There’s a lot of debate on whether or not direct mailers are effective. We’ve all received them. We’ve also all thrown them away. But when it comes to marketing your practice, you start to wonder if you should even give direct mailers a shot or if your postcards will end up in the trash (like the majority of them).
If you’re on the fence on whether or not direct mailers work and if they are right for your practice, this post is for you.
Do Direct Mailers Work? How to Make Sure Your Postcards Don’t End Up in the Trash.
Believe it or not, direct mail marketing can be extremely effective. That is… if you do it right. This means you need to do the right research, follow the right steps, and execute.
There are many practice owners out there who rely on direct mail marketing, solely relying on postcards and mailers, in order to generate new patients. And if you’d like those results too, here are 5 tips so you can ensure that your postcards and mailers don’t end up in the trash.
- Control the Variables
According to Aaron Boone of MVP Mailhouse, most people have bad experiences with direct mailers because they’re going about them in the wrong way. And as someone who has mailed hundreds of thousands of cards for practices all around the country, his top advice is to control the variables.
These variables include:
- The size of the mailer or postcard
- The shape of the postcard
- What homes you’re sending it to
- The design
- The offer
You need to approach direct mailers with the knowledge and understanding of what you’re doing and what you hope to achieve. Here’s a list to help you sort through your priorities and control the variables:
- Consider the homes you hit - who is your audience?
- When are you sending this?
- Monitor the calls that you receive from these mailers - how is your staff responding to these inquiries?
- Use a Heatmap to Help You Target
Heatmaps are a data visualization tool that’ll help you understand the behavior of your target audience. Using a heatmap can help you determine where to send your direct mailers and postcards. According to Aaron’s experience with heatmaps, patients tend to migrate in certain directions. They head towards cities instead of pulling out from them. This means that your direct mail marketing should focus and hit those hotbeds, and understanding where and how patients are finding your practice is a crucial piece to the success of your direct mail campaign.
- Play to Your Strengths
When it comes to the design of your mailers, the rule of thumb is to play to your strengths. If your office is beautiful and well-designed, don’t opt for stock photography. Showcase your practice on your postcards instead.
On the flip side, if your practice isn’t that pretty, you won’t want to include photos of it on your mailer.
Another way you could play to your strengths is if you’re competing against corporate-owned dental offices - you can highlight the fact that you’re locally owned so that you can separate yourself from the crowd.
But if you’re a big group, playing to your strengths means highlighting the availabilities and hours you keep along with the perks that come with a bigger practice.
Everyone has a strength. So highlight that on your design!
- What’s Your Offer?
A lot of practice owners push back on the idea of an offer. You might not want to hear this but offers work. I’m not talking about Groupons or online discounted deals, but well-thought-out offers that come printed on your mailer can be a great way to attract new patients.
Aaron recommends having an offer that either speaks to the insurance world, cash world, big case dentistry. For example, for big case dentistry, this offer could be a free Invisalign or implant consultations.
This works because the one patient who responds to this offer could generate enough income to cover your next 10,000 direct mail campaign.
For cash offers, giving a discounted fee (e.g. $100 off or treatment for $99 only) will be enticing for someone who is paying out of pocket. This gives your new patient a lower barrier of entry while also giving them a chance to visit you, see what you’re about, experience your service, and eventually convert into a long-term patient.
As for patients with insurance, offer them a service like free whitening. Patients with insurance might have several practices that they can pick from to fulfill their dental needs. However, offering them an incentive such as free whitening will be your chance to capture their attention and retain them as long-term patients.
The important thing to remember about formulating your offer is to speak directly to the person who will be affected. And a hot tip from Aaron - the more confident you are in your retention, the more aggressive you should be in your offer.
- Be Cautious of When You Send Your Mailers Out
There are good times and bad times to send your mailers. Aaron’s tip is to avoid 3-day weekends and to aim for your mailers to hit your audience’s homes on Monday. Typically, when a mailer hits a home on the weekend, people aren’t in work mode. They aren’t ready to make a call or schedule an appointment. This will increase the likelihood of your mailer ending up in the trash or getting placed up on the fridge for months.
How to Make Sure Your Postcards and Direct Mailers Don’t End Up in the Trash
Following the steps in this post will help you formulate an effective strategy so that you can see a return on your mailers. However, this strategy isn’t for you if you aren’t willing to give your direct mailers time to mature.
Are recipients going to throw your postcards in the trash? Unfortunately, some will.
But here’s some food for thought - the average new patient to a dental patient will spend anywhere from $750-$1250 in their first year. So if you’re sending out 10,000 postcards and if 9,990 individuals throw them out, the 10 who convert will make you $10,000.
On top of that, the 10 new patients you’ve just earned might be referring friends and family members to your practice. So don’t be discouraged if you get a small amount of patients from a direct mail campaign. Zoom out and look at the bigger picture, and give your mailers ample time to mature and grow your patient numbers.
While I can’t guarantee that a mailer or 10 of yours won’t end up in the trash, I can assure you that direct mail campaigns are still an effective strategy. And by following these steps, you’re bound to see a return in your investment.
P.S. Want to know exactly what to do for your upcoming direct mail campaign strategy? The Dental Marketer University has a new course that breaks it all down for you in simple and actionable steps. Check it out by clicking the image below: