Need Patients? Go Direct.
Remember when you were a kid and getting mail meant you were probably in for something fun, maybe a party or special celebration or a letter from a relative or friend who lived far away? My, how times have changed. Today, most of what we receive in terms of “mail” fills our electronic mail boxes. Promotions, bills, notices from various service providers, even party invitations no longer come via snail mail. Along with the electronic mail that you actually need and want, there is likely more digital garbage than you have the time or the energy to sift through. Spam and junk email folders collect hundreds of marketing missives that are targeted for this or that audience, but often are discarded without a glance.
Interestingly, the explosion in electronic mail and the subsequent reduction in the use of traditional mail are opening up new opportunities for dentists. How so, you ask? What was once old is new again, and that friendly mail carrier could be the key link between you and a host of new patients.
Today, direct mail marketing is as strong as it has ever been. Why? The obvious reason is that fewer businesses are using it. Instead they are filling up your electronic mailbox with all the junk that formerly lined your physical mailbox. Don’t get me wrong, email and electronic communication are absolutely critical in effectively marketing a dental practice. But they are only part of a total marketing strategy.
What is particularly interesting about the swing of the electronic vs. paper marketing pendulum is that while people won’t hesitate to click “delete” to rid themselves of the multitude of electronic distractions, they will take time to actually look at a flyer, brochure, newsletter, or postcard sent through traditional mail. For a few seconds or a few moments, when a person is reading the expertly written letter or the professionally designed postcard sent through the mail, you have a captive and engaged audience. What’s more, direct mail can be used for a multitude of marketing purposes, including generating new patients, reconnecting with former patients, creating awareness of the practice in the community, educating patients and the community about services, and the list goes on.
Direct mail, like many marketing tools, tends to be misunderstood. Typically dentists will claim that direct mail doesn’t work, doesn’t deliver the patient numbers they want, and is too expensive to bother with in this age of electronic communication. But few truly understand how direct mail works and the fact that the return on this investment can be huge - provided it’s done right. As is often the case, it’s not the “tool” that fails; typically it’s the manner in which it is used. In other words, most direct mail campaigns that don’t produce results are poorly executed. Yet, when implemented correctly, the results are powerful.
Case in point, “Dr. Maxwell” recently took over a practice in a smaller southwestern city. The doctor she bought it from was retiring after many years. Dr. Maxwell invested a fortune in new equipment, technology, and décor. The problem: The patient base under her predecessor had been dwindling. There were plenty of patient records, but only a fraction of them were active. Dr. Maxwell needed to reconnect with former patients, and she needed to set herself apart from the other dentists in the area.
Dr. Maxwell enlisted the help of a professional dental marketing company to establish her practice brand, develop a custom website, and train her team. But even with several marketing pieces in place, the puzzle still wasn’t coming together. In Dr. Maxwell’s case, an overall marketing strategy was developed for the practice to implement over the long term. One component of that strategy was a direct mail campaign. During the course of twelve weeks, the campaign targeted prospective patients with professionally designed direct mail pieces. The phones were ringing. Her team was trained to handle the increased phone and patient activity, and she was well on her way to rebuilding the practice patient base.
Marketing, like dentistry, is both an art and a science. There is no single treatment that will cure all dental disease. The same holds true for marketing the dental practice. There is no “silver bullet” technique to effectively market dentistry. It requires a plan, a strategy, and a system that is an integral part of running the business.
Mike Shoun is the President and Owner of Affordable Image Dental Marketing Solutions - a full service marketing company dedicated to the client's overall success.
Mike can be reached at (602) 265-2299 ext. 211, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit www.affordableimage.com for more information
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