Green paint was everywhere; it was obvious that my 4 year old had been up for a while. But that morning was not as surprising as what Dr. Smith did.

It was a Friday lunch. I bit into my gourmet burger and “Zing!” Pain shot through me like a bolt of lightning. I had cracked a tooth in half. To my amazement I was chewing my chicken dinner that night.

Dr. Smith put a new permanent crown on that tooth in under 2 hours. It was amazing. I had no idea that was possible. It took 3 visits over 2 weeks to get a permanent crown from my last dentist.

There are many ways to get someone to read your ad. The example above is a technique called “Random Entry.” It’s effective only to get people to read the first paragraph of your ad. So the headline is the first priority of your ad. The first paragraph of your message is the second priority.

The first paragraph needs to be as surprising of a statement about your practice as the curious headline.

Predictability is the death of a headline.

“$49 X-Ray and Exam” Unless your reader is looking for a new dentists, they will never read past this. It tells the reader everything they need to know. The reader thinks “If I need a dentist, this one has a special on what my insurance covers.” Then it winds up in the trash. This ad is about the offer which can be work if the offer is strong.

“Now Accepting New Patients” I know a dentist that actually ran this headline. It says nothing to the reader other than the dentist is slow and arrogant. The reader thinks, “So What” This ad is about the dentist. No one cares about the dentist; they care about what the dentist can do for them.

“Beautiful New Smile” Someone wants my money. Why read any further. This headline is a statement that says “I’m just like every other dentist.” The ad is about the patient, which is a step in the right direction. The challenge is that it is lacks a compelling reason to read any further. It is obviously just another dental ad.

The goal of your headline is to get people to read your message. Because dentists have a hard time differentiating themselves from other dentists, there ads are often predicable. They only grab the low hanging fruit, the people looking for a dentist at the moment the see the ad.

What you say in your ads needs to speak to someone’s needs. Even, if it is not yet a need.

If your business has a defined platform that is different from your competitors, tell people about it. If you can’t get their attention with a direct headline, a random entry headline can increase response.

No matter how strong your headline is, your message is what gets the phone to ring or people to walk through your door.