When it comes to advertising your dental practice, one decision you must make upfront is the tone your content will take. While this seems like a simple concept, it can be a choice that defines the future of your whole brand—and that puts the pressure on.
We know that sometimes this early task can almost paralyze you, preventing anything else from getting done, because the voice of your brand informs all of the next steps of marketing. That’s why we decided to put our own marketing minds here at DentalHQ together to walk you through this big decision. Personal vs. professional: how should you market your dental practice or DSO? We’ll help you answer that for yourself.
Let’s Get Personal
We’ll start off by exploring the case for taking on a more personal, conversational tone in your content and marketing collateral.
One of the biggest challenges in marketing is making a strong connection to your audience. You want potential clients to read your brochure or blog post and feel like they can relate to what you’re saying. Ideally, your message should meet them where they are in regard to their mindset on the topic you’re discussing (dental cleanings, cavity fillings, etc.). You want to speak to their concerns and needs, and that can be easier to do when you take on a more personal tone. It just sounds more natural that way!
The same is true for emotional appeals. A big part of marketing is inspiring emotion in your audience; emotion that makes them want to take action. That can be difficult to do in a professional voice. Think about this comparison, where the first is more personal and the second more professional:
“You know biannual cleanings are important. You want to keep your oral health in check. It’s just so difficult to find the time. We understand that! Talk to our front desk about how we can help you work around your schedule.”
“Studies show that poor oral health could be connected to increased risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. When you receive expert dental care throughout life, you can improve your overall health. Call Smith Dental today to book your next cleaning.”
While each of those is compelling in its own way, the first makes more of a personalized appeal. It connects to the emotional issue that is really keeping your patient from coming in for another cleaning: time.
In the case of the second, it feels authoritative, which lends a professional tone, but it also appeals more to fear than any other emotion. This style can feel a little cold, and if a patient didn’t already understand that information, it might give them the impression that dentistry is even scarier than they thought. Depending on the personality of the patient, they might just reject that message’s tone as anxiety-inducing and move on with their day.
Another benefit of the more personal tone is that it often performs better on social media platforms.
In the world of social media, consumability and consistency are key. A casual voice can be helpful in accomplishing both. When you’re speaking in a conversational way, you can engage those scrolling eyes better than formal content might because a personable tone can be digested more quickly, with less mental effort.
This style of content can also be easier to produce quickly, for two reasons:
1) You don’t have to think as hard about content that is just meant to be fun and connective as you would about something with more educational info and expertise-driven content.
2) Anyone on your team could be writing those social captions—they don’t necessarily depend on dental expertise! So, when you’re busy, content will still go live.
Combine those two factors, and it’s clear that a less professional tone can actually be key in making your social content consumable and consistent.
Now of course, you could adopt a casual tone only for your social posts, but maintaining the same tone across all of your content and collateral is great for brand recognition, so you should try to achieve that if possible!
Experts Know Best
That said, maybe you feel that a personal tone is wrong for a dental practice. There is definitely a case to be made for that: Unlike most other brands producing brochures, website copy, and social media posts, you care for people’s health.
Adopting a conversational and casual tone can make people feel more comfortable, especially if they are prone to dental anxiety. But maintaining the voice of an expert is another route you could take with your marketing content.
Once you begin speaking in a personal tone, it is so easy to cross the line into producing content that overshares, seems silly, or reduces credibility. You could avoid this altogether by using a professional voice.
A more professional tone would also naturally position your content as coming from an expert. This demonstrates your intelligence, passion for what you do, and skill. Who wouldn’t want to know that the dentist they trust with their oral health possesses all of that?
A more professional voice enables you to boost the confidence of your patients, which is especially important depending on your specialties.
Also, consider this: professional content can be more easily prepped! While being a bit more casual does make it possible for anyone in the office, regardless of dentistry knowledge, to write up social posts and the like, this tone can also demand some deeper thinking when it comes to finding “casual” ways to discuss the actual topics of conversation.
Let’s say you want to write a blog post about the benefits of childhood dental visits. If you aim to sound more personal, you might take the time to gather a testimonial, speak to your own experience with your children, and think of funny ways to explain something. Whereas, if you are maintaining a professional voice, you can simply write about five research-backed reasons childhood visits are so crucial to lifelong health.
You also wouldn’t have to rely on the personal perspectives and experiences of whomever is prepping the content, so you can share the five tips and tell anyone on the team to publish that post. Sure, you, the dentist, might need to be a little more involved at the start of each project. But if you have a very large team, a professional voice can keep messaging clear and on-brand, because this tone invites fewer opinion-based decisions from the rest of your team.
The Family Practice vs. DSO Factor
Now that we’ve chatted about the two different approaches, let’s explore which might be best depending on your circumstances.
If you own a single practice or a small family of practices that you still primarily manage, the personal approach could be perfect for you. In that dynamic, you are the face of the business; in fact, one could make the argument that your personality is the personality of the business!
Since you can be more hands-on with every aspect of your practice, you have the opportunity to create content that directly connects to how your patients are feeling, what they need, and what you know would delight them to know about you and your team.
On the other hand, if you own a dental service organization, the professional approach could be a more aligned approach for you. Unlike a family of local practices, a DSO often services more walk-ins, transient patients, etc. The business also usually involves much more growth—too many practices for a dentist-owner to be particularly hands-on at each one.
Your patients will therefore expect less personalization from you.They are there to get what they need done (and done well by an expert), and to carry on with the rest of their busy day. You will also have less of a pulse on what each office could be producing when it comes to hyper-local and more personalized content. A professional tone, in these circumstances, can be more straightforward and uncomplicated.
But regardless of the tactic you choose as a guideline, remember that the best way to market your dental practice or DSO is by customizing your tone for your brand. Maybe your marketing voice ends up being a little mix of personal and professional.But once you “find your voice,” try to use that style consistently throughout your marketing collateral and advertising avenues.