Why You Can’t Undo a Direct Mail Strategy for Educating Your Patients

Frequent contacts and a priority for current and former patients with a direct mail strategy among your mix

IN THE VAST AND COMPLEX WORLD OF MARKETING it is so difficult to follow the latest expert advice and know 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 being pulled in so many directions these days and it seems everyone’s attention span is getting shorter and shorter. How many times have you seen something interesting and made a mental note to go back to it and never thought about it again? I know I’m guilty of this.

Frequent contact, top of mind

By maintaining frequent contact, we are more likely to come to mind with our audience. You may not be at the forefront of their thoughts, but when the time comes when they need you, you are the first thing they think of. They may not even know why they’re thinking of you, but because they’ve heard of you many times or seen your branding, they’re thinking of you.

It’s the same with educating your patients. They have heard the message many times over time and it remains true to them. This frequent message seems to fit better.

As you can imagine, there are many ways to apply this principle of frequent contact to marketing your practice, social media, email, online advertisements, in-person events, networking, promotions sponsorship, screenings even in the “old school” era. methods such as direct mail.

An unknown method of contact

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

I think we sometimes forget how full the inboxes are when the mailboxes are pretty empty these days. So, let’s discuss how this “primitive” method of marketing shouldn’t be written off. Keep in mind that these are frequent contacts.

First, I want to explain why I’m considering sending things to my existing patients as marketing. It all boils down to the main goal of having a high-retention practice. Why? Many reasons:

  1. Patients who stay for the full course of recommended 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 twice as much in your practice.

It’s important to establish frequent contact with your potential new patients, but it’s also crucial to maintain them with those you already have.

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

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

Take it a step further by later sending a card to acknowledge their situation or occasion and let them know you are with them.

Each of these occasions is a time to make sure they feel how much you care and that they really know you’re listening. Now please don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying you’re using a situation like a death in the family as a marketing opportunity. What I a m say is that going the extra mile to be there for your patient ensures they know they are now part of your community. And, once they are in your community, you take care of each other.

A direct mail strategy and “being there” for patients

Every time you confirm to your patient that they are in the right place, you help make them more likely to remain a loyal patient. I want my patients to know that I am there for them not just as their chiropractor, but as someone who truly cares about them and their family.

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

The next form of a direct mail strategy is for revenue generation, reminders and referrals. The target audience is anyone whose address you have on file, active or inactive, excluding people who have moved. With this piece, I would send everyone a letter from the doctor with upcoming promotions in the office.

In my office, I sent a letter at the end of the year. Our New Year’s direct mail was a single page that we would print and it generally followed the same format:

  • A few paragraphs on major accomplishments and updates that took place throughout the year (i.e., new staff, promotion of a CA to Office Manager, new services offered, fun updates in personal life, etc.).
  • The importance of staying healthy or making your health a priority.
  • Quick tips or goals to focus on for health this coming year. (Hint: This always included chiropractic.)
  • And some special offers: “We’ve made it easy to help you start 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 colleagues. Also, I always made sure to include an expiration date. These promotions would include things like a discount for a fit (compliant) or massage. It would also include a special offer for new patients, making it easy for them to refer friends and family.

For sure, this New Year’s mail was successful in bringing in patients we hadn’t seen in a while, and it gave me the opportunity to talk to them about the need to review the consistency of care. Many of them have forgotten how much better they felt when fitted regularly.

They may see these offers being made on our social media, but having a letter addressed to them in their mailbox is a physical reminder of the offer and really motivates people to take action. If they don’t take action right away, at least it’s frequent contact so that later, when they need it, they remember you’ve always been thinking of them.

You can send it on your practice’s anniversary, a patient appreciation day, or another special day. I recommend doing this about twice a year to keep it special when it happens.

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, CA. He retired from practice in 2011 to focus solely on helping chiropractors increase patient retention. As Founder and CEO of Cash Practice Systems, “Chiropractic’s #1 technology platform for creating loyal patients,” his leadership helped serve more than 6,000 chiropractors, be listed on the Inc. 5000, as well as being named one of the San Diego Business Journal. Most Admired CEOs. He can be booked for interviews and speaking engagements at bookings@cashpractice.com or contacted directly at drbodzin@cashpractice.com. Her inspiring story can be viewed at TheCallingMovie.com.

William L. Hart