7 Simple Direct Mail Ideas to Drive Local Business
To find and keep customers, local businesses have a lot of options available, with direct mail still at the top of the list. According to BIA/Kelsey, a research and advisory firm, in 2016 direct mail will constitute 25.6 percent of local market ad spending (out of $146.6 billion).
For some marketers, shared or co-op direct mail programs are a good way to go, and the U.S. Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mail program has lowered costs for others.
That said, as the director of Who’s Mailing What!, I'm bothered that I see a quite a lot of solo direct mail that misses opportunities to really stand out well in the customer’s mailbox against efforts from national and big regional brands.
Based on some of the best local mail from my files, here are some good design and copy practices local companies can use to drive traffic to their doors.
1. Sell Benefits, Not Features
This is basic marketing, and it can’t be said often enough: you need to explain to customers not just what you do or what product you have, but why it should be important to them.
Bonus: The mailer puts a personal face on the company by showing the names, photos and emails of two of its arborists.
2. Tell Them What You Do
Let’s face it: There are just some tasks we can’t, or won’t, do ourselves. Whether it’s housecleaning, painting or plumbing, we rely on local businesses to provide these services.
To build confidence in the customer’s ability to choose from a variety of service professionals, HVAC contractor A.J. Perri mailed a postcard listing “21 Individual Operations we Perform on Your Furnace.”
3. Deliver Essential Information
Another contractor, Affordable Water Heaters & Plumbing, mailed this giant (6”x11”) yellow sticker. When applied to the front of one’s water heater, it starts doing its job.
On the left side is a list of things to look for to avoid trouble. Most of the remaining surface area tells the prospect what to do when an emergency arises, and in California, that means earthquakes. Helpful arrows point to vital parts of the water heater and its connections. This allows the homeowner to assess any problem as well as describe it to the company, whose many local phone numbers are listed across the bottom of the sticker.
A good example is Mid-Atlantic home services provider Horizons Services. It regularly mails a “Consumer’s Guide For Replacing Your Heater and/or Air Conditioner” as part of its marketing mix.
The bullet points on the front cover of the eight-page brochure are all soft-sell: “When To Repair Or Replace Your Equipment,” “The Importance Of A System Analysis.”
Inside, the promised information is presented in a colorful, concise and calm manner. No competitor company is mentioned, so the prospect can use these tips to hire any contractor.
But having established credibility, the pages that follow make a case for hiring Horizon by showing employee training, its standards, and including special coupon offers.
5. Follow the Calendar
A regular direct mail program uses creative, as well as offers, that leverage the seasons and holidays on the calendar.
6. Make It Easy to Order
Pepperoni’s, a small Texas-based chain of pizza restaurants, used Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) to mail a 6-1/4”x9” postcard with a menu across the front side.
7. Provide an Action Device
Coupons are great, but how about a personalized gift card for some motivation?
This laminated 4-1/4”x5-3/4” postcard, mailed by County Line Landscape Nursery, includes a personalized card that snaps out for later use. This perfed-out piece provides tangible value, a $20 discount on a purchase of $75 or more, and is trackable by a bar code on the back.
What these mailings have in common, besides their simplicity, is their intention to pull out the necessary stops to acquire a customer. In one way or another, they try to deliver information, an offer, or both. Creating top-of-mind awareness builds trust with the prospect, who may be just around the corner.