This is a response to “Direct Mail Marketing Wastes Time and Money” by Dr. Justin Short. In that piece, Dr. Short states that newsletters are ineffective. While he’s talking about print newsletters versus digital, as a proponent and practitioner of dental newsletter marketing for decades, I feel compelled to offer quite a few counterpoints. My experience drives me to respectfully disagree with Dr. Short.
Not all direct mail is created equally. Dr. Short may well agree. For example, a recent study of 300 demographic target markets across the United States found that e-newsletters generate a higher response rate than postcards. On average, e-newsletters drive 17 calls for every 10 from a postcard, giving them a 70% higher response rate.
Dr. Short asks a fair question about dental newsletters: “Are we really that narcissistic as dentists? Why do we think our patients want to read about us?”
We fully agree that patients don’t want to read generic marketing fluff, not even about their beloved dentist. But effective newsletter marketing is not about the dentist. It’s about the patient. For context, sample articles from our Dental Bites e-newsletter include “Preserve Your Teeth as You Age,” “Choosing the Right Dental Fillings,” and “Gum Disease: Your Teeth’s Greatest Enemy.”
Articles from our Pediatric Dental Bites e-newsletter include “Does Your Child Have Dentist Visit Anxiety?” “Could Tooth Grinding Cause Your Child’s Headaches?” and “The Hidden Dangers of Flavored Waters.” While they subtly point back to the expertise of the dental practice that sends them, these articles are patient-centric and educational.
Dr. Short contends that newsletters won’t get read. Of course, we disagree. We would not still be in business and expanding our e-newsletters for pediatric dentists and periodontists if they didn’t.
Even if articles are simply skimmed, which is how most online content is consumed, the dentist who sends a newsletter reinforces to patients that he cares about them enough to provide quality content that will improve their health. Newsletters keep the practice top of mind and create a favorable impression. This is critical for case acceptance and keeping regular treatment schedules.
We agree with Dr. Short that “The key to success is to think like a patient, not like a dentist.” Effective newsletters are educational, easy to digest, and visually appealing.
We have a much broader view of newsletters than does our colleague. In the Internet marketing world, content is king. Today, dentists are very cognizant of the need to create content and post it on their blog or social media.
Patients share content they find useful, and prospective patients find educational briefs and dental tips online. Our dental marketing newsletters give dentists a steady stream of high-quality content ideas they can share on their digital channels.
Unfortunately for Dr. Short, he’s had bad experiences in sending out materials to patients, and it cost him money. While he’s not necessarily talking about newsletters being the source of his negative experiences, a key point is that newsletters are cost effective.
And, they do generate results, largely in patient retention. Newsletters also can promote referral programs. They can serve as reminders of rewards for patients who write reviews and promote special offers as well. In many ways, newsletters can actually be the nexus of a successful dental marketing program.
“Sure, I can see some benefit of keeping our practice top of mind,” concedes Dr. Short. “And if you really enjoy putting together a newsletter, go for it.”
If you don’t enjoy it, contact us at WPI Communications. You can simply focus on the results.
Steve Klinghoffer is president and publisher at WPI Communications Inc. He founded WPI Communications with his wife, Lori, in 1984. WPI Communications is a renowned leader in newsletter marketing for dentists and other professional practices. He has helped hundreds of dentists build their practices with newsletters. To start or improve a dental e-newsletter marketing program, contact WPI Communications for a free, no-obligation consultation at (800) 323-4995 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit wpicommunications.com.