In this episode, Mark and Howie go over dental direct mail marketing, what results you can expect, how to get the most out of mail, and why it is still the best medium for dental advertising.


Podcast Highlights:

  • Old is cool again
  • dental direct mail marketing never stopped being the lowest risk ad medium
  • What results should you expect from direct marketing?
  • The mail return for the average dentist
  • The mail return for dentists in competitive areas
  • Steady stream of higher-than average customers in the market you serve
  • The marketing foundations you need
  • Finding your mail results
  • Patients per address
  • Dentistry rebound
  • Making decisions on poor, incomplete, or missing information
  • Improperly targeting mail

Podcast Transcription:

Hello, and Welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery series. This podcast is brought to you by and New Patients Incorporated. I’m Howie Horrocks, the Founder of New Patients Incorporated, along with me once again, as my friend and partner and the President of New Patients Incorporated, Mark Dilatush.

Howie: Hello, everybody. Welcome once again to our podcast and I’ve got a very happy partner out there in New Jersey. How you doing, Mark?

Mark: Oh, we are bleeding green. Thank you.

Howie: Hahaha. Feels pretty good. Doesn’t it?

Mark: Feels pretty good. Yeah, go until the parade tomorrow. I know today’s Tuesday be going to the parade on Thursday.

Howie: Yeah, yeah. Boy. Are you going to go? There’s free beer

Mark: Yeah, I’m absolutely going to go. I mean, I’m 56 years old. The last championship we had here in football was 57 years ago. Offered as long or longer than anyone else on the planet. You better believe I’m going to go to the parade. You kidding me…of course.

Howie: Okay. Yeah. Yeah, you bet. Better now or never

Mark: Me and 2 million of my friends are goin’. And with all

Howie: Yeah,

Mark: So if you see me on TV, I’m wearing 36.

Howie: Okay, all right. And with a free beer, what could possibly go wrong?

Mark: to three beers, 2 million of them are comin’. And so it’ll, it’ll be good. Everything will be fine.

Howie: Okay. Anyway, we’re going to talk a little bit about dental direct mail marketing response rates, that sort of thing. We’ve talked about it before, but I think we can update it. sort of bring it into present time? How’s it

Mark: Yeah. It seems. it seems to be? It seems to be, seems to continue to come back. It’s like, I don’t know, like a fashion trend. Right? Where you have Howie and Mark saying “No, no, no, don’t ever get rid of all your bell bottoms. Right? Don’t get rid of your bell bottoms. Because sooner or later, you’re gonna want bell bottoms again.

Howie: Yeah, yeah

Mark: doctor throws away their bell bottoms. And they go out and buy straight, you know, old man jeans, and they walk around for a while and they come back and go, you know what, I felt better when I had bell bottoms.

Howie: Yeah, and they’re back in style now

Mark: in style. Right. So

Mark: that’s a really kind of a bad analogy.

Howie: But it’s, you know, it’s a good one. It’s very similar.

Mark: It is well, kinda I mean, it. Look, we keep telling everybody that dental direct mail marketing is not, it’s growing, it’s not going anywhere. Okay, what, what’s really going on is you have a lot of people who threw money at Google AdWords, a big money at Google AdWords, probably the money they were spending on mail. They tried to manage it themselves, which we can tell you, statistically, if you’re in even a reasonably competitive market will end in failure. And, you know, it shouldn’t. Well, it’s just it’s ridiculously labor intensive, if you try to do it yourself correctly. But you can just bit on three or four the most popular search terms and run up the bid until nobody gets any new patients from it. That’s fine. Okay, so those are your two choices.

You just spend a lot of money and a lot of time managing your campaign or overbid on the most popular keywords so that all the dentists in your area go broke. Because Google doesn’t care. Google sitting there going,

Mark: thank you. Thank you. Thank you, every time somebody clicks on, your, your favorite search term. So anyway, back to mail. What’s going on is we’re getting a lot of people coming back, and they’re going well, you know, what should I expect this time around from my mail campaign? And well, for all of our customers have hundreds of customers who never left, they never stopped doing mail, this doesn’t apply to you. You can stop listening to the podcast now. But for all the other customers, previous customers who started and stopped or maybe you’re not even a client, you’re maybe a potential new client or maybe just doing your own thing. Done correctly, dental direct mail marketing is I keep saying the word still. It never stopped being the best way to utilize a budget resource. For the least risk.

Okay, now, now people what people ask all the time actually, there’s a thread on dental town “What result should I expect”? I can, I can tell you what we see. through hundreds of offices and in multiple countries, I can tell you averages. So when an average dental market, average dentist, average list of services, amenities, technologies, public relations, assets and conveniences, average, everything, average website, average Google reviews, and online Rep.

What all that stuff is average, mail should generate in an average market, somewhere between the two and a half and three to one first year ROI. And it begins to build continually from there just kind of keeps going like a like the Energizer Bunny commercials, right? Just Boom, boom, boom, boom, just walks right through the commercial. That’s what you should expect now if you’re in a more competitive than average, and it’s really, really important for people to understand because I had this actually had a doctor, email me. This doctor listens to these podcasts because he said, when we ask people how’d you hear about us? And they said, and his answer was podcast. So he’s listening to this. And he said, he’s hard to get him on the phone because he does a lot of lecturing.

He’s an implant, he’s a periodontist, a periodontist? He’s an implant, he wants to go direct to consumer for implants. And, you know, how much is your mail campaign? And you know, my response to him? It’s very difficult to give a response. You can spend 2000 a month on mail you can we have clients who spent over 4000 a month on mail. So you know, anywhere between those two numbers, is the right answer. Um, but more importantly, is, is how you support your mail.

Howie: Yeah,

Mark: And that’s the updated part of this podcast, because in the old days member about 12, 13 years ago, maybe even less, basically, the doctor had a really restricted budget, and the choice was do a website or do mail, you couldn’t do both, right? So we always put them in mail than that they got enough money to go invest in a website. Now they have a website, and they have mail and everything’s everybody’s hunky dory. Well anymore. You can’t just do a website, you can’t just do mail, you can’t just do internet marketing, you can’t just do offline marketing, like mail you got to do all of it right. So now that the game has changed, I grant you the game has definitely evolved and changed.

So now, in a in an even an average market, there’s a list, there’s a list of things you have to do. In order for you to get what you want. What you want is a steady stream of higher than average quality new patients in the market you serve. That’s what almost everybody listening to this podcast wants. Okay? So if you really want that, you need a website, you need to update your website every four or five years, just plan on it. Budget for it. It’s a reality, you need to have that website position for the majority of the keywords, keywords and phrases that local consumers would use to find dental services that’s going to pay you a lot in the long run.

Howie: Yeah, and the reason for that, just so I don’t get accused of keeping the obvious to myself is that when they get your mailer, they go to your website, so

Mark: exactly

Howie: You have to have a very good website to handle all their questions.

Mark: Exactly,

Howie: Will. Yeah.

Mark: Right. And if it’s done, if it’s done in concert, if it’s orchestrated, if this is what this is what we do, okay, so we have clients that have all this stuff, and it’s all the same designing team that’s designing it. So, they’re orchestrating it with each other. So, the conversation that the mail starts, is finished when the when the client gets to the website, doesn’t look different, looks the same. Okay. It’s not a new conversation. It’s a continuation of the conversation. All right. So, it’s,

Howie: it’s the magically consistent

Mark: Exactly right. So anyway, that I don’t want this to sound like a commercial. So, so website. I’m going to tell you that more and more and more and more people are going from the mail to the website now and calling from there than ever before. That’s a trend that started probably 678 years ago. Yes, we have called tracking numbers on our on our mail pieces. Yes, we are seeing a declining volume in those calls, but an increasing call volume from the website. Okay, those are, those are your mail recipients getting your mail not calling a number on your mailer but going to your website and calling the number on your website. It’s the same number of people that were always responding, they’re just responding once they get onto your website.

Now, another prerequisite is reviews and online reputation. You can’t be the dentist or you don’t like my saying you can’t be, you don’t want to be the dentist who is 13th in line for the best number of reviews and the best Google reviews score. Because a lot of these patients will get your mail, look you up on the internet and review other dentists. And if you’re the person with six Google reviews, and there’s nine other offices with over 30 your mails not going to work as well as it would have. So your online reviews and online reputation will help. Okay, just trying to give you every opportunity to get where you want to go.

Another thing that really, really helps is online scheduling. Because you’re not in your you’re not in your office 24/7 365. But the ability for the patient to schedule is available 24/7 365 all your patients need is a browser, and they can make an appointment in your office. Okay. So that’s going to convert more.

So bottom line, if the question is how much should I expect from my mail? In an average market, with all those marketing assets lined up installed properly working producing, and everything I just said is it is easily affordable in an average dental practice. Okay. If everything is in alignment, oh, wait a second, I forgot a couple things. And your office answers the phone. And when they answer the phone, they’re at least moderately effective at converting a new patient phone call into an appointment, I’m not asking you to be experts. I’m just asking you to be moderate. I’m asking you not to be offensive.

Mark: Hold on, I’m asking you.

Mark: If you’re not offensive on the phone, you know, and you have those other apps assets to support your mail campaign, your mail campaign supports your website, your website supports your mail campaign, your reviews support your website and your mail can everything supports each other. It’s kind of like a circle just continually, you know, rotates. And everything is working in unison with each other. And I don’t see any reason in the world. Why you won’t get a first year two and a half 2321. I can tell you, I can tell you what we’ve done that really brings us into focus what we’ve done recently, probably within the last year is we bought a year ago, I think noticed that people were stopping their mail campaigns.

And I’m thinking to myself, Why? I mean, that’s okay, we just you know, we don’t bug people’s like, okay, you don’t want to do that, what else you’re going to do, and whatever, they had a friend that up that does PPC in his basement, and there goes four grand a month, but for whatever reason, they decided to stop their milk campaign. And I like, you know, why would you know, and I call them because, you know, we care we give a crap. And they say 90 I didn’t gain? You know, I don’t think i got i don’t think i got a lot of patients from

Howie: In other words, it’s a it’s a tracking problem. And it’s a you know, it’s missing information, which I’d like to continue to explore right after we take this short break.

NPI Click: Hey Mark, we should tell people about this new product, we have NPI command. Ah, well, new, probably new to the podcast listeners, but not new to the customers who use it. So let me go through on the finer points. NPI command is a system we use. It’s an artificial intelligence system that creates decisions on where dentists, our clients should put their paper Click money when they do Google Pay Per Click ad campaigns. If you’re someone who’s already done them, then you’re probably frustrated by the cost of the negative clicks.

Well, if there’s an artificial intelligence platform, monitoring your negative clicks, you can see immediately how doing these on an artificial intelligence platform will allow for a faster build, and the faster allocation of the advertising money to the places that are bringing in good clicks. Because with every PPC campaign, there’s sources of bad clicks and sources of good clicks. And the whole idea is to throw all your money and the good ones and pull your money from the bad ones. So NPI command is our PPC department and as not just in the department of humans, it’s an artificial intelligence platform as well.

Howie: Okay, we’re back. So, what’s the problem Mark, when the dentist would tell us, you know, I don’t think I’m getting a very good response.

Mark: It’s the same problem they have. With almost every advertising media, the way we solved it, is we do what’s called a cross and compare. If you do your own mail campaigns, whether you do it through NPI, or you do them yourself, this is an absolute 100%, no brainer. What you do is let’s, let’s just say let’s say that you’re doing your own mail. So you have a mail list comes in a spreadsheet. And let’s say you do mail for one year. And in that year, 240 people, patients, new patients came into your practice. At the end of the year, you’re thinking to yourself, wonder if my man hardly anybody came in and mentioned the mailer? I don’t think it worked.

Howie: So yeah, yeah, he might think, or she might think, Oh, we got way more from the website, or, or

Mark: whatever that were, you’ll listen to the person at your front desk, and then the last seven phone calls in their memory, and you’ll make a judgment there. And what we’re saying is, now if you have your mail list, and you have 240 patients on a list, just compare the 240 new patients, to the addresses and the people on your mailing list. Right. That’s all you gotta do. That’s what we started doing. Right? Because I was looking at it analyzing, like, Why?

Why do these people feel like, they’re not getting the results? I mean, some of these people were seven- and eight-year clients, nine years, 10 years right? Now, it just doesn’t work anymore. Um, that’s not true. Okay. So what we decided to do it, you know, takes quite a bit of time, but whatever, we would say, hey, send me your new patient list they do last 12 months, and all of a sudden, you know, their reports were showing 30 new patients from the last year. And when you do the cross and compare, there’s 80, 85 people on there, 90, okay,

Howie: there’s, there’s a very good chance that the person that the address you sent the mail to, who later became a patient, there’s a good, there’s a correlation there. They asked the mailer,

Mark: yes.

Howie: And then they show up in your practice. They’re not dis related events.

Mark: Right there. There’s either a correlation, or you’ve been struck by lightning 80 times. Pick one, whichever one you want. But there’s absolutely a correlation between those two events. Right?

Howie: Right.

Mark: So then then the doctor goes back and they update their database in the referral field. And they put NPI, millions in them NPI, Miller, NPI Miller, and then they run their production by referral source report, and they see whatever. They spent 24,000 a year on mail and 73,000 already came in, and these patients haven’t even accepted all their treatment yet. And then it decisions like, when do we get started again?

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: How soon can we do this again? Exactly. So,

Howie: The other thing that these that was quite revelatory, there’s that word again.

Mark: He’s using revelatory again.

Howie: Revealing then, how’s that?

Mark: That’s one

Howie: Was that there are, there’s more than one patient per address that shows up in the mailer.

Mark: Yeah, that’s, that’s that happens all the time

Howie: So you see, you know, Mrs. John Q. Smith comes in and she’s a patient and she lives at 1234 Elm Street. And then five months later, Mr. Smith shows up. He’s, he also lives at 123 on the street, what is going

Mark: amazing, what a coincidence.

Howie: And then the three kids and on and on, but it’s not readily apparent, at least at first, because that happens over time.

Mark: Right. Right. So this, this phenomenon that we’re seeing now, because we grew, I mean, we grew like a weed during the recession years. And then dentistry, kicked a little bit of a little bit of a upswing, probably the last I’m going to say year and nine months here in 10 months, we’re about almost two years into a rebound and dentistry. And you know what happens? I mean, when dentists get busy, probably the last thing they think about is marketing. What the hell, they’re going to think about marketing for their busy. Okay. So on, we also saw some dentists. You know, I don’t know why I honestly don’t know why maybe its marketing messages, or I don’t know.

They’re on the forum, and they’re talking to some dentists that thinks it’s dead. I don’t know why, but we’ve had, you know, not our clients. But we’ve had lots of folks who just said, You know what, I’m going to put all my money in internet marketing, I’m just going to leave it all there. I think what’s going on now is, a lot of them are coming back.

Howie: Yeah,

Mark: on the internet is a really easy place to get spanked. Especially if you’re going to manage it yourself. Or if you’re going to manage it through someone who really doesn’t have the technology necessary to manage it appropriately. I’ll just leave it at that. Um, so I think what’s going on is this reallocation of monies actually bouncing back. And when it bounces back, what will the whole reason for this podcast is Welcome back. That’s the first reason. Our doors were like motel six, it’s a joke around here. That’s what I say all the time we were motel six, we’ll just leave the light off for it. We’re not going to bug it will just always be here. But when you do come back.

The question is, is how do I how do I make it so I know what’s going on? Or how do I know more about what’s going on? The cross and compare? Absolutely. 100% helps.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: I think our renewal rate now is like 94%. On mail. So it’s ridiculous. How much it helps the doctor just looks, quantifies, makes a decision, take care of a tooth. That’s, boom, boom, I’m done. Okay. There’s no thinking about it talking to the lady at the front desk doesn’t matter. None of that stuff happens. It’s just quantified evidence, let’s move on. Now, the electronic side should be basically the same, it should be, it should be just as transparent actually can be more transparent on the electronic side. Because there’s really there’s an artificial intelligence platform monitoring the whole thing all the way through to the revenue that patient generated at the first line of impact.

So in the future, on for everyone listening to this, especially our clients, you’re one of the age old problems with being the commander of a dental practice wasn’t that you couldn’t make up your mind. It wasn’t that you were making the wrong decisions. It’s that you were making improperly informed decisions. It’s not that if we, because every time we show someone across in competitor like, yep, that works. Okay, where do I sign it? It’s a no brainer. So what was going on is that you were making decisions based on poor or improper information?

Howie: Yeah. or incomplete or missing?

Mark: Or, or totally missing? Yeah, exactly.

Howie: referral fields in your practice, right? off? Where? How many? How many of those are blank,

Mark: right.

Howie: A whole bunch?

Mark: Right. So we’re, through these years, you know, we’ve seen that as a problem for our own clients, right? And invested heavily on our end in solving the problem. On we know, on the internet marketing side that we have, well, it’s, we don’t know anybody in dentistry who has the ultimate solution. This is the ultimate solution, having artificial intelligence, run your campaigns is the solution, I believe we’re the only ones in dentistry that has it. It goes straight through to your practice management software, and tracks to patient through to the revenue, it’s integrated.

Okay. So that’s the real deal. Now our next move is going to be try, I’m going to try and get the cross and compares done so that a client can just sit there with one dashboard. See all the internet results, the calls, listen to them, see the revenue, the patients, all that stuff. But also, at some point in the future, what I’d really like to do is I’d like to load their mail list right next to their dashboard and have it look for those patient names and addresses and do the quantification of the ROI in real time. not there yet.But obviously, the internet marketing piece was obviously the biggest piece, and it’s the first piece. And so anyway, that’s where your dental direct mail marketing. That’s where the measurements come from, they come from across and compare.

So if your manager, your own mail campaign, and you have a mail list, you have the power to do what we do. Okay, which is just go look for the patients on your mail list. that’ll tell you where they actually came from. If your mail is not working, it doesn’t mean that mail doesn’t work, it means that the way you’re doing mail doesn’t work.

Howie: Yeah. And if it’s not working, you would want to know that. So would we

Mark: Yeah. so would we. Exactly, that’s what I keep telling people. Hey, Doc, I don’t want you to continue to do mail if it’s not working. You know, I mean, I think we have to. I mean, we have two clients where we’re, like, currently confused about why it’s not performing at what we expected. All the rest of them are at or we’re beyond expectations. So that’s pretty good.

Howie: Yeah,

Mark: so if your mail campaigns not work, and it’s probably not that dental direct mail marketing doesn’t work in your market. You probably did it wrong. Or you’re probably doing it wrong, it’s designed wrong, or here’s one of the biggest things that people do wrong is targeted improperly. There’s another place that people went with their monies, they went to EDDM. We’ve already done one or two of these podcasts on EDDM, it’s, it’s basically government subsidized Satan.

Okay, from a dental direct mail marketing standpoint. I’m sorry. But, you know, I actually got on dental town the other day. And I was trying to help the guy out, he’s got a start up. And he’s doing mail and his question was I you know, I dropped 10,000 of them, should I should I? Should I keep doing now? Or should I move the money into my PPC campaign? And I’m thinking to myself, why doesn’t the guy just do a cross and compare? So I log on to dental town and I say, Hey, buddy, wants to do a cross and compare, you know, that’ll tell you exactly, you know, where the that’ll quantify the value of your return. Okay. And you know what his answer was? No, I can’t because I don’t have a mailing list because I’m doing EDDM.

Howie: Oh, yeah, that’s right.

Mark: Well, there is another reason not to do EDDM. Cross and compare it and you don’t know the value of what you’re doing. Okay, anyway. Um, so that’s your dental direct mail marketing update. Everything dovetails in with everything else in order to make it work two and a half to three to one first year ROI. It’ll grow 30% a year for three more years after that. It’s just the way it works.

Howie: Yeah. with the caveat that, you have to do it right.

Mark: You have to do all that stuff. Right.

Howie: That’s always the caveat.

Mark: Exactly.

Howie: Exactly. Well, thank you for our wonderful loyal listening audience out there. We’re, we’re happy to come to you again. So, we’re going to sign off now.

Mark: Go eagles.

Howie: Go eagles. Oh, they already won.

Mark: Yeah. They did.

Howie: Thank you, everybody. Bye now.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our podcast today. You can find more podcasts on our YouTube channel on Stitcher and iTunes. Also on our websites, and

Blog Post URL –