When MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter first debuted, the entire Internet was abuzz about social media marketing. “Going viral” was the next big thing! You could market your dental practice online for little to no money at all – reach millions of consumers all around the world for the cost of an Internet connection. But the truth about social media marketing is it really isn’t that cheap. Direct mail campaigns are much more effective for dentists, doctors, and other medical practices. While many so-called “Internet gurus” tout social media as a quick and easy solution to market your company online, a successful social media marketing campaign requires time, money, and manpower that most companies just don’t have. A good social media plan takes a well-thought out strategy. Social media is very time-consuming to use and very easy to misuse. While it may seem like you can just hop online, send a few tweets, and gain instant publicity for your company, nothing could be further from the truth. Measurements need to be set in place, analytics and tracking need to be employed, and usually some element of web development or design is required to set your social networking profile apart from the rest. In addition, social media requires community management. That means someone to identify topics, write and update your blog, someone to send and respond to tweets, someone to update your Facebook page, etc., etc., etc. Just hiring a part-time community manager for 20 hours per week at $10 an hour (this is on the low end of the pay scale) will add more than $10,000 to your budget. Not to mention what you will pay for a social media strategist to create your campaign, a web designer to build your custom Facebook and Twitter pages, and third-party specialists to employ all the newest technologies on a regular basis. Direct mail is one of the most powerful marketing tools you can employ today. It’s personalized, customized, targeted, and relevant. With a direct mail campaign that utilizes variable data and personalized one-to-one messaging you can effectively reach your ideal demographic – at a fraction of the time and cost necessary for social media. Many target demographics don’t even use social media. For instance, dental practices want to reach an ideal demographic of people who have money, want to spend money on their oral health, and are concerned about ageing well. The segment of the population that most uses social media – younger adults – have other priorities. Printed direct mail is what drives traffic to a website. Your newsletter or postcard provides tangibility, credibility, and an appeal the Internet does not offer. In fact, close to 90% of the 18-49 consumer group welcome, read, and respond to printed mailed materials, and baby boomers account for 60% of all healthcare spending – $2.1 trillion – they actively seek top quality products, shop through the mail, and keep mail pieces for future reference. It’s a fact: direct mail contributes most to establishing a relationship and consumers value organizations that make an effort to communicate and build a relationship with them through the mail.