Sell The Dental Service and Benefits – Not the Treatments!
Relationship marketing to promote patient engagement and trust from the get go….
Many dental websites follow the same pattern in that they follow a purely transactional approach to selling services. What I mean by this is that they have the usual introductory pages, contact form, a list of treatment pages, a few offers and not much else. This is fine for letting potential new patients know where you are and what you provide but that’s about it – those websites then tend to do little else to convince a new patient to actually pick up the ‘phone or complete the contact form to take the next step towards treatment.
We also see this in the huge proliferation of dental social media ads that litter Facebook and Instagram these days – most of them seem to offer all sorts of incentives to sell Invisalign, implants etc at ‘knock-down’ prices as more and more dentists join the race to sell treatments. But is this the best way to build a sustainable business?
Transactional processing of this nature is quite bland and is akin to the way that retailers sell mobile ‘phones and groceries – they focus solely on the benefits of the product rather than trying to build a relationship with the purchaser.
This is fine for certain types of businesses and relies on their products being safe, reproducible and fit for the intended purpose. This presents a low risk to buyers and once they are familiar with the product, they’ll happily buy it from anyone as long as the price is right. But is this suitable for dentistry and would you actually want your marketing and website to support that approach? I would suggest that it’s not really the best way to go and won’t build a sustainable patient list into the future.
For dentistry, we need to pursue an approach which is known as “relationship” marketing rather than simply trying to sell treatments using a purely transactional approach. The trust you build with the purchaser/patient is somewhat different in dentistry in that the “product” is different each time, is potentially being delivered by a different person on the team and can’t easily be returned if it’s sub-standard!
Hopefully we can see that dentistry isn’t really suited to simple transactional selling and will be much more sustainable when you sell your services rather than just treatments. Here we are trying to build a relationship between the buyer and seller, significantly more so than a simple transaction when goods/products change hands. The patient has to trust you and your team, particularly if they are to keep you as their dentist into the future.
Now that we have an appreciation of transactional selling versus relationship marketing, how should you position your website and other marketing assets to support that approach?
An engaging, personalised website
We’ve discussed on a number of occasions how your practice website is a cornerstone of your business and when done well, should provide a healthy stream of new patient enquiries. Ideally you want your website to start building trust and the patient/dentist relationship as soon as the patient lands there for the first time.
Your website clearly needs high-quality content and accurate descriptions of the treatments you provide; however it should also illustrate not just the benefits of the treatments but also how they’ve changed the lives of the patients receiving them. Make sure that the clinicians are involved and use stories to illustrate how Dr X changed life of patient Y by delivering the latest dental implant treatment etc. Be sure to personalise those case studies to make them as appealing as possible (whilst of course staying within confidentiality guidelines).
When it comes to visuals, try to steer clear of generic “stock” images and use personalised images of the practice facilities and team – anything the engenders a sense of “relationship” as opposed to “transactional” should be encouraged.
Use your blog to present relationship focused content, not just technical information for SEO purposes. Anything that shows you and your team building relationships and trust with your patients and the local community will help.
As with your website, try to ensure that any paid ads you use are skewed away from transactional and lean more towards personal. So whilst you might have a few Invisalign Facebook ads (or similar) which “sell” the treatment, make sure to balance those with a range of ads which illustrate how you’ve used those treatment techniques to change the lives of patients. Again we are looking to leverage on content which promotes relationships, trust and success rather than simply a transactional sale.
Of course this also goes for traditional print advertising and indeed any other promotional channel you use.
Sell the relationship not simply the treatment!
Hopefully this provides some insight into the differences between purely transactional selling and relationship marketing; the latter being significantly better for building a sustainable patient list and practice. Keep those principles in mind not only when you are carrying out day-to-day activities at the practice, but also when it comes to building your marketing strategies too. If you need any help, our digital marketing team will be pleased to assist. You can reach us on 01332 672548 or via the website contact form.