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*Free* - Still the Winner in Dental Advertising

Jun 21, 2008
I often get asked by clients and others, "Isn't the word 'free' overused in advertising and isn't there a better word, and doesn't it attract the 'wrong' type of patient?"

Wow... That was a mouthful.

I can attest to the word *free* being the most powerful word in the English language, when it comes to advertising.

Why? I use it all the time and I find, when it's left out, results drop.

Listen, anytime you can offer something of value, for free, to get more people reading your ad, do it!

As you might imagine, there are some rules to follow. Here are a few for you to keep in mind:

1.) Message-to-Market Match: Free "Thing" has to be relevant to the prospects receiving it. Often best if they (the prospect) has requested it. (Lead Generation Advertising - getting prospects to raise their hand and then delivering a laser-focused sales message).

2.) Message-to-Media Match: Free "Thing" has to be advertised in media choice (mail, radio, TV, etc.) that is relevant to targeted prospective patients.

3.) "Thing" being offered is of value.

4.) Tight deadline to respond.

5.) Preponderance of proof (i.e. Testimonials).

There are other rules, but this is the starting point. Usually, a *free* offer will out-pull an offer associated with a cost of some kind. However, if the service or product being delivered is of high-perceived value, prospects generally suspects there'll be a hook of some kind in order to get the free thing advertised.

I like using *free* in situations like this: Buy 1, Get 1 FREE! Or, I also like: "FREE Exam and X-rays with simple cleaning."

So, in short, no, it's not overused. Prudent use generally leads to profitable use. In my book, there isn't a better word, unless it's the prospect's first name (e.g. Bob, Call Today for a FREE _____.).

Does it attract the "wrong" type of patient? Heavens, NO!

We attract new clients to our advertising practice every single day of the week utilizing, and I believe prudently and smartly so, the word *free*. You, if you're reading this, you are EXACTLY the type of client we like... So, in my world, *free* is a very good word and it attracts the type of clients we want... based on demographics, need, and location.

Human nature has been coded to respond to *free*. I'm not sure why, but it just has been. Even smarty pants MBA-types who've had it drilled into their heads, and who supposedly know better (there's never a free lunch, right?) respond.

My conclusion: Use it wisely and as often as you can.
About the Author
James Erickson is the President of EMC Dental Marketing which gives Dentists a resource for turn-key dental marketing programs and dental practice marketing education including new patient attraction, and internal marketing systems. Visit www.EMCdental.com and get a free practice
building kit sent directly to your home or office.
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