A mistake that administrators and practice managers often make when planning their marketing mix is to think about the various types of advertising that they personally avoid and how they have managed to avoid it.  In the case of direct mail (i.e. home health newsletters, physical therapy newsletters, hospice newsletters), managers sometimes focus on the number of envelopes they have personally thrown out without even opening them.  Here's why this line of thinking is a mistake: everyone avoids advertising of all types.  Name any medium for delivering your marketing message, and there is an avoidance pattern to go with it.  

Since everyone practices advertising avoidance in every medium, it's a bad strategy to neglect one medium or another on the basis that some people will avoid the message. The correct line of questioning is how many people will perceive my message?  This will always be some subset of the total reach.

Now to answer the title question: Do Doctors Read Their Mail? Yes. We have many sources of proof. In our experience from follow-up surveys, when a referral-based health care provider mails messages to its local health care community, one-third of properly designed envelopes will be opened and one third of those will have their flyers actually looked at by the doctors. A tricky part of this breakdown is that it's not the same doctors each time.  You can mail one doctor twelve letters, and he might actually lay hands on three or four of them. All of this suggests a few specific elements for home health and physical therapy marketing strategies:

  • When mailing to referral sources, mail to a large enough number that a 3% response rate will produce a positive return on investment.
  • Send mail to a large list of doctors repeatedly, because exactly which doctors read it will change with each mailing.
  • Design your envelopes to maximize open rates. (We detail six factors that increase open rates on page 23 of this free presentation: Referral Doubling Strategy – click here to send a request)
  • Design your letters to deliver a marketing message even if they are skimmed or not read. (The top three design elements to make this happen are also described on page 23 of this free presentation: Referral Doubling Strategy – click here to send a request)

The main message for marketing managers is to never focus on how people avoid advertising. You have to focus instead on how many advertising impressions get delivered and your potential for return on investment from that.