Right now in marketing, most people are focusing on digital marketing like social media, SEO, Facebook Ads, and Google Ads. These are all great tools that you should absolutely be exploring for your dental practice—but our constant search for the next shiny new thing can make us overlook old reliable marketing options. Specifically, direct mail and postcard marketing.
I get it, sending mail isn’t as “sexy” as digital marketing. It’s also not the cheapest option. It won’t magically generate tons of new patients off of a tiny budget. (Digital marketing doesn’t either, but it’s easier to convince ourselves that it could.)
The truth is that a well-done mail marketing campaign should generate between 5-15 new patients every month.
That’s based on my current experience consulting a number of clients that are actively sending out postcards as a part of their marketing strategy. The typical result is about 10 new patients per month—although that can vary depending on a few factors I’ll cover below.
That may not sound like a huge number, but I would never say no to an extra ten new patients. That’s worthwhile for any practice.
As a note: here at MGE we don’t sell mailing services, so I’m not telling you this out of self-interest or trying to sell you anything. I’m just sharing insights I’ve observed from consulting with clients from all over the US and Canada.
Ironically, the fact that so many businesses aren’t sending mail anymore—because they think it’s outdated and ineffective—is actually a good thing because it makes you stand out when you do send mail. Marketing is one of those things where if everyone else is going one direction, you can often score big by going the opposite direction.
Now, what if you’ve tried doing a mail or postcard marketing campaign before and it didn’t work?
There are several reasons why a mailing campaign (or really any marketing campaign) can fail and fixing them can turn it into a success. A bad experience doesn’t necessarily mean mailing doesn’t ever work. It might just mean you need to adjust a few things.
Five Reasons Why Postcard/Mail Marketing Campaigns Fail:
1. The postcard or mail piece was poorly designed.
A mail marketing campaign could fail due to the design of the card. This could mean that it has a weak message, the photos aren’t appropriate for the message of the card, or the call-to-action was weak.
When designing a postcard, create a piece that will grab people’s attention and get results. This includes before-and-afters, an effective call-to-action, or a combination of specials like Invisalign, implants, and a new patient special. (Learn more about creating effective marketing at the MGE New Patient Workshop.)
2. Insufficient quantity being sent out.
Your mail marketing campaign may not be successful due to not enough postcards going out. If you have 1,000 to 4,000 going out, that’s too little. We recommend sending around 5,000-10,000 postcards a month.
It really is a numbers game with mail. (And it is with digital marketing, too. Typically you need to spend at least $3,000/month on Google Ads if you want to see a notable number of phone calls/appointments from it.)
3. You aren’t sending your mailer out consistently.
Create a schedule that sends them out at least once a month or every week so there will be a consistent flow of patients every month.
Our clients typically choose a few areas in their community to send postcards to, and then split up the lists even further so they can rotate through the lists over time. This enables you to keep sending mail every week while each individual person only receives a postcard every other month or once a quarter.
Usually, the same postcard is effective every time but if you see the results decreasing you can change the postcard. You can take a new approach to your postcard by changing the photo, color scheme, or headline.
4. You aren’t tracking the responses—so you don’t know how well it’s actually working or when you need to change it up.
Marketing does not create a new patient. It creates a phone call (or online appointment request). So, going by “It didn’t feel like we got many new patients this month,” isn’t a good way of tracking the results of your marketing campaigns.
Your postcard should have a unique call tracking number that will tell you how many phone calls you received from it. You may also want to put a QR Code on the postcard that brings people to your website when they scan it with their phones—and tracks how many people went to your website.
Then you can see if the postcards are getting engagement or if they need to be changed. And if you are seeing phone calls and website visits, but no new patients, there may be something else to fix because the postcard isn’t the problem.
I also highly suggest keeping a log of all potential new patient phone calls that come in to the front desk. Your receptionist should ask each caller how they heard about your office, and then make a note of it along with why they were calling and whether or not they scheduled an appointment. This is important for tracking the results of your marketing and your receptionist’s performance. Download our New Patient Call Log here for use in your practice.
5. Your front desk isn’t converting the calls into new patients.
The national average conversion rate for the front desk is 23%. So out of 100 new patient calls only 23 are signing up to be new patients. This is a bad percentage.
When these patients call the practice to set up an appointment, it is crucial that they are being addressed by someone who can convert these calls into new patients for you. This will make-or-break all of your marketing efforts.
(Want to see how good your front office team are at answering the phones? Request a free Mystery Call here.)
There is an art to answering the phones, and you can’t expect your receptionist to be naturally great at it or figure it out on their own. Take some time to train them on answering the phone and practice different scenarios/questions that can come up from potential patients.
You can also use our free New Patient Phone Scripts eBook here for your training.
Those are the five most common reasons I see a postcard marketing campaign fail, but there is a lot more to know about how to effectively market your dental practice. I highly suggest attending the MGE New Patient Workshop to gain a real system for generating a consistent flow of high-quality new patients.
I hope this helps!