Patients don’t know how good they have it today — because no one is telling them

Tom Owens offers tips about how to effectively spread the word about your practice’s technologies

Dentistry is going through a major transformation being driven by technology, which makes the dental profession more efficient, fun, and profitable. Practices that embrace this technological revolution see the positive results on a daily basis. Their use has reinvigorated the dynamic between dentist and team and, certainly, between dental office and patients. Technology reduces patient time in the chair, condenses multiple visits for treatment, and frees up your schedule for additional new appointments, while helping dentists deliver higher levels of comfort and convenience to patients.

Why then, does the dental community not give the same time and attention to marketing these innovations as they do adopting them? Thanks to innovative technologies like CAD/CAM single-visit dentistry, clear aligners, dental lasers, noninvasive oral cancer-screening, in-chair teeth whitening, and more, dentists are able to provide patients with a level of care and comfort that was unimaginable just a few years ago.

Unfortunately, the typical dental patient has no idea that these remarkable tools exist, what they do, or where to find them. According to the Futuredontics’ survey, “What Dental Patients Want,” nearly half (45%) of individuals between the ages of 45-54 said their decision to patronize a practice is based on its use of advanced technology. What’s more, many patients between the ages of 25-44 said that they would switch from their current dentist if they did not offer advanced technology treatment options.

Because most dentists don’t feature technology in their practice marketing, few practices are reaping the full benefit of their sizable investments in new technology. Dentists using the latest dental technologies enjoy a distinct marketing advantage that — when properly leveraged — has great patient appeal. The good news from a marketing standpoint is that any dental practice sophisticated enough to have invested in cutting-edge technology will likely already have all the marketing tools needed to successfully promote it to patients. The real challenge of marketing the benefits of dental technology is making sure you’re using all the tools at your disposal to their maximum effectiveness.

The golden rule of successful technology marketing: Think like a patient

Over-explaining the equipment is a frequent mistake. The simple fact is that patients don’t care about technology for technology’s sake. All they really want to know are the benefits (i.e., what’s in it for them), so be sure to keep clinical jargon to a minimum. You need to translate the advantages your technology offers into language the average patient can appreciate.

Generally speaking, the benefits with the broadest patient appeal are those that enhance their lifestyle with a minimum disruption to their day-to-day life. Patients want to hear about technologies that save time and reduce costs, or improve cosmetic appearance and promote peace of mind — but it’s up to you to get them to see it that way. Technology fails as a marketing tool if patients don’t know about it. And it fails if you tell them just what it does, not how it makes their life better.

Spreading the word

Here are the top seven ways to help you grow your patient-base and get the best return from your investment in dental technology.

No. 1: Website

It’s important to prominently feature your technological capabilities on your website for both new and existing patients. Use callouts or headlines to promote the specific benefits your technology offers, (e.g., “same-day restorations” or “safely whiten teeth up to eight shades,” and “state-of-the-art oral cancer screening in 5 minutes”). You should also consider adding separate pages dedicated to popular treatments like CEREC®, Invisalign®, and implants. These pages should include a brief — not overly technical — explanation of what the treatment does and a detailed breakdown of the many ways this amazing technology benefits patients (e.g., comfort, cost, appearance, timesaving). Ideally, your website will have a video that explains why so many patients today are choosing specific, technology-based treatments over more traditional methods or a video testimonial from a satisfied patient.

No. 2: New patient phone calls

It’s important to distinguish your practice as the high-tech, comfort-conscious office when speaking with new patients on the telephone. That’s why it’s crucial that your whole staff is well versed in the benefits of specific technologies like CAD/CAM systems, dental lasers, and digital X-ray imaging equipment, among others. Mentioning your technological capabilities offers the perfect opportunity to assure callers that you provide state-of-the-art care in a manner they’ll appreciate: efficiently, economically, and comfortably.

No. 3: Practice brochures

Be sure to display promotional brochures for the new technologies you offer in your waiting room and operatories. Your product sales representative may be able to supply you with preprinted marketing materials, or you can create your own brochure. If you opt to develop your own custom brochure, make sure it’s professionally written and designed. Depending upon the quantity you need, beautiful 4-color, 8 ½” x 11″ two-fold brochures can be printed for just pennies apiece at your local digital printer.

No. 4: Office tours

Office tours offer a unique opportunity to wow patients with your practice’s technical capabilities. They’re also the ideal time to explain the advantages of specific technologies and treatments. Come up with a simple script you and your staff can use to explain your technology to interested patients on their first visit.

No. 5: Existing patients

Your practice’s existing patients are your best candidates for new treatments. That’s because it is much easier explaining the benefits to a patient whose trust you’ve earned than folding it into the conversation when you’re trying to bring on a new patient. Talk about the benefits of technology during treatment; remind patients that you invested in this technology to make their experience better — and make sure they understand how specific high-tech treatment options are better than other methods.

No. 6: Social media

Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and especially Instagram are ideal for promoting your technology. You can post articles, coupon promotions, video testimonials, and before-and-after photos to generate interest in the benefits of each product. Be sure to always get a signed release before posting any photos or videos of patients.

No. 7: Patient communications

Patient communications (e.g., newsletters, social media, emails, special offers, postcards) are among the most cost-effective ways to let patients know that your practice offers a variety of advanced treatment options.

Smart marketing is a must

It must be reiterated that your practice’s use of advanced technology cannot live in a vacuum. You invested in the technology — now make sure to feature it prominently in your marketing, so both you and your patients enjoy its benefits. It’s important to use every tool at your disposal across all channels — traditional, digital, and social — to educate and motivate patients to seek out your quality of care. Do this, and you are sure to enjoy profitable production for years to come.

What do you think about marketing to your patient base? 

What marketing channels—traditional, digital, and social—do you use in your practice? On our Facebook page, share how you market dental technology to your patient base.

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