Direct Mail Strategies For Health & Wellness Businesses Part 1: Campaign Goals, Budget, Timeline & List Selection

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Direct mail is a great – and affordable – way to grow your revenues.

Yet health and wellness businesses routinely underutilize or misuse this affordable and effective strategy.

In this three-part series, you’ll learn exactly how to use direct mail strategies to successfully promote your corporate wellness business, health club, yoga studio, or wellness center.

A guide to this series:

Part 1, below, covers planning – campaign goals and budget, campaign timeline, list selection

Parts 2 & 3 cover development of the direct mail piece – the offer, form factor, headline, price, persuasive copy, design

Part 4 covers follow-on marketing and evaluation of campaign results.

Let’s start with planning your direct mail campaign:

1. Establish a clear business goal for your campaign

Some possibilities:

  • Get more “suspects” – people in your target market who have never called or visited – to call or visit your yoga studio or chiropractic clinic
  • Get “prospects” – people who have responded to marketing in the past – to actually buy something
  • Get current wellness center customers to buy again Introduce your health club to potential networking partners
  • Get current members to make referrals
  • Reactivate prior weight loss customers
  • Promote special sports conditioning offers for athletes
  • Introduce new corporate wellness services
  • Stay top of mind with current and potential clients
  • Drive traffic to your health and wellness website
  • Test several marketing ideas against each other

2. Establish a budget for your campaign

How much does a direct mail campaign cost? And how do you know if it’s worth it?

Well, start by answering this question: what’s your average revenue per customer, in a typical year?

Say your wellness business normally sees revenues of $900 per customer per year (that’s $75/month).

A typical wellness business postcard campaign to a 1000-name list costs around $1500.

That means that on the initial campaign, you break even as soon as you win 2 new customers from this campaign ($1800 of new revenue vs $1500 campaign cost).

Next, keep in mind that you’ll normally re-print and reuse a campaign several times.

So your second, third, fourth campaigns using this same design will only run about $500 – the cost of printing and mailing. You’ve already paid for the content and design.

So on every subsequent mailing using this postcard, you only need one new customer in order to break even! ($900 of new revenue vs $500 campaign cost).

And these are conservative numbers.

You can get much better results than just one or two new customers if you send a well-designed direct mail piece tailored to your business, with a smart promotional offer, sent to a carefully-chosen quality list.

That’s why direct mail economics can make so much sense.

Typical budget

Here’s a typical $1500 budget for an initial 1000-piece oversized postcard direct mail campaign:

Copywriting/content and design: from $750 – $1250 for a professionally-written and designed concept tailored to your wellness business “personality”, campaign goals and target audience.

Print (6″x9″, color on both sides): 1000 copies cost about $170. FYI, 5000 copies cost about $450.

Postage: figure 28 cents for postcards that are no larger than 6″ x 4.25″ or 44 cents for postcards up to 11.5″ x6.125″.

Bulk rates are available, but the difference isn’t large enough that it will “make or break” your campaign budget. So don’t worry about that for “guesstimation” purposes.

Mailing services: special address printing and pre-sorting allows you to get cheaper bulk postage rates.

These services are charged in addition to the actual postage cost. However, the cost should be offset by postage savings, so no need to worry about that in your initial “guesstimate.”

You can choose additional services for an extra fee – for example, applying a red star-shaped sticker to every postcard, or applying an actual stamp.

3. Lay out a timeline for your campaign

Successful direct mail takes time: time for you and your team to:

  • get your program/service ready
  • get related materials and logistics ready
  • plan how you’ll market it
  • create your follow-up plan
  • write, design and print your direct mail piece(s)
  • address and mail your pieces
  • prepare followup materials

And of course, time for your recipients to respond.

Remember seasonality when creating your timeline.

Obviously, you generally shouldn’t mail during spring break or between Christmas and New Years.

But your specific business or location may have other seasonal considerations, too.

For example, my home town had fewer than 10,000 residents in June, July and August. The population jumped to nearly 20,000 from September through May. Why? It’s a college town in the Deep South whose primary employer is a major state university. Summers are dead from a marketing perspective.

Sample Timeline

We’ve done postcard projects inside 30 days and worked on other projects that took several months.

Here’s a sample timeline from one of our wellness center clients who promoted a six-week healthy lifestyles program for families in 2009.

  • Jan/Feb: lay out marketing plan and timeline to promote healthy lifestyle program (email marketing + direct mail marketing), update house list, purchase additional names from list broker
  • Feb/Mar: design & print oversized postcard
  • April: mail oversized postcard
  • May: program kick-off with newly signed-up participants, design follow-on marketing emails
  • June: send follow-on marketing emails to promote other services
  • July: design and send follow-on customer satisfaction survey for participants who finished program in June
  • August: send “soft touch” marketing emails to people who attended Q&A in April about program but did not enroll.

4. Match your goal to the right mailing list

Most wellness businesses have a house list – a list they’ve compiled internally of mailing addresses for current and past customers plus people who have visited open houses or taken tours or attended free marketing events or webinars.

If you want referrals or additional sales from current customers, that’s the perfect list. If you want more suspects, this list is the wrong list to use!

While buying email addresses is a terrible idea, buying direct mail addresses is perfectly ok.

Make sure it’s from a reputable list broker and that the addresses are CASS-certified, which means they’re valid addresses per the post office. InfoUSA’s not the only list source! You can work with a list broker or marketing company like us to find and buy a highly-targeted list.

A quick rule of thumb – if your purchased list targets people who have spent at least $750 on healthy lifestyles, preventive health, and wellness services (not necessarily healthcare) in the last year, you’re likeliest to get a response.

Don’t simply buy a list of “all adults with incomes over $75,000” or “all women over 40”. You could easily end up with ZERO response to your mailing.

Co-marketing with related businesses is an excellent way to expand your direct mail campaign to even more people who are likely to be genuinely interested in your wellness services. “Related businesses” can be complementary health and wellness businesses, or businesses in any industry that target customers similar to the ones your business serves best.

Some businesses willingly share their contact lists with trusted partners, particularly if you’re sending a co-branded direct mail piece. Others will agree to direct-mail their lists on your behalf as long as you foot the bill for the campaign.