Direct mail is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to help you grow your practice. The problem, though, is that very few chiropractors use direct mail correctly, so it can sometimes ends up swallowing more revenue than it makes. However, if you’re armed with the information on how to best use direct mail, you’ll have an extremely effective practice-building resource at your disposal.
First off, you may be wondering why you would want to use direct mail. Compared to other promotional methods, such as newspaper advertising, you can be extremely selective as to whom your audience is, and you can pin down specific characteristics of that audience.
Many doctors assume that direct mail means sending a bunch of letters to a bunch of people you’ve never seen before, and hoping they’ll call you for an appointment. But in reality, this isn’t what direct mail’s about at all — at least the effective type of direct mail that we’re concentrating on.
Some of the best uses of direct mail include:
- Reactivating old patients. Direct mail can be an extremely cost-effective and efficient means of getting your inactive patients back in for care.
- Getting referrals. Direct mail is probably the lowest pressure method of soliciting referrals. You don’t have to worry about offending anyone or putting a patient “on the spot.” The results of a well-written referral-generating letter can be incredible.
- Following up with prospects. Once you give a talk, do a screening, or meet a new prospect, direct mail can serve as an effective means of continuing to build a relationship and turning prospects into active patients.
- Endorsement marketing. You can establish a relationship with another business in which the business sends a letter to their clients endorsing you. Depending on the type of letter and the relationship of the endorser with the clients, this method can be quite powerful.
- Staying in contact with current patients. Patients want to know you’re thinking about them. Use direct mail to acknowledge patients’ birthdays, holidays, or “just because,” to further strengthen positive patient relationships.
- Mail to a cold list. There are certain situations when you might want to create a direct mail campaign targeted at prospects who have never heard of you. As mentioned earlier, this form of direct mail may not produce the highest response rate, but it does have its uses — especially when done methodically and thoroughly.
Rules To Follow
Now that you know some of the ways you can use direct mail, let’s talk about the guidelines you should follow to ensure your direct mail campaign is as profitable as possible.
The following rules are some of the most important:
- The list – The most important factor in the success of your direct-mail campaign is the audience (or “the list”) you mail to. As a rule of thumb, your in-house list of active patients will be the most effective resource you have. These are the people who will be most responsive to referral-generating letters and special promotional letters.
Your list of inactive patients will be the next most-effective; specifically, you will want to send “reactivation letters” to these prospects. You can also pull from endorsement lists from other businesses, that allow you to use an already-established relationship as a starting point. Another list you can draw from is your prospect list, or a list of people who aren’t patients but have heard you give a talk, have talked to you at a screening, or whom you’ve interacted with in some other way. As discussed, a “cold list” of people who don’t know you would be your last choice for a direct-mail campaign.
Since the lists you use are so pivotal to your success, be sure you spend the time to make sure the information is as accurate as possible.
- The letter – Here are some tips to create direct mail letters that get maximum response:
- Headline: Use a strong headline that piques curiosity or hits the reader with a powerful benefit. Consider putting the headline in parentheses to draw more attention.
- Keep it personal: Write the letter as if you were writing to a good friend and talk to the reader on a “one-to-one” basis, as if you were writing personally to him or her.
- Don’t try too hard to entertain: You want the letter to appear as if you were sending it to a friend. So don’t overdo it with fancy graphics, colors or layout.
- Tell a complete story: You don’t have to limit yourself to a few paragraphs or even one page. Take up as much room as you need (within reason) to get your message across. In fact, tests have proven that interesting direct-mail letters that are longer will almost always produce a higher response rate than short letters.
- The package – Always mail your letters first-class. People automatically assume that a letter sent by bulk mail is also sent to many other people, and it ends up in the “junk mail” pile. Also, never use labels; labels aren’t
personal, and that’s your goal. Instead, have your staff print the address directly on the envelopes using a computer, or better yet, hand-address them.
What To Expect
One of the most commonly asked questions about direct mail is what type of response rate you can expect. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer. Depending on whether the direct-mail letter is effectively written, and whether you are sending the letter to a cold list, active patient list, inactive patient list, prospect list, or endorsement list, you may get anywhere from an 0.1% response rate to a 10% rate.
For that reason, the No. 1 rule you should follow is test, test and test some more. Before you invest heavily into any direct-mail campaign, always test on a smaller scale to make sure the list and the direct-mail letter are effective.