Direct mail… the rewards can be sweet

The use of direct mail has been out of fashion among forward-thinking businesses in recent years. With the advent of social media, video sharing websites and other technology, the idea of just sending promotional material to potential customers seems somehow too simple. Why would you opt to print and post a leaflet or flyer, when you could be making all-singing, all-dancing, promotional videos and sharing them with thousands of people on Twitter and Facebook?

There are several reasons why you should consider direct mail as part of your marketing strategy. Firstly, if you opt to produce a flyer to be delivered by a distribution company, you can choose where it goes. Distribution companies often have areas sub-divided into patches based on statistics such as ages, income and so on. This means you can decide who to deliver to – and you don’t waste time and money delivering to households who are not your target customers.

If you send promotional messages by post or email to people on your database, you have an even more targeted list. These contacts have already shown some interest in your practice – enough to give you their details – so you just have to convince them to take the next step.

Striking mail

Direct mail needs just as much thought as any other marketing. You must ensure you present your practice in the right way, and that means everything from clear, compelling copy with striking, impressive photographs. When we get marketing material through the post, it is all too easy to just throw it in the bin without really looking at it. If that happens to your direct mail, it is a very effective way to waste money; the only way to avoid it is to ensure your information will be eye-catching and interesting enough for people to want to hold onto it.

So what should direct mail include? You need to offer something that makes people want to contact you and find out more. Special offers or new patient prices are always a good idea for direct mail. Think of those people who have already heard of you, but never been motivated to contact you. If they are offered a free appointment, or a discount on certain treatments, it could be just the push they need to take action.

Alternatively, consider what most of your new patients want when they contact you. Is it tooth whitening, or perhaps straighter, more even teeth? A strong set of before and after photographs could be the most effective way to bring in new enquiries – show your patients that you offer exactly what they need. There is no harm in speaking to other business owners you know to find out what has worked for them and how you could learn from their experience.

Quality over quantity

Direct mail can have some advantages over other methods. Compare it to sharing a video on social media. In order to get the best response, you will need to use a professional company to put your video together, so there is a significant cost involved. Successful videos can generate hundreds, if not thousands of views, but how many of them are local people who are likely to use your practice? Then think of advertising. Booking space in a local newspaper can be expensive and again, you do not know who will see your advert. Can you be sure your target audience reads the newspaper? 

Marketing is not just a numbers game. There can be a temptation to judge your success entirely by how many people you have reached – but what good is reaching 5,000 people if only two of them contact you? It really is more about quality than quantity. By spending some time thinking about who you want to target and how to reach them directly with the kind of information that will tempt them, you can save a lot of time, money and effort – and bring in new patients who will really benefit your practice. 

Victoria Foster is a business manager with eight years of experience. She is the marketing director for Horton Consulting and works with dental practices to provide unique marketing services.

For more information telephone: 01279 882720, visit: or email:

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