Mailer Sends Flocks of Docs to Booth

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A medical firm's mailer enticed doctors to attend the debut of its new product -- despite some controversy surrounding the procedure for which the device is used -- by offering expert testimonials and a gift.


Cryomedical Sciences Inc. sent a mailer to 11,000 urologists in May to urge them to visit the company's booth at the American Urological Association convention June 3-4 in Anaheim, CA, where its new Accuprobe Millennium was unveiled.


The company sent oversize postcards to urologists who do surgery and specialize in kidney and prostate problems. The postcards were designed by marketing agency S3, Boonton, NJ. Cryomedical declined to say how much the campaign cost.


The doctors were identified by crossing the American Medical Association's roster with the list of membership from the American Urological Association. If doctors brought the postcard with them to the convention and turned it in at the Cryomedical Sciences booth, they received a gift of a crystal paperweight.


More than 120 doctors came to the booth and returned their postcards. In addition to the gift, booth visitors got a free copy of a book on cryosurgery as well as brochures and information about cryosurgery and the company's new device, which costs $150,000 to purchase and upward of $10,000 for one-time use.


Cryosurgery's image suffered in the mid-1990s when some insurance providers refused to cover the procedure, in which doctors use liquid nitrogen to freeze and remove tumors, because it was deemed experimental.


Now insurance companies are covering the procedure again, but some doctors remain suspicious.


"Many had gotten burned three or four years ago doing these procedures and not getting reimbursed," said Marie Molnar-Hammond, vice president of marketing and sales at Cryomedical Sciences, Ewing, NJ.


Prominently displayed on the postcards were testimonials from physicians scheduled to speak at the convention. Cryomedical Sciences thought testimonials would be effective in showing doctors that their respected colleagues considered cryosurgery viable.


"Not only is reimbursement back, but cryosurgery has good outcomes," Molnar-Hammond said.


Cryomedical dropped two postcards in two separate mailings. The first, which dropped in the second week of May, focused on prostate cancer and featured the image of a middle-age man and a testimonial from a director of surgery at a Florida hospital.


The second postcard dropped in the fourth week of May to the same doctors. Similar in design and color, this postcard focused on kidney cancer and featured a middle-age couple and a testimonial from a director in the urology division of an Illinois hospital.


Molnar-Hammond said the company was satisfied with the results of the mailing, especially considering that the postcards were sent to an unqualified audience. To get their free gift, doctors had to attend the show and find the booth, but the ones who went through the trouble turned out to be highly qualified prospects, she said.


"They want to try the unit," Molnar-Hammond said. "It's been very positive."


Cryomedical Sciences plans to use direct mail in future marketing efforts. The company plans to expand its focus from strictly urology to other medical specialties, such as gynecology.


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