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Direct Mail Strategy

Just like other businesses you have (or should be) set your sales and marketing goals, forecasts and budgets for 2020. And just like every other business you are trying to figure out how to do more with less and get increased results. Right?

Why direct mail?
Direct mail has been around since before there was even a postal service.  Businesses would literally walk around and drop off leaflets.  Depending on how diligent the person was dropping of the leaflets you could call this saturation or targeted advertising.  Then along came the postal service to deliver the messages for you.   You simply needed to tell them to whom to deliver.  Is direct mail always the best method or only method of contacting prospects and customers?  Maybe and NO.

The advantage to direct mail is everyone has a unique physical address.  This enables marketers to assign more demographics to you because they have a unique contact point for you.As an alternative, how many email addresses do you have?  (I have 4) Which one do you use when you are completing an online survey or signing up for something?
Which one do you give to your friends and family?
Which one do you use for work?
Which one came with your cell phone service provider?
Now, how many postal addresses do you have?

What about other contact mediums?
I will talk more about multi-channel marketing in future blogs. Thanks to technology, we now have many alternative methods of marketing to our audiences. e.g. email, social media, display, websites, telephone, radio, TV just to name a few. Are they better than direct mail or a replacement for direct mail? Again Maybe and NO. Marketing 101 says the more ways and time you can touch a prospect the more likely they will remember you when they need your product/service. Use direct mail to reach the greatest numbers of TARGETED prospects, then once you have an email address, keep in touch with them on a regular basis with relevant information. Use direct mail to guide them to your website or your brick and mortar location.

What do you want to send them?
This is a tough question. If you are marketing a very technical scientific measuring device to engineers, a detailed information packet might be necessary. If you are marketing specials for your restaurant, then a postcard will be best. The less work some has to do to read your message, the more likely it will be read. Think of your own mail box. What do you do with a well designed visual postcard when you get it? Probably glance at it (both sides) and file it mentally and physically. What do you do with detailed letter in an envelope? Remember: Keep it Simple!

How often do you want to send to them?
General marketing consensus suggests 4-9 times to get someone’s attention before a purchase.  Once you have them as a client or a viable prospect, stay in touch using an appropriate time table.  If your product/service is consumable on a regular basis, then a monthly or even a weekly newsletter might be in order.  Seasonal services may need just quarterly or even annual notes from you.  What ever the time line, keep the message fresh and relevant to the audience.

Who do I send my message to?
Your direct marketing advisor can help you with this through a series of questions.  Start with your current customer base. Pick your top 5 or 10 clients.  I know you may be able to service a wide variety of clients, but you should have a core group that is in your “sweet spot” and that your operations can scale.  What does this group look like? Age, income, home owners, married/single, do they have kids, are they outdoors people, do they subscribe to certain magazines, do they own specific vehicles, are they located in a specific area or within a certain distance of your location, etc.?  Your direct marketing consultant can assist you with targeting your prospects.

What do I “Say” to them?
Prospects and clients want messages that speak “to” them.  You wouldn’t send the same creative to a young couple just starting out as you would empty nesters.  Segment your audience so you are sending messages and images that speak “to” them.

Track and measure results.
Once you have done a mailing or two, assess the results.  Did you see a lift in business, web site or foot traffic, phone inquiries?  If you used a special promo only on that marketing piece, did respondents bring in the mail piece for the special offer?   Test various demographics to see if a different combination gets better/worse results.  Depending on the size of your audience you can segment off small sample sizes and test several messages at the same time.  Sample sizes should be no less than 3,000-5,000 pieces to give you a statistically relevant answer.  If your universe is too small for sampling tests, then simply vary the message between mailings and measure for any differences.

Typical direct marketing will yield <1%-2% response rates.  More targeted, personal offers may see slightly higher results hence the purpose of targeting.   You may hear an advertiser boasting 15%, 20% or higher response rates, be careful!  These results are not in a normal range prospect mailing.  You might see these from a retention mailer sent to customers. 

And finally…  Do something! Waiting for customers to contact you is waiting for your business to fail.  All of our clients will go away at some point.  They may move, go out of business, find a better option or simply evolve away from your product/service.  Don’t stop marketing!  Think of it this way…McDonald’s, Pepsi and Budweiser don’t spend $1 million dollars a day on advertising because you don’t know who they are!  They spend that money to keep themselves top-of-mind when you are hungry or thirsty.

Happy Hunting!

Greg Good
Greg Good

direct mail database


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