The Secret to Direct Mail Success – Podcast

The Secret to Direct Mail Success


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Podcast Transcript:

You just spent 5,000 dollars on a direct mail campaign. You ask your office manager, “Hey, have seen anyone come in from that mailing?” Your question is greeted with a Blank stare and an awkward, “I think we’ve had a few.”  Sound familiar? As I’ve often said, this type of marketing is based on the hope for a return, hope is a lousy marketing strategy.

Welcome to another edition of the Professional Practice Marketing Moment, I’m your host Mike Green from Doctor Demographics. A few days ago, I was talking through a marketing strategy with a dentist on the east coast. She asked a very common question: How can I make my direct mail campaigns more effective. In other words, she was asking, how can I avoid spending an obscene amount of money on direct mail campaigns, when I don’t really know whether they are working or not. Look, marketing is nothing more than a technique that provides a return. Whether that’s radio advertising, Facebook campaigns, or direct mail. As a professional, you need to know that when you invest a nickel, you are going to at least get that nickel back in return, if not a dime. Today I’d like to show you how you can create a direct mail campaign that will provide a predictable result, and ultimately will provide for more patients in the chair.

The biggest mistake most doctors make with direct mail, is that they just want to get it out the door so they rely on the advice of lousy marketers who don’t know the industry or even worse, they just have the mailing company help them with a message and design. Let me tell you something that will save you many thousands of dollars per year, not all messages work in every area of the country. If your marketer or mailing company has not done in depth research into your area, including the demographics and psychographic characteristics that define your target population, you are akin to the blindfolding, bat swinging kid at a birthday party, hoping to hit the pinata. Sure, you may hit the thing on occasion, but the odds are certainly stacked against you. What typically happens, at least at my kids birthday parties, is that after every kid has had a few chances at it, and either Dad’s arm is tired of pulling the rope to make the kids miss the pinata or that there is increased risk of serious bodily harm from an arrant swing, the Birthday boy gets the last turn without the blindfold, and breaks the pinata, spilling seemingly endless amounts of leftover halloween candy on the ground to the delight of all the kids at the party..

The Secret

What if I told you that I had the secret to how to do direct mail successfully? That you could be the first to swing at the pinata with no blindfold and a heavy bat? Well, sharpen your pencils because here it is: The key to any advertising is nailing the message. But wait, you knew that, right? So the trick is, how can you test a few different messages, that you know will convert at a high level, without spending the bulk cost of design, printing, and mailing a postcard? Instead of spending upwards of $5,000 on that direct mail campaign, first, spend $150 to $300 on either Google or Facebook ads. This gives you the chance of test different messages, graphics, and even treatments, to show you what will convert.

Here’s a recent example. We have a client that we help with marketing, that wanted to run a direct mail campaign. They were going to spend $3,000 per month, for 6 months with a direct mail provider. They had planned on using Sedation as their main message, as that was something they wanted to promote in their practice. Not a bad idea and one that I’m sure many of you listening can relate to for your practice. The problem was, they didn’t really know if sedation, at least how they were presenting it, would ignite their market into action. So they were going to spend $18,000 on an unproven message to a market that they didn’t fully understand. No, not on my watch. Now, this is not to say sedation is not a bad treatment to promote, or that direct mail is not the right delivery mechanism of that message, it’s just that they need to be far more scientific about their marketing than what they had planned.

Another example is a client, who practices in a very competitive market in California, was struggling to grow their practice. They needed exposure, but couldn’t get noticed by a public that is deluged by hundreds of dentists and their marketing. Do you think a postcard that said, “Hi we’re ABC dentistry, and we love our patients” would be successful? I hope you shaking your heads no. Yet, this is, in so many words, precisely what they were going to do. After some digging, we discovered that they happened to be the highest reviewed practice in the area, because they indeed did really connect with their patients, and their patients had returned the favor by rating them high and often on Google. Okay, now we have something we can work with. Instead of a message that says “We love our patients” the message became “ABC Dental, the highest rated dentist office in the area, for a reason”. Now that’s a good start of a message that may work. But our work isn’t done yet. We still need some data that we can hang our hats on in order to have a predictable return on investment. Off to Facebook we go. By using the targeting tools, and trying a few different designs and message wording, we let the ad run for a week and spend a few hundred dollars. Like magic, the data is right there in front of me of everything I need to know in order to make a good decision for my direct mail campaign. I know the conversion rate, I know the design that will work, and I know the message. Now, armed with that knowledge, do you think they will have more success with my direct mail campaign technique? You bet they will, and they’ll learn something about their patients that they didn’t know before, giving them a guide in how to market to them in the future.

Now, I am very aware that this may sound like too many steps for you. Trust me, I get it. Unless you have a dedicated and experienced marketer on staff, it’s hard to commit to this process. I’ve worked with many Doctors who would rather just throw money at it, than spend the time to figure out the process. I get that you didn’t go to school to become a marketer, you went to school to become a doctor. In those cases, I suggest you consider our marketing arm of Doctor Demographics. Our team has over 30 years experience in Dental marketing and can fulfill on your campaigns big or small. From websites, social media management, media creation, and yes even direct mail. To find out more, visit our marketing site at or shoot me an email at

I want to thank you for joining me today for this podcast. My marketing team and I enjoying putting these today and hope that they raise your marketing IQ and help you make better marketing choices. Until next time, this is Mike Green with the Professional Practice Marketing Moment.