Over the years, as I’ve written and lectured to dentists about website marketing, the concept I have the most difficulty conveying to them is about the value of self-written, unique content. Dentists resist the idea of writing their own content for a number of reasons:
- They don’t think they can write well.
- They don’t think they have the time to do it.
- They don’t believe it will help.
- They don’t believe it matters.
I will try to dispel those concerns… once again. A couple of recent discussions on Dentaltown and Facebook inspired this blog post (and much of it is copied from my comments on those forums).
Tell me a story!
The human response to stories is primal. Before the written word, life skills and education were passed from generation to generation through the spoken word, often in the form of stories, perhaps with some pictures drawn on the cave walls. The same became true when humans began writing. We are hard-wired by our DNA to respond to and internalize stories.
People relate to STORIES. Stories about people LIKE THEMSELVES. On your website, photos (of actual cases) and their stories are what will resonate with prospective patients.
Tell PATIENT stories. In effect… tell your website visitor their FUTURE story. By using photos and patient stories, your website visitors will RELATE. “She’s just like me.” “I feel like that guy did.”
But, I’m not a writer!
On Dentaltown, a dentist posted a link to his website for the perusal and review of his peers. On a page about Cosmetic Dentistry, the copy (a solid page of text with no images) went on, paragraph after paragraph, about scientific studies about how a nice smile is advantageous in society. According to the studies, a nice smile would lead to: weight loss, other people around you being happier, living longer, having more friends, and other benefits. Really. It did. This textual barrage of “studies” about smiles was provided by his website designer. Oy, veh!
I asked the dentist, “If you were at a party, and someone asked you about veneers… would you start reciting the “studies” you posted on this web page? What do you think would happen, if you started a verbal dissertation about all those studies about weight loss, living longer, keeping friends, creating a nicer environment, making OTHER people happier, etc….. at a social event where you were asked this question? Their eyes would glaze over, and believe me… you lost’em!”
Let your patient stories (not “studies”) tell prospective patients how their lives may be better with a healthy and attractive smile.
I went back to his website not long afterwards. The “studies” were gone. 🙂
The copy on your website should be conversational, just like you would answer the question in person. Write your copy like you speak in real life (hopefully).
Be the expert, Danny.
Make YOURSELF the expert rather than “appealing to authority,” by reciting a litany of “smile studies.” Write your copy the same way you speak with patients. That way your website is congruent with your actual practice. Think about benefits in the same terms as patients. Put yourself in their place. Pretend you’re at a cocktail party and someone asked you about cosmetic dentistry. Write that. Really. Write it!
You ought to be in pictures.
As you are able, add photos and stories of real cases you’ve done. Marketing gold.
I recently had a cosmetic consult with a new patient. She came through my website. She mentioned that she did a lot of research, looking at a lot of websites. So, I asked her why she chose my website and my practice over the others.
She said, “I liked that you had photos of your own cases, including the pictures of your dad’s case. I felt like what I read on your site was more “personal.” I felt a connection. I had a good feeling. Most of the other sites didn’t really offer much information, and they all said the same thing.”
Use your own photos on your website. Not just for cosmetic before & afters… for even the “filler” photos. Instead of the stock photo of a pretty girl smiling and holding up a dental shade guide (like I saw on the aforementioned dentist’s site), put in a portrait of one of your patients. Get your mom to pose for you, if you have to! Start somewhere. But, just start. Get rid of the stock photos and the stock content.
With patient photos, tell the STORIES. People LOVE stories. Stories resonate with the cave man in all of us.
You can do this!
I’ve been harping on this for as long as I’ve pontificating in online dental forums. Write your own copy! Sure… have someone build the website for you. But, don’t depend on boilerplate content with, “Blah, blah, blah (insert dentist name here)!”
As I said earlier, write like you speak… to PEOPLE. Normal people. If someone asked you a question about veneers or even root canals at a social gathering, how would you answer it? Write THAT. It doesn’t need to be (and shouldn’t be) eloquent.
The patient I mentioned above was interested in bonding. She had some bonding done up in New York to close a diastema. The first time, it lasted 6 months. The 2nd time, it lasted 2 weeks. So, she was interested in finding a bonding “expert.” (That’s what she told me.) That’s what she searched for, and here is where she landed: my webpage about “dental bonding.” Click on the link to see what you think. Think about whether the content is likely to hit the emotional points rather than technical points. Click here to see the diastema closure case results.
If a patient writes you a thank you letter or card, put that in your website. Testimonials are gold! You can either transcribe the letter or even take a photo of it and post that. Online reviews are great, of course, and play a very important role in online marketing. But, a hand-written note displayed on your website? Story-telling GOLD, BABY!
This can tie in with the photos. Put the testimonial next to a portrait of the patient.
Make your website personal. Visitors will FEEL that. And, it’s FEELINGS that lead to DECISIONS (to call or make an appointment).
Sell the sizzle, not the steak.
On each of your pages, you should write from the viewpoint of how patients benefit from your services. You can do this with your own prose, AND through patient cases and stories. Your audience really doesn’t want to know about osseointegration. They don’t want to see how the sausage is made. But, they can relate to being able to eat anything they want or kissing with confidence.
As for being intimidated by writing…. are you intimidated by TALKING about dentistry? Are you afraid to talk to patients about what you can do for them? Are you afraid when someone asks you a dental question in a social environment? Puh-leeze. I hope not.
Just talk the talk.
As I’ve said a thousand times. OK… maybe just 500 times… Write like you talk. This isn’t an essay contest! In fact, I submit that writing an essay is the WRONG thing to do. Nobody wants to read an essay. But, they WILL read or listen to someone who understands their questions and answers them in a CONVERSATIONAL manner in a language they understand. This isn’t a dissertation. Your dental school professors won’t be grading it. It isn’t an encyclopedia. It’s YOU. Talking to patients. Just like you do EVERY FLIPPIN’ DAY! Write THAT. Spend a bit of time editing, with help if needed, and then give it to your webmaster to put into the site.
I’m tellin’ ya… it will resonate FAR more effectively than some encyclopedic blah, blah, blah written by someone who has NEVER STEPPED FOOT IN YOUR OFFICE or ever met you. This is not intended as an indictment of those who provide those copy writing services. But, I’m pleading with my fellow dentists… YOU. CAN. DO. THIS.
It’s too much work!
Sure… it’s a big project. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Pick a service page on your website. Just one. Porcelain Veneers. Or Root Canals. Or White Fillings. Or Six Month Smiles. Or Invisalign. And, get crackin’. Pretend someone at a party just asked you about that service. How would you answer it? Write that! Hand it over to your webmaster to publish. Next week or next month… pick another page. Do that one. Rinse and repeat.
If you’re not taking photos. Start. Also…. one case or patient at a time. Just do one! Put that on your website. Get permission (signed photo release), of course. It doesn’t have to be clinical shots. In fact, it’s better if they’re not. Smiles and portraits. That’s it. Believe me, patients will be flattered. Even if it’s just a portrait of one of your regular patients as “filler” for your site. All text and no images sends visitors to the “back” button. Images break up the copy similarly to short paragraphs. It gives the eyes and brain a break. This is FAR more effective than stock photos. It’s believable. Photos of NORMAL people. It’s relatable. It’s CREDIBILITY. It resonates. “I’m just like her.”
It ain’t rocket science, folks. It’s BETTER if it’s NOT rocket science. So simple, even a dentist can do it. 😉
PS… If you need some help getting things going, I can highly recommend Dental Web Content by New Patients, Inc. Click on the link to read my review of Dental Web Content. Check it out. It’s a HUGE resource for ALL things online marketing. There is plenty of website content that you can use and edit. But, it’s much more than that. I use it for social media posts, customized videos, ads, email blasts, and internal marketing materials.