Today, I've decided to address some of the atrocious examples of dental marketing communications copy I've witnessed in a long time.  

I was glancing through the pages of a local lifestyle magazine that featured the Best Dentists in Denver, Colorado. As I scanned the display ads for the  "Winners" of the recognition, I found myself examining their ad copy to determine what was so different about them. Now, to set this up, you have to picture me at 5:30am, in my nightgown, at the dining room table with my cappuccino in hand. The cats are fed, and have returned to their respective "spots" settling in for the post breakfast nap. the husband asleep in the Master Bedroom, a houseguest in the Guest Bedroom. And here I sit, alone, roaring with laughter as I read these appalling chunks of text. The first words as I laugh a deep belly laugh, are "Oh My God!  Who wrote these? What were they thinking?"  I made so much noise that my houseguest arose to learn what all the commotion was about.

So here is what made me laugh out loud:

"We take great pride in being attentive, respectful and caring."

Really? That's it? You win the award as a Best Dentist in Denver Colorado and that's all you are proud of? So proud that you have to write this on an ad with limited copy space? This is what differentiates you? OMG! I would really hate to see what a practice that is not attentive, respectful and caring was like. 

This one wins the "WTF Award" (Apologies, Mom. I know how much you hate when I use that language)! That's what you strive for and what sets you apart as a distinguished dentistry brand?

"We strive to create a comfortable environment indulging patients, with HDTV, paraffin hand dips and fresh bread and cookies."

"Our team members form a solid foundation for a practice that is built on family values. We are proud of our employee longevity"

Whose family values? And just how old are your employees? I mean, I could see if you were proud of employee retention, but their longevity? This professional brand characteristic is what you are most proud of? 

A brand message conveys that you own "one word" that sets you apart. What one word is it that we should have indelibly stamped into our impression of your professional brand? Why would either of these descriptors motivate me to choose your dental practice over the other 150+ Best Dentists in Denver Colorado listed in the magazine?

Wait! There's more! ...And it gets worse!

OK, I give up. What's a "microscopic technique"? As a prospective patient looking for a best dentist in Denver, Colorado, what terms will I be searching to find those words in an ad? As for "microscopic and microsurgical techniques"? As a patient shopping for a dentist, what do those words mean to me? How would they resonate and be relevant to me? Are you going to stick a microscope in my mouth?

Second, please don't tell me that your team is exceptional; tell me why I should think they are exceptional! When you say it, it is self aggrandizing if you don't explain. When your customer says it, the subconscious impression is very different. And what does state-of-the-art tell me? No, I mean really? Out of all the display ads, (I counted 163 of them) a significant percentage of them mentioned state-of-the-art in their ad copy. As a common denominator, the phrase cancels out any differentiation when everyone else uses it. 

Finally, if you produce any result that is somehow less than the the highest standard of care of the community, you will have the tort lawyers all over you for promising to consistently exceed the standard of care of the community by the highest standard of care by some unknown, immeasurable amount. Get our your checkbook! This mistake often comes with a hefty price for ignorance of this risk exposure. 

"Using advanced microscopic and microsurgical techniques in our state-of-the-art office, our exceptional endodontic staff provides the highest standard of care in a friendly supportive environment."

"Our office provides a warm, inviting, and caring atmosphere in a modern setting."

"We focus on the front edge of technology but we are not so far out that we are using techniques that are not proven."

So... let me understand this. Your office is an inanimate object. So the author wants me to believe that what makes their brand special differentiates it from all others is that the "office" can "provide" (a verb; an action word) warmth and an inviting and caring atmosphere. 

The text that follows (in the same ad) is even worse! American English idiom does not use the phrase on the front edge of technology. And I won't even go into the use of the word "but" and what follows it. This ad is a terrible example of how to convey a professional brand promise in healthcare.

And now, for the "Duh" awards....

How lame! What's the alternative? Impersonal neglect at every appointment?

You get the point here, what is special, different or indicative of a best dentist in Denver Colorado about why he does this?

"Personal attention to every patient at every appointment is the cornerstone of Dr XYZ's treatment philosophy."

"Dr XYZ recognizes that each patient has different needs and treatment goals, which is why he creates custom treatment plans for every patient."

"...we listen to patients and their parents, we talk about orthodontic treatment processes and options; and we develop treatment plans based on the patient's unique needs and goals."

So this sets them apart: They listen, they discuss treatment options and they develop treatment plans that aren't cut-and-paste from someone else's unique needs and goals? Seriously? That's the best they could say about their professional brand?

If you've made any of these mistakes in your marketing, you have wasted precious opportunities to communicate your brand promise, differentiation, and a compelling reason that prospects should choose you over all others. Read your ad copy to see if you've made a mistake in grammar, spelling, punctuation and. Also read your copy with a critical eye to determine if you've conveyed benefits to your prospect or if you've merely conveyed fatuous comments that could have been made by anyone and don't really demonstrate your uniqueness, or distinguishment.

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