In the middle of the night, while fast asleep, I wake my husband with furious kicking.

‘What are you doing?’ he asks.

‘Swimming,’ I reply.

‘You can stop swimming now,’ he says.

And I do.

In the morning, my beleaguered (and bruised?) beloved shares our conversation. I have absolutely no recollection of it. But I am touched by his willingness to enter into my frame of reference to achieve the desired outcome – my stillness and his sleep.

My husband is a highly qualified, experienced and empathic psychotherapist, respectful of the inner worlds and views of others. But imagine if he’d responded to my nocturnal activity with, ‘For f*ck’s sake, I can’t sleep. Stop moving.’ Neither of us would have enjoyed much sleep after that.

Well, our patients have dreams too. And sadly, for many, going to the dentist is their worst nightmare. Encouraging them to visit by aggressively promoting ourselves puts them and their concerns in last place. To build trust, relationships and our businesses, we need to engage with patients from their perspective.

One way to achieve this is to create a ‘Customer Insight Map’ summarising our patient’s motivations, aspirations, challenges, attitudes and lifestyle. Use https://www.streetcheck.co.uk or similar to assess your target market demographics; age, location, disposable income, gender, etc. based on your practice location and where your ideal patients live and work.

Then, be guided by what your ideal patients need to think and feel about you in order to trust you and buy from you. For example, a suburban orthodontic practice might appeal to school aged patients with the phrase, ‘Make your straight teeth your best friend’, while a city clinic catering for young adult professionals would do better with, ‘Your smile is your first impression – make it count.’

Next, consider the balance of ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘my’, ‘we’ and ‘our’ words compared to patient focussed ‘you’ and ‘your’ words on your website. ‘Your smile is your star asset at [practice name]’ is more outward looking than ‘At [practice name] we pride ourselves in offering the best in modern dental care’.

Lastly, avoid going to the other extreme with prescriptive, negative or hard selling content that blames the victims – our patients suffering tooth troubles. ‘Does your smile let you down? Don’t neglect your teeth any longer’ leaves patients feeling shame and fearing being ‘told off’ if they go to us. We need to write for our patients, not to them.

Exercising care and compassion for our patients’ concerns means we all win, whether swimming, sleeping or smiling. Sweet dreams are made of this.

For all of us dentists and for our very patient patients who read what we write and need what we offer, I remain, writing for dentists, at your service.

P.S. For more exclusive writing wit and wisdom and a free copy of my e-booklet ‘WRITE YOUR OWN WEBSITE’ sent directly to your email address (which will not be shared or used for any other purpose), contact me: http://www.writingfordentists.co.uk/contact.html

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