Want to improve case acceptance?

November 20, 2012

Think like an advertiser. Incorporating these three common advertising themes into your treatment presentations can help get your patients to ‘yes.’

Think like an advertiser. Incorporating these three common advertising themes into your treatment presentations can help get your patients to ‘yes.’

As a dentist, you’re likely constantly looking for ways to increase case acceptance in your practice. Here’s something you may not have thought of: Dentists can learn treatment presentation secrets from commercials!

Advertisements on TV usually fall into three themes. Here’s a break down of what they are and how you can use them to benefit your practice.

The fix-it mentality

The first theme, and the one dentists use most often, is the fix-it mentality. This also can be called prescriptive motivation.

Advertisers tell viewers they have a problem that only this product can fix. Similarly, dentists tell patients about their dental health problem that the treatment plan will address. This approach works fine if the patient agrees the problem is both urgent and important enough to fix. Fear only works for a while, and then you have to raise the fear stakes. Telling the patient the tooth can turn into an emergency only works if the patient is afraid of emergencies. And people are gamblers. They gamble that this situation won’t happen to them or if it does, it won’t be as bad as the dentist suggests. Advertisers know fear doesn’t work for everyone, so they also employ two other themes.

Protective motivation

Advertisers know people are motivated to protect themselves and their family’s well being, so theme two highlights how the product will shield the viewer from harm. Dentists and hygienists use protective motivation when designing treatment plans that prevent further decay. “Mrs. Patient, I know how important having a healthy smile is for you. That is why we’re going to have you come in every four months for your hygiene treatment.” Protective motivation assumes the patient has something about her oral health she wants to protect or keep. It assumes health is something the patient desires. But sometimes protection is not enough of a motivational force.

Aspirational motivation

People aspire to a lifestyle or image of themselves they want in the future. Most people aspire to be more successful, youthful and sexy. Commercials that use this powerful motivational force show the viewers how this new car or even a particular cereal will make them feel richer, will help them to become thinner or even make them into a better parent.

I believe dentists can use aspirational motivation more often and to greater success. It’s easy to sell cosmetic dentistry using the patient’s desire to look more attractive. You can even sell getting rid of old amalgams by appealing to the patient’s desire to have a mouth that is consistent with their image of themselves as healthy, up-to-date and attractive. Everyone aspires to something; the key is to know what motivates that particular patient. Busy mom? We know you aspire to being a good parent who is a role model for her children. That is why you need to do this treatment plan. Making this appointment shows your children that you take care of yourself and your oral health in the same way you take care of your children. And the benefit is that for one hour, we take care of you. All you have to do is sit.

Find the theme that fits

Choosing which theme will work best for which patient means you have to understand your patient’s emotional and psychological point of view. Share this article with your team. And then at morning huddle, talk about the patients who have delayed treatment. Use your team as a focus group to decide which motivational theme you will use with each patient. If it works for major advertisers, it can work even better for you.

Sharyn Weiss, MA, brings to Pride Institute and its client more than 15 years of experience in training on a diversity of topics, including communication skills, leadership, experiential training, change, and conflict. In addition to being the published author of two books about experiential training, she is a contributor to the 2001 and 2004 versions of the Training and Performance Sourcebook. At Pride Institute, she serves a dual role in assisting in curriculum development and consulting. Sharyn holds a B.A. from Queens College and a M.A. degree in Training and Development from Ohio State University. Click here to ask Sharyn about this article or for more information about Pride Institute, or call Pride Institute at 800-925-2600.