Industry trend: This year’s surprise is the return of direct mail in medical marketing

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Today, that breakthrough moment we’re all chasing – the one that changes behavior or earns new kinds of loyalty – may not come in the crowded inbox or on the quickly-read webpage. Instead, it may be the generous artifact or personal gift that creates a moment of human connection and appreciation.

In our rush to digital, there is a new role for the tangible direct mail piece.

  • Reach: Direct Mail can reach 95% of  Doctors; compared to Sales Reps now reaching 55% of Doctors (and declining). With new limitations on rep access, email registration requirements, banner ad blindness, and slumping conference participation, direct mail may have the greatest reach of any single medium.
  • New white space:  Many marketers stepped away from direct mail, significantly decreasing competition for mailbox attention.  Marketing email outnumber direct mails 81:1.  U.S. advertisers earn an average 1300% return on DM investments


How direct mail is being used.

Big Brands have already begun using direct mail and keep-able artifacts to create moments of loyalty-powering delight. Here are some of their objectives:

Break Through: MINIs owner swag was a big part of reorienting its marketing efforts from all drivers to current customers. The little treats not only impressed owners, they created an exclusive club of insiders

Earn Loyalty: Abbott’s ongoing sampling program for moms has won new customers in the maternity ward and kept them well into their children’s middle school years.

Inspire Sharing: Annual holiday treats from Anthropologie (birthday card) and Makers Mark (Christmas gift) have earned untold sharing and loyalty from their customers
Critical success factors today

Digital communications have pushed offline technologies to become more targeted, more data-driven and more personal. This content-included hyper-relevancy is essential to connect with today’s savvy consumers and physicians in a medium.

  • Holding information in your hands, holds it in your memory: In a recent issue of Scientific American, Ferris Jabr reported that the power of print goes way beyond the marketing moment.  It may actually help improve learning and recall.
  • Reading is Topographic: As you read something, you structure out its content in your mind. Your brain is plotting a journey with your eyes as you read through printed materials
  • Objects Change Understanding: All the tactile factors- from the weight of a book in your right hand versus left hand as you move through it, the dog-ear on a page, etc – inform that map.
  • Cartographic Clues: Screens don’t provide the same sense of anchoring because they have no cartographic clues that engage other parts of the brain.

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