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Get into the holiday spirit to generate more revenue this season

Nov. 20, 2021
Holiday marketing sets you up for success in the new year. Here are three marketing tips for taking advantage of this opportunity to establish yourself as a household name.
Joy Gendusa, Founder and CEO, PostcardMania

With the holidays rapidly approaching, it’s time to start planning your seasonal marketing strategy. Some practices choose to ramp down their marketing and reduce their hours during these months, creating a drop in advertising competition. This presents a massive opportunity to inject your presence into the community and establish yourself as a household name.

Over two decades of marketing for dentists, I’ve found several strategies that consistently help practices thrive during the holidays and catapult them into the new year. Here are three marketing initiatives you can try this season to build some momentum for the new year.

Channel the holiday spirit to bring in new patients

Showing that you’re charitable and involved in the local community isn’t just altruistic during the most wonderful time of the year—it may just be an essential component of patient retention.

A global study revealed that consumers are 400%–450% more likely to purchase from, recommend, and trust a company with a strong moral purpose.1 Showing patients that you care can go a long way—consider that Toms has given away 100 million pairs of shoes since 2006 and commits 33% of its profits to various grassroots causes to this day.2 This altruism paid off in a big way, attracting international attention and widespread approval. By 2013, Toms was generating $250 million in sales; just one year later, the company’s value increased to $625 million.3

At the local level, participating in charities puts your good works on display for the community to see. People feel more charitable during the holidays, and consumers are drawn to those who share their values. This season, show your patients you participate in your community’s well-being by:

  • Asking for donations that will benefit a local charity
  • Running a canned food or toy drive, and in exchange, provide a free toothbrush, service discount, gift card, or anything that makes sense financially for your practice. Keep a progress chart (like a thermometer or pie chart) in the most visible place in the office (like a front office or waiting room) with a goal amount, and continuously fill it in to show progress.
  • Partnering with a local farm to donate a percentage of revenue during the holidays to purchase Christmas trees for local families

Once your goal is reached, shout your practice’s success from the rooftops—send an email blast to your patients, update your website with the information and photos, email your local papers and news channels, post about it frequently on your social media accounts, and print and send a newsletter at the start of the year with several photos from your charitable accomplishments. Bringing attention to your altruism also brings attention to the cause, so don’t shy away from sharing it.

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In addition to incorporating charitable initiatives into your holiday marketing scheme, bring holiday cheer into your office to ease potential patient apprehension and create a memorable experience for families. This is an opportunity to attract referrals by plastering pictures of happy patients all over your social accounts and encouraging them to do the same. Some examples I’ve seen in the past include:

  • Hiring a Santa during busiest times of the week for children
  • Constructing a holiday-themed photo booth to take family pictures
  • Having a member of the staff hold Christmas games for children

If you have a strong social media presence already, you have an incredible opportunity for engagement. You can utilize your audience by holding competitions, such as a cookie or Christmas tree decorating contest, and have patients tag your practice for entries for a prize, where their friends and families will see. This creates a lot of free, organic exposure for your practice.

For increased exposure, boost a social media post of the winner holding their prize or a selection of the best entries to show the community your practice is fun and engaging. The possibilities are endless—get creative, and make sure you’re clearly communicating and showing your patients the results of your efforts!

Create a multitouch campaign to remind patients of their annual benefits expiration date

According to estimates from Forbes and Dental Products Report, only around 3%–10% of dental patients use all of their dental benefits annually—there’s a massive amount of leftover potential revenue that expires every December.4 You should always remind patients when their dental benefits are about to expire. Anyone who’s been putting off a cleaning or costly procedure will have that issue top-of-mind after your communication reminds them that their already allocated and funded benefits are about to expire.

There are several ways to communicate with your patients, each with its benefits and drawbacks. If you’ve collected your patients’ email addresses, you can send emails—always a cheap and viable communication route. However, there’s the question of exact deliverability to each patient’s main inbox. An even cheaper route is phoning people directly. It would be a considerable time commitment for your reception staff to call every patient in your database to see if they want to come in—instead, inspect your records from the previous year to locate patients whose last visit was around this time last year. You can use boosted social media posts or ads to remind patients to use their benefits. This is a solid route to take during the holidays, as social media usage typically spikes during this time. Then there’s direct mail, which has one of the highest deliverability rates available. Considering that 76% of people believe physical advertising is the most trustworthy information channel, ranking over digital channels,5 it may be your most impactful communication tool. However, direct mail has a longer turnaround time, so you’ll have to get a campaign rolling soon.

For the best results, create a multitouch campaign that targets patients on every one of the above marketing channels, reminding them to use their insurance benefits before the end of the year. To start, simply export a list of patients from your database who haven’t visited in a year and mail them a benefits reminder postcard. To create some urgency, include the exact date of their benefits’ expiration.

Launch a highly targeted campaign that personalizes the patient experience

The precision of direct mail targeting and how personal it feels to receive a physical message in the mail in today’s digitally oversaturated world have made it an excellent tool for patient retention and acquisition. In addition, advancements in direct mail technology have made direct mail more personal than ever. With 72% of consumers reporting that they only engage with personalized messaging, direct mail is a powerful marketing tool.6 You can personalize direct mail with variable data printing, which can customize headlines and images on each mail piece to better relate to each individual recipient. For example, headlines can directly address the recipient by their name, and the central image can be swapped to a male or female depending on the recipient’s gender.

For better patient acquisition, you can target a hyperspecific group of people using consumer mailing lists, which identify people through demographic specs such as age, gender, income, and much more. In the past, I’ve seen dentists succeed at holiday marketing by homing in on our desire to look our best at gatherings, which are plentiful around the holidays and the New Year. A “look your best for the holidays” or a “New Year, New Smile” campaign works well to promote cosmetic procedures. Just be sure to tailor your mailing list to those likely to have disposable income, and include a new-patient special, a whitening offer, and/or an Invisalign offer if applicable.

Dental implant and denture marketing campaigns do well around this time of year for similar reasons. A client of mine, a prosthodontist in Tallahassee, Florida, used a very targeted mailing list of people ages 50+ earning $70,000+ annually who had recently purchased a dental adhesive and lived within a 20-minute drive to the practice. Out of just 5,134 postcards mailed to a single zip code, they acquired seven new patients worth more than $20,000 in revenue.

The biggest takeaway I want you to get from this is that holiday marketing isn’t just smart; it sets you up for success in the new year. There are so many creative ways to advertise during this time, but to see what works year-round for dentists across the country, head to postcardmania.com/dentaldesigns. Happy holiday marketing!

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

References

  1. Unveiling the 2020 Zeno Strength of Purpose Study. Zeno. June 17, 2020. https://www.zenogroup.com/insights/2020-zeno-strength-purpose
  2. Shoes for moving forward. Toms. https://www.toms.com/us/about-toms.html
  3. Kim IA. How Toms went from a $625 million company to being taken over by its creditors. Business Insider. December 27, 2020. https://www.businessinsider.com/rise-and-fall-of-toms-shoes-blake-mycoskie-bain-capital-2020-3
  4. Boechler A. Dental insurance: an untapped source of cash flow. Dental Products Report. January 5, 2016. https://www.dentalproductsreport.com/view/dentsply-sirona-world-2021---interview-with-alon-mozes-ceo-and-co-founder-at-neocis
  5. Customer Satisfaction Research Study: Data from 2,400 customers reveals how far companies must go to please (or alienate) customers. Marketing Sherpa. December 2016. http://images.meclabs.com/sitefiles/summit-2017/MarketingSherpa+Customer+Satisfaction+Research+Study+12-2016+final3.pdf
  6. Privacy & personalization. SmarterHQ. October 2019. https://smarterhq.com/resources/Privacy-Personalization-Report.pdf

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