And that’s where the excuses come in.
Getting patients to make an appointment and actually show up is like pulling teeth (ba dum ching!). But why is this so difficult?
There are three main reasons people make excuses in order to avoid going to the dentist:
- It’s seen as an inconvenience.
- They get anxiety from fear of discomfort or pain.
- They don’t want to be scolded.
That being said, it’s so important for you, as a dentist, to directly address these issues with your patients. They can’t be ignored – you’ve got to face the problems head on. And that’s where marketing strategies can lend a hand.
You want to give your patients a reality check on the importance of oral health without pushing them away.
“If a patient says no because of time, money, pain, or inconvenience, they are only saying yes to more time, more money, more pain, and more inconvenience down the road” – Bob Spiel
It is seen as an inconvenience, so offer an incentive and link it to your ads
Not only do people dread missing work or school for their appointment, but they hate the long process. This includes the wait time for the appointment.
In a study by Press Ganey, it was found that the average wait time for patients at a medical practice is about 24 minutes. Nobody wants to sit for nearly half an hour just to get their mouth probed. And the longer they have to wait, the more frustrated the patient becomes.
So, let’s fix that.
Be honest with the patient and cater to their needs. Don’t let them sit aimlessly in the waiting room, or else they might get anxious and want to leave (or just never come back).
Have the front desk tell them what the wait time is. This helps keep them sane: 80% of patients would feel less aggravated if they knew how long the wait would be.
Then keep them occupied. Have magazines on hand they can browse through. Same goes with TVs or free WiFi, because 60% of people say this makes the wait more bearable.
Finally, offer an incentive that if they end up waiting over a certain amount of time, they’ll be offered a discount (free teeth whitening, etc.). Advertise this in your PPC because it’s click bait! If you aren’t sure how to do PPC, there are agencies that can help with AdWords management.
They get anxiety from fear of discomfort or pain, so use content marketing to ease their concerns
In a study from the University of Sydney, it was found that “a person with severe dental anxiety waits on average 17 days to make an appointment” even though they’re in pain. Now that’s a long time.
Dental phobia is a very real thing that haunts 9-15% of Americans. So how do you help ease this fear for your patients?
Overload them with fresh content on specific ways you’ll meet their needs. Give them material they can read and watch. Bonus, all this new content also helps your Local SEO.
Create a video with specific actions the patient can take before the appointment in order to mentally prepare. If you offer sedative agents, stress that as well in the clip.
Create a blog that addresses ways your dentistry caters to patients with this phobia. There are technological advances that have made the process less painful for the patient. If you use any of these at your office, talk about it in the blog.
“Companies that blog are 13x more likely to generate a positive marketing ROI” – HubSpot
For more visual patients, build an infographic and stuff it with positive numbers and facts about visiting the dentist. Pinterest is a great place to find infographics. Also, once your figures are in order, you can hire a freelance graphic designer to have it made for a few bucks. Then share it it on your social media, mass emails, and blogs.
Another way to use visuals for your patients is to add humor by using a meme:
Then, provide them with case studies. Give them as many success stories as you can. Reassure them that they are making the right decision by choosing your dentistry, and these case studies are why.
They don’t want to be scolded, so use the “power of paper” to educate them instead
Nobody enjoys being lectured about what they’re doing wrong. So why spend money and time going to the dentist just to be scolded?
Because chances are they either aren’t flossing enough, or they’re drinking too much coffee or soda (we’re all human). And this might make them embarrassed.
“Embarrassment is emphasized, yet scantily described as a factor in extreme dental anxiety or phobia” – PubMed
Now it’s your turn to set your patients straight and show them that they shouldn’t be fearful of getting scolded or embarrassed.
Yeah, you might remind them that flossing is necessary, but the scolding part isn’t. Rather than lecturing patients after their cleaning or procedure, tell them that you’ll be sending a newsletter soon with a few dental hygiene tips that they can look forward to.
Create a newsletter system (power of paper) where you provide patients with specials, stats, oral health tips, and so on. You want to become a resource for them.
Top off the end of their appointment with a goodie bag full of floss, toothpaste, and so on to show that you not only want them educated, but you also want them to take action for their oral health, and you’ll become their all time fav dentist.
Because we all love free gifts and information.
So offer incentives that are easily visible through your ads, use content marketing to help relax and reassure anxious patients, and set up a newsletter you can send out that teaches and educates rather than scrutinizes.
If you’ve noticed any other excuses patients make to avoid going to the dentist, please share in the comment section below!
– Mike Arce
Mike Arce is the Founder and CEO of Loud Rumor, an online marketing company that helps local businesses grow with AdWords management, Local SEO, social media marketing, and YouTube marketing. Loud Rumor is located at 19820 N 7th St #110, Phoenix, AZ 85024, and can be reached at (480) 567-9794.