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Trojan Today Classic: “Dr Who?” by Jill Townsend

I see it all the time in the course of my work as a copywriter, often for dental websites: the “About The Doctor” page says “Coming Soon” or has a picture of Dr. Who with no other information. I’m always tempted to pick up the phone and encourage Dr. Who to complete the bio, because the About the Dentist page is the first page potential patients read, before they look anywhere else. 

People who are looking for a dental provider want to know about you as a human being before making any kind of financial and/or emotional investment in you or your practice. They assume you’re good at your job and will only delve deeper into your qualifications after learning more about you as a person. Having a blank About page, or a picture with no other information, is a huge waste of a valuable and free marketing and ‘bonding’ opportunity. I’ve heard all the main reasons you don’t have a bio, or almost as common, have one but haven’t updated it since you left dental school.

  1. I don’t have time.
  2. I don’t know how to update my website.
  3. I’m not sure what to say.
  4. I’m not comfortable with my writing skills.
  5. I’m not comfortable including personal information.
  6. I don’t have a current photo of myself that I like.

I understand every one of these points, but I’m still not letting you off the hook. You have to get it done anyway, so let’s look at how you can do it. 

#1:   If you don’t have time, hire someone. I write hundreds of bios every year, including many dental bios. There are lots of other professional writers out there who can help, as well as someone you may know who enjoys writing. 

#2:   If you don’t know how to update your website, have one of your team members call your website provider to find out how it’s done. Most likely they will offer to do it for you at minimal cost or show you how to do it yourself. 

#3:  If you’re not sure what to say, look at other bios on other websites; find one you like; and do something similar. There are also loads of online resources to help.

#4:  If you’re not comfortable with your writing skills, you’re certainly not alone. I hear this statement over and over again in the course of writing bios for people from all walks of life and all levels of education. Some of us like to write and some don’t; it has nothing to do with talent or skill. So, as with a lack of time, if you are not comfortable writing your own bio, hire someone to do it for you. 

#5:  Including personal information is often a stumbling block, but it’s crucial element in your bio when potential patients are looking to establish a sense of trust and empathy with you as a person. I’m not talking about your income, where you live, or where you vacation, but I would like to know you enjoy snowboarding, or zip lining, or ventriloquism. I’d like to know about your family, but again, it does not have to be intrusive. 

For instance: 

“Dr. Who is an avid cyclist and amateur ventriloquist. He and his wife [use Name or not] have three pre-teen children, a dog, two cats, and a parakeet named Moe.”

Or, if you prefer not to reference your relationship status, this would “Dr. Who has three pre-teen children and enjoys cycling and honing his ventriloquism skills. The family has a dog, two cats, and a parakeet named Moe.”

Whatever your personal circumstances, there is a way of writing about it in your bio that does not violate your privacy or that of your family. 

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to include more personal details if it feels right. Do be careful with statements like this: “Dr. Who and his wife have been married 22 years,” or “Dr. Who has three children ages 8, 10, and 11.” It’s better to say, “Dr. Who and his wife/husband married in 2004 and have three pre-teen children.” This alleviates the need to update your bio every time there is an anniversary or birthday in your family. 

#6:  Photos are often a bone of contention, but they are very important, especially for the Provider(s). If you don’t have one you like, hire a professional photographer to come to your next staff meeting or on a day you are not seeing patients. Make sure to include your team.

Team Who?

The second reason you must have bios on your website is that right after the potential new patient reads your bio, s/he moves on to About Our Team. Who are they? What are their names? What can I learn about them that makes me feel good about coming to your office?

I understand why this can be difficult. The most common objections are: 

Objection #1: “My Office Manager / Dental Assistant /Dental Hygienist doesn’t want their photo or personal information on our website.”

Team bios don’t have to be long; in fact, if one or two paragraphs is the best you can do, that’s fine. Something is better than nothing, assuming the bios are well-written.

Objection #2: What if Amanda / Brad / Chris leaves?” Of course, in the real world people do come and go. Since you now know how to update your website, this should make adding or deleting bios a minor issue. 

Objection #3: “I don’t want my personal details online.” In that case, how about a first name only, or a first name and one letter of the last name, i.e. Shelly M? On the other hand, there may be very good reasons to keep someone’s information private, and if that’s the case, that’s fine. Your goal is to put your best foot forward, not twist arms.

Objection #4: “I don’t like pictures of myself.”

I understand. Reassure your team that you will use only photos of them that they approve. Allow them to use a photo they like, even if not taken at your office. It should not, however, be more than a few years old. (That’s cheating!) And no grainy, faded or barely visible pictures either. You’re running a top-notch operation here, after all. 

Remember, your overall goal is to make potential patients comfortable with, and excited about, your practice. Bios are an excellent way to do just that, and the time and cost to produce them is minimal. Even better, once you have bios and photos you can use them in loads of other places — Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Yelp, etc. 

Jill Townsend is a professional copywriter and author of the e-books, “How to Write a Great Bio” and “How to Write a Great Dental Bio.” She has worked in the marketing and consulting industry for more than 30 years, including a 12-year period in the United Kingdom, serving as the Director of Marketing and Product Development for a multi-national direct mail company. She now provides copywriting and design services for small business clients across the country, both in and outside of dentistry. 

FMI: www.writeagreatbio.com