The Anatomy of Patient-Producing Dental Direct Mail (And Why Not All Approaches Work)

“Dental direct mail doesn’t work.”

“That stuff just ends up in the trash.”

“I never read those things.”

Now that we have gotten the thoughts and feelings out of the way, let’s focus on the facts: 80% of patients come to the typical practice from a radius of one to three miles, and dental direct mail targets that circle.

As with all marketing, it matters less what the dentist likes or wants. It matters most what’s going to make patients walk through the door, accept treatment and become loyal, referring members of the practice community.

There are specific elements of a dental direct mail piece that will get it noticed, and that will inspire the recipient to act upon it. Among them:

Strong positioning. Your practice is known for something that cannot be replicated anywhere else. A great sense of humor. Unmatched compassion. Attention to detail. Find out what it is by asking patients, and then make that the headline right on the front of the dental direct mail piece. Rope in the reader so they become eager to learn more about you.

A good story. Piggyback on your positioning. Expand into the practice story. Steer clear of clinical speak about state-of-the-art equipment and dental procedures, which can be overwhelming and even scary to the patient. Share what your current patients love most about visiting your practice. Talk about what keeps members of your community coming back for years and years.

Compelling offers. You don’t have to give away discounts on your services to make an offer. An offer can be something as simple as a gift card for coffee or an entry into a drawing for a prize. People like excitement. Make an offer that fits with your positioning and gets potential patients excited about coming to see you. We find that three offers is the magic number to really draw in patients.

Different size. A little postcard won’t do your practice justice. Invest in an 8.5″ x 11″ glossy sheet folded once so that it opens and reads horizontally. It’s a classy representation of the practice and makes a great first impression.

Accurate information. Have three people proofread the address, phone number, website address, map and any other contact information. Be sure to include a phone number on the dental direct mail piece that can be tracked, preferably with recorded calls, so that you can attribute marketing successes back to that piece for future marketing planning.

Call to action. Tell readers exactly what you want them to do, when and how. “Call now for an appointment by dialing this number.”

Here’s why most dental direct mail efforts don’t work:

Amateur effort. There is a true art and science behind dental direct mail. Expecting success from an amateur effort would be like expecting success from a layperson performing a root canal. 

Incomplete effort. Sending one mailer and stopping is not enough. A dental direct mail piece must be dropped to households at least three times to have any effect. Six or more times would be best.

Sloppy content. Even if the mailer gets to the right place the right number of times, it still has to send the right message. Follow the guidelines above to be sure your message is on target.