Considering Direct Mail to Grow Your Practice?
Special Marketing Feature (Part 1 of 3)
By Melinda Spitek, CEO, Hycomb Marketing
Direct mail can be a hugely rewarding stimulus to your practice. Emphasis on can be. The perception is often, “I’ll mail stuff to the community; soon the phones will be ringing and patients will be flocking.”
The reality is more like the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.
And the secret is: know who you want to attract, know what sort of communication motivates them, and target them appropriately. That’s how you get the most bang for your direct mail marketing buck.
And the best way to start, believe it or not, is working on a direct mail campaign to the most important patients of all: the ones you already have!
Dentists struggling with a lackluster patient base have told me, “Melinda, it’s like they’ve forgotten I exist!” I would respectfully respond: you have it wrong. You have forgotten they exist. What have you done lately to motivate your own patients?
Test the Waters While Motivating Existing Patients
There’s no better (or more cost-effective) way to test a direct mail strategy than with current patients. (This is also known as internal marketing.) So, you might start with quarterly communications to patients that can double as your direct mail piece. But to get the most pop for your penny, pick your time, pick your location and, most of all, be consistent.
When should you begin this endeavor? Come October, Americans are going to be inundated with election materials. Who’s going to win? If you don’t already have direct mail up and running, don’t try to compete with that. Wait at least until November 10 this year before you send your first direct mailing. That’s a while away, but it gives you months to work on your pre-planning.
Getting Your Ducks in a Row
Initiate a quarterly newsletter, starting in November, to existing patients wishing them Happy Holidays. This is the test. The second week in January 2009 is the perfect time to begin a direct mail campaign (external marketing). The hullabaloo of the Elections and the Holidays will be over. The audience will be targeted, and therefore more apt to pay attention.
Ready your team. Make sure that they are prepared for the (often unexpected) calls and responses that are to come. Make sure your stationery is high quality (a unified logo that carries through on everything you send out is a must) and your practice brochure is up to date. You will need these to include in a welcome packet to send to all new patients who call – especially from a direct mail effort.
Until my next installment, there are questions you need to ask yourself:
- How much do you want to invest to get a new patient (or retain an existing one)?
- What appeals to patients you want to attract?
- If you’re processing 25 patients a month from direct mail, how many are accepting treatment?
Hycomb has been doing direct mail for dentists – exclusively – since 1997. And one size doesn’t fit all. Want to chat about what sort of direct mail campaign would work for you, in your marketplace? Give me a call.
Melinda Spitek is CEO of Hycomb Marketing Inc. Hycomb is an authority in marketing for dentists. Melinda has had plenty of hands-on experience as well, having worked 23 years in dental offices. For help with marketing, just call Hycomb at (800) 523-6961 or visit www.hycomb.com.