A back-to-school dental campaign is perfect for bringing families back into your practice during the late-summer slowdown. Here’s what it takes to run one that will put your practice at the head of the class!

For dental practices, back-to-school season is often when production and patient flow slow.n

In fact, one study found that September is one of the four slowest months of the year!

The study reported that overall production, doctors’ production, and the number of patients seen all drop in September.

So how can practices stay at the top of families’ minds and counter those trends?

Back-to-school dental campaigns.

Free Toolkit: Create an A+ Back-to-School Dental Campaign

Get our toolkit below to make sure your campaigns are at the head of the class!

Discover the five essentials for a back-to-school dental campaign, and use the toolkit to plan out your back-to-school emails, newsletters, social media, and more!

The Basics of a Back-to-School Dental Campaign

Like we’ve done in past articles on running a dental recall campaign and a dental reactivation campaign, let’s start with the basics of a back-to-school campaign.

Message

The message is not only what you say in your campaign, but it’s also how you say it.

And that depends completely on your campaign audience.

In the case of a back-to-school dental campaign, the audience typically is parents of young patients heading back to school.

So, instead of touting the benefits kiddos want to hear (“Schedule a back-to-school visit, and leave the biggest take-home bag in history!”), you’ll want to focus more on benefits that resonate with adults.

For example, touch on how a new, fresh smile is the perfect addition to kids’ new clothes for school, or create urgency by including a special offer with an expiration date.

Medium

For a back-to-school dental campaign, the medium, or the type of communication you use, will vary. In fact, you’ll want to use more than one type.

The A+ campaigns use email promotions, newsletter articles, text messages, social media, and even direct mail.

By mixing up the types of communications, you’re more likely to get your audience to see your message, and as our Big Book of Dental Inspiration says, “The magic of frequency makes it impossible for patients to ignore a message.”

Timing

Unlike a recall or a reactivation campaign, the timing of a back-to-school campaign has some flexibility.

But you’ll want to start priming parents before the first bell of the school year rings, and even well after.

As we’ve mentioned before, “A good rule of thumb is that the more effort you have to put into the message, the further out it should be in the campaign. So anything going out in the mail should have a runway of at least a month.”

For example, community outreach, direct mail, and newsletter articles fit best at the beginning of the campaign, since they take longer.  Alternatively, email promotions, social media, and texts work great toward the middle and end.

Running a Back-to-School Dental Campaign

Now that the the basics are covered, let’s dive into what an actual back-to-school dental campaign can look like.

Keep in mind, you may want to change your campaign based on what you’ve learned from past campaigns or based on feedback from your patients.

Message No. 1

Medium: Mailed postcard

Content: Include a photo of a young patient beaming with a new, fresh smile. Don’t forget the call-to-action (for example, “Schedule a back-to-school visit now”) and the best way for parents to schedule it.

Timing: 6 weeks before the ideal appointment time

Message No. 2

Medium: Newsletter

Content: Write an article on ways to get kids back into the school-year routine. Emphasize the need for families to get their dental visits scheduled early — before their fall calendar gets packed!

Timing: 5 weeks before the ideal appointment time

Message No. 3

Medium: Social media

Content: Share eye-catching images of wide-smiled young patients in school, and remind your followers of your openings for back-to-school visits. Highlight any special offers or new kid activities in the office.

Timing: 4 weeks before the ideal appointment time

Message No. 4

Medium: Email

Content: Remind families of openings in your schedule for back-to-school visits, and highlight any special offers or new kid activities in the office.

Timing: 3 weeks before the ideal appointment time

Message No. 5

Medium: Text

Content: Message parents about current openings, highlighting that time to take advantage of them is fading fast.

Timing: 1 week before the ideal appointment time

Campaigning in the Office

Once you get your young patients in for their back-to-school visit, the campaigning isn’t quite done. It’s just moved from online to your practice.

Families’ experience in your practice not only influences when they come back, but also how soon.

In order to get that A+ on your back-to-school dental campaign, you’ll want to create an experience that makes your young patients — and their parents — smile.

Here are four ways that will help you get there.

Speed Up Check-In

One way to win parents’ hearts: allow them to fill out forms electronically.

It saves them precious time and cuts down on wait times — a factor that affects 84% of patients’ satisfaction with a practice.

Add New Activities for Kids

Replace torn-up, ad-heavy children’s magazines with something more engaging, kid friendly, and health focused — like a dental-themed coloring book.

Not only will it keep them busy, it will also remind them just how enjoyable your practice is!

Lighten Up the Waiting Room TV

Cable news and talk shows may keep waiting patients’ eyes on the screen.

But they can also turn their experience from a potentially positive one into one riddled with anxiety.

Streaming more positive, educational TV programming keeps patients and their families more relaxed and more receptive to the care they’re about to receive.

Drop in New Goodies in the Take-Home Bag

The post-visit take-home bag is the prize every young patient can’t wait for after they step out of the operatory.

Add some new stickers to the bag, and celebrate the appointment with a customizable dental visit certificate.

Start Your Back-to-School Campaign Today

With back-to-school dental campaigns, the end of the summer doesn’t have to be one of the slowest stretches.

A series of pitch-perfect messages across different media at the right times is a tried-and-true way of keeping your schedule full and your patient flow steady.

And if you haven’t launched a back-to-school campaign before, start small, and learn as you go.

You can also use a platform like RevenueWell. Practices that use RevenueWell gain access to more than a 100 pre-designed campaigns and ready-made newsletter articles, including ones for back-to-school season.


Learn more about how RevenueWell improves case acceptance and creates more close-knit relationships between dentists and their patients.

David McCarthy
By David McCarthy