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Ask And Answer

Patients ask, you answer

Dec. 7, 2020
What are most patients interested in when it comes to their dental care? Cost. Do dentists discuss cost effectively? Often not. Dr. Chris Salierno has an idea to help with that, and it will lead to an increase in your patient numbers.
Chris Salierno, DDS, Chief Editor, Dental Economics

My friend John Kringel from the Cellerant Consulting Group turned me on to an outstanding marketing book a few months ago, and I want to tell you about it. It’s called They ask you answer: A revolutionary approach to inbound sales, content marketing, and today’s digital consumer by Marcus Sheridan. Whether you handle your practice’s marketing personally or work with a marketing expert, I strongly recommend you pick up this book to better inform your decisions.

There’s a lot of great material in They ask you answer that will change how you approach marketing, but I’ll just focus on one of Sheridan’s main premises. Let’s use implants as an example. Think about the boring, uninformative mailers and digital ads that most dentists push out to advertise their implant services. These include generic photos of happy patients, claims about how implants are a safe and effective way to replace teeth, and so on. What do you think is the number one question patients have about implants? Cost. And what do dentists avoid discussing on their websites and ads? Cost. Sheridan would think this is backwards.

We avoid discussing costs for good reasons. There are a lot of variables that prevent us from giving an accurate answer. We can’t diagnose and treatment plan our patients in an ad. We don’t know if the tooth will require bone grafting, if someone will require a provisional restoration, or how a dental benefit plan will affect the fee. So, the answer to “How much does an implant cost?” is “It depends.” Fine. Then we will do well to tell potential patients exactly that in our marketing efforts. Let’s tell them what it depends on.

Dentists have always strived to educate our patients about their treatment options, but we hesitate to discuss uncomfortable topics (such as cost) until they visit for an in-person consultation. Sheridan’s advice is to attract potential patients by becoming more comfortable discussing uncomfortable topics in our marketing efforts. These topics tend to be what patients actually want to learn about when they search for us online, and if we are transparent with them, we build trust. They ask, we answer.

With the They ask you answer philosophy in mind, I launched my own blog called ToothQuest earlier this year. Here’s a sample post: “How much do implants cost?” Sheridan’s book will show you how to use websites, blogs, social media, and other digital marketing initiatives to answer the tough questions that your potential patients are asking and make your marketing stand out from the crowd.

Chris Salierno, DDS, is the chief editor of Dental Economics and the editorial director of the Principles of Practice Management and Group Practice and DSO Digest e-newsletters. He is also a contributing author for DentistryIQ and Perio-Implant Advisory. He lectures and writes about practice management and clinical dentistry. Additional content is available on his blog for dentists at ToothQuest. Dr. Salierno maintains a private general practice in Melville, New York. You may contact him by e-mail at [email protected].