Take a moment to think back over the last week and opportunities you had to market your dental practice.
To consider the patients you have seen…
I am willing to bet, when you think about it, you can identify instances of where you really made a difference to them.
Perhaps you helped them benefit from a fresher, healthier mouth which they can now feel confident about. Maybe you completed a course of treatment which provided them with a brighter, straighter smile.
It’s important to recognise when you have created these differences for your patients.
First of all, it helps you and your team to continue to feel heartened about what you do, as you go about your day to day tasks. So make sure you talk about your successes together.
It is also important as the differences you make to patients form a great foundation for the material you need to market your dental practice.
Marketing is really just about telling a story. A story of human experience and emotion. Potential new patients don’t want to be ‘sold to’. As consumers we know how tiresome thinly-veiled ‘sales messages’ can be.
Research shows that humans feel first, before thinking and making decisions. So when you share a story, connect with a potential patient on an emotional level, you’ll break through all the bland marketing ‘noise’ and grab their attention.
Here is the five step system I recommend you follow to identify, collate and share the patient stories you create:
- Recognise and discuss the differences you make
Often, dental teams simply go about their work and don’t recognise the differences they make. Differences which may be ‘everyday’ to the team, but certainly aren’t commonplace to patients.
So look back periodically with your team to pick out the stories you have created.
This process becomes easier when you encourage your team to record instances when they happen. Something as simple as a whiteboard gives them the chance to spontaneously write down details of differences made and comments from patients.
- Approach your patients
When you create a difference, be overt in explaining to the patient how sharing it will help your business. Ask them permission to capture and use it in your marketing.
Don’t be perturbed if a few say no. Just accept and acknowledge their decision. Some will say yes.
You can even agree that a patient’s story will be used in your marketing at the outset of treatment and exchange the ‘use’ of their story for a small discount on the cost.
- Capture their comments
It is important to make this easy for patients, so don’t just present them with a blank sheet of paper to use, give them some questions to answer.
A ‘story capture template’ is quite easily put together when you format it to capture their comments and feelings before, during and after their treatment.
Ask them how they FELT at each of these stages. Make your questions, and therefore the answers they are guided to provide, emotional.
- Produce the story
From a very early age, we are hardwired to engage with stories. This goes on throughout life as we continue to read books, news stories, watch films and exchange stories with each other.
So as you transfer your patient’s comments into a story format, think about how an author or filmmaker draws you into their story, engages you.
Include before and after treatment photos so your story becomes visual and can be seen to be real.
- Promote the story
There are so many ways for you to promote a patient story. Here are a few to start with:
Include it on your website. This is your 24 hour shop window and you keep people coming back to visit when you make it dynamic and add new content regularly. Then share links on social media to drive readers to the website story.
Display your patient stories on your practice walls and windows.
Keep a file of your stories in each surgery to aid conversion of particular treatments. Give patients interested in solving a particular problem or looking for an aesthetic enhancement a copy of a relevant story.
Make your strongest stories the basis for your patient newsletters or e-zine.
And should you exhaust your ‘internal’ marketing opportunities, you can even include stories in your adverts, articles and external promotions.
You are making a difference and creating stories for your patients whether you consciously recognise it or not. Why not use them to market your dental practice? They are the most powerful marketing tool you have.
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