The importance of the right words

As practice owners and leaders we know our businesses inside out. From the day-to-day tasks, such as booking appointments, to the more complex issues of cash flow and forward planning, we are familiar with everything that happens – nobody could know more about our practice.

When it comes to marketing material, many principals feel it is natural that they be in charge of writing copy. After all, they have all the facts and figures to hand, they know the practice at every level and they will be able to represent it most accurately on paper, right?

Well, yes, to some extent that is correct. Nobody knows better than a principal when it comes to running the practice and of course, they should ultimately have the last say on any marketing material. However, just because they know the business the best does not mean they are the best at selling it to potential new patients.

Issues with creating your own marketing

There are several key factors we should all consider when we decide who should be looking after the copy for our marketing campaigns.

Firstly, knowing the practice inside out isn’t necessarily a good thing when it comes to writing marketing material. Because you are so familiar with it, it is easy to leave out vital information that patients will need – yet you may not even realise you have forgotten it.

Secondly, being so immersed in your job means you can easily slip into using language and terms that are completely alien to ordinary members of the public. When people read adverts or brochures that don’t immediately make sense to them, the chances that they will try to find out more are very slim indeed, what’s more likely to happen is that the material you have spent so long putting together will end up in the bin.

Finally, with the best will in the world, anyone who is not a professional writer can easily slip up when it comes to spelling and grammar. While this doesn’t matter so much in our home life, errors in our business life can undermine our professional profile and cause potential new patients to see us as less competent. Even if you are comfortable with semi-colons and avoiding split infinitives, it can be hard to spot mistakes in your own work because you are too close to it.

Avoiding the issues

So, what can you do to avoid these problems? Well, a second or third pair of eyes on everything you write is an absolute minimum, nothing should ever be sent out without being checked over in very careful detail by at least two people who are confident with spelling and grammar.

However, if those people are also staff within your practice, they won’t necessarily offer the distance and perspective you need to make sure your marketing material is as effective as it can possibly be. By using a professional copywriter, you have a much greater chance of getting the most from your publicity. Not only will their copy be accurate and well-written, it will also be compelling and powerful and, crucially, it will be written by someone who is not closely involved with the business. This may sound like a disadvantage, but in fact it is the opposite. As an outsider, they know the kind of material your potential new patients will need in order to be interested in your practice, and they know how to present it in a way that will have the greatest appeal. They will avoid jargon and waffle, instead using words that are effective and persuasive when it comes to selling your business.

I know some practices can be reluctant to spend money on a professional copywriters – it can seem like an unnecessary expense. However, compared to the amount you’re likely to be spending on your marketing as a whole, it’s only a small fraction, and if it makes your material more effective and ultimately brings you more new patients, isn’t that a worthwhile investment?

Victoria Foster is a business manager for a dental practice with eight years of experience, is the marketing director for Horton Consulting and works with dental practices to provide unique marketing services.

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