Marketing With Direct Mail

Has the internet replaced ‘snail mail’ when it comes to marketing?

A recent study by Vertis Communications in Baltimore found that 46% of adults responded to direct mail in 2007. This is only slightly down from 47% in 2003. As powerful as the internet is (and you should be using internet marketing in your practice), advertisements sent via the mail remains a steady and profitable strategy.

Are you using direct mail to bring in new patients for your practice?

Direct mail is one of the oldest forms of marketing. Even with the rise of newer media like radio, internet and TV direct mail marketing still grows each year.

There are many different forms of direct mail — postcards, letters, magalogs, magazines, tear sheets — but postcards and letters are the most often used by chiropractors. If your marketing budget is tight, you should start with postcards then move into letters at a later point.

It’s also important to note that you should not start direct mail until you have other less risky marketing strategies in place — namely newspaper ads and internet marketing. This is because direct mail re-quires more patience and testing to be profitable. But don’t let this deter you, because when used properly, direct mail can be very profitable.

When it comes to postcards, you can choose be-tween the small regular size, a half page size and an oversized postcard. Most direct mail testing shows that the bigger the postcard, the better the response. Of course much of the response will come from the words, or the “copy”, on the postcard.

The success of a direct mail letter can also depend on the copywriting. A personalized letter coming from your office should have the following compo-nents…

-Use a compelling headline that makes the reader want to learn more.
-Open the letter with a question or curiosity, then explain who you are.
-Talk about the health problems you help people with in your office
-Give plenty of testimonials
-Make a good offer for the reader to come in as a new patient.
-Have a P.S. reminding the reader what you are offering

The list you buy is going to determine about 50% of the response you get from direct mail. Make sure that you find a decent list broker so you’re getting good addresses.

An easy list broker to use is infoUSA. I really like their map tool which allows you to draw a shape around your office. This allows you to pick certain neighborhoods and developments. You can also select just the new homeowners from their list. Put the letters into a plain white envelope and hand write the address in blue ink. Then put a live stamp, not a metered stamp, on the envelope. Your staff can do all of this for you.

If you can get a special stamp, like an upcoming holiday or a Disney stamp for example, use that one on your direct mail envelopes. This will make it look more like a personal letter when your recipient gets it.

Another direct mail strategy is to use what’s called a “tear sheet”. A tear sheet looks like an ad in the newspaper, except that someone ripped it out and mailed it to you.

You may have seen these before, where they have a post-it note on them that says, “I thought you might want to look at this, J”. (Supposedly everyone knows someone with a name that starts with J.) To use tear sheets, ask your local printer if he’s familiar with printing them.

Oversized postcards are another option. Just print a full sized newspaper ad (like the large ads in the Ultimate Chiropractic Ads) on a large postcard and mail it. In the case of postcards, you can use metered stamps and address labels.

You could also place smaller ads on regular size postcards, lowering the postage cost. However, just like your newspaper ads, the bigger the postcard, usually the better the response.

In 2009, begin implementing direct mail into your marketing plan. But remember, what is written on the postcards is just as important as the list you select to mail to. Don’t just send out some glossy postcard with lots of graphics. Use proven direct response copy or ads.

My new son and a gift for you.

As a doctor, should you let your patients in on your personal life?

My answer to this question is “Absolutely yes!” There are two big reasons you’ll want to reveal personal aspects of your life to your patients…

#1. It connect your patients to you, building a much stronger bond. The reason social media sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, cell phones and blogs are so popular today is because people want to feel connected. We live in a very connected world where patients want to know about your good times and even be there for you during your hard times. Also, patients feel really put off by many doctors out they have seen in the past. They feel rushed, neglected and completely fed up with “the system.” If they can just see that you’re a real human with a life, then they are going to appreciate you and your office that much more. (I don’t recommend you let patients know about all your personal “problems”, but if they can “be there for you” or “pray for you” during hard times,  this would be acceptable.)

#2. Events in your life make for great marketing opportunities. One of the greatest marketers of all time, John E. Kennedy, wrote a book in the early 1900’s entitled “Reason-Why Advertising”. He stated that when you write and run an ad, you must give a believable reason why you are making an incredible offer. By sending a letter or email to your patients on special dates in your life or practice, you’ll be giving a great “reason why” you’re offering a discount, sale on certain products, or free food and refreshments.

Here’s a few examples of certain dates you could use…

-Practice anniversary
-Your marriage anniversary
-Birth of your child
-One of your children’s birthday
-Your birthday
-Getting a new pet
-Your pet’s birthday
-Your family’s summer vacation
-Your spring break plans

There’s really no end to the list of events you could come up with and use in your marketing. For example, after my daughter was born 2 years ago, I wrote and sent out a reactivation letter to my patients written in her voice. After it went out, patients started coming in to get adjusted that we hadn’t seen in years. And based on what some of them said, I think they wanted to hear more about my daughter than to get adjusted. But either way, they did re-activate and a few stayed on for good this time. If you would like to download this letter for free, click here. (Feel free to change the offer so that it fits your practice.)

This is just one of many marketing letters included as a bonus in my Ultimate Chiropractic Ads.

Speaking of special announcements, I have one to make of my own…

After a long and stressful Sunday night, my 4th child was born into the world. What started out as a home birth — which should have been easy and uncomplicated because our previous 3 were born at home with midwives assistance — became a hospital vacuum extraction. And while the kid is going to need some chiropractic care and cranial work, he’s doing extremely well considering. His name is Sterling Marshall Beck and he was born Monday at 8:41am at 8lbs 9oz and 22 inches long.

Here’s a few pictures of him with brother and sisters.

Just half a day old and ready to learn about marketing!

with new big sister.

with new big sister.

The whole gang

The whole gang

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Easy New Patient Referral Increase

Want to increase your new patients each month?

It’s easy. Simply give each new patient the opportunity to refer a friend or family member.

How is this done? Not through pressuring or hounding new patients until they refer. But through gentle persuasion and social proof.

You have probably seen in your practice where a new patient says on their first or second visit “I need to bring my wife in here.” This is great when it happens, but many times patients are so concerned about their own problems that they aren’t thinking of referring someone else.

So here is how you get them to refer:

For every new patient that starts care in your practice, send them a special welcome letter in the mail. This letter should be worded properly so you are educating, congratulating, future pacing, and setting up the referrals. Now, in the P.S. of the letter, write a few sentences about how “many patients tell me that they wished they would have found me sooner. So I’ve included with this letter two gift certificates for a free spinal evaluation. As you can see, they have an expiration of two weeks, so make sure a friend or family member gets them as soon as possible”.

Now print and cut out 2 gift certificates with your offer on them and an expiration of 2 weeks. I recommend making them look nice and using a card stock paper.

Insert a few pages of patient success stories (testimonials) in with your letter to show social proof. You never know which testimonial is going to resonate with that particular patient. Also include a gift, like a $5 Starbucks card to thank them for being a patient.

Not everyone will take you up on this offer. But many patients will. And how much did you spend on this type of marketing? Maybe $1 with stamp, paper and my CA’s time. In 2006 I traced almost half of my referrals to this one little technique. By far the best return on investment of any marketing piece I did that year.