Your marketing solutions

Q. I’ve always taken before-and-after photographs of patients while they are wearing retainers – it gives the best view of the teeth. But a colleague recently told me that photos without retainers, and showing the patient’s full face, are more effective. Is she right?

A. Retainers which hold the lips back away from the teeth do indeed give a good, unencumbered view of all the teeth, and work well from a clinical point of view.

But for patients they can be off-putting. They look uncomfortable, and often tend to serve as a reminder (even if it is an inaccurate one) that dentistry can mean pain and discomfort. Our clients find that full-face photos, without retainers, are much more attractive to patients. They show the smile and teeth in their natural state, and seeing the whole face enables them to identify more readily with the person who has had the work carried out.

In addition, it gives you the opportunity to show patients the effect that cosmetic dentistry can have on the face as a whole. Many people feel that tooth whitening can have an overall rejuvenating effect, for example, and your before-and-after photos may well demonstrate this. They can also demonstrate how cosmetic dentistry can change facial contours for the better.

Q. My son has just finished a computing degree at university and he said I should send my patients an e-newsletter. What is this and how would it work? And would patients bother to read it?

A. An e-newsletter, or as they are more commonly called an e-zine, is simply a newsletter which is sent electronically, ie via e-mail. You may have already received some yourself, as they are often used as a form of marketing by online retailers to keep customers up to date with their products and special offers.

Dentists in the UK are now starting to catch onto the idea of using e-zines to promote their practice in a similar way. They are not intended to replace a full printed newsletter, but rather to supplement it. They can, for example, remind people of dental-related events such as National Smile Week, or tell them about specific promotions – items that have a short shelf-life and so are not suitable for printed newsletters. If kept short and sweet, with just a few pieces of interesting information in each one, then there is no reason why your patients shouldn’t read them.

In terms of how they work, they are quite simple to put together. They are usually sent as an email in html format, which enables you to include graphics and photos as well as text, thus making it more visually appealing.

It is a good idea to include links to any relevant pages on your website within the articles, so that patients can click to find more information. And it makes sense to include your email address in a prominent position as well, so they can simply click on it to send you a query or to arrange a consultation.

Q. My practice logo is old and needs updating. I have been quoted £1,500 to get a new image for the practice, which seems an awful lot of money. Is it worth it?

A. It is definitely worth investing in a new image for your practice, and that includes your logo. Patients base their perception of the quality of your dentistry and customer service on the image that you portray. If you have an old, tired logo they will assume your dentistry will also be old and tired. The investment you make in a new image should repay itself many times over.

We suggest you shop around rather than go with the first quote you get. While this could save you some money, it also means you can choose the company that you feel is right for you. We have found that many dentists find it hard to verbalise their thoughts and ideas about the type of image they desire, so ideally you should work with someone who can give you three or four different ideas from which you can choose the most suitable one.

A common mistake is to believe that there is a perfect, unique logo for your practice, one that sums you up in one small image and which will be instantly recognisable to all who see it. This works if you are a huge international company like Nike or McDonald’s, but that is only because they spend millions of dollars each year promoting it.

For more information about Blue Horizons services, visit www.bluehorizonsdental.co.uk or email [email protected]

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