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Direct Mail Can Be Your Secret Marketing Weapon!

Direct Mail is Making a Marketing Comeback

Guess what’s making a comeback?  Direct mail.  As in postal.  Really?  Really!  There are a few reasons:

1) Email marketing/spam that’s choking your inbox suddenly makes stuff in your mailbox not so junky anymore.

2) It gets easily noticed especially if it’s an oversized postcard.

3) You can really target your market.

4) Now, there are affordable ways to use direct mail.

5) 100% measurable – no guessing whether the campaign works.

Direct mail is something I know a lot about, especially the mailing list side.  I’ve owned several companies over the past 40 years that were game changers when it came to using targeted direct mail lists.  Most people don’t give the mailing list the attention it deserves.  They fall in love with the creative and spend their money on a great looking mail piece and then buy the cheapest data they can.  Not only that, they fail to make an offer —- something to get the recipient to respond (also called a “call to action”).  Not smart.  Then, they don’t get a decent response and they say “direct mail doesn’t work!”  It DOES work — big time.

Here are the basics you need to know:

The fundamental elements of direct mail marketing are:  Market | Offer | Package
Market: Who are your primary and secondary target markets?

  • • Describe them using geographics – what zip codes do they live in?  Or are you targeting a county?  Maybe a region or the entire state?
  • • Describe them using demographics – Age?  Income?  Married or single?  Male or female?  Children in the household by age range?  Level of education?  Homeowner or renter?
  • • Describe them using psychographics or lifestyle – What are their interests?  Are they health conscious?  Do they travel a lot?  Sports enthusiasts?
  • • Describe them using synchrographics or time of their lives – New parents?  Newly married?  Just moved?  Bought a new house?  Just retired?
  • • Perhaps your target market is other businesses.  What type of business?  What size?  How many employees?  Annual sales amount?
  • • Targeting certain career professionals?  Medical?  Legal?  Accounting?

OfferWhat will you offer your target audience to get them to respond to you?

         Something that will be the trigger to promote “action” to the offer.

         Discount | Special Consideration | Information | Free Newsletter | Educational Book | Special Report, etc.

         Whatever your offer, make it worthwhile and show its perceived value.  Also make it relevant.  If you’re targeting me because I am a wine or cooking enthusiast, don’t offer me free baseball tickets or anything else that is far removed from what you’re marketing.

Package:  What are you going to mail?  Postcard?  Brochure with a letter?  Pamphlet, flyer, or rack card?  I’m a big fan of oversized postcards.  Like it or not you will read a postcard, especially if it’s oversized (5.5×8.5, 6×9, 6×11).  Postcards are especially good to drive traffic.

When designing a promotion pay attention to the following simple elements.
•  Image = Emotion.  A strong image elicits emotion; highly effective for attention and persuasion.  Make sure the quality is good.  A poor image will work against you every time.  If you can’t find a good quality, professional image, use a good illustration or no image at all.

•  Strong Headline.  State a key buying point.  “When you own a Keurig, you have the right amount of coffee when you want it.”  Or, suggest a problem in the headline, i.e., “Pain?” — then solve the problem with short copy.  Whatever, focus on ONE big idea.

•  Create White Space.  Clean and professional.  Don’t make it a challenge to read by cluttering with too much information.

•  Offer.  Make the offer big in value and easy to find.  The offer IS the value of the promotion.  Be sure it is trackable.

•  Call To Action.  Tell the reader what to do.  “Call for a free consultation.”  “Come by for a free sample.”

Okay, those are the basics.  Now, did you know that direct mail can be affordable?  Even the US Post Office is starting to feel their oats again with their terrific program, “Every Door Direct Mail” which is growing in popularity.  Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is making it possible for small businesses to get back in the mail and make it count with attractive prices.

The US Postal Service has created a program that brings postage down and does away with having to purchase a separate list.  Instead of paying up to 49 cents for first class postage you can now mail for as little as 17.5 cents — the lowest in over 30 years.  You simply pick a target area you want to hit and you can also specify age range and income.  Create your mailer and get it printed and the post office does the rest.  This is a great program for service businesses that want to target a particular area or for restaurants or retailers who want to drive traffic to their place of business.

A word about mailing lists.
If your business requires a more specialized audience than “every door”, consider a custom direct mail campaign.  Direct mail should produce better response than other media if the target list is selected correctly.  You can’t beat the power and value of good “information” which is the heart of a successful direct mail campaign.  Did you know that there are over 60,000 different mailing lists you can select from?  Most people are surprised at the depth of information that is available.

The mistake most small business owners make in their direct mail promotion is that they rely on printers or mailing services to provide a list when they should be going to qualified database experts (compilers, list brokers, or information consultants).  These people understand where to find the data you want and how to make the best selections within data files that will help your mailing get better response.  After all, you wouldn’t go to a list expert to print your mailer or mail it.  Responsive direct mail programs start with selecting the right lists first – it all starts with good deliverable information.  The amount of data out there is unbelievable – you just have to know how to get it.

I have a lot to say about direct mail marketing.  What I have tried to do in this newsletter is to touch on real fundamentals.  There is an art to making it work and there are great lessons to be learned in its success…..or failure.  Give it a chance but be smart about it.You know how much I believe in testing.  Direct marketing allows you to test markets; to test offers; and to test packages.  Make your tests large enough to evaluate but not so big that you blow a budget.  There is always room for tweaking.  And the best part is unlike general advertising, you KNOW if it WORKS.  It is measurable.

Finally, I’m not saying use direct mail to the exclusion of any other media channel.  Social media and direct mail can work well together especially to reach younger demographic markets.  I AM saying direct mail is back with results that are stronger than ever before.  Direct mail is the leading driver to the online experience.  It provides more long term customer value and is a very measurable marketing spend.