When you decide to send out a direct mail piece for your practice you will want to keep a few things in mind when designing a mailer. But before I go over the elements of a successful dental direct mail piece we need to cover a few things about basic strategy beforehand.
Who is the piece directed to and what is the purpose of the direct mail piece? Are you going to be sending it to a list of past customers or a prospecting piece to attract new patients? Do you want to notify current patients of additional services or incentivize a new prospect with an offer? It is best to keep your mailer singularly focused. Having direction helps its effectiveness.
You also need to decide what format to send the mailer in and how many times you plan to reach the patient or prospect. If you are trying to reach current patients, you may be better suited to use an email campaign. It is far less expensive and easier to administer. The problem is you probably don’t have everyone’s email and you need to mail a portion of them if you want to notify everyone. I prefer a letter for your first piece – it is more professional and increases the effectiveness of subsequent mailers.
For new prospects, the first mailer should be in a formal letter to introduce you to the prospect. Use a picture and bio of the doctors and invite them in to tour the office and meet the doctor(s) and dental team. Be prepared to schedule patients within 24 to 48 hours or they will lose interest and go somewhere else.
One more factor to consider, it almost always saves labor, time and money to have a professional service administer the mailing. One exception would be small targeted mailings of 200 or less. If you hand stamp and address them, your open rate will dramatically increase.
There are five things to consider when designing a dental direct mail piece: Headline, graphic design, message, call to action, and sense of urgency.
(1) It is often said that 90 cents of every direct mail dollar should be spent on the headline. Why? Because that is the first thing people read on the piece; if they are interested they will read on, if not it hits the trash. The header is usually considered the largest type on the page, it is best to keep it between 7 and 10 words and if possible and on one line. Don’t try to get too fancy here and use hard to read type, including type in all caps; it is unnatural and harder to read.
(2) A large graphic is best to use, at least 50% of the mailer size. Like they say, a picture says a 1000 words and people love to look at other people. Avoid using stock photos of people no one knows, invest a little money in photos of patients – use a tagline under the photo to draw interest. If you take the photos yourself, use good lighting, dark photos are a turn off.
(3) The message needs to be focused. One of the biggest mistakes most people make is trying to stuff all kinds of offers in the ad. It should be easy on the eye, so the reader doesn’t have to work and can quickly pick up the most important point you are trying to get across.
(4) A call to action is a must and should be compelling enough to get people to email you or pick up the phone and call. This could be in the form of an offer or special. The problem with this is you attract the “coupon mentality” and you have to work like crazy to retain them. You would be better off driving them to the website to get more information. For example, say your mailer focuses on “Tooth bothering you?” go to dentistemergencynow.com and download your free report: “10 things you can do “now” to stop your tooth from hurting”. To get the report, capture their name and email. Continue to email them things to help them with their condition. You want to earn their business by properly educating them.
(5) A sense of urgency works best with an offer or special. You use and expiration date or limited amount to motivate prospects to take action. It is best to fashion the offer to be redeemed at a future date to avoid the “couponer”, e.g. buy two cleanings get your third cleaning for free.
Remember to include your housekeeping on your dental direct mail piece: Housekeeping consists of dental logo, practice name, doctor’s name(s), address, phone number, email, web address, hours, and credit terms.
To get a professionally designed piece, I suggest you use a graphic artist. It is best to use one who has lots of experience in direct mail. They will know all the post office regulations and help you avoid costly mistakes. To help the graphic artist produce a better mailer download my creative brief at: