As we do more and more new client interviews and have our professional writing team transform those interviews into unique dental website content, we're discovering some fascinating responses from our clients.
From time to time our content has been rejected.
Now remember, this content is based on the actual words, sometimes exact, word-for-word quotes from the client! But they're having doubts.
Thankfully, this isn't common. However, when so many clients express delight with the fact that they don't have to write their dental website content, and warmly embrace what our writers come up with, when a few clients balk, it causes us to wonder why.
Here's what I think is going on.
For many, having a website is a defining moment. Prompted to describe their point of view, reveal their patient care procedures and generally paint a picture of their overarching clinical perspective can be daunting. It may be the first time they've ever thought about what separates their practice from others.
Should I try to fit in? Is it better to stand out? Should I be bold? How real should I be?
Time for a pop quiz:
When creating content for a professional practice website whose purpose is to attract new patients, what is the safest, most effective strategy?
A. Show up authentic, transparent and vulnerable.
B. Take a neutral stance with a professional distance.
C. Feel free to boast and even exaggerate a little.
D. None of the above.
The correct answer? Showing up authentic, warts and all.
If this seems risky it may be because you hold the popular but inaccurate belief that you'll be more appealing to a greater number of prospective new patients if you show up beige and not reveal anything that might be even slightly off putting.
Granted, if your interest is to attract the most superficial, least discerning patients to your practice, then withholding might seem to make sense. But consider the ground of being of the typical new patient using the Internet to find a dentist. What do you suppose they are looking for?
While every new patient is different, most are probably looking to answer one or more of the following questions:
- Do I have confidence in this person?
- Would I want this person touching me?
- Am I hopeful this person can help me?
These represent three shades of trust. They trump technical skills, fees, hours, location and having been chosen as class valedictorian. They supersede all the seemingly "safe" facts about you that would show up in a press release or professional directory listing.
Communicating trustworthiness should be the overarching goal when creating and maintaining your practice website—that is if you want to attract new patients.
To attract you must polarize. Like a magnet with north and south poles, the attraction occurs at the ends, not the supposedly "safe" transitional area in middle. If you wish to attract you must be willing to polarize and thus repel. It's this repulsion idea that frightens many into publishing a "Meet the Doctor" biography that lacks authenticity or even a hint of soul. Instead, they offer up a boring profile that does little to build rapport or establish trust that is so vital if you want an anonymous website visitor to choose you.
How do you create trust?
Here are some of the more effective techniques:
Reveal an imperfection. If you try to show up flawless, imagining that it will somehow elevate you in the eyes of a potential patient, you're mistaken. Oh, and volunteering that "…my greatest flaw is caring too much about my patient's health" won't work either. Get real.
Explain a difficulty you overcame. So you got straight A's on your organic chemistry exams? No trouble starting a practice with crushing student debt and two small infants? I doubt it. Showing up superhuman is tempting, but tends to distance you from potential new patients.
Share your beliefs or philosophy. What do you stand for? What are some of your pet peeves? What bugs you about our culture? To attract your "tribe" you'll want to stand for something. Naturally there will be those who have an opposite point of view. Don't try to win over everyone. It can't be done.
Discuss your clinical experience. What are your favorite types of cases? What types of patients seem to get the best results? What fascinates you most about oral health and today's dentistry? What is it that gets you pumped up and stirs your passion?
Show off your facility. Please show us where you work and the types of people who come to your practice. Eliminate apprehension by giving us a virtual tour. If you're embarrassed to do so, you have some work to do. A lack of pride in your office environment is probably already putting a damper on new patient referrals.
Provide social proof. Where legal, post reviews and testimonials of delighted patients. Ideally, with photos. When done properly, video can be even more powerful. Better yet, capture each patient's first visit concerns and interview them again later after they have completed their care.
Yes, patients who aren't part of your tribe may keep looking. But those who belong in your practice; those who have found a kindred spirit in you, will draw near, excited by the prospect of finding someone who is real, provides hope and exudes confidence.
This type of deep connection, which often produces lifetime loyalty, is only possible when you courageously show up as you. And that's what seems so risky. Because the inclination is to present oneself in a way that avoids any possibility of judgment or criticism.
Surprisingly, what you think is safe, is actually the risky position. Especially these days. On the Internet authenticity and transparency trump the posing and posturing, which are designed to conceal. Show up too perfect and you alienate the growing numbers who can see through your press release-like, air brushed notion of being a doctor.
When you abandon who you really are, in favor of the persona you think will "sell," you attract those who are equally superficial or whose loyalty is easily swayed.
Be you. It's the thing you're best at. When you do, you don't have to act. It makes you powerful and attractive. And most of all, trustworthy.