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Direct Mail Marketing Tips: What Works (and What Doesn't)

Direct Marketing Support: What Works (and What Doesn’t)

While there’s no doubting direct mail’s power, there is a right way – and wrong way – to go about it. Direct mail lives and dies by a unique set of rules and guidelines that have been tested and confirmed time and again over the last 30-plus years. What are these secrets to success? We’ve outlined them below.

“Segment” your mailing list

The most important factor in any direct mail marketing effort is the mailing list. No matter how dazzling your mailing, no matter how great your special offer, if it doesn’t reach the right person, it’s dead in the water.

Once you’ve got a good list, look for ways to break it into smaller segments for more targeted mailings. Instead of mailing an overly broad marketing piece to the entire list of prospects, send targeted messages and special offers to the sub-groups most likely to respond. For example, send one message to apartment dwellers and another to those who own homes… send a more personal message to past customers, and something generic to new prospects … offer special discounts to select groups. The smaller the group, and the more targeted your message, the better your results.

Give the people what they want (special offers and a call-to-action)

The second most-important factor in any direct mailing is the offer / call-to-action. In direct mail terms, an offer is something special your target audience will receive if they respond to your mailing. A call-to-action is a request for the person to take action.

In the optimum scenario, the offer and call-to-action are combined: “Call before June 10 to receive this special offer.”

An offer doesn’t need to be a gift (although free gifts work great) or even something physical. You can offer your target audience a free consultation, a special pricing discount, free shipping, free gift-wrapping, an extra night’s stay, a glass of wine for stopping by, two-for-one, points towards a future purchase, entry into a drawing, a free white paper, an opportunity to be the first to try a new product, a money-back satisfaction guarantee … the options are never-ending.

Whether you include an offer or not, always include a call-to-action. While it may seem blatantly obvious that you want the recipient to contact you, including the words “call today” will increase response. Other examples include:

  • Don’t put off your dream of owning a home any longer. Call us today.
  • Finding the right solution to your financial needs is just one click away.
  • No one can beat our all-in-one approach. Let us prove it to you.
  • Call today to schedule a private showing right away.
  • Can’t participate? Pass this special offer along to a good friend.
  • This seminar is always a sell-out. Call today to reserve your spot.
  • Call before July 10 to receive this special offer.
Tell them how great it’s going to be

The writing used for general advertising (ads on TV, billboards and in magazines) is designed to promote a brand or increase interest in a product/service – a strategy that works great for big companies with high-profile brands. Direct mail is a different animal, and it requires a style of writing that cuts to the chase.

The big mistake most direct mail rookies make is trying to include too many product / service features. Not only are you cramped for room, your readers are low on time and patience. Focus on just a couple things that will save your customers time or money (that’s what they really crave).

Bashfulness is another common mistake. This is especially true when sales agents and consultants are trying to sell their own expertise. When there’s no product or company to sell, they become self-conscious about hyping their unique skills. Don’t be shy. Flaunt your abilities, experience and leadership.

Above all, make sure the reader understands how they’ll benefit – and why they’ll be better off – using your product or service.

Timeliness and consistency are key

According to the Direct Marketing Association, you have to get your name and marketing message in front of someone at least nine times before they’ll even consider making a purchase. Frankly, that’s where most businesses go wrong. They broadcast their message to a target audience four or five times, then walk away. It’s the equivalent of abandoning a slot machine that’s just about ready to spill its guts. If you’re going to play the game, stay in it for the long-haul and you’ll reap more rewards.

Mailing something every four to six weeks is always a good bet. Make contact less often than that and, studies show, your target audience will have trouble recalling your name and branding. For small- and medium-sized business, direct mail is one of the most effective and reliable marketing mediums available. Follow these recommendations, and you’re sure to find success.

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