There's a time and place for stock photography, but if your dental practice's website is nothing but glossy images of cheerful, smiling strangers, you're missing out on an important opportunity to connect with potential patients.
Here at Optio Publishing, we've been helping dental practices educate their patients and market themselves since 2002, and I'm always surprised that so many dental practices are missing out on the opportunity to show their office or their team online.
Practices will spend a lot of time thinking about the words on their website or in their social media posts, but it's the image that's likely to catch people's attention. How will potential patients know what to expect from their first visit with you if you don't show them?
True, it's much easier to pop online and purchase images of brightly smiling models. There is time and money involved with hiring your own photographer, scheduling your team, and organizing a photoshoot, but the payoff is that custom photography will benefit your practice for years to come. You can use the images on your website, social media channels, and marketing materials as often as you like - and the smiles of genuine, real people will shine through.
Website Aria Dental Centre, London, ON
At Aria Dental Centre in London, ON, Office Manager and Certified Dental Assistant Level II Adina Algra says professional photography has helped elevate their dental practice and improve its presence online.
"When potential patients see our great-looking office with our warm, friendly staff, they can tell that we really do care for our patients' overall dental health," says Adina.
A dentist/patient relationship is a personal one - it can't feel cold and abstract - and the reality is that you have a very short time to make an impression on a potential patient. If they're looking for a local dentist, they're probably clicking around, visiting multiple sites … including your competitor's site. Show them the warmth and professionalism your practice can provide.
We work with clients who have been investing in custom dental practice photography for a long time, and it's always made their marketing stronger. It's much easier for these practices to connect with potential patients because those beautiful photos draw people in - creating a high degree of trust between the patient and the dentist before they even meet.
Facebook Page Midtown Dental, Fredericton, NB
At Midtown Dental in Fredericton, NB, owner Dr. Andrew Smyth believes professional photography has helped the practice create many positive first impressions when New Brunswick residents are looking for a new dentist.
"Professional photographers are trained to get the proper angles and get that perfect shot. At the end of the day, they know how to make a business look professional," explains Dr. Smyth. "First impressions online make a real difference, and that's why I always hire a professional for our website photos."
While custom photography does take a bit of coordination to organize, we feel confident it's something a dental practice will never regret investing in.
In fact, Dr. Smyth - who co-owns both Midtown Dental and York Dental along with his wife, Dr. Cara Moran - says they frequently receive compliments for their "sleek-looking, professional" website and Facebook page, to which he credits for custom photography.
"It's absolutely worth the expense because it shows the public that we're willing to make an investment in the clinic's image - that we're seeking quality and professionalism in everything we do."
Ideally, hire a professional photographer with a wide-angle lens to make the practice look as spacious and attractive as possible. (Pro tip: wedding photographers are skilled at taking portraits of people, and they are easy to book from November through April.)
If a professional photographer isn't in your budget right now, why not try having someone take the images with their phone? These cameras take decent pictures, and there's certainly less pressure to take a pro-quality image for social media channels, where people are accustomed to seeing more approachable shots.
This might be the trickiest part, actually. Schedule the photoshoot for a time when the practice is typically quiet - maybe a Friday afternoon - or arrange for everyone to come in one evening or on the weekend for a couple of hours. (If you take the photos while the practice is open for business, be sure not to get any real patients in the shots without them signing a release.)
Designate a staffer to keep everyone organized so your team knows exactly what to wear (and has enough notice to show up freshly washed and combed). Make sure everyone understands they need to be present for the photos so the photographer can take everyone's photos all at once.
We're talking, of course, about your shot list - the list of all the photos you want to make sure to capture. Know ahead of time what you'd like to shoot, including any special technology or particular procedures, so nothing gets missed.
When it comes to taking photos of your team, you might want to skip a big group photo if you have a high turnover rate. Otherwise, when a staffer leaves, you might not want to use that photo anymore. (This is why many dental practices choose to only feature photos of their dentists and show the rest of their team in candids that can be easily removed if necessary.)
Empty practice photos can look sterile and cold, so we always suggest including staff members to liven things up. Ask friends or family members to pretend to be "patients" in the photos and suggest natural-looking set-ups like reviewing X-rays or chatting at the front desk. Natural light is ideal, but switch on every light to make sure it looks warm and inviting.
To learn more about marketing your dental practice, contact us.