Every year, many dentists spend huge amounts of money on photography and videography for use in their marketing. The dentists making these investments followed the advice of marketing experts and leaders in dentistry. Many wonder why some websites without custom photography are outperforming their websites. Competitors with websites loaded with stock photography are winning, and that stings for dentists who have invested thousands of dollars in custom photos and video.

Closeup of a camera lense

Does Your Imagery Show Your Customer and Your Product?

Launch your website right now. If you changed all of the text to Latin and showed it to someone at a local coffee shop, what would they guess your business was? For many, the guesses would sound like, “Mmm, I dunno. An architect?” Or “A law firm maybe?”

Why is this? If you look at the websites of even the most high-end brands, they usually achieve two goals:

  1. They show the product or service
  2. They show the customer using the product or service

We tend to think of non-dental website design as very different from dentist website design, but the consumers of these services are usually the same people. They use the same internet. Consequently, the things that work on one website will typically work on the next IF they are adapted to the services that a dentist offers.

Now check out the Louis Vuitton website: https://us.louisvuitton.com/eng-us/homepage

Fashionistas get to make a statement with an artsy banner. Dentists who want a website that converts don’t have the same latitude but that’s another blog post. Keep scrolling and you’ll see an image of a Louis Vuitton product worn by an attractive person. There are many images of their products but on almost every page, you’ll see a photo of a human being using their product. These are custom images ー not stock photography. However, they are custom images of their product worn by a model representing their customer’s ideal self. These models look great and the product looks great on their bodies.

When your custom imagery is of your office, it misses the goals of custom imagery. The goal of a photoshoot at your office should be to help the patient envision what their smile can look like. Subjects in the photos should be very attractive people with great teeth. The fact that the shoot is happening in your office is almost irrelevant. The key pieces are good-looking people with great teeth.

If you’re worried this will make your office seem unapproachable or too “high end”, and think “my average patient doesn’t look like a model, so why would I want a model on my website?” then you’re not getting in the customer’s head. A prospective patient is not going to come to you because they are totally self-actualized and are happy with their smile. They have a problem. They may truly like how they look, but an attractive smiling person on your website will still entice them. It shows that your office is safe and gets the job done. If the model (or actual patient) on your website looks happy at your office, then the prospective patient is more likely to believe the claims on your website that you can solve their problems.

The custom photography of your front office or dental chairs really only belongs in an office tour or perhaps in the background of a contact form. Patients don’t hunt for a dental office based on how cool or luxurious your office build-out or remodel looks. Sure, when they walk into your office, it will feel good to them that they haven’t walked into a dump of an office. But that’s a first impression that happens after they contact you. Before then, they will subconsciously assume that any dentist they choose should have a clean and modern office.

Great office furniture doesn’t sell life-changing dentistry online. Terrific smiles sell life-changing dentistry.

Looking through the viewport of a digital camera, showing a woman brushing her hair behind her ears

Transformative Dentistry Deserves a Story

Your photography should punctuate the headers and supporting content of your website. It should all flow together to tell the story of the patient’s journey from hurting, broken, and dissatisfied to happy, whole, and confident. Focus on TMJ or sleep? It’s the same thing only instead of wholeness of self-image, you’re selling physical wellness and quality of life. Those things need to show up in your imagery. Chances are if you spent the money on a custom photo shoot or an assortment of office videos, those elements are missing.

Many dental marketing experts threw stock photography under the bus in order to sell websites that included a video shoot. I’m sorry, but that’s the honest truth. Some very well-known dentists who have household names in their markets (or more likely are just popular in their dental communities) invested in custom photography and built sexy websites. Many dentists followed their lead and continue to do so years later. Unfortunately, these dentists who emulated the well-known dentists aren’t as well-known in their markets.

Dr. Michael Apa has invested unfathomable amounts of time and money in building a luxury brand that caught the attention of affluent New Yorkers and individuals the world over. Almost every dentist knows who he is. People who go to his website aren’t going there to learn about dentistry. Because of the advice of their friend, family member, or perhaps even another dentist, they’ve already decided to use him assuming that they can afford him. He is literally selling “The Apa Experience”. You can’t successfully market your practice that way, Doctor ー not unless you’ve been interviewed by Vogue magazine and many others.

Still, even Dr. Apa’s website shows a ceramist hard at work on the Apa Aesthetics product, and the cover of Vogue is showing off his clientele. The aspiration of a dissatisfied woman trying to improve her looks is there on his homepage. His website offers to transform your life with dentistry. His brand adds some excitement to it too by offering you the opportunity to visit his offices in New York, LA, or Dubai, but that’s secondary.

By the way, stock photography can mess this up too. If your office doesn’t show smiling people and instead shows a skyline of your city, that coffee shop customer looking at your website at a glance is likely to either again guess “law firm?” or perhaps “some sort of tour guide service?” Local photography doesn’t belong on your website without a specific purpose such as showing what your building looks like next to a map and address.

Transformative dentistry deserves great imagery, stock or not, that shows the kind of beautiful smile that a patient can get at your office. It doesn’t have to be a boring headshot. In fact, it should be of someone loving life. They can be at the dental office, but do they need to be? Wouldn’t you rather be spending time with family and friends? Show someone smiling with confidence at a social gathering. That’s what your ideal patient is probably missing. Let them know that they can get that quality of life boost at your office.

Update Your Website ASAP

If you’ve been wondering why you can’t get more new patient leads from your website, you’re probably missing one of two things:

  1. Traffic to your website that comes from visibility
  2. Imagery and calls to action that invite patients into a story

If you think you may be missing both of those things, address the second problem first. Google can tell whether or not people like your website and whether or not they click on buttons like ‘Request Appointment’. So while you should invest in SEO and Google Ads, you first need to update your website design. This way, your investment in improved traffic will be more likely to convert into prospective patient inquiries. It could also indirectly improve your organic rankings and reduce your cost per lead as Google starts to see your website as the best dental website in your area.

Don’t waste another day hoping that people will be impressed by your office decor or that having your own patients on your website will somehow look better to patients than the sexy models on your competitor’s website. If your website doesn’t offer the patient an opportunity to solve their problems and become a better, ideal version of themselves, you’ll struggle to get the phone to ring. Call Pro Impressions Marketing today at (970) 672-1212. We can help you update your website and set you on the path toward success.