Stock images or ‘real’ pictures? Medenta Business Development Manager, Shelley Clegg, states the case for using real people instead of models.
Websites are the shop front of a practice so it’s understandable that owners want theirs to look attractive. Which is probably why some practices are tempted to use idealised stock photos to illustrate the services they offer. All these images will be perfectly lit with immaculate composition and poses. The people in them will look great and will appear as if they’re really enjoying their experience. However, they are inauthentic, and people can spot inauthenticity a mile off.
Stock photos, by their nature, are not unique. They are available to anyone who wants to pay to use them. And some of them are very popular. There is a particular image of a dentist that has been used on dozens of dental practices’ websites. Either he gets about a bit, or it’s a stock image!
The whole purpose of including images on your website is to try to give potential patients an idea of what your practice is really like. There will be plenty of practices that offer the same, or similar treatments and services to yours. And as more practices make the transition from NHS to private practice, the market is becoming more crowded making it harder to stand out. If you’re also using the same stock images that 10 other practices are using, patients can be forgiven for believing you’re all the same. So why should they choose you?
Stand out from the crowd
What makes your practice different from the others is you and your team. The atmosphere you create, and your values are what really make your practice unique. And it’s that uniqueness that you want to convey through your website. Ideally any images and videos you include will give prospective patients a genuine impression not only of your premises, but of your team.
Your website is your opportunity to let people know what you’re all about. Somewhere you can tell your stories and show people what makes you different. If you’re celebrating an anniversary, a birthday or an award then share it on your website and social media channels. But use authentic images and video of you and your team.
With all the access problems patients are experiencing, more people than ever are opting to sign up to membership plans. They want the security of knowing they will be able to get the care they want for their oral health. If they’ve joined your plan, why not help to make them feel like members of your practice rather than just your plan?
If you support local or national charities, publish photos of what you’ve been doing. If a team member sat in a bath of baked beans for Children in Need, publish the photos. If you all completed a sponsored walk, show the world the pictures of you all looking tired but triumphant. Help patients to feel part of the practice by showing them who you really are.
Small effort for big reward
There’s little doubt that stock images take less effort than using genuine photos of your practice and team. However, spending the time and a little money on professional-looking headshots of everyone, as well as some pictures to show off your practice’s own unique style will pay dividends in setting you apart from other practices.
Showcase your welcoming reception area and your comfy lounge. If you offer complimentary drinks, then make sure they’re in your photos too. This is your chance to convey some of the atmosphere and personality of your practice, so make the most of it.
Video testimonials featuring some of your genuine patients can be another great way of showing off your practice. It says a lot about a business if their customers are prepared to recommend them and short videos can bolster the effects of any written ones you may have.
Review the patient journey
While you’re thinking about how to present your practice online why not take the opportunity to take a wider look at your patient journey as a whole? Are there aspects that could be improved? Is a fresh lick of paint needed? Is your furniture up to scratch? Are there any small touches you could introduce, such as personalised treatment plans or practice branded retainer cases. Do you ensure your patients are always escorted to and from the reception desk?
Not everything that adds value has to cost money. So, put yourself in the position of a patient and ask yourself whether your patient journey meets your expectations. If it does, try to think of ways you can exceed them. To quote the American writer, Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Concentrate on making your patients feel special.
You and you team are your unique selling points. Allow patients to get to know you better and get a glimpse of how you’ll make them feel special by ditching the impersonal stock photos and showing the real you. After all, you are the people they want to interact with, not a model. Be proud of your practice and show it off.