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The forgotten marketing strategy that still works for dentists

July 10, 2020
Are you tired of hearing about digital marketing? Don't worry! Mike Pedersen says postcards can still be a successful method for dentists to gain patients. But it's important to proceed with postcard marketing the correct way.

As a private practice, group practice, or dental service organization, you’ll want to implement marketing strategies that bring a consistent return on investment. But many dentists I’ve spoken with have had poor experiences with marketing agencies in regard to actual results.

Marketing is a must for any business that wants to grow and thrive. Without it, your practice’s visibility is left to drive-by traffic, referrals, and word-of-mouth. While these are all great, they aren’t the most reliable in the long term. Also, you’ve got to know your numbers. I’ve written numerous articles on my blog that contain research-based statistics that dentists need to be aware of if they truly want their practice’s to be successful.

In this digital age, many dentists may feel like digital marketing is being shoved down their throats, and this is not altogether bad. In fact, digital marketing is the right approach for the most part. But, you should never leave a marketing strategy on the table if it’s passed the test of time. What about postcards?

Direct mail postcard marketing

I know what you’re thinking after reading “direct mail.” You throw all of your “junk mail” away. The majority of people do, but there is percentage who actually read it. This is the percentage that you want to focus on, as it is an opportunity for your practice to not only get one new patient but get the entire family. Because I’m in marketing, for research purposes I study all of the postcards that come to my home. Much of it fails miserably with the creative, which is the pictures, message, branding, and offers.

People can be exposed to up to 5,000 advertisements per day. You should strive to set your practice apart with branding that displays the human side of your practice, such as pictures of you and your family, a picture of a happy patient or two (with their consent), and a picture of your office for brand recognition in your locale.

Statistics don’t lie

Here are some interesting statistics.

  • 70% of consumers prefer traditional mail for cold, unsolicited offers. (Association of National Advertisers)
  • 82% of millennials believe messages in print advertisements are more trustworthy than digital marketing materials. (United States Postal Service)
  • 48% of people retain direct mail for future reference. (Digital Mobile Radio Association)
  • US advertisers spend $167 per person on direct mail to earn $2,095 worth of goods sold. (EZ24x7 Mailing Solution)
  • 76% of consumers trust direct mail over digital channels when they want to make a purchasing decision. (Source: MarketingSherpa)

There are many more statistics, but that should open your eyes to how effective direct mail can be, even in 2020.

Why do postcards fail?

Many direct mail postcards fall flat because they use cookie-cutter, stock images that do not resonate with homeowners. They have too many offers and look like the Walmart of dentistry in their area. Also, there is no dominant call to action, the logo or business name is too big (people don’t care about that), or it doesn’t offer a story people can embrace and feel good about.

Another reason postcard marketing can fail is, it’s hard to track unless you implement a few key elements.

Those are the tracking number, the specific landing page URL, and a unique statement on the card. Our company has implemented a strategy that makes postcard mailings more accurate to track and the ROI is obvious.

What are successful postcards?

When you are competing with all of the other advertisements out there, you want yours to stand out in every possible way. One way is to send oversized (6x9) postcards that are bigger than anything else that usually arrives in mailboxes.

Since you don’t want to look like the Walmart of dentistry, you should trim down the postcard to two prominent offers. There may be times you’ll want to sneak in a third, but not very often. With two you can focus on one offer per side. Another option is to have one side be about your brand, which is your story, and the other side can contain the two prominent offers.

Put some thought into your offers. This will pay off for your practice. I get the same dental postcards from many offices in the mail every single month. Nothing changes and they all look the same, many with the same stock images, so there is no reason for me to take time to read any of them. That’s when they hit the trash.

Like any marketing strategy, dental postcard marketing calls for consistency and good timing in order for people to take action. While we don’t know when someone may be looking for a new dentist, if you send mailings on a regular basis, timing will eventually be on your side. You should try postcard marketing for at least three months. Within three months, and sometimes during the first month, our clients experience a positive ROI. Once you know your numbers, this marketing strategy can be a big part of your arsenal.

Whenever I get a dental postcard, or any business postcard, I immediately go to the website to see if the postcard creative such as colors, font, logo, and branding, matches. Surprisingly, many times it does not. The colors don’t match, the font is different, and the cookie-cutter images ruin it right away.

Finally, when was the last time you told your marketing company to change the creative, whether on your postcard or website? In marketing, we’re always tweaking and testing creative. Changing up the offer, the call to action, pictures, and formatting. The same postcard should not be sent again after the third month. In my opinion, 90 days is long enough to get your two offers out there and track what revenue they produced. After 90 days, create two new offers.

Wrapping it up

Marketing your dental practice can be quite challenging, but it’s a must if you want to grow and thrive. If you are not marketing, your competitors are, and they’re winning. It’s as simple as that.

When you partner with a marketing agency, don’t get locked into contracts. In order for your marketing partner to set realistic expectations based on budget and local competition, it’s important to evaluate ROI on a monthly basis. Don’t ever scrap your marketing, but if it’s not working, try something new. There is no silver bullet when it comes to marketing.

Mike Pedersen is the founder of The Dental Boost. He has 20 years of digital marketing experience and has put together a team of top experts in the areas of each marketing service. If you are a growth-minded dental business owner who wants to take your business to the next level, contact Pedersen and he will personally go over your current marketing, including your website, and show you how you can grow your revenue even faster. Visit thedentalboost.com/contact/ to schedule a no-cost, no-pressure call. Ask about their very competitive postcard pricing.