07 February 2010

Direct Mail Advice

I love checking the mail. And, I get to do it up to three times a day - at work, at home, and at the post office.

There's something about not knowing what's going to be behind the tiny door - usually bills, but getting letters, cards and money are some of my favourite types of mail and make my day when they arrive.

Sometimes direct mail falls into that category too, but that all depends on how well it speaks to me - is it relevant to what I am looking for or think I need at that particular point in my life/day/week? Also, does the piece stand out visually and look like a legitimate product or service that I would use? I like a good piece of direct mail.

There's a few things that I've learned over the years when it comes to direct mail and it can be summed up pretty easy:

  1. Frequency - you need to do several drops, a minimum of 3 drops with a consistently branded piece should do the trick.
  2. Target - carefully select the area you want to target and only focus on the areas that you feel would be best to use your product/service.
  3. Offer - don't just tell them who you are and what you do - tell them how you can do what you do right now for less or with some kind of added value.
  4. Design - your mail pieces should be in line with your other advertising as well as your brand, consistent messaging and branding is important.
  5. Timing - the offer you are presenting should be appropriate and relevant to the time of year that you are doing your campaign.

Without going into too much detail, those are the 5 key things to focus on for your direct mail campaign - your design team should come up with something that will stand out from the hoards of mail.

I'm a huge fan of online marketing, but direct mail has it's place and there's nothing like a tangible piece to give some products a bit of legitimacy and credit.

If you really want to take your direct mail to the next level consider building a micro-site that specifically handles the task of the offer in the direct mail pieces. For example, your call to action becomes, "visit do-something-now.com and sign up for free something today!" Now, the recipient can check out your site (no sales pressure or obligation, like a phone call might be perceived), which can answer way more questions than a post card ever could, and now provide you with contact information through a form.

Like in any other form of advertising and promotion - keep it simple. One offer, one form of contact... you don't need to clutter the piece up with info - direct them to a site for more information - the piece should be designed to do one thing, and one thing only: get the consumer to act... and they need clear directions on how to and why to.

We've done several direct mail pieces at Francomedia, some extremely successful (followed above advice to the letter) and others that were complete disasters (decided to self-deliver to save .09ยข and only got a few hundred pieces into the market) - it's surprising when clients don't follow the paid advice given by professionals. So, today the advice is free - take it and use it or ignore it.

Direct mail is inexpensive, but can be a costly endeavor if you get no results. Like anything in life, you need to do things a certain way to achieve results - not every try will be successful, but this only helps you refine the right approach. Above, I've given you 5 things to focus on that will help make your next campaign a success.

The Bottomline: Direct mail works and it works well, if it didn't people would have stopped a long time ago - you just have to follow the above free advice.

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