There’s a gap between making an association and making an assumption. One can benefit your dental website content. The other can hinder it’s impact.
The key is playing to your strengths. Especially on the benefit side.
Our grandson was thoroughly enjoying some chive and onion cream cheese spread during a family gathering. Scooping a glob of deliciousness onto his cracker he commented, “This dip tastes like Christmas…”
We laughed at his seasonal leap from the summer, mid-year heat to thoughts of cooler temps and holiday gatherings. I found it interesting that, at his young age, he could make such a brilliant taste association.
A matter of taste
You have the benefit of associating certain tastes, smells, sights, and sounds with experiences. Some good and pleasant. Others bad and unpleasant.
You hear a song on the radio and you’re immediately transported to another time and place. The smell of a certain food overtakes you and you’re immediately back at grandma’s dinner table.
Your dental website also comes with a certain set of associations. I’ll deal with some “deadly” assumptions in a moment.
The moment a search lands someone on your site you have an extremely limited amount of time (as in seconds) to form an association for the reader. In fact, you have somewhere between two and five seconds to be exact.
“Guilt” by association or “death” by assumption
If you have a choice, in my professional opinion it’s better to be “guilty” on the association side of your web content than it is die a slow “death” by assumption.
Here’s an example of making an assumption: The more you say about what makes you different or better than another dental practice down the street will lead to more scheduled treatment.
It’s better to lead your website visitors to make an association. For example, your dental website should remind visitors of what they will receive by scheduling or doing business with you. Create website copy/content that answers the question, “So what…?”
“So what…,” you have a new state of the art digital x-ray device – how does it benefit the patient?
“So what…,” your dental practice features a lobby coffee bar, satellite TV on three, 60 inch, HD tv’s, and warm towels in the patient exam rooms – list a deeper benefit for each of those.
Those and many more are excellent (and overly promoted) features associated with many dental practices these days. The key: connect them with stated benefits.
Another assumption: The more words I have on my web pages, the better my search results will be.
It’s common to assume that more is better. That more words makes you more legitimate or search engine friendly.
Not. So. Much.
In fact much or more is not always better.
Try this association: Your readers will better associate with your dental website copy when it’s simply and usefully worded. Remember “fluff” and “bloated” page content bores and prompts a click away from the page.
Create website copy that’s readable, “You”-focused, easy to navigate with benefit oriented bullet points, and plenty of eye-appealing white space.
And yet another assumption: Your website will create all the response you need if it’s full of eye-candy graphics, images of smiling, “beautiful” people, and a trendy looking design.
Compare dental websites in your area or community. Make note of the stock images you find that are used on your site and/or a number of others.
This creates a deja-vu feeling – “I’ve been here before…next!”
And with a click they’re gone. Translation: new patient, next treatment, production…lost!
Association: Your site visitors will respond when you compel them to. Website visitors respond when they’re told what to do next.
And that next step is easier because you have a clear call-to-action. Create compelling, call-to-action copy and links on every web page.
Answer the question clearly: “Where do I go/click next…?” Use action words like, “schedule,” “call us…,” “contact…”
On your dental website one paragraph of copy/content should naturally and compellingly lead to another. Design useful, informative, benefit-focused, action-friendly web pages throughout your site.
Make no “deadly” assumptions. Instead, create new, fresh associations.
You’ll create site visitors who say, “This reads (”tastes”) like a dental provider I could schedule with.”
And isn’t that why you have a website in the first place?
The suspense hung in the air as I searched for the cause of all the commotion.
It’s easy to miss the point of why you create content for your dental marketing. And the bigger issue might be what’s really missing.
As far as I could tell the bird never saw it coming. The “it,” was apparently the small white cat with said bird in its mouth (Poor, lil’ thing…the bird that is).
The plot unfolding outside my studio window was thick. Suspense works that way.
What’s the point of your dental marketing content? Even more revealing – what’s the plot?
A random flash of dental speak here and there isn’t a plot.
People expect that. So, let’s talk expectations for a moment.
Web searches turn up hundreds, even thousands, of results for dental services. Depending on the size of your locale those search results can be even higher.
I write a lot of dental website content for clients. And my curiosity remains high about how effective it really is when all’s-said-and-done.
Potential dental patients, new patients, or those seeking your dental services, etc., arrive at on your website for one reason.
Something worked in their search query.
Keyword rich copy is essential. But…
I’m realizing there must be more to keep them ON your website. And more important – returning again and again.
Don’t cop out saying – “Well, they scheduled…or hired us…so my website must have done it’s job.”
Sure, a scheduled appointment adds to your dental digital marketing win-column. I’ll give you that.
What is of equal importance is the relationship you’ve only begun to develop with that new patient or client.
Is the suspense (or lack of it) “killing” you?
Who is helped by typical, outdated, status-quo, overly technical, feature-heavy, dental web content? And why is that a necessary question?
Imagine someone arriving on you dental website and experiencing something entirely fresh, out-of-the-box. What would that look like?
Glad you asked!
The new brand of dental web copy that adds a little suspense, keeps them returning for more, and sharing what they found so your dental practice or dental industry business achieves greater influence.
That’s a lot to comprehend. Allow me to break it down.
Your new brand of dental website copy or digital marketing content isn’t about your services.
“But I’m in the business of providing dental services,” you say. Correct! You are.
Yet, that’s not the only reason why people do business with YOU!
Remember those thousands of web search results?
You are hopefully among them. And the only reason you or another local practice or business showed up where you did in the rankings has everything to do with this.
One, you paid for your ranking with ads or any of the common, trendy approaches that work but also devour time and cash flow.
Two, you’re nowhere near the top of the search pile because you didn’t invest in the latest, trendy SEO technique.
Three (and here’s something to think about and repeat lavishly), you achieved a higher ranking than most because you know the value of a content-rich website that consistently provides useful, relevant content for those searching for your services.
It’s not only what you do or provide. It’s also about showing up consistently with information that showcases your authority or expertise.
- Launch or re-launch your dental blog or dental articles page. It’s the most cost-effective and long-term beneficial strategy to maximize all that dental-speak that you think can only be posted on your services pages.
- Use your blog to communicate the information potential patients or clients are searching for about solutions for their dental health or dental business.
Your new brand of dental website copy isn’t really about YOU.
“But I’m the founder, the dentist.” Right. You are!
And everyone expects you to talk about you.
How about your About Us page? You know, that page where you talk about qualifications, educational achievements, CE credits, and on and on.
There has to be more.
- Tell readers less about your qualifications and more about what it’s like to do “business” with you. For example, what does an appointment look like from start to finish? What’s your personal treatment philosophy? How does a consultation move step by step? And what are the outcomes people can expect?
- Invest your dental marketing copy in those descriptive processes that build the “suspense” about what it’s like to work with you and your team. The return on that investment has the potential to be greater than a quick glance and…”Oh, sounds like every other dentist or dental service provider in my search results.”
Suspense can transform your dental marketing efforts. Use a bit of it to increase your value in the eyes of those searching for precisely what you provide.
At the core, it’s the same principle that connects your dental marketing to the big-picture strategy.
My dad made a statement at our most recent family reunion. I can’t get it out of my mind.
It answers the question, “Why am I here?” And I’m not talking some existential, meaning of life idea.
The essence of his statement to our gathering of nephews, nieces, cousins, spouses, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren defines what it means to be family.
We were circling up prior to our reunion meal. My dad (the current family patriarch) pointed to the displayed, vintage portraits of my grandmother and grandfather.
Then, tearfully gesturing to our gathering, said, “They caused all this…”
Cause and effect
Everything starts somewhere. Before a tree, family or otherwise, extends its branches, there’s a simple seed (the cause).
And your dental marketing impact (the effect) is no different.
What seeds are you planting? And going a step further, do you have a strategy that’s easy to implement?
Reacting isn’t a strategy
You’re accustomed to it. For example, as a dental provider, you react to the pain a patient presents with.
Your education, training, and experience teaches you to diagnose the situation and prescribe a treatment plan. I realize it’s a bit more complicated than that, but you get the imagery.
Reaction can grip you too when there’s a need to market your services.
- New patient scheduling is down
- Recare has stalled
- Web search analytics are showing downward traffic trends
And the dentist down the street is your community’s new rock star with their state-of-the-art…cutting-edge this or that (and if they use “state-of-the-art” or “cutting edge” to describe whatever in their latest postcard mailer or on their newly designed website, you should stop worrying…because no one cares…seriously, nothing says boring, “numbing,” marketing copy than those two phrases…but I digress).
Meanwhile, back to your challenge at hand…
Your marketing dilemma is a different cause for reaction than you’re typically educated, trained, and experienced to handle. You know when a tooth has erupted and what to do to fix it.
Now your marketing presents with pain. What to do?
A road paved with “good intentions” that leads you nowhere
Well intentioned dental professionals do what they know best to do when marketing challenges arise. Right?
You leave a Post-it® note on the desk of your office manager or designated front-office team member that reads, “See me about an email blast…” (or something related to a panic-driven “marketing” blitz).
Is that the best you can do?
Your dental marketing deserves better than a random, reactively conceived, out-of-their-depth (with all due respect reference to the person tasked) email blast. You’re panicked. I get it.
Take a deep breath.
Now let’s assess the problem and nail down a more effective solution to your ongoing marketing dilemma.
You WILL be in panic mode again. That is, unless you readjust your perspective and realign your approach.
The first (of 3) marketing content resources you’ll ever need to build your dental practice or dental industry business (and stop burdening an already focused and busy business assistant).
1-Your Platform Content (PC)
Consider your website your office’s front door. Before a new patient or anyone else walks through the door of your dental practice they’ve probably invested a portion of their time hanging around in your digital “lobby.”
This assumes you have a website. If you don’t…well…we need to talk (and we should have that conversation, like, NOW).
Having a website is only the beginning. These days there’s more to an established, effective, useful, search friendly online presence than a mere website.
Home page-check! About us page-check! Services pages-check! Contact us page-check! Social media buttons-check!
I’ll even go so far to say Blog-check! You’d be surprised (perhaps) how few can check that one off the list these days.
And if you do have a blog page, how fresh and/or recent and useful is your content?
More on that later.
How to make your dental website a solid, home-base platform
Consider it the “cause” of your intended “effect” (to borrow from my earlier family reunion story).
If you want to avoid reactionary, panic-stricken marketing make certain your website platform is solid.
- Visit your website as if you’re searching for a dental provider. How informative is it? Do you know where to go next from page to page? Does it communicate relevant, benefit focused information (rather than “hey, look how great, equipped, educated, etc we are…”)? Are there clear calls to action page to page? Does the content ultimately lead to scheduling an appointment or consultation?
- Clean up your language. Make sure your entire site is “you” (reader/patient/client) focused. It should read as if you’re having a personal conversation with the person reading your content.
- Stop talking so much. Reduce your page word count if necessary. You should be able to inform and compel a response with 250 to 500 words per page on average.
- Keep it real. Evaluate your page header images. If your images look cookie-cutter, your site can appear that way.
You want to avoid having the reader feel like, “oh, I’ve been here before…just another dental website…” Imagine them feeling instead that your practice story, culture, and voice is different than most…and unique to yours.
Your dental marketing starts somewhere. And your website platform is the most strategic place to begin if you want to solve the panic mode problem in your marketing.
Process and act on this for now. Stay tuned…there’s more to come in an upcoming post.
His chosen approach has much to do with how you reach your audience via your dental website.
My soggy, evening visitor was going door to door selling the opportunity to “…have a few minutes of my time…” He wanted to talk about my home security system.
A number of thoughts raced through my mind in the brief moments I felt sorry for him standing there, on my doorstep, rain-soaked from walking door to door in my suburban neighborhood.
One thought dominated them all.
“There has to be a better way…!”
I’ve always admired door to door sales dedication. Seriously, it takes a level of perseverance (or desperation) to do it (I can relate having done my fair share of it a few years ago for a variety of reasons).
I peddled everything from products to ideas. And I gained much from the experience that serves me to this day.
That said, technology has vastly improved the “sales” relationship. Say what you will about the grass-roots, guerrilla marketing, bootstrapping diligence of the committed few who knock it out door to door.
There IS a better way. And how you’re attempting to reach your audience via your website could be the door-to-door equivalent of my soggy, holiday, dinner hour salesman.
“You had ONE job…”
Your dental website has one fundamental purpose. And depending on your specific niche it could be patient related or product/service related.
That ONE job? Compel action from your reader.
Let’s define action. And let’s bottom-line it, shall we?
For the dental practice, most often your website’s sole purpose is compelling a new patient, current patient, or referral patient to schedule an appointment. I’m not going to argue the sub-categories of appropriate purposes. Let’s keep it simple.
For the dental industry service or product business, the common driving purpose is compelling a new client, current client, or referral client to order products and services from you. Again, corollary purposes aside, let’s stick with the basics.
What gets the job done?
My soggy door to door sales-guy gets points for effort. But more important, and he knows this, it’s a numbers game.
Every “No” gets him closer to a “Yes.” It’s common sales motivation.
Is this true when it comes to your website? Does every visitor who searches for dental services, arrives on your site, and leaves with a “No” get you closer to a “Yes?”
And if that’s true do you have the time to measure it? (Understanding, of course, that you can deep dive into your site analytics and get a boat-load of relevant answers to that question.)
I choose to deal in the realm of what increases the likelihood that they’ll not only STAY but RETURN again and again.
In this instance, it’s about relevant, useful information.
And speaking of a deeper dive, allow me to clarify what “information” I’m NOT talking about.
There’s more to useful, dental website information than standard, overly technical explanations of crowns, fillings, dental hygiene, implants, etc. And there’s way more than talking about your latest, state-of-the-art, high-tech equipment. You know, the equipment you’ve just completed hours of training or CE credit for the qualification to use it on patients who you assume are laying awake at night longing for the opportunity to sit in your op-room chair to experience it.
I overstate my case. But that’s the door-to-door equivalent on many dental websites when delivering information.
“Hand that dude a towel…” (so he can dry off and throw it in).
It’s time to renew your website, the kind of information you share, and how you share it.
As I earlier observed following my dinner time sales intrusion – “There has to be a better way…”
1-Build your authority by being a reservoir of useful information.
These days information translates into trusted expertise. Notice I added the word “trusted.”
I don’t have to tell you that a search for “dentist” in your city/region will return pages of apparent expertise. Most are trustworthy and treat their scheduled patients appropriately – you included.
How and where you rank in that search determines whether they’ll give you the opportunity to show your trustworthy treatment approach. You can pay for that ranking via Google Ads, etc. hoping they’ll discover you to be everything they’re searching for in a dental provider…and then some.
You can show up consistently as result of useful information about the treatment, service, or procedure that they’re interested in.
- Blog content, podcasts, video, and social media content relevant to your reader’s questions, problems, and concerns spotlight your authority in today’s digital media world.
- Build a list of topics from the questions your patients and people you consult with are asking.
- Create useful, easy-to-access content.
- Make the content available on your website’s blog/article page, via a podcast button (linking to a downloadable audio file or an iTunes channel), or a link to your dental practice’s YouTube channel.
2-Be consistently available with answers to the questions patients/clients are asking.
There’s more to answering questions than filtering a select few through your website’s FAQ page.
- Make your web page’s sidebar a billboard for where site visitors can get answers to their questions.
- Create compelling content titles that capture their attention (make them scream, “Read me!”) in the “Recent Posts/Articles” section.
- Show your interest in patients by making your content about them and their questions…not you and your latest technological advance, credentials, etc.
Trust translates via being attentive. Your attentiveness shows up in being useful via quality content.
Don’t get left-out-in-the-rain on your dental website. Persevere, sure.
But be certain that your diligence is, above all, useful to those you’re seeking to compel.
As a teen I remember standing in line alongside my dad, outside our hometown’s twin screen movie theater.
Tickets in hand.
The crowd and anticipation building.
Star Wars…enough said!
Blockbusters have a certain appeal. And that sense of anticipation works for your dental blog content like it does movies.
I recently introduced our young grandson to the Star Wars franchise. I’m building anticipation in him for the approaching release of the latest chapter in the sci-fi series.
He’s hooked. And the promotional teaser for the new film had him uttering a wide-eyed, “Wow!”
Good content – visual or otherwise – elicits an emotional response in one form or another.
What’s “Wow!” and are you getting it?
Unlike my dad and I full of anticipation years ago for the local premiere of George Lucas’ story from a “galaxy far, far away…,” I get that the general public isn’t lining up to read dental content on your website.
There are reasons for this.
The obvious ones: time and perception.
One of those you can’t control. The other you absolutely can.
Perception is everything. Start controlling it.
The first level of defenses fall the moment a potential new patient, client, or current one types in a dental search term in their web browser. Your published content goes to work on your behalf.
And this is where the current online reality shifts for you and your dental practice. The availability of relevant content increases the likelihood you’ll show up somewhere at or near the top of their search results.
Merely having a website with the words “dental,” “dentist,” etc peppered throughout just to stoke the search engine’s fire. Those days are gone.
Welcome to the new digital marketing world of usefulness (the key, by the way, to controlling perception and building anticipation).
Give them something.
If it’s written content, it must be readable, understandable, and above all, useful to their search.
Perception is that dental content is technical (much of it is).
Perception is that dental content is boring (much of it is).
Perception is that dental content is baited and weighted to lure you into the office for something “free” that will lead you into a consult room where you’re introduced to the “need” for hundreds or thousands of dollars of treatment (much of it is).
The rise of “just because” content.
Informed decisions are better than decisions made under pressure. Wouldn’t you rather have the reputation of being a trusted resource that educates people into a decision?
Become an authority. And when people trust you as an authority their perception shifts.
How to shift the perception about your dental content.
1-Launch, re-launch, revise, or revisit your dental blog strategy.
Did you give up blogging too soon? Have you delayed starting? Are there loooong gaps between your most recent post and today?
Your authority as a dental professional increases when you consistently deliver quality, useful, reader-focused information.
CE courses and credits can appear irrelevant (as a credential) for the general public. They’re looking for accessible answers to their questions.
And people are accustomed to reaching for their smart phone or tablet, opening their web browser, typing a word in the search bar…and viola!…reading something relevant to their need.
They will read. And vital to your authority, they’ll return for more if what they find leads to solutions on a physical or emotional level.
2-Keep your blog topped-off with a minimum of two fresh posts per month.
We could debate blog frequency all day. Let’s not.
Instead, set a goal to blog consistently. And by consistent, start with a fresh post every other week (minimum two per month).
Once you get in-the-zone you’ll actually find it easier to up the frequency. In fact, once a week will become your new blogging pace.
Set a goal to publish once a week as you complete a month or two of every other week publishing. Block out some time. Maintain a running list of topics and content ideas.
And if your time is limited or your desire to write is low (as I suspect both to be true since you’re a busy, thriving dental professional who’d rather be doing dentistry) secure the services of a dental copywriter or dental blogger to produce your blog content on a consistent weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly schedule.
3-Listen, learn, and leverage what you discover into new posts.
Be intentional about publishing content that people will read and return for more. And your best intentional strategy is listening.
What are your patients, clients, readers asking about? Talking about?
Ask your dental hygienists what they’re hearing from patients. They’re on the front-lines of patient communication.
Train them, your dental assistants, and front-office team to ask fruitful questions. You’re seeking information you can turn into informational content.
When you do this effectively, patients will get the idea that you’re tapped into their concerns, fears, health and appearance goals, etc. When they feel listened to and heard, they’ll naturally share your content with others.
And shared content equals referrals. And referrals help build your practice.
If you want people to be wide-eyed with anticipation – the “Wow!” – build anticipation through your informative, useful content.
They may not line up. But they’ll know where the line forms when the time comes.