Waiting room TV advice – the dos and the don’ts

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Dan Durie, CEO of attention marketing specialists Smilevision, shares some tips on how to make the most of waiting room TV advertising.

A TV in your waiting room is an excellent way to promote the full range of treatments and services you can offer to patients. It’s a great way to communicate when they are in a receptive frame of mind.

An opportunity you can’t afford to waste

Patients generally arrive early for appointments with a typical dwell time of around 15 minutes in your waiting room.

You have a captive audience in an environment free of distractions. And where the subject of their dental health is also likely to be near the front of their thoughts.

This is the kind of marketing opportunity most other businesses can only dream of. And a personalised waiting room TV channel is the ideal way to capitalise on it.

Too much information!

You have a captive audience – but getting them to actually watch what’s on the screen is a major challenge. Why? Because the media landscape has changed.

Not so long ago advertisers had a limited number of ways to spread their message. Now there’s a huge number of TV channels, radio stations and streaming services. Along with email, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube (to name but a few).

It is widely reported that the average person is exposed to between 4,000-10,000 advertising messages a day. The only way they can cope with this overload is to mentally filter out the majority of messages and/or switch off.

Here’s the reality today – people have become easier to reach but much harder to engage.

For this reason, the people in your waiting room may ignore what you put on your TV channel. Particularly if they feel they are bombarded with purely dental and practice promotional content.

So, given these challenges, what can you do to increase the chances of a patient actually giving your TV channel their full attention?

Engagement, engagement, engagement

We’ve been creating content for personalised waiting room TV channels for over 15 years. These are some of the key things we’ve learnt about increasing engagement and maximising treatment enquiries.

  • It’s only natural that you want to tell patients everything about the treatments and services you offer. You must resist the temptation to do this, and nothing else!
  • Put yourself in their place and see things from their point of view. Continually ask yourself questions like: ‘How can I put this in a way they’ll find interesting?’ ‘They have a limited attention span – are we giving them too much information?’ And: ‘Would I bother watching this if I were a patient?’
  • People like to be entertained. If you want to get engagement don’t just give them a programme that’s 100% dental information. Mix it up with the kind of content they enjoy watching on TV at home – news items, entertainment, sports stories
  • Don’t be tempted to reduce the amount of airtime you give to entertainment so that you can increase the promotional content. If you don’t get the balance right between entertainment and promotion, you’ll just get less engagement
  • Keep any promotional content short and punchy. Terrestrial TV commercials are short for a reason
  • Your channel is probably best designed to be silent – otherwise it could irritate your staff and some patients (we can choose not to look but not to hear)
  • Don’t try to cram too much information into each video. Less is more – the simpler you make it, the more engagement you’ll get!
  • At the end of the video have a clear call to action so patients know how to make an enquiry
  • Make sure you have the necessary leaflets or videos to give them when they ask for more information. Ideally these should be digital so you can swiftly share them by email, social media or your own dedicated patient app
  • Be very careful when using third party content such as images. They may look great, but if you infringe someone’s copyright, even unintentionally, the penalties are severe
  • If you are promoting premium services (such as cosmetic treatments) be sure the quality of the images and content has production values that reflect this. The video must look very professional and appealing
  • Even with relatively inexpensive treatments, your video content must not appear amateurish. This will negatively impact engagement and the perception of the treatments and services you provide
  • Don’t segment the screen and have things like news tickers scrolling. These will distract from the key messages you are trying to get across about treatments and services
  • Make sure you update your channel on a regular basis (daily) to keep it fresh and ensure patients continue to watch and be engaged on every visit.

Technology tips

As far as the technology is concerned these are our top tips.

  • Using a quality screen manufacturer such as LG or Samsung signals that you invest in good equipment for your practice and patients. It will also mean you are less likely to experience reliability issues
  • The location of the screen is crucial. Place it where your patients can best view it (don’t let your practice staff persuade you to locate it for them to see)
  • Choose a content management system that is easy for you and your staff to use. You want tools that enable you to update the programme and personalise everything to your practice without you and your team having to become experts in technology or production. Or it taking up so much valuable time that it disrupts the smooth running of your practice.

Do you really want to DIY?

If you follow this advice you’ll avoid the common pitfalls that most practices stumble into when they try to create and manage their own waiting room TV channel.

However, setting up a channel, creating the content, adding the entertainment elements and keeping everything fresh and current for maximum patient engagement is a lot of work. Hardly worth it when we can do all this and more from just £33+VAT a month! And for just another £11+VAT a month we can also add our comprehensive digital patient communication service, which makes it quick and easy for you to:

  • Send personalised videos and leaflets by email to your patients
  • Access a library of videos for your website, social media posts and services such as Whatsapp
  • Communicate with patients via the mobile app.

The final do – outsource all this to the professionals

Waiting room TV and effective means of communicating with patients are a must-have, not a nice-to-have.

You and your team can handle it all yourselves. But that makes little sense when you can outsource it to an experienced professional team for such a modest monthly fee. The results in terms of number of enquiries received and converted are far better. Everyone in your practice can concentrate on what they are best at (providing excellent care), you save time, cut costs and can focus on activities that directly produce revenue. Your profitability will be much improved.


If you’d like a seven-day free trial of Smilevision’s patient communication tools, just call 0207 99 33 888 or email [email protected] to get set up.