Why have a Web site?

Feb. 1, 2003
More than 20 years ago, an article in the Journal of Marketing defined professional services marketing as "organized activities and programs by professional services firms.

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD

More than 20 years ago, an article in the Journal of Marketing defined professional services marketing as "organized activities and programs by professional services firms that are designed to retain present clients and attract new clients by sensing, serving, and satisfying their needs." This was the beginning of using marketing tools in the development of dental practices.

Over the years, we have studied and learned new ways to attract new patients and retain existing ones by incorporating both internal and external marketing ideas into our day-to-day practices. Communication has become a key component of everything we do as dental practitioners. We also have discovered a new method to get our message out — the Internet. It could very well become the standard and ultimate way to communicate with potential and existing patients.

Why should you even have a Web site? I discussed the demographics of the World Wide Web in the last issue of Dental Economics. From that, you should have a feel for how popular this new technology has become.

What should your Web site contain?

• Name of practice
• Business address
• Telephone number, fax number, email address
• Hours of operation
• Map and physical description of your location
• Information about the doctor and the staff — education, family, community involvement, hobbies, interests, membership in professional organizations, etc.
• Services provided — List the procedures you offer, the new technology you utilize, and the benefits to the patient. Be sure to use pictures and/or illustrations.
• Frequently asked questions
• General information about dentistry that is beneficial to patients
• Before and after photographs showing improved smiles
• Office policies — This can include practice philosophies, days of operation, holiday and vacation schedules, appointment and scheduling policies, financial policies, and more.
• New patient information and health-history forms
• New and archived newsletters
• Links to other sites

What about things you shouldn't do with your Web site?

• Avoid anything related to religion, politics, sex, or other controversial topics ... unless you want to attract only those people with the same interests.
• Avoid links from your Web site to any sites that would detract from your main purpose.
• Avoid any claims of success, testimonials, boasting, or anything else that would be in poor professional taste.
• Avoid too many graphics, video presentations, or audio presentations that would take too long to load onto the viewer's computer.

Keep the following three fundamental concepts in mind when you design a Web site:

1) Good, clean graphics and readability
2) Useful content that allows you to reach your goals and objectives and easily convey information
3) User-friendly and easy to navigate

Next month, I'll discuss the actual design and hosting of your site.

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, FICD, practices general dentistry in St. Louis. He also is the editor of St. Louis Dentistry Magazine and spokesman and critical-issue-response-team chairman for the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. His address on the Internet is www.dfdasmiles.com. Contact him by email at [email protected], by phone at (314) 567-5612, or by fax at (314) 567-9047.

Reasons To Consider A Dental Web Site

1. Retain current patients
2. Attract new patients
3. Differentiate yourself and your practice from others in a buyer's market
4. Improve communications with existing and potential patients
5. Show people what you have to offer
6. Provide information about new advances in dentistry

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