Cover Story: Doctor, Heal Thyself
"But what's interesting is that we've learned what works far and away the best [for doctors] is good, old-fashioned direct mail," he continues. "And there's a reason for that." Physicians say they get so many emails now, they don't even open them. Similarly, the fax machine is running 24 hours a day.
"The reason direct mail works is because there's very little physician-to-physician, colleague-to-colleague direct mail right now," Bakewell says. "A physician practice will get lots of direct mail. But it's typically directly from the hospital, vs. a doctor at the hospital. Or it's directly from a pharmaceutical company or some back-office supply company or whoever it may be. What we do with these pieces, we make it very clear to whoever's screening the mail for that practice that this is a colleague-to-colleague piece of communication. Because they rarely see it, they think to themselves, 'This is probably important,' and it gets past that gatekeeper and gets into the physician's hands."
Bakewell extends those time considerations to mail piece design as well: "The second thing that we do is we make sure that we design the pieces so that the physicians can quickly and easily determine whether that communication has relevance to them."
WordOut's Bedside Manner
"It's funny," Bakewell says. "People talk about direct mail [and say], 'It's kind of passé.' And, 'It's all about electronic.' And, at least in our case, that's not true."
Granted, the halcyon days of general practitioners running into specialists in the hospital cafeteria and discussing the latest developments in kyphoplasty—a damaged vertebrae repair—are generally gone. But that doesn't mean physician-to-physician marketing is devoid of the personal touch.
"When we sign a practice up, we do a poll of their practice management system and get an understanding of what their referral base is," Bakewell says. "And then we put together a report on their penetration by specialty and by geography."