Medical Marketing Direct Mail: How To Boost Your Direct Mail Response Rates

In the case of Medical Practice Marketing, there always seems to be a struggle over which demographics to choose for your direct mail campaign. If you're looking for an answer like "you should focus on 30-65 year old women who have an annual income of $40,000, live in a house valued over $200,000, and like to quilt and travel," you won't get that kind of advice here!

In the case of medical marketing direct mail, instead of demographics, you should first consider psycho-graphics. In other words, start with asking the simple question: "What makes a patient decide to go to YOUR practice, versus any other physician's in your area of specialty? For a medical practice, it has been proven that the vast majority of medical patients choose a practice mainly because of its convenient location. Of course exceptions are made, and the more your medical practice is positioned as the expert practice in your area of specialty, the more willing patients are to find you. However, for the majority of doctors, it's a sad but true reality that comes from a lack of public education about what constitutes great medical care.

Also, when creating your mailing list, you need to ask yourself what your practice needs. Many times that doesn't come down to 30-65 year old women who like to quilt; it comes down to needing patients with money who can afford your services and who appreciate your skill and care.

Still, you have to start somewhere, which is why I always recommend you start with geographic data points first (this is usually our initial starting point when creating lists for our clients) . There are many things you can get in a simple geographic-based list. You can eliminate "unfavorable" neighborhoods, eliminate transient apartment-dwellers (not to be confused with condo owners), and not waste money mailing to those who live far out of your area, or who are renting.

If I could only choose one demographic parameter, it would be household income. If my prospects make above-average income in the area (usually $75K and above), and live within 5-10 miles of my clients' practices (depending on population concentration), they would be on my list.

By creating a demographic selection list by age and personal interest, on the other hand, you are not only limiting your target audience, but you are also going to pay more money per name and receive fewer targets. In turn, you will also receive fewer responses. In this case too, we are not figuring in design and copywriting costs for a targeted marketing piece. (Remember, if you specifically target your market, you need to take the same care to ensure that the message in your direct mail piece specifically speaks to that target audience - no "blanket marketing messages" please!)

If you accept insurance, do you accept the most common insurance carriers in your area? If not, do you offer payment programs as viable insurance substitutes? Many practices I work with are in locations that do not support the target market desired by the physicians. Some are fee-for-service practices in an insurance market like yours, and get beat to death by the "Do you take my insurance?" question. If your practice is in this situation, then the expert positioning of your practice in your marketing is even more important. Remember, people will travel and they will pay top dollar for your services IF you can provide them with compelling reasons to do so!

In a case of choosing your mailing demographics, if you're just starting out with direct mail keep it simple. If all you want in your practice are 44-year-old men who own Mercedes, you can have all of them and still have a very small practice. But if you really want patients in your practice who have the means to afford the best care you can possibly offer them, then my suggestion would be to go with a radius around your office and an income qualifier.