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Marketing Tips for Dentists
Published by Galen Stilson
Direct Response Copywriter/Consultant
Dental Marketing a specialty


How To OvercomE Prospect Inertia

One of the main problems all response advertisers face, regardless of the product or service they are selling, is that of prospect inertia.

Most people when reading your ad are either at home sitting in their favorite chair, resting and relaxing, or scanning it during a work break.   They are seldom in a mood to -- or situation where they can easily -- take any kind of immediate action. 

    Sounds bleak, doesn't it?

BUT, there are ways to encourage prospect action ... ways to convince the prospect to get to a phone now ... or at least cause him or her to make a mental note of your offer so they can respond later.

Here are a few tactics that will help you overcome prospect inertia ...

>> FREE -- Offer a FREE, No Charge, Complimentary initial appointment or consultation or whatever you want to call it.  In a future issue I'll detail the appropriate use of the FREE offer, but for this discussion, suffice it to say that the opportunity to meet you, assess you and your staff, and listen to what you have to say -- without risking money -- is especially appealing to consumers.

>> SUGGESTIVE COPY --  Simply adding suggestive copy like "Call Now" or "Don't Wait" will have an influence on some people.  It nudges them to "respond."  You may question this, but in a number of tests, the simple addition of suggestive copy has improved response.

Think about it.  People often need a nudge -- a little push -- to make a decision ... especially regarding a decision they might not consider currently crucial.  Command copy often gives them that nudge on a subconscious level.

>> SUGGESTIVE GRAPHICS -- Including a photo or illustration of a phone next to the phone number ... or a photo of a person talking on the phone ... subconsciously *suggests* to the reader that s/he should pick up the phone and call.

>> TIME LIMIT -- If you offer a discounted price (or freebie) on a valuable service, put a time limit on it.  The shorter the time limit, the better the initial response ... usually.   Including a specific this-offer-ends-on date usually works better than simply stating, "This offer is time limited," or something similar. 

However, if you don't want to put a specific time limit on it, then you should still use something like:  "Don't wait.  This offer is limited.  If you wait you may miss out."  (Don't misunderstand, I'm not proposing that you discount fees in your ads.  I'm generally against it except for free initial appointments and necessity due to practice location and competitive situations.)

>> NUMBER LIMIT -- Just like a time limit, a numbers limit causes people to respond more quickly so as not to miss out.  For example, let's say you wanted to use teeth whitening as discounted service to attract new patients.  You might state in the ad that the first 25 people to respond will get it at the discounted price.

What happens if 50 people were to ultimately respond?  Your call.  You may just give all of them the discount.

>> TELL IT LIKE IT IS --  If you are featuring a specific dental problem in your ad which, if not treated, will result in damage to the prospect's teeth and/or overall health, incorporate copy which clearly highlights that possibility.

Don't beat the prospect over the head with it, but do tell them that "recent studies have clearly shown that gum disease increases the likelihood of heart problems," or "bleeding gums is a pre-warning of forthcoming pain if not treated."    Fear motivates some people.

Will use of one or more of these inertia-breaking tactics ensure that prospects reading your ad will drop everything and call?

Nope ... not all prospects.  Probably not most.  But some.

Just as important, it will help your ad stand out in their mind ... which means you're more likely to get a call when the prospect is in the mood and suitable situation to respond.

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 Copyright 2006 by Galen Stilson. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.