Why you can’t write off a direct mail marketing strategy as part of your patient outreach

Cecilia Nysing

Frequent contact and staying top of mind for current and former patients with a direct mail marketing strategy among your mix

IN THE VAST AND COMPLEX WORLD OF MARKETING it’s so hard to keep up with the latest advice from the experts and to know about the latest social media trends. When deciding on marketing, or something like a direct mail marketing strategy, I like to keep one simple principle in mind: Does it allow me to have frequent contact with my desired audience?

People are pulled in so many directions these days and it seems everyone’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. How many times have you seen something interesting and made a mental note to come back to it and then never thought of it again? I know I’m guilty of that.

Frequent contact, top of mind

By maintaining frequent contact, we are more likely to come to mind for our audience. You may not be at the forefront of their thoughts, but when the time comes that they need you, you’re the first thing they think about. They may not even know why they think of you, but because they repeatedly heard from you or saw your branding, they think of you.

It’s the same thing with educating your patients. They’ve heard the message repeatedly over time and it just sticks with them. That frequent message just seems to stick better.

As you can imagine, there are many ways you can apply this principle of frequent contact to your practice marketing, from social media, email, online ads, in-person events, networking, referral promos, screenings to even “old school”-era methods like direct mail.

An overlooked contact method

In this world of digital marketing, I personally think that the old-school way of doing things with a direct mail marketing strategy  is often overlooked and forgotten about. When’s the last time you received a physical birthday card from your friends? Everyone’s gotten so used to the quick happy birthday Facebook post, but how special does a handwritten note or card feel today?

I think we sometimes forget how full inboxes are while mailboxes are pretty empty nowadays. So, let’s discuss how this “primitive” method of marketing shouldn’t be written off. Keep in mind, frequent contact is what it’s all about.

First, I want to address why I consider sending things to my existing patients as marketing. It all comes down to the main goal of having a high-retention practice. Why? Several reasons:

  1. Patients who stay for the full recommended course of care are the ones who truly experience the life-changing benefits of chiropractic care. Isn’t that why we all fell in love with chiropractic in the first place?
  2. It costs less to keep a patient than to get a new one.
  3. A loyal patient is more likely to refer you to other people.
  4. A loyal patient is likely to spend 2X more in your practice.

Establishing frequent contact is important with your potential new patients, but it’s also crucial to maintain it with your existing ones.

This first and most important piece of direct mail is personalized, handwritten cards on special occasions. Sometimes patients see us more than they see their own friends and family. This means that while in our office, they end up sharing parts of their lives with us.

In our offices we hear about engagements, weddings, promotions, pregnancies, children and grandchildren being born, retirements and college acceptances. We are there for them when they share that there has been a death in the family or going through a hard time.

Go the extra step by later sending a card to acknowledge their situation or occasion and let them know you are with them.

Each and every single one of these occasions is a time to make sure they feel how much you care and really know that you’re listening. Now, please don’t misunderstand — I’m not saying that you use a situation like a death in the family as a marketing opportunity. What I am saying is that going that extra mile to be there for your patient makes sure they know that they’re now part of your community. And, once they’re in your community, you look after each other.

A direct mail marketing strategy and ‘being there’ for patients

Every time you confirm to your patient that they are in the right place, you are helping to ensure they are more likely to remain a loyal patient. I want my patients to know I’m here for them as more than just their chiropractor, but as someone who genuinely cares about them and their family.

A handwritten card from the doctor and/or team, sealed, and sent to their home creates an excellent customer experience. We all know it’s the little things that make a big difference, so why not put an emphasis on that?

The next form of a direct mail marketing strategy is for revenue generation, recalls and referrals. The target audience is every single person whose address you have on file, active or inactive, excluding people who have moved away. With this piece, I would send everyone a letter from the doctor with specials to come into the office.

In my office, I would send a letter out at the end of the year. Our new year mailer was a single page we would get printed out and it usually followed the same format:

  • A couple of paragraphs of accomplishments and major updates that took place throughout the year (i.e., new staff, a CA being promoted to office manager, new services offered, any fun updates in the personal life, etc.).
  • The importance of staying healthy or making their health a priority.
  • Quick tips or goals to focus on for health this coming year. (Hint: It always included chiropractic.)
  • And a couple of special offers: “We’ve made it very easy to help get you started on a healthy new year. Below are several limited-time special offers for chiropractic and massage. Be sure to share them with your family, friends and co-workers.” Plus, I always made sure to include an expiration date. These promos would include things like a discount for an adjustment (compliantly) or massage. It would also include a new-patient special making it easy for them to refer friends and family.

Without fail, this new-year mailer succeeded in bringing in patients we hadn’t seen in a while, and it gave me the chance to talk to them about revisiting consistent care. A lot of them forgot how much better they felt when they were regularly getting adjusted.

They may see these offers being made on our social media, but having a letter addressed to them come into their mailbox is a physical reminder of the offer and really motivates people to take action. If they don’t take action right then, at least it’s frequent contact so that later down the road when they do need it, they remember that you still thought of them.

You can send this on the anniversary of your practice, a patient appreciation day or some other special day. I recommend doing this about two times a year so it still feels special when it does happen.

These two simple direct mail marketing strategies can take your marketing to the next level. Remember, the goal is frequent contact and the more ways you can think of, the better.

MILES BODZIN, DC, ran a successful, high-retention wellness practice in San Diego, Calif. He retired from practice in 2011 to focus solely on helping chiropractors increase their patient retention. As founder and CEO of Cash Practice Systems, “Chiropractic’s #1 Technology Platform for Creating Loyal Patients,” his leadership resulted in serving more than 6,000 chiropractors, being listed on the Inc. 5000, as well as being named one of San Diego Business Journal’s Most Admired CEOs. He can be booked for interviews and speaking engagements at [email protected]ice.com or reached directly at [email protected] His inspiring story can be watched at TheCallingMovie.com.

Why you can’t write off a direct mail marketing strategy as part of your patient outreach

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