Effective Marketing with Direct Mail
With the advent of email marketing direct mail has taken a back seat over the last decade or more, but I believe direct mail is on the increase. There are sound reasons for this. In response to aggressive telemarketing techniques, telemarketing firms must honor “do not call” lists. Likewise, our email software has learned to identify SPAM, the nasty twin of telemarketing. That has left businesses with the good old mailbox as an avenue to promote their goods and services and win the hearts and minds of their prospects.
Direct Mail develops brand recognition for your company, reinforces your networking efforts, differentiates you from the competition, and drives customers to your business.
A few statistics: Direct Mail increased company sales by 702 Billion in 2010, and US advertisers cumulatively spent $167 per person on direct mail to yield $2095 in sales, a 1300% return on investment. Direct Mail brings in 78% of revenues for Non-Profit Organizations.
Should you decide that Direct Mail is a viable vehicle to promote your business what are some of the details you should know? First and foremost, understand your market, know why your customer comes to you and what their hot buttons are. Secondly, understand the elements of a well designed mailer. Have a clear call to action. Stick to one main thrust of your mailer, do not try to cover all bases thereby clouding your message with too much information. I once heard it said that if a person threw you three balls at once you were likely to catch none of them, whereas one ball thrown on target gets caught every time! Part of a great call to action is presenting your recipient with a free offer, or significant discount.
Integrated Marketing: Ideally you want to drive people to your website to redeem this gift or free offer and obtain their permission to email market to them with items like your monthly e-newsletter. There are very cost effective tools on the market to embed into your website that provide metrics and auto responders, (some with video) to welcome your new contacts to your opt in list, while advising you that you have a new subscriber.
Size Matters – the size of your direct mailer is important. The US Postal Service has regulations on the size of your mailer, and the postal rate varies on weight and size. I like to recommend the maximum letter rate size of 6.125 x 11.5, It tends to stand out from the rest of the mail and gives extra room for those eye catching graphics and brand elements you have developed with your design team.
Your Mail House: there is significant value in working with a qualified mail house. Not only will you get personal service, but tips and marketing experience from a team that does this on a daily basis. Acquisition of mailing lists, determining the demographics of your target audience, and weighing the differences between targeted marketing (sharpshooter) vs. blanket marketing (shotgun approach) are important details. Professional Mail Houses work closely with the USPS to obtain the very best postal rate for their customers, and since postage can often be the most costly component of any direct mail program it is paramount to obtain the best postal rate.
How Often? I believe it is important to have a system of repeated contact with your prospects and existing customers. Multiple exposures build brand recognition and touching them every couple of months is a great way to insure that they will find your information handy when they are ready to buy.
Follow Up: the most effective direct mail campaigns have a follow up system, this can be electronic, or via telephone. But most preferable is the personal contact to make that human connection to your customer. With all of the electronic/robotic responders these days, talking to a real human being is tremendously refreshing.