Dental marketing that powers direct and indirect response

Dentists with thriving dental practices always have a marketing plan in place that includes a consistent multi-style mix of acquisition and retention initiatives – and that’s why they get the highest overall practice results. Is your practice struggling while the one down the street is booming … even though you offer very similar services and have very similar credentials? It’s their marketing plan combined with well-trained staff and exceptional service.

Direct mail powers everyone’s marketing efforts, particularly when it is conducted as a process and uses the science required to maximize overall practice results. Every dentist can use direct mail to increase their sales. To get it right, you need to understand the process and the resulting direct and indirect response.

  • Analyze existing happy patients to identify the right marketing target audience
  • Identify practice attributes and develop content that will resonate with that audience
  • Create a solid offer strategy
  • Fulfil the offer in a timely manner with exceptional service
  • Track and analyze response to make continuous improvements.

The most difficult part of dental marketing for most dentists is tracking and analysis.

The goal is always to maximize your response. Your hottest prospects will be living side-by-side with existing patients, and that’s great because it allows you to increase patient touches and leverage your marketing investments.

The great thing about a properly executed direct mail campaign is that it consistently puts your name in people’s homes, so that when they see another part of your advertising campaign, there is recognition and a level of familial trust. This establishes your practice as an expert, so that when they or someone they know has a dental need, your name is the one they think of first … then they may look you up online and call via another inbound number (other than your call tracking number), and that’s indirect response.

Printed media is viewed as the most trustworthy of all communication channels with more than 30% of consumers going as far as to adopt a negative view of a brand that fails to engage in printed communication. Direct mail marketing is one of the best ways to reach 100% of a target audience and it’s more likely to be read.

A key metric is the fact that 40% of people visit the website of the brand whose mailing they received. When those consumers contact your business via your website, that’s indirect response from your direct mail campaign that may not be directly attributed to the correct marketing campaign whether due to tracking numbers used or manual anecdotal marketing tracking.

Providing your target audience with a variety of response options will increase overall results. Consumers who want to know more about the practice service or read patient reviews will look you up online and call from your website. Consumers that are nearby may drop in without a phone call to see the facility before booking an appointment. That is why we include web and social addresses and even map directions on every direct mail piece. Direct mail powers response to all of your inbound channels.

Just this week we had to educate a new client about indirect response. Their first neighborhood newsletter had barely left our doors and they were watching the marketing intelligence dashboard like a hawk. That’s not the way it works. Response builds. Marketing is never a one-and-done. It’s a continuous learning process. It’s more than just the collection of data – it’s the ongoing analysis that your Account Manager provides that will truly deepen your understanding of what’s working and where improvements need to be made.

This client called their PNP Account Manager completely flabbergasted because they had several new patient calls from patients that specifically referenced receiving the newsletter – but the calls were not in our marketing intelligence dashboard. Now our marketing intelligence dashboard is magical, but not that magical. This was indirect response and a great example right away for this new client of the overall impact they were having on their marketing program.

The most important thing to understand is that your marketing mix, and particularly the proactive coverage that direct mail provides, will contribute to overall practice results. Because direct mail is the only method of reaching 100% of a target audience, it causes buzz, word of mouth, web traffic, and walk-ins. An excellent flow of indirect response.

When you mass mail or blast radio ads to the area around your practice, you will get calls directly from the ad, you will get walk-ins, you will reactivate existing patients, existing patients will trigger referrals, and you will get calls from other marketing initiatives like your website. You will also have callers that will book multiple appointments on a single call. If the household count in your area averages 3.4 people, and your current patient base averages more than 2 people per household, you can assume that each single new patient will result in 2-3 patients per household. Your market and patient trends will reflect what you can expect. 

I’ll end with a quote from bestselling author Al Ries who wrote Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind.

“The general rule is: publicity first, advertising second. The truth is, advertising cannot start a fire. It can only fan a fire after it has been started. To get something going from nothing, you need the validity that third-party endorsements bring. The first stage of any new campaign ought to be public relations.”

That’s what our new-patient acquisition system does. It positions your dental practice as a leader, it provides the motivation that consumers need to learn more about your practice, it generates direct and indirect response, and it helps identify gaps and areas for improvement. Our marketing process starts and fans your fire for continuous practice growth.

For more information about our new-patient acquisition system and marketing as a process, contact your Account Manager.

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