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Attract more patients with direct-mail advertising

Direct-mail advertising offers a unique opportunity to reach a targeted audience for measurable marketing results.

Whether you offer massage, children’s services, family chiropractic, or another specialized area of chiropractic services, direct-mail marketing will help you professionally share your message with the local community.

Here are some strategies to help your direct-mail marketing program be successful:

• Use quality graphics. Today’s consumers are visually oriented. People tend to read advertisements that have colorful photographs and logos supported by strong headlines with clear messages.

As you make your graphic choices, remember a picture is still worth a thousand words and research has shown that full-color advertising options can actually increase redemption rates by 30 percent to 60 percent.

• Promote with coupons or certificates. If you want to offer specials, make your chiropractic practice coupons as valuable as possible to get a strong response. Promote your best chiropractic services with attractive offers and special prices.

In these coupons or certificates, use strong headlines, such as “Realign Your Back, Realign Your Life.”

Another tip: Don’t use percentage-off offers. Consumers respond better to strong dollars-off discounts and offers than they do to percent-off incentives. They more readily understand “$25 Off Any $100 or More Chiropractic Care Service or Product Purchase” than they do “25% Off Any Purchase of $100 or More.”

Some examples of special offers to consider: “$xxxx Annual Family Chiropractic Plan,” “$25 Chiropractic Exam,” “Save $20 on X-rays,” or “Free Chiropractic Consultation.”

To manage your offers, keep rules and disclaimers simple concerning what is not included, such as “No double discounts. Expires 00/00/08.” (Use expiration dates of no more than 60 days to 90 days to keep offers timely.)

• Work with reputable direct-mail marketers. Select a marketer with a proven track record.

Many local direct-mail houses can help you create, print, mail, and facilitate your entire piece, while charging for these comprehensive services. If you provide your patient-mailing list, zip codes, or neighborhoods you want to target surrounding your chiropractic business, they can facilitate solo direct-mail campaigns for you.

Solo direct mail can be very effective, with costs ranging from 40 cents to $1 per targeted home, depending upon the flier, magazine, postcard, letter, brochure, or mailing device you use. Don’t hesitate to ask for samples of work and demographic statistics from their direct-mail database.  

Although effective, solo direct mail is expensive, considering all of the associated costs for artwork, printing, labels, postage, and handling. An alternative is to create solo direct-mail pieces yourself — provided you have the capabilities to work with software programs to create the artwork, compile the targeted database mailing lists, and facilitate each of the mailings throughout the year.

Another, more cost-effective alternative is cooperative direct mail. At approximately 3 cents to 4 cents per home with some select high-quality, direct-mail resources, direct-mail marketing can be affordable when you work with other local businesses in a magazine or a cooperative envelope format.

Cooperative direct mailing requires working with a reputable local or national direct-mail resource to facilitate the direct-mail program for you. These companies do it all for you, from complementary marketing consultations to the creation and mailing of each piece.

Direct-mail magazines typically mail to 50,000 homes per targeted mailing area, so you can select the best ones that will work for your chiropractic office. A high-quality direct-mail magazine option will potentially cost about 3 cents to 4 cents per home, which is much more affordable than most solo direct-mail options. Some of these same direct-mail resources offer detached address label cards and other solo direct-mail options.

Coupon envelope resources cooperatively mail loose independent coupons from various local businesses to 10,000 homes per targeted zone.

• Create annual direct-mail campaigns. Invest in your success by using direct-mail advertising consis-tently throughout the year. Companies often offer cost savings when you mail to multiple or larger targeted areas with annual agreements.

• Set realistic expectations. Direct mail works, especially with repetition of strong offers. Like any other form of advertising and marketing, however, it usually takes a long-term investment. Visit with your direct-mail consultant to set realistic expectations so you are not disappointed.

Direct-mail coupons and mini-gift certificates are trackable. If you want to determine the effectiveness of your campaign, ask every patient how they heard about you. Many patients will bring in the postcards, mailers, and coupons, but many will respond to the advertising without bringing in the coupons or advertisements.

• Find the right direct-mail company. Many solo, magazine, and cooperative direct-mail resources are available. Some offer predesigned postcard formats, special offers, and mailing lists to targeted demographics and zip codes.

No matter what form of radio, TV, newspaper, magazine, or direct-mail marketing you plan to use, ask your advertising sales representatives to share examples of what has worked well for similar business owners.

Steve Zuckerman is the president of Clipper Magazine, a full-color direct-mail advertising publication. He can be reached at 866-802-1429, by e-mail at marketresearch@clippermagazine.com, or by visiting www.ClipperMagazine.com or www.MyClipper.com.

Understanding demographics will help your direct-mail dollars go further. See www.ChiroEco.com/demographics.