I underestimated how much a simple, handwritten note could encourage someone my grandson’s age. It’s the same power that intentional, personal content has over generic, every-person content that’s common in marketing, including dental marketing.
The note to our six year-old grandson arrived in a hand addressed envelope. It was from one of his children’s ministry leaders at our local church.
The message was simple. It affirmed his consistent presence there weekly, acknowledged his growing leadership, and offered some encouragement to his ongoing spiritual growth.
When I read the note to him, his face immediately revealed the power of personal words. His response – “Read it again, Gpa…,” something he asked me to do not once, but two more times before tucking it back into the envelope with a smile.
“You” trumps “We” (and other generic, impersonal content).
Here’s what I know from experience. Had the note been a computer generated, typewritten “Hey, <FIRSTNAME>…” form letter I don’t believe it would have made the impact it did on our grandson.
Sure, there’s a time and place for template reply mail. But I must admit, in this highly engaged, data-driven world we live (and market) in, that brand of content is received with increasing feelings of, “Oh, another form-letter…” [tossed in trashcan alongside other junk mail].
Communicating with a specific person in a way that’s impersonal, collective (just one of the crowd) fails to make the necessary, emotional connection that compels a profitable response to your content.
When your website copy, marketing promotions, email marketing series’ – you name it – speaks to more than “One” person it misses it’s intended goal.
You are hard-wired to respond emotionally when communication is aimed directly at you…personally! If you even smell that the message is mass produced, I get it, you’re out and on to something else.
How many life-changing products and services are lost on generic blasts that feel as if it’s intended for anyone who happens to pick it up? That all changes when it feels like the words are for “your-eyes-and-ears-only.”
How to Use the Power of “You” to Increase the Emotional Response to Your Dental Marketing Content Online or Offline
Make it “personal.”
Picture yourself having a conversation with one person. When you write content, speak into a microphone on a podcast, or look into a camera for a YouTube, Periscope, or Blab broadcast imagine there’s one person in front of you.
Eye-to-eye toned conversation will reach out from your words and make an emotional connection. And that’s the kind of connection that compels your reader/listener/viewer to take action as result of your content.
- Read everything about your “audience” until a clear, individual persona comes into focus.
- Believe that what you are sharing via your content will change that one person’s life in some way.
- Think like that one person and talk to yourself as if you are them, hearing what you’re communicating. How does it sound? Would you do what you are asking them to do? Etc.
Talk don’t tell.
The power of “You” focused communication is it’s conversational voice or tone. Are you motivated as much by technical, overly-hyped verbiage as you are by clear, down-to-earth, let’s have a chat themed conversation? I think not.
- Write like you talk. Simply and clearly speak to your reader, listener, or viewer as if you are one-on-one…face-to-face over a cup of coffee.
- Speak “with” not “at” or “to” your reader. They can sense if you’re not personally interested in THEM the moment you act like you’re trying to impress or “sell.”
Think of intimacy as being up-close-and-personal. I’m not saying be a “close-talker” (if you’re a Seinfeld fan you’ll remember that classic episode).
I’m referring to the shift from generic, crowd-centered, mass-marketed marketing hype to assuring your reader/listener/viewer that you’re into THEM. Their needs, wants, desires, emotional-drivers, pain-points, etc.
- Find your intimate voice. This starts with using the word “You” as much as possible throughout every piece of content you create.
- Be so “You” intentional that your reader/listener/viewer considers you their new “best-friend.” Intimacy doesn’t have to be weird or touchy-feely. It’s a connection.
- Put yourself in their “shoes.” This includes admitting your understanding of their needs, wants, and desires as you admit your “weakness” when appropriate. See their battles and stand in the fray with them.
That note my grandson received… It’s prominently posted on the wall of his bedroom.
The same emotional response applies to the person consuming your content. Keep it personal.
Being unique for the sake of…well…being unique isn’t a strategy. But there is something about a deep-dive into what makes your services and products “unique” that CAN impact your dental marketing success.
“In the 1920’s, Schlitz beer went from fifth in the market to a tie for first. All because a sharp copywriter named Claude Hopkins highlighted their water purification process in an advertisement.
Never mind that all beer companies used the same process. No one had told that story before.” [Read more of Brian’s post]
I’m frequently asked by clients and colleagues, “How can you write fresh content about the same ole’ services over and over again.” Their question reveals what they perceive about the dental niche and what’s somewhat accurate (i.e. how much can you write about dental implants, crowns, etc.?).
That question, perception, and Clark’s content lead to a solution and a strategy that can energize your dental marketing content.
A story that’s not been told
Your services and products are in competition. It’s not so much a competitive process that involves whether one is better than another.
The competitive advantage of your products and services has more to do with the benefit-solution outcome. It’s common in most print and online (digital) marketing promotions to highlight the features of a particular product/service.
It’s easy to throw the terms “greatest,” “state-of-the-art,” “latest,” “cutting-edge,” etc on top of a few specific technical descriptions and garnish it with a smiling-face image or three…and viola!…send it off to your assistant to post on your website. Then wait for your phone to ring off the desk with inquiries, appointments, or purchases.
What’s missing is the “story that’s not been told.” In essence this is what’s known as your “unique selling proposition” (USP).
It’s as simple an addition to your marketing content as Hopkins highlighting Schlitz’s water purification process.
How to Deep-Dive Into Your Services and Products to Discover a New “Story” That Will Deliver Compelling Solutions
List and lead with benefits.
Always be thinking, “What problem does this solve…what solution does this provide…how is this (?) different than any other approach to solving X problem?”
- Dimensional-ize every benefit you list by going even further beneath the surface. For example, teeth whitening does more than brighten your teeth up to eight shades (benefit). Teeth whitening gives you the confidence to walk into your next class reunion like you’ve just been crowned homecoming king or queen (deeper, dimensional-ized benefit).
- Find the deeper levels of solutions and benefits that tap directly into the emotions of your patients, clients, or leads.
Appeal to logic with features.
This the proper use of all those features you’re so quick to talk about. Only use them after you’ve uncovered every benefit-solution you can think of that your product/service provides.
The “story” plot thickens when you get their pulse racing with benefits (”Teeth whitening…confidence…homecoming king or queen…!, etc.”). Then you help them rationalize their decision to schedule, purchase, etc with features (”The newest…no-after-taste…teeth whitening product on the market…available in our comfortable, whitening salon…at our new dental facility…”).
Content marketing works. It’s an effective strategy that promotes your dental services and products with a fresh, new “story” that’s unique…and compelling.
It also brought to mind a principle that can turn your dental marketing content into something memorable rather than something forgettable.
A son of the deceased offered a touching moment during his eulogy. Now in his 50’s (I assume), he recalled a moment with his dad when he was five years old.
Age five! It’s not unusual that your best memories are those simple moments that revolve around a lesson learned or practical, loving words related.
And it’s equally true that your dental marketing content, promotions, emails, whatever strategy you choose are most memorable when they do one thing.
Answer a question
Content marketing – in any niche’ – is really that simple. It’s as uncomplicated as listening to your audience - their questions, their problems, the deeper issues they face and writing useful answers to them.
A bias for helping
Marketing can easily digress into an attempt to impress. You can be lured into the latest online trend or be tempted to talk…talk…talk about all the nuances and technical eye-candy associated with your products, services, and procedures.
That’s common. But…it’s as forgettable as a laugh inducing, Super Bowl commercial that’s creative and entertaining but fails to connect you with the product and leaves you asking, “Now what was it they were promoting?”
What connects gets remembered
This is why it’s vital that you know the intrinsic value of your dental content. I’m frequently asked a couple of questions about dental industry websites.
1-“Do we really need blog posts/articles on our website?” 2-“How frequently should we publish blog/article content?”
Those questions reveal a need AND a strategy. And I’ll take a strategic approach to answering them because in essence that’s what I seek to do here on my blog each week – answer common questions (expressed or implied) with useful answers.
Your Simple Strategy for Becoming a Memorable Dental Industry Authority Whatever Your Specialty Is
1-Intentionally invest your best marketing energy (and dollars) in publishing useful information.
The simple answer to question 1 – “Do we really need blog posts/articles on our website?” – is “YES!” If for no other reason, it reveals you’re listening.
And that’s the essence of content marketing. To listen is to have no other alternative but to be useful..helpful.
As a dental professional you do not have the practical opportunity to be face-to-face for as long as it would be necessary to answer your patient or client questions. Timing is an issue as well.
Your clients and patients often do not have questions during the hours you’re available in-office or on-site. But they will search for them via their mobile devices, smartphones, tablets, and other available technology that gives them online access.
My question for you: “Will you show up in their search results?” And if you do, will they find the memorable answer(s) they’re searching for? (I’ll cover this in greater detail in future posts. Stay tuned.)
- Set up “listening outposts” throughout your dental practice or dental service business. Your dental assistants, dental hygienists, front-desk business team, customer-service reps, field consultants, managers, etc are your “ears.” Ask them to keep a running list of the relevant questions they’re asked by patients or clients. Review your list regularly.
- Hire a copywriter/content strategist to create blog/article content around simple, non-technical answers to those questions. Why hire? Because you’ll delay what you do not have the time (or expertise) to do. Content marketing is as strategic an endeavor as it is simple. There’s an art to writing an SEO optimized, practical, informative, readable, and actionable post or article.
2-Apply a publishing frequency that’s driven by your desire to establish yourself as the go-to authority.
The answer to question 2 – “How frequently should we publish blog/article content?” – is not as much about saturation as it is about being compelled to deliver valuable information.
If you’re listening…really listening to your “audience” you will always have something of importance to share. Now it’s more a question of strategic opportunity.
- Publish/post your blog/article content at a minimum every other week and at a maximum every week. Consistency plus informative value is the-new-black. Gone are the days of content mills that write a paragraph or two packed with dental keywords on a topic that is written about for the sole purpose of baiting the search engines. It’s essential that you create and deliver content that has substance. And your substance comes from “listening” to your audience.
- Monitor your published content via online tracking tools and good-old-fashioned conversation. I’ll cover the practical side of online search tools in another post. For starters, lurk around in your web hosts built-in tracking systems. Ask your IT team or an up to date, tech-savvy colleague about the best apps or software that will give you a window on your content “love.”
Really, it’s all about the “love.” Love for your audience, for your expertise, and the memorable value you consistently deliver via your content.
I hear this often, “We need MORE content on our dental website home page…on our services pages…” More. More. More.
Again, the real issue is where to apply a “more-is-better” strategy. And there’s a strategic point of evaluation that’s often missed.
In a recent post I shared some insight regarding today’s new reality about SEO. Bottom-line: online searches these days return more links to articles/blog posts than they do actual websites.
So, wouldn’t it make sense for you to invest more dental marketing energy (and dollars) creating useful, informative article content than you would in higher word counts on standard toolbar pages (i.e., Home, About, Services/Procedures pages)?
That’s a good question. And it’s only provocative if you still aren’t sold on the strategy that – being useful online via your blog/article content is your MORE important than overly indulgent core web page content.
3 ways to apply a more-is-better strategy where it matters the most.
1-Deliver value through your online dental content
I’ll indulge your quest for “more” throughout your dental website on ONE condition. That you provide value!
What is valuable content?
Valuable content focuses on benefits more than it does features.
Don’t misunderstand. Features are important but not when they’re overused or without a compelling benefit attached.
Your dental service benefits connect with your patient’s or client’s emotional desires. Your dental service features appeal to your patient’s or client’s logic.
Both are necessary in your dental marketing content. But…
Remember to “sell” or “promote” first with benefits then help them rationalize their decision with an emphasis on features.
This takes some strategic thought. And I’ll go on record again by saying it must involve more than throwing “state-of-the-art” or “cutting-edge” ahead of your newest or greatest technology, etc.
2-Write dental content that’s readable.
Not all content will be read. But it’s certain that the time someone spends with your content will increase or decrease based on its readability.
Readable content ditches the tech-speak that’s only understood by industry insiders. Understand, your patients or clients are more than likely not up to speed on the jargon that so easily flows off your tongue at an industry trade show or event.
Readable content sounds and reads like you talk. Apply the bar stool-principle – would you say what you’re about to say in the form you’re about to say it if you were sitting on a bar stool, having a conversation with a friend, colleague, or family member?
Readable content assumes that the reader isn’t up to speed. Thus, it’s job-one of your content to help them understand what it is you want them to do.
Readable content is action oriented. Your content must include – at several points within – a clear, compelling call-to-action (i.e. tell them what to do…tell them again…and tell them again…)
3-Design your dental content to be searchable.
By design I recommend you invest more time, energy, and dollars into your blog/article pages. Why?
Again, this is where more online searches land these days.
- Listen to your patient/client questions or reviews and write content that answers their questions or insights.
- Create a content editorial calendar of topics based on what you hear your patients or clients talking about or asking about.
- Consistently publish content that helps your patients and clients. I recommend a minimum of two times per month on your blog/article page…but weekly is MORE effective.
More IS better. But make sure it’s delivered in the most strategically effective location on your dental website.
“Imagine the person you’re writing to. Picture him or her as a friend. Believe that the (service) you’re (promoting) will improve your friend’s life. Figure out what it would take to convince you to buy the product.” – Paul Hollingshead
“It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” That memorable phrase contains a “double-edged truth.”
On the contrary, what you say does matter. Mixed messages create confusion.
Equally true is how you communicate. Tone, delivery method, or “voice” can make or break your dental marketing message.
I’m a strong advocate for a particular tone of voice in the copy or content I create. And I’m diligent to coach my clients in the same.
Friend or foe?
You shouldn’t be forced to choose, should you? “Foe” is a bit too strong a label.
It’s not productive to view your readers, patients, clients, prospects, etc as “foes” to be conquered. “Friend” is a better perspective for your marketing promotions, blog posts, or conversations when the goal is to compel a response.
Paul Hollingshead’s words that introduce this post help establish that view in your dental marketing. Voice is the core idea when writing, promoting, or marketing your services.
How to find your voice and compel a positive response to your dental marketing message.
1-Use your imagination
It’s important to break free from the seller-prospect mindset when marketing your dental services. Remember, “People don’t like to be sold.”
This common approach sets up an adversarial relationship from the get-go. And you’ll adopt a “voice” that’s perceived that way too.
As Hollingshead encourages, “Imagine the person you’re writing to. Picture him or her as a friend.”
- View your promotions as a conversation. Write conversationally – friend to friend.
- Use short sentences. Long sentences typically evolve into something too technical or wordy. Avoid “bloat” and “fluff” throughout your writing.
- Forget “English class.” Beginning a sentence with “And” or “But” is okay in this context. And (there you go…haha) a preposition is okay to end a sentence “with.” Remember conversational, friend-to-friend communication is not only common these days, it’s accepted (like it or not, thanks to social media).
- Use the “barstool” filter. Ask yourself if you would say it (what you’re writing) sitting across from a friend at a bar or table.
2-Deepen your beliefs
Believing in your message, service, or product should translate via your voice. If you sincerely believe it will improve someone’s health or life, how could you not communicate it in a compelling way.
Again, the friend-to-friend, conversational voice compels better than a sales-y, hype-y tone.
- List the “whys” of your product or service. Why is it necessary, useful, beneficial, etc.?
- Listen to comments and reviews. Readers, patients, and clients will tell you “why” they like or dislike your services.
- Write to problems and questions. Beneath a negative experience or review is a solution that will improve your marketing message. Fearlessly evaluate the negatives you hear or experience when promoting or applying your services.
3-Identify with the benefits
Walk-a-mile in your patient’s/client’s shoes. Keep the question in mind – “Would I use this, pay for this, try this, etc.?”
The answers will reveal the true, unvarnished benefits of your particular product or service. Features appeal to logic. Benefits connect with emotions.
Friend-to-friend, conversational communication is more emotional than it is rational or logical.
- Review your products and services searching for benefits.
- List the benefits of each service. Remember “state-of-the-art” is a feature not a benefit.
- Answer the question, “So what?” Confirm that your particular service or product actually leads to a compelling result. Identify that result and write to it as often as possible.
Find your “voice.” Make “friends” through your dental marketing content.