In an increasingly digital era, it might seem that orthodontic practices should steer clear of print marketing. However, print marketing actually should continue to have a place in your marketing mix. Why? Because it’s proven to work! Here are a few options to consider.
The keys to a successful orthodontic postcard campaign are to find the right demographic and to have an excellent design with the best message for your target audience. Using a company with the best printing services and materials available is necessary for making a great first impression.
To obtain the highest return on your postcard marketing investment, target people in your area who actively seek your services. Research the market area to determine where your patients come from and where the opportunity exists; this could include mailing to a specific income bracket, neighborhood or ZIP code. Will you target homeowners or renters? Also, be certain that your campaign includes a call tracking number so you can measure the campaign’s success by the number of incoming calls and appointments set.
For best results, experts suggest that a postcard campaign consists of three mailings to optimize longevity. Consistent mailings increase your brand awareness, credibility and versatility. You should have the ability to change offers, messaging and lists as needed, which allows consistency along with some flexibility.
Advantages: Postcard campaigns are a good way to announce a new practice, new treatment offerings or finance options, and other similar developments because they’re generally printed in full color, with lots of space to discuss practice branding and the experience you can provide potential patients. Postcard campaigns have proven to be highly effective in marketing orthodontic practices—the average ROI for OrthodonticMarketing.net clients can be as high as 640 percent.
Disadvantages: Postcard campaigns may not have as long of a life span as print ads or directory listings. They also can be costlier than directory listings, newspaper ads or insert print marketing pieces. A well-executed postcard marketing campaign could take two to three weeks to implement the first mailing, and a total cycle of three mailings would require a four-month timeline from beginning to end, with a two-to-three-week setup and three monthly mailings.
Whether they appear in a small neighborhood weekly or a metropolitan daily, newspaper ads can bring new patients to your practice door. Advertising rates are usually determined by newspaper readership and the physical size of the ad, so it can be easy to fit newspaper ads into a marketing budget.
Advantages: The ads are earmarked to appear in particular sections of a newspaper, so your ad can be positioned to attract those interested in, say, health and wellness who may be looking for an orthodontist. Publishers often discount the rate if an advertiser purchases a series of spots instead of just one. The increased exposure from multiple ads can add credibility, which may influence a reader’s choice to book an appointment with you. Newspaper ads work best for special offers, financing options and grand opening announcements.
Disadvantages: Image quality can be poor, so photos of happy patients and your staff, patient testimonials with images, or even before-and-after cases usually don’t render great results. In some cases, readership may be limited. And the shelf life of a daily newspaper can be less than 24 hours.
Unlike direct mail packets targeted to new movers (see next page), Valpak mailers are distributed to larger mailing lists in your area, but also permit you to mail variations of your campaign to certain segments you wish to target.
Advantages: You can specify your desired target according to ZIP code, neighborhoods and level of education or income; for example, you can send a “new patient special” promotion to residents of freshly built neighborhood homes, and a “new treatment plan” launch to other segments. The mailing pieces are usually in full color and standard-sized for the pack, and you have the flexibility of using both front and back of the flyer to give the recipients a true sense of your practice experience, staff, location, services, specials and branding.
Valpak also offers tracking and response information in an online portal, so you can get a feel for the return on the investment that isn’t widely available with other media. The information usually includes confirmation of delivery area, quantity delivered, and calls received through your campaign tracking phone number.
Disadvantages: Your flyer is among nonrelated advertisers that can range from home construction to auto detailing. You’re also taking a chance that, unless you have some exclusivity arrangement, your competitors may also be mailing in the same pack.
Valpak is one of the largest direct mail options. The company says that advertisers should run at least a six-month campaign to be consistent to get their branding on recipients’ radars. This long term may be hard for some practice owners who just want to introduce a new practitioner, treatment option or location.
Local print directories
According to a recent study by Local Search Association & Burke that tracked the effectiveness of local media, 8 out of 10 people use print directories when looking for local products and services. And 70 percent of them turn to such directories first. (Think of products like the Yellow Pages or White Pages, local coupon books such as SaveAround, ZipLocal Business Guides and commmunity guides published by the local chamber of commerce.) These products could, after all, be considered the original “locally targeted search engine.” With 84 percent of users intending to make a purchase, and 46 percent of them being new potential patients, it makes sense to take advantage of this type of print marketing to grow your patient base.
Advantages: The cost is relatively low, and print directories have a longer shelf life than some other print options because most focused local directory publications are published biannually.
Disadvantages: You’re listed amid your competitors, and many directories don’t offer enough space for verbiage and design that represent your branding or service offerings, making you stand out in a sea of competition. Ad size varies from publication to publication: Some include just a few 350-character lines of text; others a 2½-by-4½-inch space, or a 4-by-10-inch spot; and still others offer full-page layouts. And with some directories, it’s not possible to display special offers or new-practice-opening information that may be crucial in influencing a potential patient’s decision to book an appointment.
New-mover target packs
Marketing to new movers offers the chance to build a foundation for a solid, lasting patient base right out of the gate. According to a study by V12data.com, within six months of moving 70 percent of new residents are looking for a dentist or an orthodontist. The average value of a new patient in the first year is $4,000–$6,000, so this could be a new-patient revenue source that yields an excellent return on investment.
Advantages: Because it’s very targeted, it makes sense when offering new-patient specials for growing families. Some new residents are looking for an orthodontist to continue existing treatments, but have put off looking for one because of the stress of moving. With about 40 million people moving each year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, your practice may have to replace 20 percent of its patient base in any given year; new-mover programs target families at the right place and the right time. You can target new homeowners as well as new movers.
Disadvantages: Living in a small community might hinder its effectiveness because you’re limited by the number of homes (potential patients) you can hit in a given campaign. If you live in a mainly elderly community, you’re missing homes with children and adults needing orthodontic services. And if your marketing budget is of concern, the specialized lists for these types of mailings can be costlier than a list based solely on mailing route or ZIP code.