Dentists, Stop Being Dentists!

This week on Marketing Monday, Angus Pryor the Practice Growth Specialist will be sharing with you on understanding your client through a different perspective. Find out more by watching the video now.


Now look, today I’ve got the slightly provocative title of “Dentists, Stop Being Dentists!” Let me explain. One of the things we do when we work with clients is we help them to identify who their ideal client is.

And then we, metaphorically look through the eyes of the client at your practice and go…

  • What is it that your client appreciates about your practice?
  • What do they like?
  • What do they don’t like?

One of the most common bits of feedback that we have from your client’s perspective about your client is about feeling safe and well informed.

One of the nice things about me not being a dentist is that I get to look at the industry through different eyes and when we know that your clients are saying they want to feel safe and they want to be well informed, then there are a bunch of dentists things that I see that I don’t think are helping.

Now, some of the things that are not helping include the language that you use. Believe it or not, at the moment, I’m going through some at-home whitening. I thought, “What the heck?” It was an opportunity to do it. One, because I wanted to do it and secondly, because it’s fun to go through the process.

One term that dentists use quite often is bleaching. Now, I know that’s the dental term but guess what non-dentists think about when they hear the term bleaching. They think about bleaching my bathroom. They think about chemicals. So, you’re much better off using the term “whitening” rather than “bleaching”.

“I want to feel safe and well informed and I don’t like you saying bleaching. I’d prefer you said cavities rather than caries” and there would be many examples of this sort of thing. So, that’s the first thing I’d say.

The second thing on your website is around some of the images that I see on websites and these are things that dentists must love but potential clients thinks horrible. It’s the thing that they stick in your mouth and you get this effect (mouth wide open with gums showing). It’s like where the gums get held back and then I see the before and after photos showing this much gum.

Well dentist, you might love that but I can tell you for clients even for me, I’ve got sort of a medical background. I look at this, I go “I never ever want to see that and it doesn’t make me feel safe and well informed.” So be very careful about that stuff.

Another third point and I’m quite deliberate about this, I tend to use the term “client” rather than “patient.” Now I realise that as a healthcare professional, you’ve got responsibilities to your patients. I get that part but the fact is in my mind, I would prefer to think of them as clients rather than patients.

This is the way I see it. If I’m a patient, I go “Right, I’m here (at the bottom) and the doctor’s up here (at the top)” and I don’t have any problem with boosting your authority and talking about your skills. But, what worries me is if dental practices are going “Oh, they’re only a patient. It’s like we’re up here (at the top) and they’re only a patient (at the bottom)”.

That worries me. In a modern very competitive environment that we’re in, I would much rather that you say, “Well, they’re the client and we are here to serve them.” That might seem like a pedantic point but in my mind, we need to have that mindset that we’re here to serve the clients rather than we’re the health care professional and there’s the patient down there.

So, that’s a few ideas for food for thought. What other things are you doing in your practice that is not helping the clients go that they feel safe and well informed? Chances are it’s about you as a dentist, as a dental practice, being a dentist.

Be great at all your technical stuff when it comes to actually doing the stuff in my mouth but when you talking about it, when you’re communicating, you need to remove that stuff so that the patients, the clients, feel that they’re better informed and they know what’s going on.

Otherwise, catch you next time on Marketing Monday.