In an era where the internet has become a primary marketing medium for many, some have the idea that direct-mail marketing campaigns are “old-school” and less than workable. While it is true that a well-rounded digital campaign is a must, it by no means rules out print marketing as a major form of dental office marketing. Many dentists still see phenomenal success with direct mail.

Among the many types of direct mail employed by dentists, postcards still stand out as most common.

If executed correctly, postcards create an instant impression because they come without an envelope, aren’t cluttered with copy (hopefully), and should be easy to read. Driving your message across instantaneously is of primary importance as people are “trained” to trash what they consider to be junk mail after only a brief glance. You normally have a fraction of a second to capture their attention.

Whether postcard marketing is appropriate for your office depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you market (or intend to) your office with a postcard campaign, we wanted to share some of the dos-and-don’ts.

The “Do’s”

1. Surveys:

Before you design a postcard (or hire someone to do it for you), you need to survey at least 35 to 40 of your best patients. We provide you with ready-made surveys and show you exactly how to use them on the MGE New Patient Workshop. The design, message, and text of your postcard should always, always be based on surveys, so the postcard communicates what patients want from you as their dentist and your practice.

2. Headline:

A postcard headline should jump out at you and be conspicuous, clear, and bold. Use your survey data to craft a central message and communicate it through your headline.

Again, people have little patience for what they consider to be “junk mail.” At best, you can bank on a quick glance before a prospective patient decides to keep reading or throw it away. Don’t try to be complicated or verbose in your headline because if they don’t get the message immediately, they’ll trash your postcard.

Instead, make the headline as concise and straightforward as possible.

3. Graphic:

Striking, colorful, pleasing to the eye and in high-resolution, the photograph or graphic should relate to, support and reinforce the headline on the front of the postcard. In other words, the headline and the central photograph should complement each other and go hand-in-glove. As an example, if the headline reads: “Dentistry for the Whole Family,” then a suitable picture can be a family with healthy, white teeth.

While we are on the subject of design, the most eye-catching postcards tend to have bright, nicely contrasting colors and color gradients. Offset your headline (as well as sub-headlines and text) with a different color from the rest of the postcard so that it is easy to read.

Keep in mind that a postcard is a representative of your practice. Don’t let it represent your office poorly.

4. Text that entices and informs:

Don’t make the mistake of putting too much text on a postcard for two reasons:

1. You’re more likely to lose the prospect’s interest with a text-laden postcard.
2. A postcard is not intended to directly sell anything. The sole point of it is to entice the person to pick up the phone to call for more information, which in turn can lead to a new patient.

A limited-time offer such as a new patient special, teeth whitening, or something specific to the type of dentistry you are promoting will act as a strong incentive for someone to call your office. Include a time frame and expiration date to create some urgency for that person to reach. Some type of special offer or enticement to act now is vital for every mailing you do.

On the back of a postcard, create a catchy sub-headline that leads into a short paragraph about your practice and a list of benefits to the potential new patient from receiving dental care there. Some examples of benefits are:

• Oral health fully restored.
• Clean, comfortable, pain-free dental experience.
• Same-day emergency appointments welcomed.
• Appearance and smile enhanced.
• If your office or staff are bilingual state it as well (i.e. We speak Spanish, and so on)

Your survey results will give you a good sense of what your potential new patients want as benefits, even you if have to readjust some things in your practice to be able to meet their expectations.

5. Call-to-Action

A call-to-action might not seem like much when you first think about it, but a postcard without a call to action is like a body without legs—it is crucial in getting the person to take the next step (pun intended). Don’t assume that someone reading your postcard will just figure out where to go from there. You need to guide them—in fact tell them what to do next. You should already have a special offer on the postcard, so the call to action will tell them what to do to take advantage of it.

Examples of calls to action could be:

For more information, call ….
Call today to schedule your free consultation.
Visit our website at ….
Call NOW to take advantage of this special offer.

Or whatever it is that you want them to do.

Along with that, include a return address, website and phone number on the front and back of the postcard for people to be able to reach you easily.

The frequency of sending out postcards

The size of your postcard marketing campaign and the number of people that you want to reach with it would depend on the amount of money you are willing to invest. But even with a tiny marketing budget, don’t just send out one postcard mailing to your target audience and expect it to work right away. Postcard marketing usually requires at least several mailings to the same target audience. Mailing multiple times (3 or four times over a two or three month period) picks up responses you may not have received on the first mailing.

At MGE New Patient Workshop you’ll learn more about external postcard, newsletter, internet, and other types of marketing; how to do marketing research; create productive internal marketing campaigns; and organize your practice to become a “new patient machine.” Knowing this material can mean the difference zero response (and a huge waste of money)—and great response that leads to an abundance of new patients. Call (727) 530-4277 or (800) 640-1140 for more information!