Could COVID-19 be the catalyst for the uptick in cosmetic dentistry services?
The first time most people hear their recorded voice, they are usually shocked and often disappointed that the voice they hear in their head doesn’t match the one others are hearing. If you’ve ever seen yourself on TV or in a video, you may have had a similar reaction. We all have some concept of how we look to others that almost never matches reality. And today, many of us are getting a larger dose of this now that the pandemic has caused most work meetings and many social events to be conducted online rather than in person. When we log into an online meeting, clothing, jewelry, body language—all those accessories that help communicate our true selves to others—are stripped away. It’s now all about the face, which means that, in large part, it’s also about the smile.
We have all become much more aware of how we appear to others, as we are now being forced to see our faces reflected back at us from our computer screens. Of course, everyone wants to project confidence and competence at work. However, when we’re reduced to relying only on our facial features to do so, when we previously had so much more to work with, we begin to scrutinize things like our teeth and smile more intensely, perhaps noticing flaws that we previously weren’t aware of or simply ignored.
In fact, there is a reason that the people we see on TV or in films have perfect teeth, even the villains and vagrants. Actors understand that their smile will potentially be seen by millions and can profoundly affect their chances of getting jobs. With the way our daily work practices have evolved during the time of COVID-19, we non-actors are becoming more aware of this, as we are focusing on our faces more than ever. Whether we land the project, get the raise, or seem like we are up to the task at hand, in some way depends on how we look, which includes how straight, even and white our teeth are. This phenomenon may explain why, at a time when many practices are seeing a drop in appointments for hygiene or routine procedures, cosmetic dentistry is trending upwards.
If a dental practice offers treatments like clear aligners, teeth whitening, veneers and other cosmetic treatments, it is in an excellent position to leverage the current increased interest in cosmetic dental treatments that business professionals, young and old, are exhibiting. Using specific language, or marketing copy, that resonates with this target audience can help drive patients in the door. For instance, a practice could launch a multichannel campaign centered around “brightening up your smile for the camera” or prompting patients who are now working from home to use the time they previously spent commuting to and from the office to come into the dentist for a smile makeover. Along those lines, the campaign could remind patients that they are likely spending less on wardrobe, gas and other items these days, and now can invest in the smile of their dreams. In essence, there are a number of ways that a dental practice can get in front of patients who are great candidates for cosmetic dentistry services.
The situation created by the current pandemic may end soon or may continue long term. If a practice wants to take advantage of the increased motivation for improving smiles brought about by the current video conferencing trend, now is the time to consider a marketing campaign focused on their pain points and how to resolve them. Framing cosmetic dentistry services such as clear aligners as an essential investment in a person’s most important asset rather than a mere luxury could convince even the most reluctant patient.
If a practice already has patients in a similar situation (i.e. now working from home, video conferencing all the time) who have undergone treatments, asking those patients to share their stories on video can attract others like them. Before and after photos are also an excellent way to target this growing audience of potential patients. Photos and videos can be posted on social media, the practice’s homepage, sent to existing patients in an email and featured in blog posts to drive the message home to the target market and reinforce the idea that treatment is an investment rather than an expense.
Equally important to the process is making sure team members are aware of this new trend and ensuring they are well-versed in how to explain benefits to patients who inquire. Since the office staff is often the first point of contact for the patient, staff members should understand how to best follow up on inquiries and “sell” consultations, which will potentially lead to new treatments.
While the pandemic may have temporarily reduced the volume of active patients at a given practice, it may also be offering a terrific opportunity for the practice to emphasize its expertise in providing cosmetic dentistry services, especially clear aligners. Now that patients are forced to look at themselves on screen in meetings and at social events, even if they are leaving the house less often, their appearance is still quite important to their daily routine. Their smiles have become more of a focal point, and dental practices are in the perfect position to benefit from this shift in priorities.