Using video to market your practice

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Lately, I have been asked about new and innovative ways to more successfully promote and market a dental practice. Aside from the traditional channels of advertising and the somewhat still-controversial idea of television commercials, I encourage you to consider the many other ways in which video can be a useful tool. Consider these convincing statistics:

Did you know that YouTube is the #2 search engine? And video results from YouTube will show up in Google search results, boosting your SEO rankings.

A Pew research study showed that Emails containing video received, on average, a 5.6 percent higher open rate, and a 96.38 percent higher click-through rate than non-video emails.

According to the BIA Kelsey Group, viewers engage more after watching a video, with clicks for more information increasing by 30-40% and phone inquiries by 16-20%.

A DoubleClick survey revealed web video based advertisements saw their brand awareness improve amongst its audience by 10% more than standard print or audio ad formats. DoubleClick also noted that audiences appeared to favor the businesses with web video content much more than those without.

Video can help your practice stay connected and relevant. Video can raise your credibility, send a message, attract, educate and inform. Consumers respond favorably to video, especially if it is executed well.  If they are “just looking”, a video gives them a sense of what to expect before they pick up the phone or walk into your practice. It is a safe way for your prospective patient to peak inside your door and get to know you and your team in a new dimension that goes beyond a traditional web site, print ads or photos.

How often do you implement this amazing tool in your practice?  If you are, bravo! Read on to discover some uses you may not have thought of and if you would like to learn how to improve the quality of your programs, contact me using the form below this blog. If you aren’t using video, think about the ways in which video can enhance your practice’s marketing efforts.

Consider these examples of videos you might create:

1) Dentist introduction to the practice
Personal introduction to viewers: The spokesperson style delivery is presented directly to the camera (viewer). Use this technique if you are comfortable with speaking in front of a group and you present well.  The camera can be more intimidating than an audience but the beauty is that if you make a mistake, you can do it again.

Interview style: This is an edited version of an interview with the dentist that gives a sense of your personality and style. This is a great alternative for those individuals who are uncomfortable doing a spokesperson-type delivery. With this style, you will need to edit the content. There are consumer video editing options available but if you don’t have the expertise, you would be better served by getting a professional to help you edit the piece.

Caution: If you still aren’t pleased with your performance, use the medium in other areas that shine. Do not use a video for video’s sake. It can do more harm than good.

2) Special subject videos
You may also expand outside a simple introduction to the practice and create an entire library of videos discussing a variety of subjects. Any one of your team members can present these segments. Start small and test the water first. For instance, one idea we recently discussed with an orthodontist was an instructional trouble-shooting video for parents and patients with broken wires or brackets.

3) Hygienist: How I help you stay healthy
If you have a hygienist who is personable and passionate about her work, chances are she will be comfortable doing a video. This is a great way to showcase the expertise of your hygienist and raise the value of her role in the practice.

4) Patient Liaison/Coordinator: What you can expect
This should be presented by the person likely to answer the phone and work with new patients.  You must have someone who is warm, engaging and comfortable with herself. They will likely have little trouble creating a video and may be a great alternative if the dentist lacks the on camera charisma to present well to new patients.

The most successful liaison/coordinator video is presented spokesperson style, directly to the camera/viewer.

5) Virtual tour of the practice
What a great way for prospective patients to visit your practice. This can be a simple walk through the practice with pans of each area. Add music and you’re done. They get to see your reception area, your clinical area, and the environment in which you work. If your practice is clean, uncluttered and attractive, this is a nice marketing tool. If your place is cluttered, cramped, dark, or needs the expertise of an interior decorator, skip this for now and focus on improving the look of your physical plant.

6) New patient discovery process
In so many cases, patients are disconnected and uninformed about their conditions and do not have an ownership of their problems. And for most people, listening, participating and retaining information is difficult when one is reclined, mouth open and a light shining in their eyes. A video can be a powerful tool to help patients become engaged in the process and take ownership of their conditions. With the use of an intra-oral camera and simple headset or wireless lav microphone, the dentist can record the discovery process during the patient’s first visit. Add a simple pre-recorded introduction along with the recorded oral findings, burn a DVD copy and the patient leaves the first visit with a personal account of the discovery process. How many dentists do you think provide this valuable service? How might your patients respond to this level of service?

7) Happy patient testimonials
There is nothing more valuable than hearing someone’s positive story and how thrilled he or she is with your practice. Conducted interview-style, patients can provide viewers with a unique and independent perspective. Keep on the lookout for patients that are outgoing, attractive and will come across believable and natural on camera.

Patients will be most excited about their experience just after the two of you have completed your work together. Make sure you have them sign a release allowing you to use their testimonials.  You may want to set aside a special time to conduct several interviews and combine it with an appreciation reception for a select group of patients.

CAUTION: You do not want to violate confidentiality so avoid using your patient’s full name when identifying them in your video.

8)Pre-treatment Interviews
We know Before and After photos are valuable but Before and After videos are photos on steroids. Pre- and post-treatment interviews can provide a complete picture of the patient’s journey. Viewers can relate more fully as they see and hear from a patient who is about to start treatment and can follow him through the process.

One caution: Conduct these interviews only after you have reached an agreement on treatment and financial arrangements. You do not want to manipulate the patient into going ahead with treatment by using the video as a commitment tool. Instead, get the patient’s permission after arrangements have been agreed upon and finalized, and plan the interview for the day treatment begins.

9) Document special events
Tooth Fairy Day, Free Dentistry Day, a visit to the local pre-school to teach children about brushing, and other special events should be documented and included in your marketing mix. They are powerful tools that can easily be uploaded to YouTube and linked to your Facebook page or distributed to media outlets to increase the public’s awareness of the contributions you make in your community.

Distribution avenues:
So how might you use the video content? There are two avenues: web-based and hard copy distribution.

Web based distribution:
Web site:
You can plan for and post your videos on various pages of your web site.

Social networks:
Post your videos on your Facebook fan page or blog or YouTube site and create buzz. Provide links for your collaborative web partners to post on their pages too.

Hard copy distribution:
Design a DVD, or mini DVD business card that features several of your videos in an interactive format. Viewers can pick and choose what to watch based on what is relevant to them. These marketing pieces can be distributed in various venues:

-Health fairs or other community events
-Offer as part of a welcome package to the area
-Provide to your referring doctors to distribute to their patients
-Leave at health clubs, spas, urgent care facilities, etc. for people to pick up

Video can be a valuable marketing tool. It can set you apart in the marketplace. Start small, experiment and implement slowly. You will never look back.

If you would like to start the process of implementing video in your practice,  request a copy of  my HOW TO production tips: The Dentist’s Guide to Video Production

 

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Reality Check: A Commentary on 10 Reasons Why Your Dentist Probably Hates You Too

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Reality Check: A Commentary on 10 Reasons Why Your Dentist Probably Hates You Too

This week, a blogger stirred up dentists and patients alike with her most recent entry: 10 Reasons Your Dentists Probably Hates You Too.  It was clever and funny and written tongue in cheek but it had a ring of truth that rang out loudly for some. It is clear from some of the responses that the points she made resonated with dentists who are frustrated with their patients.  A big thank you to Laura, the author, for your wisdom, insight and graciousness! I wanted to dissect her points and comment on them from a behavioral perspective. Here goes:

1) The first thing you say when you sit down in my chair is, “I hate the dentist.”  Really?!?  Did your parents teach you any manners?  Did they ever teach you that it is impolite to tell someone you hate them the moment you greet them?  What I really want to say back is, “aww, I hate you too.”
First of all, it would be easy to take offense. But don’t – it is not about you. When patients make comments like this, don’t assume you know what it’s about. Ask them. Behind the comment lies a whole host of different reasons – some of which the patient might not even be aware of until you take the time to ask. Replacing your judgment with curiosity allows you to truly find out what is holding your patients back and starts the process of behavior change through discovery. Never mind whether the answer makes sense or not. However they respond, it’s a legitimate issue-for them.  Don’t stop there. Find out more. For instance, if they comment that they don’t like the sound of the drill, ask why? Stay in the question – what is it about the sound that bothers them? Are there things we can do to make that less of a problem for them? – you get the idea…keep being curious!!!

2) You come to your appointment, and it’s obvious you haven’t brushed your teeth in days.  I’ve had some people with great hygiene come in and apologize because they’ve just eaten lunch and couldn’t brush.  This is not what I’m talking about.  I mean food and thick plaque everywhere.  After 10 years of seeing blood and rotten teeth and some really nasty things, this is still the 1 thing that makes me dry heave.  You know when you come to us that we have to be in your mouth.  Would you clean your home before having company?  Additionally, I have spent hours literally bending over backwards repairing your teeth.  Could you at least pretend that you are caring for the work that I have struggled to complete for you?
Speak to the obvious. If what you are finding tells you that they don’t spend a lot of time caring for their teeth, make an observation – not a judgement. “There seems to be food and thick plaque throughout your teeth. This tells me that you may not be brushing very often. Tell me about that”.  Then be quiet and listen.  Don’t go into the telling mode. Find out what they know and what they don’t know. Use it as a discussion opener for achieving better oral hygiene.

3) After we have spent hours of meticulously repairing your teeth, you complain about the bill.  Would you walk out of the grocery store with a bag full of groceries and expect not to pay?  I’ve just helped you to continue to smile and eat comfortably, two pretty valuable things that help your quality of life.
Dentistry is a “below the line” expense. After a person pays for all their  “necessities”, they would rather spend what little they have left on something they enjoy. Dentistry is rarely that and they aren’t happy about re-allocating funds or spending their discretionary income for it. This is their way of expressing their unhappiness. Invite them to talk about it, empathize with them, and don’t take it personally.

4) I tell you that you have a cavity and you need a filling, and you wait months or even years to get the necessary work done.  Eventually the tooth starts hurting.  Two weeks of pain go by, and you call me on a Saturday night while I am at dinner with friends because your tooth that needed a filling a year ago and that started hurting 2 weeks ago is suddenly an emergency.
Pain is a great motivator. But patients create the thing they fear the most by not acting until they are in pain. You get to decide whether you accommodate patients who choose not to act until they are in pain. You don’t have to support that behavior if you don’t want to. You know the State Farm commercial  where the guy (Jerry) calls his old agent when he’s in an accident – “Oh Jerry, I’m so sorry. I would love to help but remember you dropped us last month”….Same in the case of an “urgency” (Key word here is urgency because if it was truly an emergency, they would go to the ER). You empathize, offer the options you have and they get to decide. With your support, they could experience a shift in their thinking in the future – ie: “Jerry, you expressed that you wanted to avoid pain at all costs. If you don’t ever want to go through that again, we recommend (fill in the blank).”

5) You come to me so I can help you, but you make it hard for me to do a good job.  You wince and make faces when it’s not hurting.  The idea that I’m hurting you makes me just as uncomfortable and stressed as you are.  If it hurts, please tell me, and I can help you with that.  But if it’s because you don’t like the whole experience, you are only causing me to work in undesirable conditions, making it harder to do my best.  And when you push your tongue in the way, or you don’t open wide enough, it makes it physically impossible to get my work done.  Don’t you want it to be easy for me to do the best job for you?
Those darn patients get in the way of doing dentistry! Being a dentist would be great if people weren’t attached to their teeth but that’s not the case. Sometimes there are things you just have to deal with. As for the hurting, are you SURE you aren’t hurting?   Again, you can speak to the obvious – “Linda, I can’t help but notice that you are wincing. I want to make sure that you aren’t having any discomfort”. Ask them to hold up a hand if they want you to stop at any time.

6) You call and say, “my tooth didn’t hurt before you worked on it.”  You came to me with a cavity.  I did not put it there.  You did.  I am simply fixing a rotten hole that was in your tooth.  To do so, I must use a tiny drill to cut the rot out of your tooth.  If I took a drill, cut a hole in your femur bone, and then filled it in with a foreign material, don’t you think it might be sore for a while?  Same concept.
Great example.  This is where knowing your patient’s expectations and preparing them for what to expect can prevent a lot of issues later in the relationship. You could use a similar analogy and explain they might experience some discomfort, and if they do, explain what they should do about it. If they expect it, it won’t be a surprise. If they don’t, even better!

7) When we try to take an x-ray, you won’t bite down on it.  We have to do this to see what is going on with your tooth.  Without knowing the problem, we can’t properly treat you.  I know, in some cases some people really can’t do it; but some people could and won’t just suck it up for 15 seconds.  I’ve had x-rays too, and they hurt and dig into my gums, but I just do it.
Acknowledge the brief discomfort, move on. If it keeps them from letting you get an xray, let them know that your diagnosis will be based solely on what you are able to see from the outside and it will be incomplete. Their choice.

8 ) You tell me that you bought my car for me after having a crown done.  Contrary to how it seems, you actually didn’t buy me a car.  You bought yourself a crown.  I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on an education, and have spent hours making this crown fit precisely in your mouth, so maybe you helped me make a portion of a student loan payment.  But you certainly didn’t buy my car.
Agreed.  Rude comment. Even if they said it to be funny, there is something behind the statement. I believe it’s OK for dentists and their teams to challenge patients on this stuff –  ie: “Wow. What would make you say that, Mr. Smith?” or “Do you believe the fee for your treatment is out of line?” Then be quiet and listen. Yeah, it takes time and skill. By becoming curious, gaining trust and being honest you can change the patient’s perception of the dentist.

By the way, they aren’t buying your “crown”.  They are buying the solution to a problem – something that will make their life better.

9) You no-show an appointment or cancel last-minute.  Some things are unavoidable, but when it’s because your hairdresser got a last-minute cancellation and you had to take that appointment instead, this is just rude.  Not only am I unable to fill the 2 hours of my schedule that I reserved specifically for you, but someone else who wanted to get in had to wait 2 weeks for his/her appointment.  And on that note, when you have the first appointment of the day, and you show up late for your appointment, I am late for every other patient the rest of the day.
This is a two-parter. The no-show or cancel at the last minute issue deserves a blog all it’s own. As for the patient who shows up late, if you are always late, you teach your patients the bad behavior of being late. If you strive to stay on time, your patients will begin to show up on time.  There are occasions where your schedule will be off and when you acknowledge it, apologize and explain how concerned you are for your patient’s time, they appreciate that. If the patient shows up late and it does not allow you to do the procedure in the remaining time, you have two choices – do it and run late or explain that you are unable to complete the procedure and will have to reschedule. Your patient will be annoyed and you will lose revenue for that day but it will be less likely to occur in the future.
There will always be exceptions – patients who are always late – to everything! Again, speak to the obvious. “Betty, it seems like you are always running a bit behind to your appointment. This doesn’t seem to be working very well. If we don’t have adequate time, we aren’t able to provide you with the care we promised. How should we handle it from this point forward?” Have them help solve the problem and hold them to it.

10) When I tell you that you grind your teeth, you deny it, as if I am accusing you of having a horrible disease or being a baby murderer.  It’s not that bad to be a tooth grinder.  I’m just pointing something out and maybe offering a way to prevent more problems in the future.  This observation is concluded from signs or symptoms that are based on real science, not myth.
OK.  I’m beginning to sound like a broken record. Patients believe what they believe – find out WHY.  Replace your assumptions and judgment with curiosity.  Example:
“Helen, the wear I am seeing on your teeth is something I typically see on patients who grind their teeth.”
“Oh, I don’t grind my teeth”.
“OK.  Then we have a mystery.  What else do you think might be causing this wear?”
“I dunno.”
“Well, let’s talk about your lifestyle and see if we can figure this out.”. You can learn more from what THEY tell YOU than from what YOU tell THEM. Help them through the discovery process.

Have you begun to see a pattern in my responses? All of these challenges can be minimized if we apply behavioral principles to the situation.
Here are my TOP TAKE HOME MESSAGES:

1) Patients voluntarily call/walk into your practice with a problem they are hoping you can help them solve.

2) Patients are pre-disposed to liking you. They would not come to your practice if they didn’t or felt like you were incompetent or not a good fit for them.

3) Almost every patient is a recycled one looking for a place that will provide what they haven’t gotten in the past. If you listen closely, patients will tell you how they wish to be treated. It’s how you respond that will make all the difference. If what they are asking for is reasonable, responding with something as simple as “Mrs. Jones, I’m sorry you had that experience. You can be sure that we will do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen here” can start you on a long and successful relationship.

4) Patients price-test everything before they buy.  Dentistry is no different than tires for the car, a new dishwasher, groceries for the month or tuition to private school. They believe that it will buy something that will make their life better. Dentists need to present their dentistry with some context. Not “you needa crown” but instead “if you want (fill in the blank) then you need (fill in the blank)”.

5) Almost anyone can afford what they truly want and almost no one wants everything they can afford. Patients get to decide how they allocate their money and what they choose. We can’t want it more than they do. Set your judgement aside. We can only gain their trust and try to influence their thinking.

6) You don’t know what you don’t know. Don’t make it up. Don’t shift into your smart dental telling mode but instead into your curious learning mode. You will learn how to help your patient better.

7) If a dentist wants to stay sane and positive over his or her lifetime in the profession, it requires a commitment to learning behavioral skills. This area is rarely taught in dental school and it is often not considered in many practices but it is one of the most important factors in being successful. Consider surrounding yourself with a behaviorally gifted staff who can work with your patients in a different way. And consider adding a dedicated full time facilitator (patient coordinator) to spend the necessary time getting to learn your patient’s story and how they hope you will make their life better. By learning the patient’s OUTCOME, helping them PRICE TEST, and offering what will make their life better in a way they can understand, you will become more successful with patients and it will enrich your professional career.

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