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New patient campaigns: short-term versus long-term

Sept. 27, 2021
When it comes to dental marketing campaigns, the magnitude of your success is directly correlated to the consistency of your campaigns.
Joy Gendusa, Founder and CEO, PostcardMania
My last Dental Economics article, "Everyone loves free stuff: Data-driven strategies to boost your conversions and revenue," was a deep dive into my company’s dental marketing campaign data to find out what really works for dentists (and what doesn’t) when it comes to marketing a practice. One of the most significant factors I found was that consistent mailings were 700% more likely to be successful than one-time mailings.

That isn’t to say that you won’t have any success with a single mailing—but the magnitude of your success is directly correlated to the consistency of your campaigns.

The proof is in the pudding, as they say. To demonstrate this phenomenon, I’ve broken down several recent campaigns from our dental success vault with varying degrees of consistency to show the effects on overall success.

One-time mailings = hit or miss results

Just because I always emphasize consistency doesn’t mean that dental practices follow suit. We’ve done thousands of one-drop campaigns; the results can surprise us but are usually pretty average. To the right is an example from a dental practice in Fort Myers, Florida (figure 1).

One-time mailing

6,000 postcards mailed plus coordinated digital follow-up ads

Mailing list: homes within a 2.09-mile radius, median household income $75,000

Freedom Dental is a general family practice located in Southwest Florida. They decided to try a one-off mailing of 6,000 postcards combined with coordinated digital ads to see how direct mail would perform for their practice. I would probably recommend three mailings of 2,000 or a slight budget increase to cover three mailings of 3,000, but no one other than you ultimately knows what’s best for your practice and budget. For Freedom Dental, the single mailing was their preference.

Using a resident-occupant mailing list, they targeted all residents 2.09 miles from their location with a median household income of $75,000. This filter ensures that each recipient is likely to be able to afford their services and would be willing to choose them, given their close proximity.

This one mailing brought in six new patients. They were so excited about the results that they doubled their postcard count for their next campaign and committed to more mailings.

For another client, Comprehensive Dentistry, one mailing brought in three new patients, which generated $6,300 in revenue.

While these results are decent, committing to a campaign that’s a bit longer has a much higher probability of significantly boosting revenue.

Midsized campaigns bring midsized results

A midsized campaign, lasting anywhere from three to seven months, is a popular choice among general dental practices. These campaigns have a higher potential to succeed (and produce better results) than single-mailing campaigns, but they still lack the longevity it takes to become a staple in the community and generate practice-changing results.

This midsized campaign (figure 2) featured:

Four-time mailing over five months

21,000 postcards mailed plus coordinated digital follow-up ads

Mailing list: homes within a five-miles radius, residents aged 40+, median income $60,000

South Coast Dental Center, like most practices, experienced a sharp decline in new patients during the initial pandemic closures in spring 2020. They started a five-month campaign in April to help increase their numbers.

Their resident-occupant mailing list targeted residents ages 40-plus with an income of at least $60,000 in a five-mile radius around their practice. Since only dental emergencies were permitted at that time, targeting older residents with a high income helped home in on a specific audience more likely to have dental emergencies and be able to afford them. In densely populated areas such as Santa Ana, California, a hypertargeted list helps filter out a lot of poorer quality prospects and focus on the most receptive ones.

Their campaign nearly doubled their monthly new patients. The South Coast Dental Center’s numbers jumped from 10-15 new patients a month to 15-20. While this is an excellent result—especially during the strenuous COVID-19 stretch—just what kind of results would they have gotten if they had mailed even more consistently?

Outside of that pandemic era, midsized campaigns still perform well. Peak Family Dentistry & Orthodontics ran a six-month campaign that generated their practice $390,000 in revenue. These four mailings spread out over six months resulted in a 1,175% return on their investment.

While these midsized campaigns are more likely to succeed than single mailings, going a little further manifests huge ripple effects. Like I’ve always said (and will continue to say), the biggest factor of magnitude when it comes to game-changing revenue is being as consistent as possible for as long as it takes.

Annual campaigns change the trajectory of practices

Those practices that commit to consistent campaigns over a substantial period of time reap the rewards. In over two decades of marketing, I can confidently say that the dental practices that mail consistently for a year or longer generate trajectory-changing results. For example, Patuxent Dental’s ongoing campaigns (figure 3) include:

Between 550-12,000 postcards mailed monthly since 2010
  • Coordinated digital follow-up ads since 2013
  • Over half a million postcards mailed total
  • Mailing list targeting: homes in various zip codes plus $40k income
  • Located in a small town around an hour from Washington, DC, Patuxent Dental was purchased by Dr. Amit Khanna in 2006. After a three-year decline in revenue, he came to PostcardMania in 2010 to try something new to bring in new patients.

    He started out sending small batches of 6,000 postcards a month for two to three months. After seeing the results of several small campaigns over the course of a year, he started committing to longer and longer campaigns, doubling the monthly mailings to 12,000. His current approach is a hybrid of large, targeted mailings and monthly mailings targeting new movers to the area automatically.

    Dr. Khanna’s practice tripled in size—literally. He quickly outgrew his original office in 2018 and broke ground on a custom-built office with 6,000 square feet that took them from seven chairs to 14. They went from a handful of new patients a month in 2010 to 40-50 new patients a month in 2015. By 2018, they were seeing 200-plus patients a month and producing over $2 million in revenue.

    This is just one example of how long-term consistency brings success.

    North Carolina practice Kleinheinz Dentistry started mailing regularly in 2018, beginning with a six-month long campaign that mailed out one to two times a month targeting nearby high-income homes. After seeing the results, they renewed and doubled their campaign length to a year, leading to an 87.5% increase in new patients and a 35% increase in revenue. This allowed them to hire three new employees while they look into opening a second facility.

    One of my favorite examples is one of our Las Vegas practices, Sunbrite Dental. Initially, they came to PostcardMania in 2010 to run a direct mail marketing campaign. The campaign produced decent results, but against our advice to extend their campaign to create this consistency, they went another route.

    After six years of exploring other marketing avenues, they came back to PostcardMania hoping that we were right and that a longer campaign would produce their desired results. After a three-year campaign, their practice size nearly tripled, growing from four chairs to 10.

    Once practices see the power of consistent marketing, it’s rare for them to not renew their annual campaigns. I’d advise you to take a look at your existing new-patient generation campaigns, and ensure you are committed to running them consistently for at least 12 months if you want to reap the long-term benefits.

    If you want to see more campaign examples for yourself, head to postcardmania.com/dentaldesigns to see a gallery of successful case studies.

    Marketing your dental practice: Genius tactics from other industries

    Editor's note: This article appeared in the September 2021 print edition of Dental Economics.

    Joy Gendusa is the founder and CEO of PostcardMania. Using just postcards, a phone, and a computer, Gendusa built PostcardMania from a one-person start-up into an industry leader. PostcardMania serves 100,158 clients, including 6,873 dentists. Need help promoting your practice? Call one of PostcardMania’s dental marketing consultants at (844) 269-1836, or email Gendusa at [email protected].

    About the Author

    Joy Gendusa | Founder and CEO, PostcardMania


    Joy Gendusa is the founder and CEO of PostcardMania. Using just postcards, a phone, and a computer, Gendusa built PostcardMania from a one-person start-up into an industry leader. PostcardMania serves 102,962 clients, including 6,980 dentists. Need help promoting your practice? Call one of PostcardMania’s dental marketing consultants at (844) 269-1836, or email Gendusa at [email protected].

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