Benefits sell! That’s core to effective copywriting and the power language you need to promote your dental services.
The Sunday edition of my local newspaper featured two ads that got my attention. How they got my attention is what’s important to this post (realize henceforth – I’m more critical than the average reader).
First, it WASN’T the somewhat eye-candy graphics or the positioning on the page (two big deals to most newsprint advertisers). Second, it WASN’T the headline – at least in the way you might be thinking.
The ad’s colors and placement did draw my eye to it. But it was the headline that bothered me.
The ad writer did the common, believed effective, ad naseum, amateur, I-have-a-gazillion-ads-to-write-today-so-I’ll-take-the-easy-way, feature-first headline approach. And perhaps wrapped it up by asking the design department to throw in some cool colors and bold fonts so people notice.
I confess – I read the ad. Was I compelled?
That’s the question your copy must answer – is it compelling?
And copywriting that compels doesn’t lead with features (everyone does that) it leads with benefits.
This brings to mind a recent meeting I was in. Our dental hygiene team was discussing how to promote oral cancer screenings to our patients. Even though the service is undeniably beneficial and has a relatively low cost point (beyond insurance coverage) some patients aren’t compelled.
No doubt it’s a beneficial procedure. But how do you get to the compelling core benefits without dumbing-it-down with feature heavy content and graphics (what I’ve called “est-syndrome” in previous posts.).
Here are 4 words to keep front-of-mind when mining the benefits of your dental products and services.
1) Urgency (Think-if they don’t get this now the world as they know it will end)
Act now! Limited time offer! You must do better than that.
Give your reader a hot-seat reason to jump NOW to get your product or service.
How can you tell the story in the most compelling way? That’s the question.
Urgency isn’t just about prompting a decision. Urgency is about removing the gap as quickly as possible between decision and action.
2) Usefulness (Think – this is so practical…I must show them)
Not all products and services are ultimately useful. So it makes sense that the promotional copy lacks it too.
Do the hard work required to find a product’s or service’s usefulness that’s not obvious. The ultimate task of your copywriting is painting a picture of practical action.
Who’s using the product/service? What’s happened to them? When did they first discover it’s effectiveness? Where are they looking to use it next?
3) Uniqueness (Think – no one has the “angle” we do. And that “angle” is…)
Being unique is overrated. Especially when it’s confused with creative.
How creative your copy is doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unique. You must find a way to tell the story in a way no one’s told it yet.
This may or may not be the most creative. A unique message is about captivating a person’s buying emotion in a way no one has before so the buying decision keeps repeating itself.
4) Ultra-specific (Think – then think again…and again until it’s crystal clear)
The problem with many marketing messages is just that – they contain more than one message. The key to specificity (love that word) is funneling all the possible ideas into one, compelling message.
Too many messages in a single promotion confuses. Compelling copy is about clarity.
It’s the difference in a laser and a light-bulb. One illuminates, the other penetrates.
Certainly, the end result you desire is more than merely illuminating your “market.” Why not penetrate it?
I’ll admit I’m more critical of marketing copy than the average reader. But I know good copywriting when I see it.
And usually it’s because I’m reaching for my wallet.
Is your dental marketing copy more feature focused or benefit focused?
Roadblocks keep us from getting to our desired destination. The same happens in your dental copywriting and marketing conversations, sometimes unknowingly.
Here’s an example I discovered recently that illustrates my point. Consider when a hygienist asks, “do you floss?”
Let’s be honest – the hygienist knows the answer. If they can’t tell from the tartar build up and gum bleeding, something’s wrong.
But, could asking that question be undermining the response the hygienist hopes for? Think about it.
The patient doesn’t hear, “Flossing is good for you. It helps assure good periodontal health.”
What does the patient hear?
The patient hears, “You idiot! How could you be so stupid as to put your oral health and teeth at risk? What’s wrong with you?”
The “do-you-floss?” question – subtle and rhetorical as it may be – creates a negative vibe. And that vibe creates a communication barrier to future messages.
Communication improves when the benefits of flossing are delivered along with coaching about the various tips and tools available to them.
How many of your dental marketing conversations have “do-you-floss?” syndrome? Are you shutting down the path to further, beneficial conversation because you’re putting up communication roadblocks?
Here are a few common “do-you-floss” type copywriting roadblocks and how to remove them:
When marketing your products/services the easiest to talk about is you. But when talking about you it’s even easier to miss who you’re talking to.
Who is your target? What do they want/need? How are they willing to engage with and spend time and/or money with you? What makes them do business with you again and again?
These are benefit oriented questions. And they lead to better marketing communications.
The greatest communication challenge whether writing or talking is not what to say. It’s what NOT to say!
Each marketing piece you create – boil it down to a simple, compelling, SINGLE message. Ask “what is most important to communicate here, now, and (as mentioned above) to whom?”
If English is your native language and you’ve traveled to a foreign country where English isn’t primarily spoken you know the feelings – intimidated, disoriented, lost, wondering.
These too describe what it feels like if you aren’t clear in your marketing message. In essence, if the reader doesn’t understand you.
Master copywriter, Michael Masterson says, “Good writing is good thinking clearly expressed.”
Focus on one compelling idea. Write about it compellingly and people will be…you guessed it…compelled.
And that’s the point after all – that our readers get-it.
A local paper ad caught my wife’s attention. It was promoting an international coin buyer’s event taking place over the weekend at a local hotel.
Our experience prompted my thoughts about some important dental copywriting and marketing principles. I was reminded how it’s essential to think about the untapped value within your dental products and services.
Along with gold and silver items, the company was offering cash payouts on coins of a certain vintage. My wife knew we had a few silver and half-dollars lying around so she scoured the house, drawer clutter, and forgotten containers to find a few hopefully valuable coins.
Bingo! Among some kitchen drawer clutter she uncovered a 1966 half-dollar. And we did a halfway serious happy-dance as if we were holding the winning Powerball lottery ticket.
We arrived at the hotel, took our number and a seat waiting among a few others who hoped they too had discovered the mother-lode in a jar or coffee can among their house clutter just as we had.
In a moment I’ll tell you how much our 1966 half-dollar was worth and what we walked away with check in hand. But first, our experience reminds me of some basic copywriting principles to apply to your dental marketing content.
Understand perceived value
Remember that people buy for emotional not rational reasons. This holds true for how they perceive the value of your dental services and dental products.
Imagine a client or patient seeing your latest promotion for the first time. Once they hear the price for treatment or service they’ll immediately form an opinion about whether there’s value for them (perception).
Of course, you know the value. And it’s the job of your promotional content to sell them on it.
Your dental copywriting and marketing content must get inside their head. But don’t stop there. You must reach their heart – the emotional core. How?
>Use benefit-rich action words and keywords.
>Ask questions they must answer in the moment as they read, view, or listen to your content (however it’s delivered).
>Raise the value of whatever your promoting in the minds of your readers with comparative data (statistics, facts, etc.).
>Write to overcome perceptions and objections.
Deliver beneficial value
Your dental products and services have built-in value. But do you know their value inside and out?
Change your perspective and look at your products and services with fresh eyes. Consider outsourcing your dental copywriting and marketing efforts on occasion.
Your products and services contain hidden value. And the purpose of your marketing is to discover it and create solid, compelling content that promotes it.
Show prospects, potential clients/patients, and current ones the benefit-value of your services. But don’t stop there.
The purpose of copywriting is to put the product in their hand…in their experience with words. Use words to paint a picture of the future with them benefiting from its use and the consequences of not doing so.
Use content to get them so emotionally attached to your services that they can’t walk away without buying.
Not only give them a picture experiencing the benefit of your dental services. Show others benefiting also.
The “community” or “tribal” effect can increase value. It’s the show-and-tell principle that builds a story around the product/service benefits.
>Use testimonials throughout your dental marketing content.
>Expand your testimonials into case-studies or whitepapers.
>Show your products/services solving problems, altering outcomes, increasing confidence, saving lives, etc.
This has emotional appeal that few can ignore without joining the crowd.
Back to our coin selling experience. Our number was called. And we were graciously escorted to a table where the buyer eyed the few coins my wife had uncovered.
He immediately separated the value-coin from all the rest – our 1966 silver half-dollar – and casually told us to spend the other coins since they wouldn’t increase in value.
We agreed to his estimated value on our 1966 silver half-dollar. We shook hands. A check was issued.
And we walked away…$3 richer. Hey, unless my “math” is wrong (wouldn’t surprise me if I was) isn’t that a value increase of 400%?
Sometimes I can’t get-over-myself. This occasionally happens when I write proposals to promote my services to a potential client.
My first hurdle with self promotion is taking myself just seriously enough to boldly inform someone that I’m the person to get-it-done for them. Something similar happens with product and service promotions.
The “est” syndrome.
This feature-focused disease includes promotion killing words like bigg-est…fast-est…great-est. The problem with “est” words is their potential to create unhealthy – or unnecessary – comparisons.
There’s a much better focus. I’ll share that in moment.
Think about making an impression on someone. That all important first impression makes it harder to breathe, doesn’t it?
You stress about your appearance – what to wear? You stress over your first words, how firm should your handshake be, etc.
It’s all about the feature presentation. And perhaps that’s the fear source.
When you think features – everything has to fit and flow just short of “perfect,” right?
But like all lasting relationships, you eventually move past the surface appearance and engage with what’s beneath – the real person. That’s where the relationship takes off and has staying-power.
The staying-power of your products and services have more to do with the deeper benefits than surface features.
Write your dental promotional content to the benefit level.
1) Look at the product or service with fresh eyes.
Ask – what problem does this service really solve? Then think solutions.
Perhaps you’ve focused so much creative energy on the presentation (features) that you’re missing your most compelling selling points (benefits).
2) List every possible problem the product/service solves (really, all you can think of).
This list could be creative-gold for your R&D (Research & Development) processes. Whiteboard or mind-map every possible problem and solution your dental product/service engages.
Punch-up your content with these gold nuggets. Benefits connect and compel your prospect’s emotions.
3) Leverage the results of happy users/clients/patients.
When a problem is solved with one of your products/services that’s an emotional deal. No, there may not be laughter and tears (depending on what their issue is) but now you’ve won a customer…perhaps for life!
Why? Because you engaged them at an emotional level – where a dental problem, an issue, etc was causing “pain.”
You delivered a timely and useful solution to their dilemma. And they’ll talk you up because of it.
But…they won’t if you don’t give them a venue. Testimonials, case studies, survey forms are excellent venues for this kind of “love.” Leverage them.
Seeing yourself as the solution (benefits) is much more effective than comparing yourself to everyone else (features).
YOU have a voice that’s uniquely YOU.
Get over yourself. Start using it.