Direct Mail

Prep Work
July 1, 2004

Strong direct mail copy starts with detailed market and product research The first preparation for writing direct mail copy that gets results is to pack in at least 30 years of life experience and, somewhere along the line, do some selling … if it isn’t too late to suggest that. It also will help if you diversify your life experience as much as possible. For example, even if you’re pushing 40, you should not ignore MTV, Fox and VH-1 TV channels. At the other end of the spectrum, America is getting older. And older folks, historically, have been great direct response customers. The overall

Prospect Databases ... A New Direction for Today’s Mailer
June 1, 2004

Despite the success of the Internet as a lead-generation tool, direct mail continues to be the best way for many companies to acquire new customers. During the past two decades, mailers have developed very efficient and profitable direct mail methods. Intense competition has reduced the price of rental names to make direct mail highly lucrative when the right offer is sent to the right audience. Most marketers think that after 20 years of direct mail experience the industry has tried everything—but they’re wrong. What I’m going to outline in this article will astonish some long-time direct mail practitioners. It represents a new direction

Direct Mail Strategy: A Plethora of Postcards
May 1, 2004

The format appears more popular than ever, so be sure yours stands out in the mail. After years of being ignored as an effective direct mail format, the postcard finally is center stage. Marketers send postcards touting everything from pizzas to office equipment. It’s also the format of choice for generating retail, Web and trade show traffic. While postcards once were thought too small to tell the whole story—not compelling enough to grab the reader’s attention and loaded with creative limitations—today, on any given day, my mailbox holds two, three or more. In fact, recently I found a stack of seven postcards nestled

Outsource Solutions: Lettershops
May 1, 2004

The Proof Is in the Process Personalization can boost response to a direct mail campaign because of its ability to establish a connection with each member of the target audience. But it can have the opposite effect if errors in the data or its presentation mangle the message. One of the keys to executing a successful personalized direct mail campaign is working with your lettershop to create a proofing process that leaves no personalization element uninspected. The variety of proofing methods available to direct marketers can be confusing, says Sylvia Konkel, vice president of marketing at EU Services, a full-service mailing facility in Rockville, MD. That’s why

Back With a Bangtail
March 1, 2004

Once-defunct cataloger Fingerhut—known for extending credit and goods to lower-income consumers—is back in the mailstream with its first continuity program since Federated Department Stores Inc. sold the company last year. Fingerhut customers were targeted in the fourth quarter of 2003 with a jewelry continuity program created by marketing services firm Holsted Marketing. Two sets of direct mail pieces went out in the second half of October, each to 50,000 people. Another 100,000 were sent via bangtails—offers on extra flaps attached to Fingerhut monthly remittance envelopes—in early November. “The idea [behind this campaign] was to define what products and offers work, and prepare for next

Surrounding a Market
March 1, 2004

A Powerful Blend of Direct Marketing Science and Market Research Drives The Hartford’s AARP Insurance Program. Every seven minutes, a U.S. adult turns 50. For AARP, a nonprofit membership organization that advocates on behalf of Americans age 50 and older, that translates into a little more than 200 new potential members a day. And for The Hartford, a 190-year-old investment management and insurance firm based in Hartford, CT, it also means a steady influx of new names for prospecting. Due to The Hartford’s relationship with AARP as the exclusive provider of discounted automobile (and homeowner) insurance to the association’s members, it has more of

Creative Corner: Problem > Solution?
March 1, 2004

Position Your Offer as a Solution When you get down to it, everything we do in direct marketing is based on coming up with a solution to a problem. The way we sell our products and services is to identify people’s needs and wants, and then position our offerings as the fulfillment of those desires. When I think of problem/solution marketing, NetFlix immediately comes to mind. What’s the problem with Netflix? Nothing. As far as I can tell, it’s the perfect Internet-driven direct marketing business. In fact, it’s a solution to a problem. What problem? It goes back to the birth of the Internet,

Direct Mail Design and the Sistine Chapel
March 1, 2004

My wife, Peggy, and I have been to Italy in December twice, and twice we have relished being able to pop into museums, basilicas, chapels and architectural sites without waiting in long lines, without being jostled by thundering herds of tourists and without being deafened by guides nattering a rat-a-tat-tat babble of different languages. Italy in December is glorious! I first saw the Sistine Chapel 50 years ago, then a second time 30 years ago. The colors were drab, and the guides talked about Michelangelo’s use of “chiaroscuro”—light and dark. It turned out that chiaroscuro was none of the artist’s doing. Rather it was the

Direct Mail Strategy: Direct Mail Revival
February 1, 2004

These are exciting times for all of us involved in direct mail. If you’re wondering whether direct mail—the traditional workhorse of direct marketing—is dead or even dying, the answer is a resounding “No!” However, it is changing. And to be successful with your 2004 direct mail efforts, you need to be a part of the change. Times Are Changing Thanks to the now-famous Do-Not-Call Registry, direct mail is being reconsidered as a viable medium by many who had thought of abandoning it. Of course, those of us who understand the strategic value of direct mail have never thought of it as not viable.

The Power of Referrals
January 1, 2004

How your customers can add extra profits to your bottom line A number of years ago, I was the marketing manager for a well-known book club. Twice a year the direct marketing department met with the president to review accomplishments and plans for the next marketing season. During this meeting, we shared the results of our programs and campaigns—direct mail, magazine advertising, package insert and member-referral. He looked at the line-by-line profit-per-customer acquired of each marketing initiative and declared, “Let’s do more of the member-referral program.” Those of us in the direct marketing division chuckled to ourselves. There were, after all, only so many