Thursday, August 8, 2013

The American Medical Association File: The Premier Physician Database, Available at GT Marketing, Ltd.

The American Medical Association File: The Premier Physician Database, Available at GT Marketing, Ltd.
By Frank Nyfenger

     The American Medical Association (AMA) owns the premiere physician database in the United States. Since it contains both members and non-members of the AMA, it is considered the leading resource for all data-related and manpower-related information about physicians. Physicians are assigned what is called a Medical Education Number (ME Number) when they either enter medical school, or come to the United States from a foreign medical school to take their residency training. This number is unique to the physician, and is never repeated in the database. 
     The AMA file is a way to reach every single physician by his or her primary specialty (there are a total of 267 primary specialties identifiable on the AMA Masterfile) and practice type. Included in the file is everything from office-based and hospital staff physicians, to residents, and physicians who are in teaching, administrative, or research capacities.
     The main reason people utilize the AMA file is to satisfy the need to reach every single physician practicing in a particular specialty. Unlike other databases (especially compiled databases where duplication is very common), since the AMA issues only one ME Number for each physician, duplication of names is eliminated. While phone-directory databases are sometimes less expensive, they are not nearly as accurate or comprehensive, and there is almost always duplication of names in any given segment.
     The AMA contains board certification data, sourced from the American Board of Medical Specialties. The AMA file also lists the medical school and residency programs attended, as well as the years of graduation from these programs. Also included are the date of birth, gender, telephone number (in approximately 70% of the cases), and e-mail addresses are available on approximately 65% of the records. Physicians who are retired or presumed dead are not included in the file. The database is updated every single week and, therefore, is incredibly accurate. This accuracy proves vital as the databases are subject to a number of changes. Anywhere from 10,000-15,000 records change each and every week based on a total number of approximately 900,000 records in the database.
Just about every major and medium-sized pharmaceutical company in the US sublicenses the AMA file. Common uses for the file include tracking the sales calls that sales representatives make on physicians, quantifying prescriptions written by those same physicians, and keeping record of the payments made to those physicians (under the new legislation enacted by Congress to track pharmaceutical companies’ payments to physicians). GT Marketing has been providing the AMA file since 1995 and has extensive knowledge regarding both the database, as well as why and how to use it most effectively based on the project at hand.
     One thing to consider when renting a physician list is how to cover yourself from blame if you fail to get the desired results from your campaign. You can never go wrong by renting the AMA list, as it is the premier physician database in the United States, and there is none better. Other databases, such as compiled lists, simply fail to measure up. It is very hard to justify why you used a compiled list when you could have simply accessed the AMA file. Many of the compiled directories develop their lists using phone directories. A main issue with this technique revolves around the limited number of physicians still advertising via phone directories. Not every physician will list his or her practice information in the directory, especially those in group practices and hospitals where physicians are employed or working, and thus do not advertise. You miss those individuals who are in residency programs, seeing patients, prescribing drugs, and participating in all the other activities that a regular physician would participate in, but are simply not advertising. You also do not get the administrators, researchers, or teachers because they also are not advertising. Phone directories are usually 6-9 months old the day they’re published, so by the time they get compiled into an online database, they are even older, inaccurate, and woefully deficient. 
     The AMA offers a discounted rate for those customers who are sending out invitations, literature, or study materials for programs that have been accredited by the AMA or the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). There is a discount of approximately $6.75 per thousand names extended for those types of programs. The AMA file is highly deliverable in the mail-stream. Approximately 99% of the postal addresses are deliverable at any given time, due to the intense cleansing and updating of the file. There are over a thousand sources of data that combine to update the AMA database, including everything from medical schools and residency institutions, to the American Board of Medical Specialties, state licensing boards, and the AMA’s own publications, such as JAMA and other specialty magazines. All of the undeliverables that are processed through those groups are funneled back to the AMA so that the database can be updated accordingly.
     Since the file is constantly being updated, it is important to always inquire with the specifications for your project to determine what the most up-to-date counts are. Oftentimes, a consultation with a GT Marketing representative will yield a more specific set of criteria resulting in a smaller list and, consequently, lower list rental costs, lower printing and mail handling costs, and lower postage costs (which represent the most expensive component of a mailing). The professionals at GT Marketing have years of experience understanding what needs to be done to market various products and services to the right targets, and are experts at helping you ‘get your message across’.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Four Ways: Coaching a Direct Mail and Social Media Tag-Team

Four Ways: Coaching a Direct Mail and Social Media Tag-Team

By Frank Nyfenger

A continuously heated match in the marketing ring has featured direct mail and social media. In the left corner, direct mail represents the marketing reigning champ that consistently produces quality ROI. In the right corner stands social media as the marketing challenger proven to be worth the hype. Rather than fight to determine which is superior, let’s take a look at a few of the many benefits of using them as a tag-team.

1.  Build your social media audience through direct mail. When the creation of engaging content yields fewer followers than desired, direct mail can provide the boost your brand needs. By mailing a direct mail piece with a call-to-action to, for example, ‘Follow’ your Twitter or ‘Like’ your Facebook page, you can bring your target audience to social media through direct mail. A simple call-to-action via direct mail has the potential of greatly increasing you social media audience and your brand.

2.  Utilize both mediums to improve customer service quality. Interact with clients and customers via social media between direct mail pieces. Posting updates on social platforms will keep clients and customers in the loop between direct mail pieces, while also affording them the opportunity to conveniently contact your business with any questions, comments, or concerns.

3.  Knowing when your direct mail pieces will arrive in homes allows for a multichannel marketing strategy with social media. For example, if a direct mailer is sent focusing on the main attractions of an upcoming event, social media updates can detail minor attractions. Whereas the direct mail piece can create initial interest for the event, social media can further entice invitees to attend the event, resulting in a higher turnout. 

4.  Similar to No. 1, include a QR code with a direct mailer to drive your audience to social media. QR codes effectively attract customers to desired web pages, and can be used to attract customers to social media platforms as well. Adding a QR code that directly points to a Facebook Company Page or a company blog can provide the extra push needed to attain a new follower to your online audience. By using a highly targeted mailing list, such as those provided by GT Marketing, the followers you gain will comprise of valuable prospects and potential clients. View more information about the uses of QR codes here.

The possibility exists to focus on either direct mail or social media marketing, and as long as you effectively utilize the marketing medium, your business should be able to KO the competition. Still, there is such vast potential when using the two in tandem that in may be unwise not to.

If you need help getting your message across, give us a call at (800) 435-7492.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Finding Success in Hesitation

By Frank Nyfenger
Hesitation can be a powerful tool. For example, hesitation saved those who thought twice about investing in Madoff Securities, but it hurt those who second-guessed their way out of investing in Facebook. Many business owners hesitate now over whether or not to dive into the social media world. Let’s take a quick look at why.
          As with any business decision, the cost variable is a major factor when deciding to enter or avoid the social media realm. Unfortunately the cost of creating and maintaining a social media presence can be high. The cost for the creation of a blog, not including the composition of posts, can tally from $1,000-$5,000, while Twitter accounts and a Facebook Company Page setup can total $1,000-$3,500. Outside of these initial fees you can expect steep monthly costs into the thousands of dollars per platform (click herefor a more extensive look at setup and maintenance costs).
Deferring from social media based on doubts of its success is likely a folly. A simple look at the costs companies are willing to pay is evidence to the success and potential of social media marketing. However, it makes sense and is more common to see companies deferring from social media because they may already have a valuable outlet to funnel their marketing dollars: direct mail.
A Target Marketing Magazine survey ranked direct mail highest among all channels in terms of customer acquisition, contact, and retention. There is no denying the effectiveness of direct mail marketing. Companies considering social media are likely to already be utilizing direct mail, and don’t see much reason in parting from this working and reliable marketing strategy, regardless of the emergence of a new channel.
One of the major issues business owners have with switching to social media is not knowing how to measure social media success. According to a survey by MarketingProfs, “When it comes to brand awareness, 78% of marketers said it is important to executive leadership, but just 32% of them feel they can actually assess this. Similarly, 66% said ROI is important to the decision-makers, but only 28% feel they can accurately demonstrate the connection.” There are free analytics platforms, such as Hootsuite, but they do not offer the metrics necessary for measurements like ROI. Acquiring such measurements requires additional costs. It seems as though all these costs act as a social media repellent to business owners.
As for direct mail marketing, nearly every step of the process is measurable. Sure, social media has great potential and can be effective, but the provocative question is, what’s wrong with direct mail? The simple answer is, there is no problem with direct mail. Business owners may find it difficult to part ways with this reliable medium, as they should. It works!
            So hesitate- or don’t! No one really knows where this social media thing is going, and direct mail has never let you down. At the end of the day, you have to excel in both to stay competitive.

If you need help getting your message across, give us a call at (800) 435-7492.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Selling Umbrellas- It's All in the Marketing

Selling Umbrellas- It’s All in the Marketing 
By: Frank Nyfenger, GT Marketing, Ltd. 
          Think. Think about the last time you had an idea for something new. Whether you were at a red light on the way to work, or you were on a swing at nine years old, remember that feeling of pure conviction, that feeling of brilliance, when you knew your idea would be revolutionary. Well, what happened?

          We all have self-proclaimed ‘grand ideas’ and we imagine them altering our lives. Granted, most of those ideas tend to be ridiculous or unnecessary, such as an umbrella strap to free your hands, or pants that can zip apart to become shorts (these actually caught on temporarily). However, others can be special, such as the umbrella itself or yoga pants. There are clear differences when comparing ideas such as the umbrella strap to the umbrella itself, but what about when comparing one umbrella to another? What makes one more significant than the other? The marketing.

          There are an overwhelming number of marketing options to decide from for your marketing project. Two main options are direct mail and social media. The question is which to choose?

          For direct mail, there isn’t much truth to the perceived notion that the industry is drowning under digital marketing. Sure, social and e-mail have provided alternatives in the marketing world, thus decreasing the use of direct mail, but by no means does that drive direct mail out of the game. According to a survey by Target Marketing Magazine, direct mail scored highest among all channels, including social, in terms of customer acquisition, contact, and retention; and according to a survey by the Direct Mail Association, direct mail produced a 4.4% response rate compared to a 0.12% response rate from e-mail. The same survey showed that cost-per-lead was more than 7% higher for e-mail than direct mail. Whether you’re in the umbrella business or not, you have to like those numbers. There is no reason your business should be afraid to journey through, or continue journeying through, the world of direct mail marketing.

          Tip for direct mail marketing: utilize the 40/40/20 rule. According to the father of direct marketing, Ed Mayer, 40% of the success of your marketing campaign comes from the audience. Make sure you secure the most effective list for your product or service to reach the right audience. Another 40% comes from the offer, i.e. make it known that you’re not only selling umbrellas, but that you’re selling umbrellas at a discounted price. The last 20% includes everything else involved in the production phase. For more on the 40/40/20 rule visit this page.

          Social media is a more complicated sell than direct mail because of its more recent burst on the marketing scene. Not knowing where to start and doubting its effectiveness are two main obstacles for companies. The truth is, social can be extremely effective when used correctly. For B2B marketers, lead generation should not be the original goal. Focusing on increasing brand awareness and creating a community around your brand will open the doors to lead generation further down the road. The more people who know your umbrellas last longer and cost less than another company’s umbrellas, the more customers will come to you for their umbrella-related needs. Customer relationship management (CRM) is also a large part of the social scene. Alongside reliability and quality, maintaining a healthy relationship with customers and clients will bring them back for more (click here for a more extensive look on social CRM).

          Tip for social marketing: focus heavily on developing a fan base. It’s critical that the content you eventually post is actually read by others, therefore giving your content the chance to spread through your followers. Posting statuses on your Company Page on Facebook does nothing if you have no ‘Likes’, just as tweeting is useless without ‘Followers’. Focus on creating a small audience around your social platforms and continually build to reach a larger audience. Post links to your blog on social platforms to provide more opportunities for your audience to access what you’ve been writing.

          I definitely see direct mail and social media in a very positive light. Use whichever you’re
comfortable with, but don’t shy away from trying something new, or reverting back to traditional methods. Either way, direct mail or social, exploit the platform as best you can, and sell those umbrellas!

Please share your opinions on the topic by commenting below. Thanks!