You chose the perfect location for your practice, designed a welcoming, kid-friendly office, and mastered the art of soothing nervous children.
Now you need a way to bring in a steady flow of new pediatric patients. Postcards, a form of direct mail, are a proven way to do that. Consider these statistics from the Direct Marketing Association, which show the relative effectiveness of direct mail:
Direct mail: 4.26% response to house list, 1.44% to prospects
Display ads (newspapers/magazines): 0.00% to house list, 0.04% to prospects
Pay per click (online ads): 0.00% to house list, 0.22% to prospects1
We've helped more than 4,500 dentists grow their practices using postcards, and from those experiences we know this: To get the best possible results, you have to do it right. There are very specific actions you can take to improve your chance of marketing success. The more actions you implement, the greater your odds of success.
We track the results of our clients who perform pediatric dentistry, along with pediatric dental practices, so we know what works and what doesn't. You can use what we've learned over the last 18 years, skip the trial-and-error stage, and create the most results-oriented, cost-effective postcard campaign for your business. I've boiled it down to five best practices. Ready?
1. Build trust while making your marketing message clear.
You have a fraction of a second to make an impression on your recipients. If they don't know what you're selling instantly, your postcard is going to the trash. That's why your primary image should make it crystal clear that your postcard is coming from a pediatric dentist. Here are good and bad examples:
Good example: A close-up photo of a smiling child
Good example: A cartoon tooth holding a toothbrush with a smiling kid
Bad example: Your family riding bicycles
Having said that, you absolutely should include a photo of yourself, your family, or your staff on the postcard. Make it smaller, however, and place it on the back. Here's why: Providing at least some personal information is extremely important in pediatric dentistry. It helps prospects trust you and your office. Who are you more likely to trust with your child? Is it the dentist who includes a picture or one who doesn't?
Establishing trust is of utmost importance in this day and age. According to the Pew Research Center, in the 1950s, the average number of children per family was 3.7. Today, 25% of American families have only one child. In larger cities, this figure reaches as high as 30%.2 You'd better believe these parents are looking closely at all their options before choosing a pediatric dentist.
2. Tell prospects what's in it for them to get your phone ringing.
Don't tell your prospects how great you are. Don't tell them about the associations in which you're a superstar. Tell them how you can solve their problems and improve their lives. I'm talking about using benefits instead of features. Features tell your prospects something positive about your practice (state-of-the-art equipment). Benefits tell them what they'll get out of it (speedy, accurate, and gentle exams). For example:
Feature: We have TVs and video games!
Benefit: We have TVs and video games to keep your child calm and relaxed!
See the difference?
3. Include more than one offer. It's a fact that 60% of our successful dental campaigns feature either two or three offers.
I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but a free toothbrush is not a good offer to put on your postcard. (No, not even an electric toothbrush!) Kids are expensive: It costs $245,300 to rear a child to the age of 18 in the United States, yet the median household income in this country is only $51,939.3 You need to offer something of value to get new patients through the door. Here are the ones that get the best response for our pediatric dental clients:
• $99 new patient exam (x-rays and orthodontic evaluation)
• $49 new patient cleaning and fluoride treatment
• Free infant screening (up to age 1)
I know that giving away your time and talent-or even offering it at a discounted rate-can be painful. But let's consider the long game here. Say a new patient comes in and she loves you. She'll be a patient for . . . how long? Five years? Ten years? Maybe even 15 years? You will more than recoup the cost of that initial discounted exam. You will probably get a handful of referrals, too. (You do ask your patients for referrals, don't you?)
4. Use a targeted mailing list and stop wasting marketing dollars.
You've designed an effective postcard-that's the first part. The next step is sending it to the right people. It doesn't make much sense to spend your money printing thousands of postcards and then sending them to people who don't even have children, does it?
Now, if your list only targets married people with children, you'll miss a significant chunk of your prospective patients: The last US census shows that the number of unmarried couples living together with children continues to increase dramatically.4 A good provider can create a list for you that consists of pretty much any demographic: Presence of children in the home (you can even specify the child's age); specific incomes; certain zip codes; mothers with an interest in healthy lifestyles (an interest in anything, really); and a combination of these factors or more.
Please use a good mailing list. Otherwise, you're wasting your money!
5. Grow your credibility and your revenue with repetition.
This is the last step, but by no means is it the least. I'm not telling you repetition is important because I want you to buy more postcards. I'm telling you this because I want your marketing investment to succeed. Think about it: Do you jump at every advertisement you see on television the first time you see it? Probably not. Most likely, you see it once and think, "I want to check that out someday." Then you go about your business. When you see it a second time, you are reminded that you wanted to check it out one day. Then you see it again, and this time you may decide to actually go to the website to check it out. When a prospective patient sees your message again and again, it increases affinity, builds trust (because it says you aren't going anywhere anytime soon), and boosts your credibility.
It's a fact: Mailing out just one batch of postcards is not going to do much for your practice. This is why:
• 100% of our successful pediatric dental clients mail more than once.
• 80% mail at least three times.
If you want to exponentially increase your results, use DirectMail2.0 New Patient Edition. (In fact, I recommend this for all of my dental clients.) Here's how it works: As your postcard hits mailboxes, those same prospects start seeing your advertisement, which looks just like your postcard, on thousands of websites all across the Google network. (Instant repetition!) It's affordable (only pennies more per piece than without DirectMail2.0) and it works.
To wit: Last year, I wrote about a Maryland dentist, Amit Khanna, DMD, a client of mine. He's a dedicated marketer who's diligent about tracking his results, so he makes for a great example. His new patient numbers speak volumes about the value of repetition and DirectMail2.0 New Patient Edition:
• Before postcards: 30 new patients/month
• Sending out 6,000 postcards/month: 50 new patients/month
• Sending out 12,000 postcards per month: 94 new patients/month
• Sending out 12,000 postcards per month plus DirectMail2.0 New Patient Edition: 180 new patients/month
I don't think I could say anything that would be more convincing than that!
There you have it. If you want to continue brainstorming, visit postcardmania.com/dentaldesigns to see postcard design ideas and request free samples. And don't forget: as a Dental Economics reader, you are entitled to 5,000 free dental postcards, printed by PostcardMania, as well as free samples of postcards that are working right now for other dental practices. Redeem online or call (844) 269-1836 today—free marketing advice for your practice is also included!
1. Schiff A. DMA: Direct Mail Response Rates Beat Digital. Direct Marketing News website. http://www.dmnews.com/direct-mail/dma-direct-mail-response-rates-beat-digital/article/245780/. Published June 14, 2012. Accessed January 29, 2016.
2. Graham J. One-Child America: A Nation of Only Children Could be Smarter, More Mature-or Conceited. Deseret News National Edition website. http://national.deseretnews.com/article/2543/one-child-america-a-nation-of-only-children-could-be-smarter-more-mature-or-conceited.html. Published October 16, 2014. Accessed January 29, 2016.
3. Krogstad J. 5 Facts about the Modern American Family. Pew Research Center website. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/30/5-facts-about-the-modern-american-family/. Published April 30, 2014. Accessed January 29, 2016.
4. Unmarried Equality website. http://www.unmarried.org/statistics/#parenting. Accessed January 29, 2016.
Joy Gendusa is the founder and CEO of PostcardMania. Using just postcards, a phone, and a computer, Joy built PostcardMania from a one-person startup into an industry leader serving more than 68,000 clients, including more than 4,500 dentists. Need help promoting your practice? Call one of PostcardMania's dental marketing consultants at (844) 269-1836, e-mail Joy directly at [email protected], or visit postcardmania.com/dentaldesigns.