speak and it shouldn't be long before the birth
of our beautiful, profitable baby.

If you haven't requested info on this program and how it is designed to
boost your practice profits, email me (gstilson@mindspring.com) with your
name and mailing address.  As soon as it's ready I'll mail you the complete
info packet.

Until next issue ...

Best regards,

Galen


Copyright 1999 by Galen Stilson. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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