I often get asked if I believe direct mail is still an effective marketing channel and I always give the same answer: Absolutely, however, it can be as effective or ineffective as you make it.

So what do I mean by this? The reality is every marketing channel – social media, cable tv, yellow pages, direct mail, side of a bus, etc. – can be remarkably effective if used properly and implemented correctly.

However, for many businesses the vast majority of marketing channels are used haphazardly at best and detrimentally at worst.

In the case of direct mail, there are three critical elements to successful use:

#1. Identify your target carefully.

 

Unlike many other marketing channels direct mail provides the unique ability to prequalify every person you want to receive your message.

If you are a pool cleaning company, you can identify all the homes within 5 miles radius that have pools. If you are a dog grooming company, households with dogs. Financial advisor, households with wealth, you get the idea.

By starting with a prequalified target you are eliminating wasted marketing budget on households or businesses that will never buy your product.

What if 90% of the households in a given geographic market don’t have swimming pools, if you don’t narrow your targeting, that means that $0.90 of every dollar you spend is just money wasted.

#2. Set the right Frequency.

Let’s face it, consumer retention is nonexistent. If you think any marketing will produce results without a sustained frequency of messaging, you are fooling yourself.

A question that is often asked of me is what should my expected response rate be for a direct mail campaign? Ultimately, there are many factors that go into answering this question, but the most influential factor is frequency over time.

If your goal is to grow your pool cleaning business, sending a single post card once a year is just about pointless – like planting a seed and watering it once.

If your goal is to harvest clients out of a given list of homes over the next 5 years by sending a mailer once per month, I would say you have a high probability of achieving a response engagement rate of 2-5% for each mailing.

Using direct mail is all about purpose and planning. Your garden will grow but it requires nurturing and attention.

#3. A Message that Matters.

All too often I see businesses take the shock and awe approach to messaging. Throw every message they can think of onto a direct mail piece with the hopes that at least one will stick.

The truth is, none of them stick because no one is going to invest the time to wade through the noise.

One of the first questions I ask a new client is, “what makes their company the better choice?” Better service, better product, better technology, better staff, better trucks – what are the things that differentiate you from your competition?

Once you understand this, you now have a road map to what you should be messaging in your direct mail campaign (in fact all your marketing campaigns).

Keep it simple.

Here are some great examples of this singular focus on Brand Advantage Message:

  • Verizon – Largest Network.
  • BMW – Ultimate Driving Machine
  • Mercedes – The Best or Nothing
  • Bo’s Pool Service – Water So Clean You’ll Want to Drink It. (I don’t actually own a pool cleaning business but if I did….)

Harnessing the power of direct mail in your marketing mix can achieve extraordinary results for your business. Understanding and accomplishing this for you is what we do best.

Give us a call to set up a discovery meeting for your company; you will be glad you did.
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