Seven Secrets to Creating Persuasive Direct Mail Messages

The past several years have seen a revolution in the tools available to market your practice. Print ads, brochures, flyers and postcards have been joined by web sites, blogs, e-blasts and social media.

What hasn’t changed is the need to create messaging that moves and persuades prospective patients to choose your practice. When you create your next direct mail series, these seven tips will give you the advantage you need to make your brand/marketing message stand out from your competitors.

    A poorly chosen tone is one of the biggest mistakes I see in many direct mail programs. The mistake being the tone is stuffy and formal, and it resembles nearly every other direct mailer your competitors are mailing out.

    Don’t make this mistake. Instead, give your direct mail a lively, conversational voice that has life and personality to it. Think of the informal, friendly tone you use when you speak to patients in person, and then write your entire direct mail campaign through this voice.
    This is a natural extension of tip #1. Using a conversational tone, use your direct mail program as a means of developing a two-way dialogue with prospective patients—as opposed to a one-way monologue.

    Do this by writing more about your patients and their needs, and a little less about you. By showing you have a clear understanding of your patients’ challenges, fears and concerns, you’re in a strong position to position your practice as a solution to their dental needs.
    Another problem I see with many dental practice direct mail campaigns is they all cover the same territory. They include a standard list of services, the dentist’s biography, a map showing the practice’s location and a standard call to action line.

    Instead of merely covering the basics, dig deeper and discover what’s truly unique about your practice and build specific messaging around it. Think about the one special aspect of your practice that sets it apart, and make that your unique selling proposition. This could be:

    - Excellent patient education and follow-up
    - Whitening and other cosmetic services
    - An atmosphere that caters to putting children at ease
    - Specialty services that focus on dental needs for the elderly

    In short, pinpoint the tent pole benefit that makes your practice unique within your community, and shine a bright light on it.
    Today, patients expect to leave a dental practice with more than just clean teeth or a new crown. They also want to have an experience that is emotionally satisfying. Using a conversational voice, communicate to patients how better dental care will improve their quality of life.

    An excellent way to communicate emotional benefits is by developing testimonials given by satisfied patients. Testimonials from real patients come across as genuine and sincere to prospective patients who are considering your practice.

    When developed properly, patient testimonials are a more powerful form of messaging than anything you can say about your practice. That’s because testimonials are patient-to-patient communication, much like two friends talking in the yard or at the store.
    Here is an age-old axiom that applies to every direct mail piece you will ever develop.

    “For people to focus on your message, your message must be focused.”

    You never want to clutter any direct mail piece with too much information. When you stuff too much into a mailer, your message gets muddled and prospective patients retain little, if any of it.

    If you have multiple key benefits that you wish to communicate, sprinkle them in over a series of mailers. Your prospective patients are bombarded with marketing messages. So give them two or three primary messages per mailer, and you’re making a sales pitch they can easily absorb and digest. Load four, five or more key points into your mailers, and there’s a great chance your audience won’t remember any of them.
    Headlines and subheads are the most important element in any direct mail piece. So never waste this valuable real estate by creating generic headlines such as, “About Us” or “Services.” Instead, create headlines and subheads that communicate key benefits about your practice.

    Before most prospective patients read a direct mailer, they first glance through it. If all they do is skim your headlines and subheads, they should receive a well-crafted, strategic marketing message. This usually will further motivate them to read your body copy for more specific details.
    Every direct mail piece should conclude by telling prospective patients the next step to take on the way to becoming your patient. But take things further and tell them one or two easy ways they can interact with your practice. Here are three easy and inexpensive ways to this.

    - Create a web page where patients can ask questions and receive answers
    - Develop a blog where readers can post comments
    - Maintain an interactive Facebook page where patients can communicate with you

    Today, using direct mail as a one-way monologue is a thing of the past. To engage prospective patients and build community trust, you have to create messaging that is conversational and serves to start a friendly dialogue between your practice and your community.
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