Mastering Direct Mail

Despite disparaging references to “junk mail,” direct mail is more popular than ever. Tracking results over a wide range of industries indicates that consumers and businesses alike respond positively to a well-targeted pitch that arrives via the United States Postal Service. Here are some tips on crafting a successful direct mail campaign.

Know the purpose of your campaign
Do you want to get more business from existing customers? Attract new customers? Let both know about a new product line, service or location? Identifying exactly what you want to accomplish is essential in focusing your message for maximum impact and measuring the results.

Know your target demographic and what motivates its members
Because direct mail focuses on getting the recipient to act, knowing what will motivate the members of your target market to take the desired action is key to success. A book club discovered that it gained more new members when sending a mailing that featured detailed information about the club and its offerings than when it sent a briefer mailing. Reason: people who enjoy reading felt the former, more information-rich mailing better addressed their interest in books.

Know the differences between a direct mailing piece and print ads/collateral
The general goal of print advertising is to brand or create an impression of your product or service, whereas the goal of direct mailing is to immediately spur the recipient into action. Direct marketing traditionally has been more copyintensive for this reason. However, some demographics may respond better to a mailing that emphasizes graphics over copy. Again, know your market.

Have a clear call to action and position it prominently in your mailing
Whether you’re a vendor who wants distributors to call or a retailer who wants to increase traffic, lead the mailing piece with the action you want the recipient to take. Plan the layout and trajectory of the piece around the response device – be it a Business Reply Card, coupon, entry form, phone number or website.

Offer something extra
Discount coupons, special financing, extended warranties and samples are great motivators to increase retail store traffic when included with a direct mail campaign. Contests are also effective, but consult an expert to be sure rules comply with all applicable laws. Other promotions can include: buy one – get one free, free information, free trial period, free (or discounted) membership, and sign up now – quit anytime.

Partner with an expert
Outsourcing to an agency with direct mailing experience eliminates headaches, unpleasant surprises and extra expense over such issues as postal regulations, paper stock, inks and printing methods. Partnering will pay for itself with the increased business you’ll earn.