26th June 2018
Digital Storytelling and Dentistry
Some dentists may be a bit uncomfortable with dental marketing, and the concepts of advertising or selling their services. After all, dentists are not inherently in the business of sales. They often struggle to balance providing services with the business aspect of maintaining their dental practice, so it’s easy to neglect their practice’s marketing.
However, the need to market a practice, team and available treatments is becoming increasingly commonplace in modern dentistry. Rest assured, sales strategies that offer opportunities to patients for education regarding products and treatments are not necessarily a manipulative move meant to increase profits.
Selling ethically is perfectly acceptable and is an everyday part of a dental business. Essentially, it just involves meeting the specific needs of every patient by customising care to best meet their needs. Conversely, one could argue that by not offering patients detailed information regarding available treatment options, practitioners may be more open to patients accusing them of wilful neglect.
The somewhat new concept of “digital storytelling” involves the use of digital tools in telling a “story.” Using multimedia outlets and technology, digital storytelling calls upon the tradition of creating a personal narrative and sharing it with others. For dentists who may be less comfortable marketing their practice, the process of digital storytelling gives them an option that’s guilt-free.
People enjoy stories about other people. Media outlets, particularly newspapers, prove this point on a daily basis. Patient profiles offer appeal on several levels, offering relatability that’s much easier to understand than clinical information regarding complex procedures that is often too detailed. By matching patients with the correct treatment and also sharing the stories of their success, dental practices can attract new patients. This is particularly effective when using high-quality images to augment stories that are shared on social media.
The various social media platforms each have unique focuses and features. Twitter is most known for its factual elements, Instagram provides strong photo opportunities, while Facebook is used for more of a personal touch. Patient relationships are built on trust over time, so social media platforms will add value to the patient experience.
Digital storytelling has tremendous potential for motivating patients to enquire further, take an action, and proceed in scheduling their treatments. Speak relative to the things they most enjoy – consider how the Harry Potter books have maintained their appeal on many levels for over 20 years. These kinds of books are usually an easy read as well, so remember your branding depends on rapid engagement as well as finding a way to tap into the imagination of your audience.
Therefore, to raise awareness of your brand, you must consider the entertainment factor in your educational efforts. For dental “stories”, consider the following building blocks:
- The main character
- History/backstory (a dental problem)
- The quest (search for a dental solution)
- An intervention (including reasons for it)
- The final transformation (and time involved)
- The “happy ending” and positive effects (appealing aesthetics and improved comfort).
Of course, it’s obvious that stories need to be written well, correct in grammar and spelling, accurate, and proofread by someone apart from the author. Adding colour and description to the story of a patient’s journey can further emphasise your positive ending. Be evocative by using strong adjectives, including “attractive,” “stunning,” “beautiful,” “confident,” “aesthetically pleasing,” “dazzling” and other similar terms.
Creating successful “picture books”, texts, and illustrations are dependent upon your images carefully illustrating your text and the text enhancing your pictures. The same applies to “back stories” involving dental procedures. Incorporate “before and after” photos of successful treatments, as well as “work-in-progress” photos taken at various increments. These emotionally powerful photos tell a great story and relate a patient’s dramatic results along their journey. Inspired new patients will be your final reward.
A global survey by Ogilvy Media Influence in 2017 found that mobile devices and digital storytelling are both emerging as strong growth drivers. Many journalists believe live video and podcasts may present the largest opportunity for growth. By using patient testimonials in blog form, along with vlogs and videos, you can further validate your storytelling while empowering patients to share any stories they might have.
There’s huge potential in new technology for the use of creative storytelling that could help you reinvent or reinforce your “in-surgery” conversations. Without compromising the clinical role, you can market your dental brand and reconcile the business aspect of your practice while maintaining your responsibility to care for your patients.
By taking advantage of the internet’s far-reaching benefits, you can meet patient expectations, recognise any problems, and find proper solutions. You can ethically and effectively increase brand reputation while influencing and educating well beyond the dentist chair’s limited boundaries.