Internal marketing with patient portraits

May 1, 2006
In my last column, we talked about what your digital images can be used for once you have taken them.

In my last column, we talked about what your digital images can be used for once you have taken them. We discussed using them for case presentations utilizing editing software such as Dentrix 4.1 or Image Fx. We pointed out which team members would be using this software and in which locations in your office. We will talk more about digital smile designs and case presentations in the future. This column will discuss another option for your digital images. The portraits and before-and-after photos you take of patients can be used at your office for internal marketing. Be advised that there are some companies that sell marketing portraits ready to hang on office walls. SmartPractice sells a range of marketing photos that I think are well done. Discus Dental offers unique prints that also can make a powerful impact on your practice’s production.

My office markets to our patients by using portraits and photos of our dental work in different ways, depending on where someone is located in the office. In this column, I will share how I use different types of marketing photos. Future columns will talk about how I snapped these photos. When a new patient arrives, the first item of business is to give him or her an office tour during which we discuss each of these prints and tell the story behind them. We explain to patients the following three aspects of our practice:

• Who we treat

When a person first enters our office, he or she sees a multitude of portraits of our patients. Most, but not all, have beautiful smiles. The value of the portraits being in this area of our office comes in displaying who we treat, not necessarily what we have done for them. We have portraits of patients who are beauty queens, politicians, sports stars, and business people. The portraits show men and women, young and old patients. It gives one a feeling that no matter who he or she is, this is the right office in which to be. Each print, whether it is a portrait or a before-and-after photo, has a patient testimonial with it. This testimonial is just as valuable as the print itself. All of the prints are 13 x 19 inches in size, and are printed in the office with a $400 Canon i9900 printer.

• Services we provide

As one walks down our office hallways, the portraits change, and show select cases of the services we provide. We have portraits and before-and-after photos showing cosmetic veneer cases to whiten teeth and close spaces, full-mouth reconstruction, periodontal therapy in which the tissue has been replaced, bridges with natural-looking pontics, implant therapy, and natural-looking fillings. These cases show people of all ages and gender. The photos let patients know that we take pride in what we do, and are proud to exhibit our cases. They also give patients ideas about what we can do for them, their families, and friends. Because we show such a variety of people in these cases, patients can see that anyone can have this type of work done regardless of age or gender.

• What we can do for you

Once a patient enters our operatories, he or she immediately sees close-up and highly detailed images of before-and-after cases. Each case also has a corresponding portrait on an adjoining wall. These prints cover the majority of cases that patients ask us to help them with, ranging from cosmetic to restorative work. We use the prints to discuss possible treatment ideas and the steps involved. The prints show crowns without black lines at the gum margin, white fillings that replace black fillings, closing spaces with composite, restoring tetracycline-stained teeth with veneers, bleaching, temporaries, bridges, and implants. The only service for which I do not have a close-up is a complete denture.

Creating your own advertising - both internally and externally - can be cost effective if it is done with a well-devised plan. Any form of marketing is usually better than none. Begin with a budget that works for you. There is nothing wrong with starting with stock prints from companies like Discus Dental and SmartPractice. Let me disclose here that SmartPractice will be selling some of my prints in the near future. If you wish, you could start with some of my prints and then slowly replace them with your own. The key is to keep marketing costs to what you can afford, have a set plan about how you wish to use the photos, and have some ideas for the future so your marketing and business can grow together.

Dr. Tony Soileau is a general dentist from Lafayette, La. He has taught digital photography at the Pacific Aesthetic Continuum in San Francisco, the Institute of Oral Art & Design in Tampa, Fla., and the Esthetic Epitome in Charlotte, N.C. Soileau is currently a co-director for the genR8TNext digital photography program. Contact Soileau at (337) 234-3551, or at [email protected].

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