With the internet and mobile communication networks storming into the marketing arena, most sales professionals believe that direct mail is obsolete as a marketing tool and prefer to consign it to an auxiliary position, only to be used in times of great distress when other channels just don’t seem to be working out. As a result, hordes of companies are exiting the direct marketing pit in favor of newer technologies that cater to a tech-savvy generation.
However, direct mail is far from the dying beast that its detractors presume it to be. With a little hard work and creativity, you can make your direct mailing ventures as profitable as most other marketing avenues. And here’s how,
It’s all very well to have your prospects entranced with your dazzling visual cues and exciting copy, but if you don’t tell them what to do, – dial a number, send a mail, make a purchase, use a coupon, etc. – you aren’t going to get very far in terms of actual sales. The idea behind direct mail is to generate a response to your mails and without a call to action all your campaign will generate is some fast fading brand awareness, at best.
If you’re going to put your brand out there and expect people to respond without some sort of incentive beyond the “amazing value” your product offers, don’t expect much. The key to getting people to respond is by entwining your visual and textual appeal with a great bargain, and you can’t afford to scrimp on either. So many companies with excellent deals on offer, don’t do as well as they should because their mailer is poorly constructed and similarly a company with a top notch design team can fare badly with cheap incentives.
One great way to drive brand awareness is to hold and publicize contests and raffles. Why? The one time payout maybe large, but it is insignificant compared to the kind of popularity you’ll generate.
Direct marketing has been around for decades now and while loads of companies have hit gold, that are even more than have sunk, unnoticed, to the depths. Analyze case studies, marketing trends and look at award winning campaigns to see what works and what doesn’t.
And when you do look at past successes, it’s important not to be superficial and simply replicate their strategies. Consider whether the context that those techniques worked in and see if they suit your product and brand strategy.
Don’t just copy. Learn instead.
The whole point of testing is to figure out what your audience responds best to and apply that knowledge to your marketing campaign. If you’re just starting out, test for basic elements like price, offers, sales approach and overall design. Once you’ve got those down to spec, you can begin to test the finer elements of your campaign.
And importantly – while testing, track and measure your response rates and sources, conversions, special offer profitability, ROI, cost per response and you should eventually end up with a dragon’s hoard of data helping tweak your promotions accordingly.
Remember the hard selling approach that Ginsu knives took when they captured America’s attention and sold hundreds of cheap, serrated-edge knives? You do? Excellent. Now forget it all. That kind of copy doesn’t work anymore.
When writing copy for your mailer, you’re going to have to cull all the hype and the phrases like ‘AMAZING SPECIAL OFFER WITH FREE MONEY AND GIFTS!!!!!”. With the sheer saturation levels that direct mailing has reached, that kind of approach is the shortest route to the trash can. Also remember to proof all your copy for grammatical or typographical errors.
Furthermore, try to make your copy short, sweet and exciting. If you find yourself irrevocably leaning towards longish paragraphs, try cutting them down to size. Rather than mailing your prospects an essay that describes your pitch, try delivering easily understandable information in short chunks. You can use a variety of tools including design, subheads and even plain ol’ white space to achieve this.
You may have done an excellent job with your direct mailing campaign, but without a decent customer support to back it up, you’re going to be trapped between a rock and a hard place. Once orders start flooding in, you’ll need a way to handle and process them efficiently while dealing with any number of customer queries and/or complaints.
You can use your direct mailer to drive traffic to other sales portals like your website, social media pages or real-world retail locations. In fact, I recommend you integrate every form of marketing you employ in order to maximize on your overall productivity.
Design can be executed in a number of ways but keep in mind that it has to compel the individual to engage the copy. The visual cues on a mailer are the first thing that a prospect is exposed and you’ve got to keep it interesting. That doesn’t mean you pile on the colors and crate intricate graphics. Depending on your marketing strategy, you will need to develop a design that captures attentions and sustains it.
Whatever your design strategy, make sure you incorporate you brand logo into it. And this goes for every piece of mail you send. Without clear branding in your mailer, you aren’t going to be able to garner that all important brand awareness that leads to return customers and positive word of mouth.
Even the most creative designs will reek of unprofessionalism if your printer does a bad job. That’s why finding the right print partner is essential to a quality direct mailing campaign. If you’re printer has been on the job for a while now, you could even look to him for tips and tricks to help improve you mailer from a print point of view.
Any marketing campaign will return the best results when you plan the entire thing our over a period of at least 6 months (a year would be better). You’ll need a long term plan if you don’t want your brand awareness to fizzle out and die a few months after the effects of your campaign have run their course.
In conclusion, direct mailing can emerge as one of the most creative marketing channels in your entire sales arsenal. And with the right research and a little application it can also turn out to be an avenue of immense profit and growth.