There are about a thousand ways to implement direct mail improperly, and precious few ways to implement it so that you consistently generate positive return.
We’ve been assembling a library of things that work and things that don’t work since 1989.
A culmination of doggedly determined and consistent testing over more than two decades.
This is by far the highest predictability index of all external promotion mediums. Wouldn’t you choose an external promotion medium that has a 96% chance of working? So do a lot dentists. That’s probably why you hear so much about our mail campaigns.
Since 1989, the tested variables within our mail campaigns are: size, fold, colors, fonts, borders, word densities, subheads, subordinate subhead text, paper stock, cover designs, offers, demographic targeting variables, target volume, impressions per target, deployment timing, and the all-important – deployment volumes.
We wish we could tell you it was our award-winning designers (which we have), or our finite targeting methods (which we do), but really, the outstanding results are simply due to dogged, determined, and consistent testing for more than two decades.
The offline promotion medium secret your colleagues don’t want you to know.
Either postcards, brochure type, or 8-page magazines, dependent on the type of patient you’re after.
If you are interested in a direct mail campaign or an overall marketing plan for your practice, click here. Complete the online practice intake of questions. We will get back to you promptly with our thoughts/recommendations.
If you’re like most of the dentists who come to us for marketing insights, you think we’re kidding when we recommend a direct mail campaign. Direct mail? Nobody really does that any more, do they? It’s so old school. And it doesn’t even work. Nobody reads that stuff any more.
Boy, does direct mail get a bad rap. And we can’t figure that out. Because we’ve used it to give our clients a better return on their marketing investment than they could get with any other medium. We recommend direct mail to any dentist looking for a tested, reliable, cost-effective way to build their business. Trust us— we do this for a living. It works.
That’s why it’s the only medium that actually gets its own chapter in our book. It’s that important!
In this chapter of our book, we look at why direct mail continues to outperform other, flashier types of media. We’ll also show you the secrets to creating a successful direct mail marketing campaign from the ground up. We’ll cover everything from images to layout to written content, so that you can create a direct mail piece that should elicit maximum response.
A one percent (or less) response rate? Wow, sign me up!
When you look at the response rates for direct mail, you might wonder whether anyone who uses it has any sense at all.
And when you find out that a “good” response rate is ONE PERCENT or less, you would be justified in asking why anyone would waste their money on direct mail. How can any reputable advertising agency stand there and tell their clients to invest in something that yields such a meager response?
Allow us to explain how a low response rate can produce a good-to-great return on investment.
The reason is simple. You only need between one-quarter and one percent of people to read your mailer to earn back the cost of your entire ad campaign.
That means if only a small percentage of the people who receive your mailer actually pick up the phone and call you, and if an even smaller percentage of them make an appointment, you’re still doing fine.
In fact, we advise our clients that with proper targeting of consumers looking for the value of today’s dentistry, a return rate of a quarter to a half percent is sufficient to ensure a successful advertising campaign. If you manage to pull off a full one percent response rate, you’re living large.
Now, this only works if your revenue per patient is robust, so if you’re offering a $29 dental exam as your primary design element, this may pose problems. However, as we discussed in earlier chapters, using low prices is the worst way to try creating more business, so hopefully your business model focuses on charging fair rates for excellent service and attracting a higher-quality patient.
Keep in mind that a percentage of direct mail respondents who become patients will also end up referring their friends and family. How many referrals you get from the patients you acquire from a direct mail campaign will depend, of course, on the quality of the service and care you provide. But it’s almost never zero. Those referred patients will in time refer others and so on, nearly indefinitely. Once you get that momentum going, you’re on your way to a significant increase in your business.
Of course, it may take more or less time to build this kind of critical mass, depending on factors such as the dentist/population ratio in your area. If that ratio is poor (e.g., one dentist for every 600 people) it will take longer and require a higher marketing budget. If that ratio is more favorable (1:1600 or higher), your success will come more quickly, and at a lower cost.
The success of your direct mail campaign depends to an even greater extent on the design and concept of the direct mail piece itself. A poorly designed, badly executed direct mailer will not get great results, even if you live in an area with a sensational (and impossible) 1:1,000,000 dentist/population ratio. But a mailer that does a good job of connecting with your target recipients will almost always succeed.
Next, we’re going to share some of the secrets to designing a high-performing direct mailer, including the images, design, copy and layout that are tried, tested and true.
Direct mail CONTENT: Don’t keep it simple, stupid
Successful dental direct mail breaks one of marketing’s golden rules.
Most marketing gurus will tell you to keep your message short and to the point. The theory is that people are inundated with advertising. They’re too busy and too overwhelmed to give anything more than a few seconds of their attention, if that. And yes, it’s true that a huge percentage of all advertising, whether it’s radio, TV, direct mail, email, banner ads and pop-ups or anything else is largely ignored.
But the idea that ALL advertising must be brief and the word count must be kept to a bare minimum because “people have a short attention span” is demonstrably false. We’ve been demonstrating this—and achieving remarkable results for our clients—for more than two decades.
Yes, people DO have short attention spans—when it comes to things they aren’t remotely interested in.
However, potential patients attention span goes up considerably if you can get them to look at and gain their interests in the benefits of today’s dentistry. Twenty years of experimentation and real world testing has shown us that—within reason—you almost cannot use enough words to describe the benefits of your product or service to that small audience who will pay attention to you.
“Too many words” will only turn off the audience that isn’t paying ANY attention to you anyway. Since they’re not interested in ANYTHING you have to say, who cares what they want? If someone is entirely uninterested in your product or service, it doesn’t matter what you say to them or how many times you say it or whether you use five words or five hundred words - they will ignore you.
However, if what you have to offer may interest them (even slightly) or may interest them in the future, or if you can persuade them to become somewhat interested, then they are going to want to know a lot about it – especially when it comes to dentistry.
This makes direct mail a unique medium, one that gives you the opportunity to capture someone’s attention and keep them reading in a way that billboards and other types of advertising just can’t match.
Two things you MUST share with your direct mail recipients
You don’t have to be economical with your words when you write a direct mail piece, but there is a huge caveat: your words must be the right words. Five hundred boring words about how great you are won’t work. But five hundred words that your recipient will find personally interesting and applicable to them— well, now you’re on your way to winning over a new patient.
The objective is to genuinely connect with that small audience that we can persuade (however briefly) NOT to ignore us. What we say to that group is supremely important.
What does this group really want to know? Mostly just two things:
1. What your product or service can do for them or their family
2. Why they should get it from you rather than someone else
If you do a good job of showing them the benefits of proactive dental care, and if you can clearly articulate why YOU are the right dentist to deliver treatment, you can write pages and pages, and they will remain engaged and at some point be ready to take action.