You might not have seen the article in July about a pseudo-dentist in Broward County, Florida. A man who was previously on probation for impersonating a dentist and providing unlicensed dental services was arrested for, among other things, sexually assaulting two of his female “patients.”
This wasn’t new behavior for this wanna-be dentist; his prior arrest in 2012 included additional “liberties” while practicing unlicensed dentistry. There’s no indication of whether the dental procedures he completed were done competently. And while you might find this surprising, his competence or lack of it is not the important issue for other dentists.
It would be easy to write off these incidents as the workings of a diseased mind, but the impact will extend far beyond this isolated case.
Trust is Everything
Done right, dentistry is a trust-based profession. Most people are uncomfortable with the idea of having any kind of dental procedure done. When you think about it, that’s understandable. There’s an unvoiced cultural stigma associated with opening one’s mouth widely and keeping it open. Don’t think so? Imagine passing someone on the street whose mouth was gaping wide open.
So, your patients are feeling vulnerable the instant they sit in your chairs. They’re feeling even more vulnerable because they may hear bad news about their dentition or feel as if they’re being judged for the state of their teeth and/or gums.
Then, they have to trust that you’ll not hurt them while effectively solving their problems. And that you won’t perform unnecessary treatment or gouge them on price. No, you wouldn’t do that, but bad actors in corporate dental practices have abused patients’ trust repeatedly.
Put all that together, and it’s clear that trust is a crucial aspect of the doctor/patient relationship. Anything that tarnishes dentists reputation undermines that trust.
Put Your Marketing in “Protect” Mode
Dentists are universally considered to be competent, so don’t waste time trying to establish competence in your prospects’ minds. The larger and much more important issue is establishing a trust relationship with your prospects before they ever decide to choose you to solve their dental problems.
You won’t establish that kind of relationship with newspaper ads or postcard campaigns. Building trust is a process that requires a number of touchpoints, and the best way to touch your prospects is through social media. Your blog posts, your Facebook posts, and your website dental videos can and should be focused on creating a relationship of trust between you and your prospects.
Once your prospects come to regard you as the relatable, trustworthy, dental expert, your reputation will be protected against bad news from bad actors. But to be clear, it takes time and effort to differentiate yourself from the mass of dentists and to establish that trust relationship with prospects. You might consider whether your time is better spent actually seeing patients and solving their dental problems.
If you’re not naturally gifted at writing, and not many people are, you’ll want to use an outside vendor to handle your online content. Just be sure that whoever you choose understands the unique fears and needs of dental patients and can speak to those needs in your social media.