To develop a successful dental marketing approach in this modern, hyperactive consumer market, it is imperative for general dental and specialty offices to move beyond a generic current occupant presentation.  Even the personalized “address label” and/or black and white personalization of letter mailings to current dental patients has its limitations.  Variable digital full color printing has significant potential to achieve the internal and external communication goals of many dental practice types including cosmetic, family, and orthodontic.
Dental and orthodontic practices not in a healthy growth mode or that have seen shrinkage in recent months or years require more advanced marketing methods. These practices are not going to be able to compete successfully for the consumer’s attention and dollar without adding to their marketing repertoire.
Overcoming the economic, insurance or consumer issues like denial, procrastination, and oral ignorance requires a higher level of interaction, intensity, and creativity. Variable digital printing puts increased emphasis on the recipient. By putting the recipient “in the concept” rather than as an “adjunct” to the concept, has a stunning effect compared to traditional direct mail.

The personalization inherent in variable printing creates a very unique connection with the consumer recipient – current or prospective dental/orthodontic patient:
• It completely envelopes the dental consumer’s experience
• They are an integral part of the communication not just an afterthought
• It has a connective emotional impact not just a visual impact
• Their name "inside the design" reflects the communicative effect back to them
– The effect is, therefore, much more about them than about you (the dentist or orthodontist)

Go to and review the cards designed with personalization on the front, coupon section and “Call To Action” section of the cards.
While initial cost should be considered when choosing a marketing concept, it is really potential results being purchased. If the lower priced product is ineffective, the initial cost becomes irrelevant. Paying 100 percent more for something that actually works benefits the purchaser much more.
As discussed and presented above, variable printing provides the ability to place text throughout the dentistry and orthodontic marketing piece. This unique printing technology and its personalization capability requires a complex and individualized process. Offset printing (thousands of versions of the same exact piece) is cheaper for this reason. While variable printing costs more, it offers much more.
Offset printing offers you savings today – Variable printing offers you more patients tomorrow. Gaining and holding the attention of the 21st century dental consumer requires the use of the best communication repertoire available. Variable printing offers the dentist and the orthodontist the level of intensity needed to overpower the current marketing din.
To avoid the pitfalls of dental marketing mediocrity, put cost in its place. More importantly, don’t give this benefit away to your dental or orthodontic competitors.

Response rates are dramatically improved with the personalization of variable digital printing. Dental and orthodontic postcards become signature pieces rather than stacks of printed paper. Offset printing – thousands of printed pieces without personalization – cannot achieve this level of response because of its generic and detached connection with the recipient.
Traditional response rates for Black and White, offset printing, and current occupant mailings are .03% to 1% across most industries. Below are the improvement levels seen once more data, full color and personalization are implemented.
• 44% Response Improvement by adding recipient’s name to the printed page (not current occupant)*
• 135% Response Improvement by adding full color to a printed piece*
• 500% Response Improvement by adding recipient’s name, color, and customizing content to interests of recipient*

Offset printing often has a cheaper cost of entry. This elixir of cheaper initial cost is very powerful. Yet, a successful response (and more patients) is what dentists and orthodontists demand. Variable printing of orthodontic or dental postcards requires more initial investment, but if the value of a better response is entered into the equation, cost of entry becomes irrelevant.
For example:
            Dental Practice #1: 10,000 postcards for $6,000 is fairly common for offset printing**
            Dental Practice #2: 10,000 postcards for $8,000 is fairly common for variable printing**
            ** These averages include all fees: postage, mailing, full color both sides printing, design, and lead list

A somewhat positive response rate of 0.75% with offset printing/mailing of 10,000 postcards would produce 75 calls. (This response rate takes into account an offset printer/marketer including full color and placing the recipient's name in the addressing). 
In contrast, the variable printing personalization capability creates the potential for 125 to 150 calls. While this level of increased response is an estimate, variable printing only has to increase actual patient numbers by a few more to pay back the initial cost benefit offset printed dental and orthodontic postcards provide. Just a few additional patients would add 7-25 thousand dollars in future income
However, there is another major caveat in this offset printing and variable printing comparison. What if the local dental or orthodontic competition is already doing an offset printed direct mailing? Competition will drive down response rates - variable printing offers the dentist or orthodontist an obvious advantage in this competitive environment.

Dental or orthodontic direct mail marketing is always evolving. Orthodontists and dentists need to continue to innovate, not only to stay ahead of their local competition, but also to effectively engage the consumer in this hyper active environment. Most consumers are not aware of the value in modern dentistry and orthodontics.
Breaking through the marketing clutter requires more than what was done yesterday. Variable digital printing will not solve every dental marketing dilemma, but it provides the leg up many orthodontia and family/cosmetic dentistry practices can use to get to the next level.