Question: Is direct mail still effective in the hearing care industry?
Answer: Yes. It’s all about communication preferences of our customers, which in the hearing care industry, happens to be a mixture of “seniors” and “baby boomers”.
It’s simple, keep it personal.
Our goal as marketers in the hearing care industry is to communicate in a manner that strikes a nerve with our target market; to motivate them to go outside their comfort zone and respond with interest. We simply cannot accomplish that goal without understanding their background, preferences, and reasons behind why they react to our marketing efforts.
No doubt, we are dealing with an incredibly interesting demographic.
It’s easy to see the technological disparity between the 3 main groups of “seniors”: Pre-Retiree “Baby Boomers” age 55-63, Active Retirees (including some Boomers) age 64-75, and Mature Seniors 75 plus.
Obviously, baby boomers are much more used to dealing with technology, so there is merit in developing digital advertising such as optimized websites, email, and pay-per-click ads to reach them as they enter our customer base. But it would be foolish to think we could reach active retirees and mature seniors solely through digital marketing efforts.
We are simply not there yet. Why?
Case-in-point: My Grandma.
By all accounts I have a techy 77-year-old Granny. She owns an iPhone. And an iPad. She is on Facebook – regularly. And email. But she does not prefer to respond online. I asked her why and she told me it just makes her nervous.
It’s not just the older seniors who feel this way, however. A relative of our president at Beeman is only 58, yet she feels the same way about responding online. She doesn’t trust “the online world” enough to put in her credit card on a web site, to respond to an offer, or even to post on social media. She signs up on Facebook to connect with her children and see pictures. She may shop online, but only to map which stores carry the products she is looking for before she drives to each location.
It’s a great insight actually, and I was thinking about the reasoning behind these trust issues.
It dawned on me that in both cases, buying history began in a time when these grandmothers personally knew practically every merchant she gave her money to. No wonder sending personal information over the web to someone she doesn’t know, cannot see or talk to, and doesn’t even know where they are located makes her uneasy!
Unlike generations following theirs, seniors and baby boomers are not a product of an impersonal world. So if we want to motivate our target market to make a decision as personal and emotional as seeking help with their hearing, is it realistic to expect them to respond to us online?
There is something about direct mail that is different. Opening your mailbox is an intimate and personal experience. There is that curious moment you experience right before you open up a letter. And then when you call, there’s the voice on the end of the line that begins to build rapport, comfort, and trust. I believe that’s the reason why it’s still the best marketing channel for reaching and obtaining response from the majority of our customers. It’s no wonder why seniors are by far the best mail-order buyers in terms of frequency, multiple purchases, and higher dollar amounts.
(Shameless plug alert! Keep it personal with our Patient Newsletter service.)