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Rumor: Direct Mail is Dead

Is direct mail dead?

No, but you need to follow some basic rules to ensure proper care and feeding. There’s a lot you can do to increase the likelihood of getting consistently solid results.

Some guidelines for effective direct mail:

  • Write to the people most likely to respond. Your top priority is to present your message to the right people. Who are they? Just take a look at your existing customers for the answer. Ask yourself questions like: Where do they live? How old are they? Carefully reviewing your database will give you some important insight.
    Of course, mailing to your existing customers will be the best list of all, but we’ll save that discussion for another post.
  • Use a marketing formula known to work. The AIDA model of marketing is one example. AIDA consists of 4 different phases: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Attention is the phase that sparks the interest of a consumer. It could be a unique design, special pricing, or a great offer. The Interest phase creates a desire for the product or service. Consumers want to know more about the product/service, its functions and features. Stimulating an action to buy is the Desire phase. After considering the functions and features of the product/service, desire may grow. Leading to the final phase, Action, where the consumer purchases the product/service. Since desire triggers action, the consumer will only buy when they finally conclude the product/service fulfills their desire.
  • Mail constantly. Frequency of marketing, especially in direct mail, leads to awareness and response. People are in different stages of acceptance regarding their hearing loss. The chances of you sending a mailing to someone, at precisely the time they are contemplating a solution to their difficulties are exceptionally slim. It takes numerous “touches” for a potential patient to warm up to the idea they need to act on their situation. The good news is they are seeing messages like yours frequently; the bad news is they are seeing messages like yours frequently. If you aren’t keeping your messages in front of them they will have no choice but to act on your competitors offer.
  • Test! Most people send just one mailing out and then base their conclusions about direct mail on that one result. You should develop an annual plan, then review it quarterly. Analyze the response, for sure, but also be certain to look closely at the target mailing area, the offer, the call-to-action (CTA), and the frequency of your efforts. Try new messages and packages until you find a combination that works. As long as you’re not sinking your last dollar into your marketing, a poor response is no big deal, because you learn something with each effort. When you identify a winning solution, stick with it. Don’t jump around to other things simply because you are bored with the material, let the results drive the process. Use that winning formula for the majority of your volume and continue to try other options to improve on the results. If something does better, then switch.
  • Pay attention to details. There’s an order things have to happen in for your mail to generate responses: it has to be delivered, then opened, then read, then acted upon. Consider your efforts with each stage in mind — make sure your list selection is well-tuned, an attention-getting tactic is obvious, there is a compelling offer that jumps out, and finally end with a strong call-to-action to close. The majority of consumers who respond to direct mail prefer to be told specifically what to do next, don’t leave them hanging with a soft close!

So, to conclude… is direct mail dead?

No, the fact is, direct mail still works. Any problems you may be experiencing are likely to be caused by faulty implementation or poor execution, not the strategy. It isn’t rocket science and the biggest thing stopping most business owners from using direct mail successfully is an irrational fear of failure. While it might not be the stronghold that it once was, due to cost escalation and falling response rates, it is still an effective channel for hearing healthcare marketers to reach out directly to key prospects (and customers) in a robust marketing program that generates positive ROI.