Today, I offer you my top 3 proven, easily-replicated tactics to win at direct mail.
But — who the heck am I??
Well, my company sold its first dental campaign to a dentist in Sugarland, TX on April 20, 1999. Since then, we've worked with 6,408 dentists, 2,309 medical practices, 1,271 chiropractors and hundreds of optometrists, physical therapists and hearing centers. All in all, just shy of 90,000 small businesses (and counting). We are also partners with Solutionreach and you can check us out in their Marketplace.
In those 21 years, we've learned a lot about what makes direct mail work — and not work — especially when it comes to independent health care practices. And this is important:
These aren't "interesting" tidbits I put together thinking they "might" work for you.
We've spent decades cataloging precise tactics that move the needle on successful marketing campaigns — and the pitfalls to avoid at all cost.
So, without further ado:
DON'T: Blanket an area with mail just to save money on postage.
DO: Identify your ideal prospective patient, then target as many as possible with your mailing list.
It's unavoidable that the lion's share of any direct mail budget is going to go to postage. That's the cost of cutting through the digital clutter to deliver a tangible message into the hands of prime prospects. But: That doesn't mean that cutting corners to achieve the lowest possible postage rate is best for your campaign.
Before deciding which type of mailing list is best, I advise you assess your patient roster to determine the demographics (e.g. age, income, martial/parental status, location, ailment, etc.) of your most loyal patients. Any data company or mail house like mine can help you determine these demographics with something called a "data append." You simply provide a list of your patients, and that list is appended with demographic data and hence — you end up with invaluable insights into the identity of your ideal new patient.
Once you know who to mail to, work with a company that will build a mailing list that balances your budget while maximizing your targeted reach. As part of our partnership with Solutionreach, my company is offering 1,000 free mailing list records to help get you started.
DON'T: Design your direct mail piece on a whim, focusing on appearances and assumptions.
DO: Steal our 12-point checklist that boils design down to a proven formula.
A lot of people (not just business owners and healthcare providers) believe that design is all about personal taste when it comes to colors, fonts, etc. But that's actually style. Here is the definition of design, according to Merriam-Webster: "The arrangement of elements or details in a product or work of art."
When it comes to design — and response — what matters is using the right elements.
We've spent over 2 decades mailing postcards for healthcare providers, and there IS a formula that works better than others. As a former graphic designer, you can believe that I've written extensively about this formula and won't go into detail here. But I strongly encourage you to give it read even if you never pursue a direct mail campaign.
Once you have the right elements in place, styling those elements is completely up to your personal tastes.
DON'T: Expect to grow your practice with one-off mailings people will forget.
DO: Mail frequently to grow your practice all year long.
Make sure you're mailing every single month at minimum, for at least 3 to 6 months. And I totally get that, among the cynics out there, this advice may seem self-serving coming from a CEO of a direct mail marketing company. But that doesn't mean I'm wrong. I know this to be true not only through my own experience, but I've seen it again and again and again over the years.
One of my dental clients initially mailed their postcards sporadically. During this time, their results would gain some momentum but quickly fall backwards. This left them feeling lukewarm about direct mail. But when they started mailing consistently — every single month — as a last-ditch effort to grow the practice, new patients rose 87.5%. Even though I've written about their experience several times, no one tells it quite like the dentist himself — you can watch his video case study here, in which this dentist and his office manager go into detail about their marketing journey.
Whatever your experience with direct mail in the past, I promise that if you tried it and it didn't work, one of these three best practices was not fully in place.
I've seen health care providers go from deeply in-the-hole to quickly expanding — to the tune of hiring associates, expanding hours, even purchasing or building brand new facilities — on the back of a targeted and consistent postcard campaign.
To help you get started, my company will even give you 5,000 free postcards.