Dental Marketing: The Patient’s Point of View

Have you heard of “the curse of knowledge?” If an astrophysicist tries to help a high school student with his Algebra I homework, the supremely educated adult may not understand why the student just does not get it. Part of the answer is that the astrophysicist knows too much—that which is obvious to the scientist may leave the student oblivious.

Micah Soloman has an interesting article in Forbes on the curse of knowledgeMr. Soloman writes:

“In healthcare, where the stakes are extremely high, the patient experience and patient satisfaction often suffer from devastating manifestations of the curse of knowledge.  It can lead healthcare workers to deal poorly with the distress experienced–because they’ve seen a similar non-life threatening situation (say, a broken ankle) so many times before and it always turned out all right that they discount the pain and fear experienced by someone for whom this is happening now.

A similar scenario plays out in dental offices every day. A patient is scheduled in an endodontist’s office for root canal therapy. Let’s say that the patient has been told by his brother-in-law that root canals are very painful. The brother-in-law is seldom right but never in doubt, even though he has never personally had this procedure.

Based on modern misconceptions of root canal therapy and comments from his uninformed brother-in-law, the patient is very nervous upon arrival at the office. To allay the patient’s fears, team members in the endodontist’s office may simply say, “Everything is going to be fine.” This message is part of their mantra because every day patients show up afraid and leave saying that they cannot believe the root canal was so easy. This message, though meant to be helpful, may not be Continue reading Dental Marketing: The Patient’s Point of View

The Secret Statistic that is Costing You Money

Dental practices are losing patients because they are not tracking a secret statistic that is costing them money. By easily tracking this number and using specific verbal skills, dental practices will enhance dental practice marketing.

Key points:

  1.  Track number of potential new patients who call but do not make an appointment.
  2. Make this verbal skill part of your script: “In case we get disconnected, may I have your name and phone number?”

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Marketing Dental Implants: New Teeth or New Car

Dental practices often use car analogies when talking to patients about fees for dental implants. A typical response to a patient who recoils at the fee for dental implant treatment goes something like this: Think about what it costs to buy a new car. Dental implant treatment lasts longer so it’s a better value. This message is good but it needs to be much more specific and cogent to be an effective way tool for marketing dental implants.

I believe that car analogies should only be used in certain situations. If the patient has been fully educated about the benefits of dental treatment, including quality of life benefits, and still has a hard time accepting the fee, then a skilled treatment coordinator can talk about the relative value of optimal oral health versus a new car.

The problem is that most patients are unprepared for a large dental fee. The average person may assume that a visit to the dentist for an exam, cleaning and x-rays will be in three figures. Patients also often know ahead of time that treatment for something more extensive such as periodontal disease or the fabrication and placement of one or more crowns will be in four figures. Few patients, however, are ready at the outset to come to terms with a five-figure dental fee.

Once the patient has heard the fee and is wrestling with the cost/benefit analysis, then you can talk about cars. Here is a great message for patients:

The average person in the U.S. buys a new car every six years. The average price of a new car is about $33,500. If we add an inflation factor and subtract trade-in value, the average person will pay over $100,000 for four automobiles over an 18-year period. Dental implant treatment typically lasts for decades. In fact, with proper professional maintenance and home care, many people have dental implant treatment done once and it lasts a lifetime. The bottom line is that dental implant treatment improves the quality of your life and over many years it is an exceptional value for the dollar.

Patients who have dental implant treatment often say that it was money well spent and they wish they had had the treatment sooner. Prior to dental implant treatment, however, it is often necessary to talk about value, and the car analogy has its place in marketing dental implants when explained properly.

David Schwab Ph.D.
www.davidschwab.com