The decision to purchase a product or service, or to choose a dentist, is a journey.
The decision begins with the identification of a need or want. That may come as a sudden realization, such as the rapid onset of dental pain. Or the realization may grow slowly over time when a prospect has faced an unattractive smile for too long.
The identification doesn’t necessarily lead to immediate action. Even patients in significant pain can delay seeking help for any number of reasons. There’s a period of deliberation where the pros and cons of taking action are weighed.
Eventually, your dental prospect reaches an action point. That doesn’t mean that a course of action has been determined. It simply means that your prospect has determined to do something about their need or want.
A period of investigation follows during which your prospect researches various dental practices to determine which one is best suited to meet that need or want. The vast majority of people begin their investigation with an online search. Of those, nearly two-thirds use Google, which is why it’s so crucial to rank well in local, organic search. All dentistry is local.
Once your prospect has narrowed down the suitable choices, most people will engage in confirmation. Typically, that involves reading online reviews or watching testimonial videos. If your prospect knows someone who has used your services, he or she may seek out word-of-mouth confirmation.
Finally, the prospect makes a decision to choose someone to meet their need or fulfill their want.
Identification, deliberation, action, investigation, confirmation, and decision. Six stages of the decision-making process, and every one offers the opportunity for you to guide your prospect to choose you.
Guide Your Prospects to Your Chair
The purpose of all your dental marketing should be to get your prospect to pick up the phone or to click on your website to book an appointment. It’s important to keep that end goal in mind when you design content for each of the six stages of decision-making.
You might think that there’s nothing you can do about influencing a prospect before they identify a need or want. That’s not necessarily correct. If your social media presence is robust, your followers will share your posts, and their friends will share those posts. Given the degree of online interconnectedness, there’s at least a chance that your prospect may have a peripheral awareness of your practice.
If your prospect’s impression of your practice, however vague, is positive, that will influence the deliberation process.
At every step in your prospect’s decision-making, he or she should have ready access to helpful, informative, and engaging content that continues to lead them to choose you. If your prospect requests information via your website, that’s the signal to send a series of emails relating to their particular issue. The timing of those emails is crucial; too often, and you risk irritating him or her. Too seldom, and you lose top-of-mind awareness.
The best ways to influence your prospects to choose you are to create a good deal of online content pertaining to particular dental needs and wants, and to follow up every inquiry with carefully timed emails to guide them to your chair.