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Why your traditional dental marketing approach isn't working

Dec. 3, 2021
If you don’t have a story, you’re just another dental practice. You’re vanilla, and you’re just noise. Here's how to make your marketing actually work.

The story of your dental practice is your market differentiator, your driver, your selling point. Your marketing may currently be underwhelming. You don’t need to keep offering discount dentistry or clever gimmicks. People searching for a dentist are not connecting with the message you’re giving them. Most of the time, your website is saying the exact same things as the practice down the street. It’s all beige, and it’s all clinical. 

As a dentist, online success is, in fact, an art. It’s more than keywords and clinical content. It’s more than discounts and specials, gimmicks and giveaways. It’s experience and relationships. 

Statistically, more than half of the population is scared of the dentist. They aren't motivated by the ins and outs of clinical treatment and stock photos and a sprinkling of pleasantries about comfort, care, and gentleness. These lose their impact when they’re redundant across people’s searches and social media feeds.

Your brand should evoke emotion and encourage trust and comfort, while also easing the fears of the average potential patient. They fear the virtually unknown experience that awaits them. These fears are not eased by generalities and stock imagery. 

Give them what they want 

People want to know why you should be their dentist. Their decision has very little to do with your clinical skill or education. You’re a dentist, so they know you’re smart and capable. What they don’t know is why and how you can give them a better experience than the other practices. 

That's where your story becomes your greatest and most underutilized marketing tool. Your story humanizes you. It gives you depth. It gives a stranger (who is often afraid of you) an opportunity to connect with you on a nondental and not-so-scary level. It gives people something to care about, connect with, and invest in. 

If you don’t have a story, you’re just another dental practice. You’re vanilla, and you’re just noise. The truth is, you aren’t just another dentist. You have a story, life experiences, hobbies, family, friends, travels. There is a unique reason that every dentist became a dentist. What’s your reason? 

Related reading:

Dental marketing: What's my competition doing that I'm not?

Boost your dental marketing with great photography

Clinical marketing is missing the mark

Price and proximity are typically the “prospecting” factors when someone starts a Google search. Then, “Who do I like and trust” starts to kick in. What’s the best way to send out those good vibes and make people like you? Let’s make it happen. 

  • Use photography or video to create visual disruption (make the user stop or remember something unique).
  • Quickly and clearly show the doctor, team, waiting area, operatory, the team smiling and doing something fun (huddle, team outing), and happy patients. Glowing patients confirm that your practice is the experience the searcher has been looking for. Create some FOMO (fear of missing out).
  • Share details about who you are. Share hobbies. Give people the ability to connect with you on things nondental. Give this some thought. You have patients with whom you have great relationships. Chances are, you have those great relationships because you have something in common. Create more of that by putting yourself out there. Do you play the guitar? Some of your searchers do too, and they may choose you because you play. You’ll have that in common immediately, which makes for a great connection, and a reason to be more “liked” than another provider. Yes, it’s that simple.
  • Create clear and simple calls to actions that are personal. Don’t say “Contact us” or “Schedule.” Try something more endearing, such as “Join our family.” Place the calls to action in multiple places on your homepages. I like top right, middle, and bottom left. We do this because of how the mind processes content and scans data. Also, having your calls to action in multiple places makes it easier for users to click when they’re ready. They won’t have to scroll to find the right button. 

I understand you may be skeptical of the advice I’m providing, and I understand. It seems too simple, too basic. You may be thinking that I don’t know your practice or patient demographics, and you may think this won’t work, and I get it, I really do. But I think you should give it a try and you’ll be surprised.

There’s a story in all of us

We’re story-based creatures. We’re wired for connecting and community. We’re always scanning for threats and similarities, and we’re driven by emotions and experiences more often than by logic. By focusing your marketing message on you, your team, and your patient experiences, you’re giving searchers the ability to experience feelings of commonality and comfort. These are feelings that feel good!

This is great for your practice as you’ve not only gained a new patient, but likely a great patient who will connect with you and become a strong advocate for your brand in the community.

About the Author

Sean Hamel

A recent addition to the DentistryIQ Advisory Board, Sean Hamel is a seasoned dental marketing professional and the founder and CEO of Art of Dental Marketing. ADM is a story-based dental marketing agency that helps practices get found online and convert web traffic into real patients. We understand that every practice is unique and has a story to tell, but they just don’t know how to get it out to the community. ADM builds state-of-the-art, video-based websites, powerful local SEO strategies, and effective pay-per-click campaigns, and provides an attentive and comprehensive client service experience for every practice.