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The Tao Of Direct Mail
    Direct mail is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to any chiropractor to grow his or her practice.  The problem though is that very few doctors use it correctly, and so it usually ends up swallowing more revenue than it makes.

    But with the proper usage of direct mail, you can have a very effective practice-building resource at your disposal.  I'm going to show you some techniques to profitably use direct mail, and I'm sure if you put them to use, you'll notice a dramatic increase in the effectiveness of your direct mail, and in turn your bottom line.

    First though, why would you want to use direct mail?

    As opposed to other promotional methods, like newspaper advertising, where you are trying to reach everyone hoping that someone out there is the appropriate audience for your message (the shotgun approach), with direct mail you can be extremely selective as to who your audience is, and you can pin down much more specific characteristics of that audience (rifle approach).  Later on you'll see why this is so important.

    Now, what can you use direct mail for?  Many doctors assume direct mail means sending a bunch of letters to a bunch of people you've never seen before, and hoping that they'll come in.  In fact, this is NOT what direct mail is, or at least not the effective variety that we will be discussing.

    But here are some uses for direct mail.

  • Mail to a cold list (This is the only use that is similar to the example above.  Using this method, you are trying to get prospects who have never heard of you to call for an appointment - not the best use of direct mail, but it can still be effective if done properly)

  • Reactivating old patients (Direct mail can be an extremely cost effective and efficient method for reactivating patients)

  • Getting referrals (Direct mail is probably the lowest pressure method of soliciting referrals around.  You don't have to worry about offending anyone who might feel that you're trying to pressure them otherwise, and the results of a good referral generating letter can be dynamite)

  • Following up with prospects (once you give a talk, do a screening, or meet a new prospect, direct mail can be extremely effective in building a relationship with them and converting them into patients)

  • Endorsement marketing (You can establish a relationship with another business where they would send a letter to their clients endorsing you.  Depending on the effectiveness of the letter and the relationship of the endorser with their clients, this method can be very powerful)

  • Staying in contact with current patients (Sending letters out on birthdays, holidays, and just out of the blue can be very useful in cementing a relationship with your current patients)

Rules to Follow

    Now that we've mentioned some of the uses of direct mail, let's talk about ways and rules to follow to ensure that your direct mail campaign is as profitable as possible.

    1) The list - the most important factor in the success of your direct mail campaign is the audience, or the list, that you mail to.  As a rule of thumb, your current in-house list will be the most effective (so referral generating letters and special promotional letters to your current patients will be the most effective).  Your inactive in-house list will be second most effective (reactivation letters).  Third would be endorsement lists (using the relationship already established by a business with their customers).  Fourth would be your prospect list (people who have heard you give a talk, or talked to you at a screening, or in some other way have been in contact with you but haven't become patients).  And least effective would be cold lists (people who have never heard of you, and don't know who you are).  Since the list you use is so important, I would recommend you spend the time to make sure it is the best possible!

    2) The letter - here are a few tips to create direct mail letters that get maximum response:
    a) Headline: Use a strong headline that arouses curiosity or hits the reader with a powerful benefit, for best results put the headline in parenthesis)
    b) 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 only to him)
    c) Don't try to entertain: You want the letter to be as if you were sending it to a friend, as such you won't want to use fancy graphics or four-color pictures.  Keep the layout simple.
    d) Tell a complete story - You don't have to limit yourself to a few paragraphs or one page.  Take up as much room as you need to get your message across.  In fact, tests have proven that interesting direct mail letters that are long will almost always produce a higher response than short letters.

    3) The package - always mail first class.  People automatically assume that a letter sent by bulk mail is also sent to many other people, and in turn that it's "junk mail."  Also, never use labels.  Labels are not personal at all, and your goal is to make your letters as personal as possible.  Instead, direct print the address on the envelopes using your computer, or better yet, hand-address them.

What to Expect

    One of the most commonly asked questions is, "what is the average response rate?"  Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer.  Depending on whether the direct mail letter is effective or not, and whether you are sending the letter to a cold list, active patient list, inactive patients list, prospect list, or endorsement list, you may get anywhere from 0.1% to 10%.  Quite a large spectrum!

    For that reason, my number one rule 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.

    Also, if you are looking for pre-made and tested direct mail letters (cold letters, referral generating, reactivation, endorsement, etc.), you way want to consider the
Complete Chiropractic Marketing Program.

    I hope that the information I shared with you helps give you a few insights into direct mail marketing.  If you have any specific questions though, feel free to call me at 805-815-4996 or e-mail me at
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