Effective direct mail campaigns are possible…don’t give up hope!

As I discussed in my blog, Direct Mail Is a Viable Option for Marketing to Small Businesses, direct mail campaigns are certainly not dead, in fact they are growing.

Here is just one sign that Direct Mail is making a comeback.  According to Mintel Comperemedia:

  • In the first quarter of 2010, quarterly direct mail volume received by consumers increased 16%– 6.1 billion pieces of direct mail up from the 5.3 billion mail pieces received in the fourth quarter of 2009.

So, what should you do for a new direct mail campaign (or even a direct marketing campaign)?

  • Consult an expert—unless you are lucky enough to have an experienced direct marketer on your staff, you are wise to consult a direct marketing expert before you start a campaign.
    • And, when I say direct marketing expert, I do not mean an advertising agency.  I mean someone specializing in direct marketing campaigns.  There is a huge different between the two types of companies that I could take many pages of blog to explain (but wont).  You will just have to trust me on this one.
  • Consult your data—I am a market research geek, but I am not steering you wrong on this one.  One of the best starting places for any campaign is a getting a full understanding your current customer base.  Basically, you need to determine the types of customers that are profitable for you and target them.
  • Build your targets—you don’t need a degree is statistics and decades of experience in predictive modeling to determine your targets (but it does help).  Thinking practically, you should focus on 5 or less “test” cells that are composed of the prospects that you think you can win over and convert based on your internal customer database deep dive.
  • Spend money on your delivery system—while it is scary to spend money on any new campaign, using your plain company-branded envelope probably isn’t going to encourage openership among non-customers.  Thus, in many cases you will need to use a custom envelope or even a small box to encourage openership.
  • Craft your message carefully—the ability to get people to read and respond to direct mail really boils down to relevant copy.  So how can you create relevant copy?
    • Focus on how you are solving the prospect’s problem—including your company’s benefits are important, but make sure they are wrapped around how you are solving the prospect’s problem.
    • The letter should be all about them and not you—once you have completed your letter, check to make sure that you have used the word “you” at least 10 times in your letter.  If not, you have spent too much talking about your company.
    • Make sure there is a clear WIIFM—if prospects cant immediately make the “what’s in it for me” connection, you’ve lost them.
  • Give them a clear and wanted response mechanism—you would probably be shocked to learn that many of the responses that I get to campaigns are through business reply cards…not the call center or the landing page.  I would have never expected that dinosaur to be the winner in the response mechanism race, but it is.  So make sure you include all ways that your prospects might want to respond.
    • Test, test and more test….don’t spray and pray—testing and learning is a much safer and cost-effective approach to any direct mail campaign.  Far too often, I have seen companies send out thousands of letters or postcards only to see/realize no responses and certainly no conversions.  And for that, potentially effective campaigns get killed.  So, make sure you test and learn before you go full force on a direct mail campaign.

    As I have repeatedly said, direct mail can be a viable option for both B2B and B2C companies.  They key is doing it right.

    Happy Marketing!


    2 responses to this post.

    1. Great article Sharon and very timely! I was about to propose eliminating the replace card in one of my clients mailings because we wanted to use the space for more copy. Now I will make sure it stays in.

      I will be running a series of health care BtoB campaigns over the next 3 months and will let you know any lessons we learned as well.



    2. Posted by sharonmarkovsky on June 28, 2010 at 2:03 pm

      I would love to know how it goes for you! I was really shocked about the BRC. I wasn’t going to include it and did at the last second.

      Have a great day!


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