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David Letterman was certainly onto something.
No, he didn’t invent the Top 10 list, but he gave it a unique spin and made it wildly popular.
You may not be the next Letterman, but you can take advantage of the power of lists in your dental marketing.
People like numbered lists for several reasons. One reason is that lists offer an advantage in recalling information. Lists can also be used to provide a series of logical steps. And the third reason is that lists are easy to read because they spread information out on the page.
From a practical standpoint, lists of 3 to 1o items are probably best. Our short-term memories can usually handle up to 9 items of information at one time. There’s more than one reason why Social Security numbers are nine digits.
Of course, telephone numbers are 10 digits, but most of us use a strategy called “chunking” to handle those. We can try to recall a phone number as 8-0-0-5-5-5-2-1-1-4, or we can break it down into fewer “chunks” of information: 800-555-21-14.
Your lists, whether they’re reasons to brush and floss, not-so-fun facts about dental caries, or the advantages of implants, should present information in discrete “chunks.” Use short sentences with easy-to-understand terms for each numbered item. You can follow up with one or two equally short sentences of explanation.
You can and should make your item “descriptors” catchy and memorable. For instance, the information in the paragraph above should look something like this in list form:
- Chunk it down.
- Keep it short.
- Make it easy to understand.
- Follow up with more.
Lists can work very well in advertising (“Reasons to Choose XYZ Dental Practice”), in informative social media posts, in e-newsletters, and even in white papers on various dental problems and solutions.
That may go against everything you read and were taught in dental school. But keep in mind that every bit of your marketing is aimed at attracting people who aren’t dental professionals. Instead of being presented with a “wall of text,” they’d much rather receive something that’s easy to read, easy to understand, and interesting.
Lists are common, they’re accepted, and they’re even expected in many cases. And, thanks in large part to Letterman’s efforts, it’s okay to add humor to your lists, even on some (not all) serious dental subjects, to give them even more impact.
Reasons Not to Brush and Floss
- “Hey, no teeth, no cavities!”
- “That plaque’s just going to come back anyway.”
- “I hear that yellow is the new white.”
- “Dental implants are way cooler than my natural teeth.”
- “I’ve been thinking about giving up hard foods.”
- “My girlfriend really likes the gap-toothed look.”
- “I’m tired of chewing.”
- “Brushing makes my gums bleed.”
- “I’ll probably lose weight with no teeth.”
- “Smiling is overrated.”
All your marketing is focused on giving prospective patients reasons to choose you to solve their dental problems. To influence them to do exactly that, give them what they want… even if it’s a Top 10 list.