Video Marketing in Orthodontics by Dr. Duncan Brown

Categories: Marketing;
Video Marketing in Orthodontics 

Reaching today’s patients requires more than a website

by Dr. Duncan Brown

Video is a vastly underutilized tool in orthodontics, perhaps as a result of the clinical focus of most orthodontists. Given that Dr. David Sarver highlighted the value of video in capturing dynamic smile records in clinical practice more than two decades ago,1 it is surprising that video has not penetrated more deeply into common orthodontic clinical practice. Perhaps we are looking at video the wrong way.

Video drives social media
For our aesthetic dentistry colleagues, video has extended far beyond its use in clinical practice and also become a key tool in marketing the benefits and services of aesthetic dentistry.2

That video is a primary tool in emotional engagement is well recognized in the social media marketing community; posts with videos gain more viewers, retain interest longer and are more likely to drive consumers to purchase decisions than posts containing only text or images. Using video marketing to close the gap between interactions that are primarily “transactional” and those that are primarily “relational” can add value and differentiation opportunities for orthodontists.3

Dr. Tom Pitts and I believe orthodontists would do well to adopt marketing strategies based on “potential, process and results” within a heavy social media presence and an engaging, informative website. When combined with a highly visible, embracing professional presence in the dental community,4 this approach can secure a dominant competitive position, regardless of the economic situation, and independence from the “lower fee” pressures that many of us face.

When orthodontists augment their imaging/video activities and apply them in a manner that is more efficient—appearing different and valuable in the eyes of the patient and simultaneously embracing and educating the greater dental community5— their practices thrive. This article will offer suggestions to help flatten the adoption curve and position your practice to fully leverage the benefits of video marketing.

4 major principles for videos

1. Use “consumer-directed” video marketing strategies that also embrace the dental community. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing remains the prime component.6 The important shift toward internal marketing—rather than traditional “muffin run” external marketing focused on primary care dentists, or experience-focused marketing strategies that concentrate on office décor or experiences7—is a good one, in our view.

Including the dental community as potential consumers of our services is a key contributor to long-term practice success. Few primary care dentists know what contemporary aesthetic-based orthodontics is capable of delivering. Promoting the orthodontists’ professional participation within the sphere of collaborative dentistry is an often-overlooked component of contemporary DTC marketing approaches. Generally, the dental community is not that well informed, and is attracted to similar messaging as potential patients, so a video marketing strategy that engages both groups makes a lot of sense.

Given that 80% of social media marketing uses visual assets, 82% of consumer internet traffic contains video, and Google owns YouTube, the focus on video should not be surprising,

2. Let your actions be your marketing. Authenticity—an important and valued characteristic to consumers—is easily captured in video. Making images and video an integral part of everyday office processes not only provides an endless stream of media but also supports the practice’s aesthetic brand and relational office culture.

Hardware can be as simple as a smartphone and gimbal stabilizer, while software specifically designed for posting social media is readily available, easy to use and inexpensive. These tools are best used to capture short, 15-to-30-second videos of office events, patient testimonials, and treatment progress or results. These posts bolster the relationship between patient and practice, and increase the interest in social media content.

When orthodontists augment their current imaging/video activities, apply them in an efficient manner that makes them appear different and valuable in the eyes of the patient, and simultaneously embrace and educate the greater dental community, their practices will thrive.

3. Hire talent, because you have only a few seconds to capture interest and retain it. DIY video can take you only so far, however. To create and edit content that is more complex than short video soundbites, hire a professional videographer. The hardware and software required to produce professional-grade video is expensive and time-consuming to master; fortunately, most companies that offer this service will provide good value for the money invested.

Remember, nobody knows your practice and the image/culture you wish to convey through social media better than you do. Professionals experienced with video storytelling will ask a lot of questions or conduct a survey to make sure the media you receive reflects the values and image you wish to create,

4. Tell stories people want to hear. We discourage “red ocean” marketing strategies, which link price with commodity, in radio and TV ads because viewer interest is quickly lost and differentiation is minimal.

Very often when speaking to orthodontists about video marketing, we hear, “Great idea, but what do you talk about?” One of the greatest barriers to entry when considering video marketing is trying to identify storylines that differentiate the practice from the competition while capturing the attention of the audience.

We believe what you’re saying is less important than whom you’re saying it to, so focus storytelling on the orthodontic process as the patient experiences it. Placing the patient as the “hero” in the narrative—as seen in the post in Fig. 1—provides a wonderful opportunity for emotional connection.

Video Marketing in Orthodontics
Fig. 1

Acclaimed mythologist Joseph Campbell identified and described the stages in a classic adventure “hero journey,” a classic storyline common to all human endeavors and appreciated by every audience.8 (It formulated the storyline for George Lucas’ Star Wars movie franchise, for one.) Orthodontic treatment is the patient’s hero journey and our practices are fi led with potential stories—if we know how to tell them.

Deliver the right story at the right time
Understanding the stages of personal engagement and the timing of decision-making processes allows orthodontists to tell stories patients perceive as valuable in making the emotional purchase decision at the stage they are ready to appreciate them. Addressing these hot buttons within the office systems and processes increases perceived value of our services and makes us more available to potential and existing patients.

To find you—and believe you can deliver the desired results—potential patients must first be aware of the possibilities. Awareness stage video content, designed to capture attention, should be short, catchy, memorable and directed toward the most common concerns patients voice. Research indicates posts that display before-and-after treatment images or video, or demonstrate professional expertise, have higher impact on gaining future patients than posts that display content about the practice team members’ family or social lives.9

Community involvement and service is highly valued by prospective patients, so images/videos that support the practice’s personal and community reputation are important to include in social media posts. Links to more detailed information, meanwhile, allow access to richer content that viewers can review for further consideration.

As prospects become more serious, they enter the consideration stage of engagement; video content that is fuller, richer and highly personalized to address patient questions is suggested. Links to content that are specific to the orthodontic practice team, and what to expect at the first visit, are important touch points. A call to action about scheduling an appointment at the office should direct patients to the website and phone number to make that first contact, or provide an email address to allow “permission marketing” of materials related directly to individual inquiries (the “click funnel” approach).

The decision stage of engagement usually occurs after the prospective patient has attended the office, and requires that they like you, trust both you and the process, and commit to proceed with treatment. Video content that supports the image of a highly competent, likeable and ethical practice is valuable at this stage—collecting, assessing and presenting information differently, in a “speak less and show more” examination process. Emotional touch points are supported visually through the use of before-and-after visual presentations of cases similar to the patient’s, delivered via the context of storylines to the prospective patient during the exam and on in-office TV streamed content.

For adults, enabling technology such as SmileCloud or SmileFy that presents a visual aesthetic objective to the prospective patient is very impactful. Engaging the patient in the planning process, establishing the aesthetic benefits of white and pink tissue adjustments and validating case management techniques (SAP bracket position, ILSE, disarticulation) differentiate the practice and the approach.

As the patient proceeds into and through treatment, the engagement goal is to support and encourage them while continually validating their decision to proceed. This retention stage of engagement is frequently a missed opportunity in a social media campaign. Social media posts enable your patients to thrive and to support and promote your aesthetic brand within the community, ensuring a continual inflow of like-minded patients seeking the same quality of results and services. “Process” and “progress” marketing media approaches are ideal during this stage.

Some simple strategies can help orthodontists hone their processes so they acquire, then market, engaging materials through social media during treatment and retention.4 The effort involved in taking “every appointment” photography and patient videos describing their experience will be rewarded by an endless amount of quality content for social media.

5 story strategies to use during the “hero journey”
Video testimonials: A very powerful conversational tool. These messages encourage confidence in the office. “Lifechanging” experiences and “Wow”-worthy results are very easy to incorporate in short social media posts.

Explainer videos: These content pieces are a good place for the neophyte to start. Explaining in a conversational tone why you do what you do is a wonderful way to personalize complex treatment strategies in layperson language and provides the opportunity for viewers to hear it in your own voice. There is tremendous differentiation and value in demystifying common procedures for patients!

Culture/vibe videos: As patients seek emotional connection with people in the office, videos that display office culture and people are very compelling.

Experience videos: Patient apprehension can be relieved by video content that shows what they can expect during visits or procedures.

Biographic videos:
Doctor or team biographies are very commonly presented in a text format, but videos personalize the experience.

Is your practice ready?
Patients and potential referral sources value orthodontic providers who have stellar reputations, an elevated visual presence online and elsewhere, and present enhanced skills, proven “Wow!”-worthy results, and an aesthetic style and practice environment. Success today depends on going beyond the metric of outstanding clinical skills, and this new reality provides a wonderful opportunity for differentiation.

We are often asked about the challenges in implementing an “aesthetic differentiation strategy” into the practice. A detailed, organized approach focuses on the details. The good news is that the work does not necessarily require an external consultant, and makes a very rewarding team project. Where external consultation is needed, it will be both more effective and less costly the better your understanding of the desired outcomes.

In the final analysis, establishing positive differentiation within your community is priceless, and well worth the effort.
Social media posts: The ultimate short story
Video Marketing in Orthodontics

The anatomy of a successful social media post contains:

  • Title: Short and catchy.
  • Media: Either photography or, preferably, video.
  • Company logo: Small and tastefully presented.
  • Text: Covers no more than 20% of the image.
  • Call to action: Encourages the viewer to the next stage of discovery.
  • Links: For more information or contact.
  • Hashtags: To increase viewership and SEO standings.

1. Sarver DM, Ackerman MB. “Dynamic Smile Visualization and Quantification: Part 1. Evolution of the Concept and Dynamic Records for Smile Capture.” Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2003 Jul; 124(1): 4–12.
2. Coachman C. “The Digital Smile Design Concept,” digitalsmiledesign. com, 2022.
3. Geier J. “Cultural Relevance.” Orthotown 2021 Jun; 14(6): 44–7.
4. Pitts T, Brown D. “Esthetics: Results, Process, and Possibility- Based Marketing.” The Protocol 2019 V10:6–14.
5. Brown D. “Images and Video: A Key Process in Differentiation To Thrive.” PCSO Bulletin Summer 2021: 75–9.
6. Kravitz ND, Bowman, SJ. “A Paradigm Shift in Orthodontic Marketing.” Seminars in Orthodontics 2016; 22(4); 297–300.
7. Meghna V, Nikhilesh V, Dhaval F, Meeali S. “Integrating ‘Experience Economy’ Into Orthodontic Practice Management: A Current Perspective on Internal Marketing.” Seminars in Orthodontics 2016; 22(4):301–9.
8. Livni E. “This Classic Formula Can Show YOU How To Live More Heroically.”, 2022.
9. Meira TM, Prestes J, Gasparello GG, Antelo OM, Pithon MM, Tanaka OM. “The Effects of Images Posted to Social Media by Orthodontists on Public Perception of Professional Credibility and Willingness To Become a Client.” Prog Orthod. 2021 Mar 8;22(1):7.

Author Bio
Duncan Brown Dr. Duncan Brown, who has practiced orthodontics for 45 years, has offices in Calgary, Canmore and Okotoks, all in Alberta. Brown is an associate clinical professor at the University of Alberta and served as a guest lecturer at the University of Manitoba, the University of British Columbia and the University of Western Ontario. He is a coauthor of "The Protocol," a broadly circulated publication on the subject of passive self-ligation. He has served as a consultant for P&G, Carestream Dental, G&H Wires, Ormco and OC Orthodontics.

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