True or False? The success of an orthodontic direct mail campaign is based solely on its initiation. The answer is: FALSE.
Unfortunately, too many people that are "new to the world of marketing" believe that notion to be true.
Just conducting a direct mail campaign is not enough to guarantee success. What many orthodontists don’t realize is that executing a successful direct marketing campaign is much more time consuming than they thought. This is not to say that they can’t work, but it takes much more than just mailing out your postcards and waiting for the phone to ring in your office. To get the most out of your mailing, there are many different steps that must be followed:
• Use the right list. Not all lists are the same. Before you mail out your postcards, you need to make sure you are mailing to the right audience. Start by defining what you want from your mailing and go from there. The cost is always an important factor, but you should be wary of lists that are much less expensive than others. Most times, it makes sense to spend a little more on a better list that can generate results. Research the lead source and read the referrals and terms of agreement. Most companies offer a short-term trial period or some sort of opt-out agreement. Spending money on a list that doesn’t yield results is essentially throwing money out of the window.
• Presentation. Whenever you do any marketing, especially direct mailing, you should put yourself in the recipients' shoes. Before mailing, you should ask yourself what would make them want to read and interact with your postcard. You need your marketing piece to stand out from the others in that crowded mailbox. To do so, you need to be creative with your design and the message of your postcard. You need to have a piece that can easily relay your practice's message, how you can help them and how they can reach you. Most recipients will give your postcard a short glance. Bullet points and well-placed bold sentences work best. Your goal is to get them curious and interested enough to call immediately after opening.
• The Conversion Rate. A good conversion rate is anywhere from 1-3% of the total marketing pieces mailed. There will be some postcards that will not hit the mark, but that is to be expected. The natural inclination is try to turn every phone call you get immediately into an appointment. Prospective clients may sense your desperation and opt to choose someone else for their family's orthodontics needs. With every call you receive, your staff should have a short script, or even a list of basic questions you want answered in the initial phone call. The key is to find the client’s motivation and see what they want from your practice. It is very rare to get an appointment or consultation after the first phone call. You need to have some patience with your direct mail leads and work them like any other new prospect. Some would-be clients need to work with a sense of urgency, while others need some time to digest everything. Every call that you get must be placed into a database and followed up with as quickly as possible. Getting your phone to ring is not the goal, converting those calls to appointments is.
• Repetition is VITAL. If you are only going to send one round of postcards and expect your schedule to fill up, you will be disappointed with the results. Direct marketing is a numbers game. Before you start, you need to commit to mailing to your same list multiple times. Most recipients won’t respond to your postcard until possibly the fourth time you reach out to them. This means having the budget and patience to see the process through, regardless of any previous results. It is always better to send the same list multiple times than to keep switching from list to list and hoping for better results. Take your time to find THE target market that you like and dive in head first. Certainly, you can change the look and design of your subsequent mailings, but you can’t give up if you are not getting the initial results you desire. To give yourself the best chance for success, you should plan on a scheduled mailing campaign of at least four postcards.
Many, many orthodontists have had great success with direct mailing. Conversely, there are those who consider it a waste of time and money. In most cases, those folks have done things incorrectly along the way. Direct mailing shouldn’t be your only marketing piece, but rather one in a series of ways you plan to grow your orthodontic practice. Before you send out that first postcard mailing, you should make sure you have the best list and are willing to commit – regardless of the early returns. If you do this, you will find more success than you realized.
At GetOrthoCases, orthodontic practice marketing is what we do and ALL that we do.