Dentists Need to Address Dental Patients’ Fears and Questions

Melinda SpitekGrow The Line That Leads to Your Practice
Special Marketing Feature
By Melinda Spitek, Hycomb Marketing

It’s no surprise to learn that patients aren’t eager to go to the dentist. In fact, it can be quite easy for them to talk themselves out of it! Consider these pre-appointment misgivings, typical for many people:

  • “I should be going back to my old dentist — he wasn’t great, but I knew him. Why am I changing?”
  • “I should have gone to Mary Lou’s dentist; she says her dentist is gentle.”
  • “I have too many things to do today — I’ll just cancel my appointment.”
  • “I hate going to the dentist. I’ll just skip going to that new guy.”

Now imagine this: Your new patient may have had these same doubts, but receives your colorful, professional New Patient packet the day after they called to make the first appointment. There’s a brochure, an appointment card, health history forms, even a welcome letter — plus a complimentary copy of your newsletter. Effectively, each piece responds to a different unasked question, building confidence and commitment on the spot!

How the components work together:

  • The Welcome Letter is a conversational greeting between you and your new patient — the equivalent of eye contact and a handshake.
  • The Welcome Brochure introduces you and your office philosophy. It outlines your clinical credibility, maps your location, and lists your services. And, most importantly, it answers the unasked questions: Will you understand my fears? Can you protect me from HIV? How do you handle an emergency?
  • The Appointment Card confirms date and time — subconsciously strengthening resolve to keep the appointment.
  • The Health History forms let patients know what information must been gathered before you can provide treatment.
  • Your Practice Newsletter demonstrates your commitment to informative communication with every patient.

In a recent survey of hundreds of typical dental patients we found out what they like (and don’t) about dental practices. The key discovery: They all have reservations — and questions they’re too embarrassed to ask.

The Welcome Brochure answers these questions automatically, before the very first appointment! It paves the way for that tenuous connection between you and the first-time patient to grow into a positive commitment.

Watch out! Your brochure can do more harm than good if it’s overloaded with copy, printed on flimsy paper, or copy machine duplicated — anything that implies less-than-total professionalism.

What to watch for:

  • Paper: Use a substantial, prime paper stock — at least 80# cover weight.
  • Inks: Print in at least two inks. (Two colors increase eye tracking by 13%.)
  • Topics to address: Include welcome statement, location, infection control, fear, dental emergencies, and services.
  • Uses: Reception room, handouts, new patient packet.
  • Avoid: Office hours, staff or associate names or photos, insurance rules, fees, technical jargon.

What’s thinner than dental floss — and infinitely more fragile? It’s the imaginary thread of desire that motivates any new patient to book an appointment and see you. Virtually every thought or emotion conspires to break that thread!

Melinda Spitek is CEO of Hycomb Marketing Inc. Hycomb was founded in 1980 for the purpose of helping dentists market their practices. Melinda has had plenty of hands-on experience as well, having worked 23 years in dental offices. For help with marketing, just call Hycomb at (800) 523-6961 or visit www.hycomb.com.

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