Category: Author: David Hall
We’re working on a new website for a client who produces high quality dentistry in an upscale community.
This client some time ago had hired a marketing agency to create some brand messaging for them, with the idea that they might use some of the branding ideas in a new website. The agency suggested a headline for the website: “Expect Extraordinary.” I liked that, and as we created the site, we decided to use that as the headline.
I didn’t feel the same about the subhead that the marketing company came up with. They suggested saying: “Between the exceptional quality of your treatments and our genuine care and concern for you, our goal is nothing short of providing the best dental experience available.”
In writing copy like this, marketers appear to be making the assumption that whatever you say, people are going to believe it rather than receive it with a critical eye. But people don’t react that way. Douglas Van Praet, on page 124 in his brilliant landmark book, Unconscious Branding, explains:
“Nature and nurture have instilled programs within our minds that seek out the deeper meaning behind every message, taking nothing at face value. This is especially true for marketing messages that, experience has taught us, seek first to profit and influence.”
He goes on to demonstrate the truth of that statement in numerous case studies.
This principle is especially true in marketing dentistry. Our first marketing objective is to create a feeling of trust. Too many marketers greatly underestimate the importance of this. I have written about this before in a couple of posts. You may want to see my August 2017 blog post, Doctor, Do They Trust You?
Cultivating trust is the key marketing task in selling any dentistry. But when we are dealing with higher quality, more expensive dentistry and a higher income clientele, as we are with this client, it is even more important. That target demographic is easily turned off by any subconscious signals that the dentist may not be trustworthy.
There are two basic problems with the subhead that this other marketing agency came up with. First, there is a braggadocious tone to the copy, which, as Van Praet puts it, is a key trigger for the “BS alarm.” Second, it makes bold, undocumented claims. In copy that we write for clients, we avoid both of these types of points. We particularly shun claims of quality or caring because they are so trite and people will not believe them unless you illustrate them.
What we did instead with the subhead was write a matter-of-fact description of the practice with one simple, easy-to-believe quality claim of state-of-the-art dentistry. We then went on, in the next panel of the home page as the visitor scrolls down, to post a kind of a mission statement by the dentist where he talks about his goal of providing quality dentistry with a soft, modest tone. Following that is his factual explanation of the new patient experience. The way we view our task of creating a home page is not that we are simply writing copy but we are crafting an emotional experience for the visitor. Our emotional goal is to get the visitor to trust the dentist enough to make an appointment.
Then, further down the page, we use patient testimonials to do the bragging for the doctor.
It is interesting that most dentists seem to me to understand this principle on a personal level. They would never approach a new patient in their practice and begin by bragging about themselves because they understand that this would turn people off. They also believe in a soft-sell approach and most wouldn’t dream of trying to aggressively push patients into treatment they don’t want. But then a marketer comes along and tells them they need to flaunt their expertise and expound on the quality of the treatment they provide, and it seems to make sense. They tell them to be aggressive with calls to action. But the same principles that work in cultivating trust on a personal basis within the walls of your practice also work in presenting yourself to the public. We have shown that in case study after case study, as we have transformed the marketing for many practices. The softer, modest approach generates more phone calls.
King Solomon summed up this principle some 3000 years ago when he wrote, “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth.” (Proverbs 27:2) That’s wise personal advice, and well worth following for dental marketing.