Category: Author: David Hall
If you are going to try to use your website to attract patients who want smile makeovers, an online smile gallery is a must. Research shows that this is the first page prospective smile makeover patients will visit after they find the website. (See the landmark study by Sesame Communications, How Consumers Choose Cosmetic Dentists Online.) But what is the most effective way to present a smile gallery?
Each Smile Gallery Case Should Tell What Was Done and Why
It almost goes without saying that you want to tell the visitor what procedure was used on the patient. But beyond that, give the patient’s first name and tell a little story about the case. Besides wanting a dentist with the clinical skills to perform a beautiful smile makeover, patients want someone warm and caring. Telling a little about the patient signals to the website visitor that you treat people, not just teeth.
In the back of the minds of most of your prospective patients is the question, “Do you care more about me or about the money?” For a deeper discussion of this issue, see my post on the importance of conveying trust through your website. Take the opportunity, with the presentation of the smile gallery, to show that you are a warm and caring dentist. That will increase conversions.
Show the Full Face
While having a photograph of just the teeth satisfies the logical mind and will attest to your clinical skill, I teach in my neuromarketing lecture that effective marketing is more about emotion than logic. To satisfy the emotional requirements of marketing your dental practice, you should display full face photographs. One emotional reason is to convey that you are a warm and caring person, as I mentioned above. Another is related to one of the six principles of persuasion I teach: “Get them to dream.”
I learned a lot about this principle from the classic book on subconscious marketing by Douglas Van Praet, Unconscious Branding. He has a chapter in his book titled, “Lead the Imagination.” In that chapter he tells the story of a Porsche dealer in Toronto who thought of a unique way to get people to respond to a direct mail campaign that urged them to call for a test drive. They sent a photographer around to upscale neighborhoods. The photographer snapped a picture of a shiny, new Porsche in the driveway or in front of the driveway of each house, then printed out a custom ad with the headline, “It’s closer than you think,” and dropped it into their mail slot. While direct mail generally has a response rate of around 1%, this campaign achieved the amazing response rate of 32% of the recipients calling to schedule a test drive. The reason for the success was that the campaign got people to imagine themselves owning a new Porsche.
We can implement a similar strategy in the marketing of smile makeovers. If you can get patients to visualize themselves with the makeover, you increase the chances that they will actually do it. One way to accomplish that online is to show photographs of real people with smile makeovers that you have done, people with whom they can identify.
Obtaining Patient Consent
One reason dentists end up displaying just smiles is that they don’t have patient consent to display their faces. Going back and obtaining consent can be time-consuming. The way I dealt with this in my practice was to make a brief consent statement part of the patient registration form. I had a sentence at the end of the form that asked, if I had occasion to take any clinical photographs during the course of their treatment, if they would consent to letting me display those as a way to help other patients or prospective patients see the results of the treatment. You may be surprised at how many patients will actually be flattered for you to display their photographs. In my practice, only a very small number of patients declined signing the statement, and it saved me having to fiddle with going back to the patient after the fact to get consent.
How Many Cases Should I Display in the Smile Gallery?
We encourage our clients to have a gallery of at least five to ten cases, on up to maybe twenty or so. It’s helpful to display a variety of procedures, and it would be nice to have two or three cases illustrating each procedure category.
But don’t let your desire to display a number of cases outweigh the importance of displaying only quality work. Going back to the Sesame study I mentioned above, they discovered that one poor case would send website visitors looking for another website. All of the work displayed needs to be quality work, or you will lose the visitor to your competition.
A Smile Gallery Example
In summary, here is an example of a quality smile gallery case from one of our clients, Dr. Fred Arnold of Lexington, Kentucky. He displays quality work with a warmth that helps cultivate trust. The result is a high level of conversion of website visitors into patients.