It was nearly two decades ago that I had the privilege of working in the direct-marketing department of a mid-sized print shop that specialized in creating direct mail for financial services. In the early 90s, direct mail was nearly a new concept in our industry. And man did it work! Our direct-mail products were flying off the shelf. We were thriving. Advisors were successful. Everyone was a winner. Then, 2001 came and, with that, 9/11 and a volatile economy. Response to direct mail started to vary. Advisors were hurting, so spending money on direct mail was considered a luxury and not a necessity.
Since then, one thing is for certain: There has not been another marketing method invented that can compare with the power of a good direct-mail campaign.
Newspapers, radio, e-mail, television, billboards — Not one of these items as a standalone marketing medium typically yields anything close to the same results as direct mail (not to mention that they are not targeted).
Did you know that, according to the latest research, nearly 80% of households either read or scan advertising mail sent to their homes? Additionally, statistics show a 13-to-1 return on an investment in direct mail. The same cannot be said about these other marketing tactics.
Direct mail is here to stay. The question is, how do you maximize your efforts so you can be a successful direct-marketer? Surprisingly, it’s usually the little things that make the biggest difference.
Using color tastefully on your marketing pieces helps your piece stand out from the rest of the mail. Neutral colors will appear soothing and professional. Make sure your envelope has something catchy on the outside to increase the probability that the piece will be opened. If your piece is an invitation, be sure to include the event location logo or symbol on the envelope — particularly if it’s a well-known and popular place.
Add Variable Printing
Today’s technology enables advertisers to personalize direct-mail pieces by adding variable data to different parts of the direct-mail piece. For example, the piece might use a person’s name in strategic locations, such as “Dear Amy” or “A Special Invitation for Amy” instead of “Dear Customer” or “A Special Invitation for You.” Emerald Connect has the technology to add variable printing on the outside as well as the inside of the piece. Always check with your printer to see what capabilities they have. Take advantage of the latest technology. Adding personalization makes you stand out from the crowd. Plus, it adds a personal touch and makes your prospects feel special.
Present Your Offer Clearly
Have you ever received a direct-mail piece at your home or office that was so cluttered with information you couldn’t determine what they were offering or even how to respond? Keep your direct-mail piece clear and concise — and provide an obvious “call to action.” If your direct-mail campaign is offering a FREE pamphlet on saving and investing, make sure it is featured prominently to get the recipients’ attention and that the offer stands out from the rest of your copy. Additionally, if the call to action is for the recipient to call for a free pamphlet, make sure the phone number is bold and in a large font that won’t be overlooked.
Affix a Stamp, Preferably First-Class
A primary goal of direct-marketers is to get their mail opened and read. When the piece arrives in the recipient’s mail box, it will be competing with all the other mail. Using a first-class, affixed stamp will help prevent your mail piece from landing in the “junk mail” pile — hence, the kitchen garbage receptacle.
Use a Good List
A targeted list is just as important as your offer and the look of your mail piece — if not more so. Let’s face it, if you have a bad list and your mailing never reaches the intended recipient, then you might as well have invested in some beach-front property in Arizona. Do research on lists before you buy, and ask some clarifying questions such as:
- How is the list compiled?
- What sources of data are being used to qualify the list?
- How frequently is the list updated?
There are many list vendors out there. Some are compilers of data. Some are resellers (brokers). Make sure whichever vendor you chose has a positive reputation in the marketplace. And don’t buy on price alone. There are reasons why some lists are significantly less expensive than others, and quite often it’s a result of the quality.
Mix It Up
If you are mailing to the same general areas and ZIP codes frequently, change your mail piece on a regular basis to keep it fresh. People respond to different images and messages. In order to reach a broad group of people (and personalities), try new looks, formats, and colors. Rotate several pieces throughout the year so your message has the best likelihood of being opened by the majority of your target audience.
Direct mail can be a powerful and effective tool when used correctly. It is an investment that can pay dividends long after the piece is mailed, especially if you put some serious thought into the overall design and list. Don’t cut corners or try to reinvent the wheel. There are many direct-mail experts available to help you make the best choices for your marketing campaign and, in turn, help you generate the highest ROI.