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Dental Advertising, What Demographics Should I Mail to?

Jun 19, 2008
In the case of dental marketing, there always seems to be a strugle over what demographics to choose for a mailing program.

If you are looking for an answer like "you should focus on 25-50 year old women who have an annual income of $40,000, live in a house valued over $200,000, and like to golf and travel," you won't get it here.

In the case of dental care, instead of demographics, you should first consider psychographics, in other words, what makes a patient decide to go to YOUR practice? For a dental practice, it has been proven that a vast majority of dental patients choose their practice mainly because of its convenient location. It's a sad but true reality that comes from a lack of public education about what constitutes great dental care.

Also, when creating a mailing list, you need to ask yourself what your practice needs. Many times that doesn't come down to 25-50 year old women who like to golf; it comes down to patients with money to afford your services.

In both of these cases, the data points to a simple geographic list. There are many things you can get in a simple geographic based list. You can eliminate "unfavorable" neighborhoods, eliminate transient apartment dwellers (not to be confused with condo owners), and not waste money mailing to those who live far out of your area.

If I were to set one demographic parameter, it would be household income. If they make above average income in the area (usually $50K and above), and live within 5-10 miles of my practice depending on population concentration, they would be on my list.

By creating a demographic selection of list by age and personal interest, you not only are limiting your target audience, but also you are going to pay more money per name and receive less targets. In turn, you will also receive fewer responses. In this case too, we are not figuring in design and copywriting costs for a targeted marketing piece. (If you specifically target your market, you need to take the same care to target your message, and your media as well.)

You also mentioned that you are in an insurance heavy market. Do you take their insurance? If not, do you offer programs as viable insurance substitutes? Many practices I deal with are in a location that does not support who the dentist wants to target. Some are fee for service practices in an insurance market like yours, and get beat to death by the "do you take my insurance?" question.

In a case of demographics, keep it simple. If all you want in your practice is 33-year-old men who own BMW's, you can have all of them and still have a very small practice. But what you really want is patients in your chairs who have the means to afford the best care you can possibly offer for them. My suggestion would be to go with a radius around your office and an income qualifier.
About the Author
James Erickson is the President of EMC Dental Marketing which gives Dentists a resource for turn-key dental marketing programs and dental practice marketing education including new patient attraction, and internal marketing systems. Visit www.EMCdental.com and get a free practice
building kit sent directly to your home or office.
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