The Business of Contact Lenses
Direct Mail Can Still Work
BY GARY GERBER, OD
Websites are important. Social media is important. Radio and TV are great in some markets. But in this day of electronic and social media, what about snail mail? Is it still viable or has it become a marketing dinosaur that can no longer produce favorable results? Many, many practitioners have told us, “I tried direct mail and it didn’t work. I didn’t see a single patient. What a colossal waste of money.” Is that true?
Our experience with direct mail has been dramatically different than above, and if I were asked what the single biggest difference was between our direct mail campaigns and those that didn’t succeed, I couldn’t answer it. That’s because I’d have to give a few answers. Here then are the four essential points that every direct mail campaign must have, and if carefully used, will make your next campaign successful.
The Four Points
Consistency and Repetition Notice above that I said “make your next campaign successful,” and not your next “mailing.” It is unlikely that a single mailed piece will give a good return. That’s because, as it is with all marketing, you need to create a bond of potential trust between the prospective patient and your practice. Achieving this with one mailed piece, in which the prospect has no relationship with you, is unlikely to happen. Rather, the act itself of mailing consistent messages to the same prospects repeatedly will usually increase success significantly.
A Compelling Direct Headline First, make sure your mailing has a headline. That headline should be on the outside of the piece (envelope if you use one) as well as the inside, it has to be pointed and relevant, and it has to give the prospect a reason to keep reading. “We fit contact lenses,” is too vague and broad. “We fit contact lenses that help you see better than you do with glasses,” is better and, “We fit contact lenses for sports that help you see better than you do with glasses,” is even better. The more pointed the headline is, the more narrow your audience becomes—which not only decreases costs, but increases effectiveness. A directed, narrowly focused headline also helps to keep your content on track and prevents your message from being too broad. The copy for the above message should not mention “wide selection of designer eyeglasses” or “we treat glaucoma.” One main, strong message per mailing should be your guide.
The Right Message to the Right Audience at the Right Time The previous message would not work well directed to kids. It wouldn’t be as effective sent to working moms as it would to weekend warriors.
Make the Mailing Part of a Larger Campaign The message in your mailing should sync up in content, look, and feel with any other marketing you’re using. It should have a similar message as the main points on your website. To support your practice brand, it should have the same color scheme and layout. Think of the disconnect you’d have if you got a mailing from Home Depot that didn’t have heavy block-type fonts with a lot of orange and talked about their recently paved parking lot, or if Starbucks sent you a mailing that was purple and talked about newly changed and more convenient hours. They’d be straying from their core message that is visible everywhere else. This would not only dilute their non-mailing efforts, but would be a sure way to make the mailing not work.
The Plan in Action
Ever wonder why you keep getting credit card applications via snail mail a few times a week, even though most people rarely respond? It’s because they work. They work because they follow the four tenets of direct mail spelled out here. They’ve got a compelling headline, are consistent (often to the point of annoyance), and are targeted (eyecare professionals are historically good credit risks). CLS
Dr. Gerber is the president of the Power Practice, a company offering proven and comprehensive practice and profit building systems. You can reach him at www.PowerPractice.com and follow him on Twitter @PowerYourDream.