The Power of Focused Direct Mail
Direct mail can be a great way to generate sales for both B-to-B and B-to-C companies when it's done the right way. All too often, however, it's not done right. From overcrowded postcards to too-much-information self-mailers, the vast array of bad direct mail is disappointing. Don’t let your next direct mail campaign fall into the bad category. Start your planning now.
Direct mail used to be pretty simple — just send a piece to everyone! However, nowadays it requires much more planning to be effective. Too many times we see direct mail pieces that have scattered messaging — that's just a confusing piece is trash. Don’t waste your money on trash!
True focus is the key to direct mail success. Here are four key areas to focus on:
Your product or service is not right for everyone. Don't waste your money sending to people who will not respond. Take the time to find the right people for each campaign. You will not only save money, but decrease the frustration level of people who didn't want your offer.
Start by identifying the key pain points of your customers and prospects, then design your offers to address those points in order to increase responses. When you can solve a problem for them with your product or service, your offer has more value to the recipients. It becomes a requirement for them to respond to you.
You must be clear and concise with your message/offer. Start by writing out everything you want to say. Then pick only the most important thing. Build your text around that one thing with the use of bullet points to highlight only the key information. Then use bold to draw attention to important words the reader needs to know. Your offer needs to be easy to understand, short and appealing. Usually the message/offer planning will take the most time — it's very important that you build that time into your schedule. You should also enlist the help of someone outside your organization to make sure the messaging is understood the way you intended it to be.
The best use of graphics and images we've seen have been able to convey the message without anyone actually reading the words. This is very hard, and in some cases, impossible. However, your graphics and images must support and enhance your message to be effective. This focused approach will give the reader reassurance that you understand their problem and you can easily solve it. The selection process can take time, so build that into your schedule as well. One pitfall can be when images are able to be interpreted in more than one way. Make sure to consider any unintended references before you use an image.
When you create a direct mail piece where all 4 elements above are synchronized, that is powerfully focused direct mail. It draws attention and elicits a response. So many times we see poor planning lead to bad direct mail — don't fall into that trap. It is better to have your campaign mailed later than you wanted with your focused message, rather than to mail a bad mail piece on time.
One more important consideration when designing your mail pieces is postal regulations. Postage is your biggest expense, so making sure a design meets the USPS requirements before you print will ensure that you do not pay any more postage than is necessary. Penalties can be two or more times your original postage amount and in some cases you may not be able to mail at all. Your mail service provider can help you spot any problems that may cost you more money.
A blog about Direct Mail Marketing, tips, tricks and what not to do.
Summer Gould is President of Eye/Comm Inc. Summer has spent her 23 year career helping clients achieve better marketing results. She has served as a panel speaker for the Association of Marketing Service Providers conferences. She is active in several industry organizations and she is a board member for Printing Industries Association San Diego, as well as a board member for Mailing Systems Management Association of San Diego. She is also a committee member for Visionaries in Philanthropy which benefits San Diego Meals on Wheels.