Inside: Direct mail may seem old-fashioned, but it could be the most effective form of advertising for your pharmacy.
In an age when we have immediate access to customers and potential customers at our fingertips—whether through email marketing, internet ads, or social media—the idea of printing out a marketing message and sending it through the mail might seem as modern as the Pony Express.
But direct mail isn’t dead. In fact, it’s experiencing a resurgence that’s made it downright trendy. And for good reason.
Why Direct Mail Gives Your Pharmacy Business an Edge
1. It’s targeted marketing
Whether you’re checking in with existing patients or reaching out to new ones, with direct mail you know exactly who you’re talking to.
Mailing lists available for rent let you target your mailings to your ideal customer, like new residents who have recently moved in to the community and might be looking for a new pharmacy.
You can get even more specific with mailing lists, reaching out to customers of a certain age range or those with young children.
This specificity pays off. When a customer feels like a mailer is talking to them and addressing their needs, they’re more likely to respond to it.
2. It breaks through the noise
Instead of getting lost among dozens of newsletters and e-blasts, direct mail is all but guaranteed to get an audience with your intended target. Many people receive fewer than 10 pieces of mail in their boxes each day. Compare that to the 100 emails consumers receive daily on average.
Direct mail also benefits from being tangible. The physicality makes it hard for consumers to ignore. You can feel it in your hands, and its bright colors and eye-catching designs grab your attention in a way an email subject line never can.
3. It has a longer shelf life
With email, you might spend hours crafting the perfect copy, paired with the most enticing subject line, and what happens? It gets deleted before it’s even opened.
The average email has a lifespan of only two seconds, according to a study by Go Inspire Group. On the other end of the spectrum, direct mail hangs around for 17 days. During those 17 days, it’s hanging out on the kitchen table or elsewhere in the house, reminding current and potential customers about your business.
Direct mail also hangs out in people’s memory longer. The physical experience affects the brain response in a deeper and longer-lasting way than a digital experience, according to a study from U.S. Postal Service. “When viewing physical ads, participants had a stronger emotional response and remembered them better,” the study concluded. “Most importantly, physical ads triggered activity in the area of the brain (ventral striatum) that is responsible for value and desirability for featured products, which can signal a greater intent to purchase.”
4. It’s more shareable
A mailer provides a centerpiece to spur conversations about your pharmacy. That goes a long way for your business, since financial decisions are often made as a household.
Even if it doesn’t prompt a conversation, your mailer is likely to get multiple sets of eyes on it during its 17-day lifespan. Not so for email, which only gets viewed by the recipient (if it’s even opened at all).
5. It’s trustworthy
A Gallup poll found that 4 in 10 Americans look forward to checking their mail each day, and that receiving mail makes them feel good.
With direct mail, you can get in on those positive vibes. More than three-fourths of people trust the ads they get in the mail, a significant improvement on the mere 40 percent or less who trust ads on online platforms.
5. It has a better response rate
A recent study by the Direct Marketing Association found that direct mail outperforms email marketing when it comes to generating a response from consumers.
Direct mail produces a response 4.4 percent of the time, which seems small until you realize email has a pitiful response rate of 0.12 percent.
It also prompts a quicker response, with 79 percent of consumers taking action immediately with direct mail. Email tends to languish, with only 45 percent taking action as soon as they receive a message.
Ultimately, direct mail generates 10 percent more customers than email.
How to Use Direct Mail to Gain More Business
Once you’ve decided on a direct mail campaign for your pharmacy, don’t just settle for a black and white postcard and hope for the best. These tips will help you make the most out of your mailers.
1. Work in concert with email
Even though email isn’t quite as effective as direct mail, that doesn’t mean you should abandon it entirely. It’s a marketing tool that you should still keep in your arsenal — working with your direct mail campaign.
The Go Inspire survey found that the most effective marketing strategies included both direct mail and email.
Since we know it’s easier to leave an impression with direct mail, make first contact that way. Then, a week later, follow up with an email or two to keep reminding potential customers about your pharmacy.
2. Include a call to action
It isn’t enough to just let people know you exist—your direct mail campaign should include a clear call to action to entice people to walk through your pharmacy’s doors.
One way to do this is to include information about special events happening at your pharmacy in the coming weeks.
The best way to get people’s focus, though? Deals.
Eighty-six percent of affluent shoppers are influenced by coupons to try new products, and 80 percent are influenced to choose brands they wouldn’t typically buy. What’s more, 80 percent of shoppers would switch stores when offered a compelling promotion, and 83 percent make unplanned purchases based on a promotion they receive.
Make new customers an offer they can’t refuse with worthwhile discounts and special offers.
3. Make it look great
Even if you pen the perfect message, it won’t make an impact unless it’s presented as part of a cleanly styled and attractive package.
Bright colors and large text will grab people’s attention, along with an interesting image (so don’t just grab the first stock photo that pops up in your search).
The most important information—like your street or web address—should be presented clearly where the viewer will see. Don’t hide it away in a corner or in small font!
And lastly, don’t skimp on your paper selection. Nice heavy stock with a glossy finish will catch the eye.
An Independently Owned Organization Serving Independent Pharmacies
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The company is an independently owned pharmacy services organization based in Kansas City, Mo., that serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, distribution services, and more.
PBA Health, an HDA member, operates its own VAWD-certified warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products.
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