Direct Mail Marketing
Direct Mail Marketing Ideas and Tips
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the phrase direct mail marketing? Unfortunately, most people including small business owners will probably say junk mail. Just as there is a difference between email marketing and spam, there is also a difference between direct mail marketing and junk mail.
In spite of their initial reluctance to try direct mail advertising based on the perception that direct mail is just another way of saying junk mail, many small business owners who commit to trying direct mail marketing find that over time it turns out to be cost effective and a good way to create a steady stream of new customers. So what's the difference between junk mail and direct mail?
What is Junk Mail?
You usually know it right away when you see it. You may receive promotional material addressed to Resident. Or catalogs featuring products you would never buy in a million years. Some of it gets sent to you from big companies or retailers you may have heard of. Some of it comes from local businesses plastering your area with their marketing materials. Regardless of how junk mail gets to your mailbox or who sent it, you are not interested so it ends up in the garbage bin.
- Junk mail is not targeted. It is sent to large lists of people or addresses. Its objective is to wind up in the mailboxes of as many people as possible without regard to demographics, needs or shopping habits.
- Junk mail is not personal. It may come addressed to "Our Neighbor" or "Current Resident." If you bother to read it at all, you will notice that it is filled with sweeping generalities designed to apply or appeal to as many people as possible.
Big companies with immediate brand recognition and millions to spend on marketing may be able to get away with mailing as many pieces as they can to as many people as they can. They are hoping that some small percentage of recipients responds. You, however, probably don't have the budget to try to market your product or service to everyone via direct mailings. Besides, this is not the best use of your funds. Junk mail is no way for you the small business owner to build credibility and bring in more business.
Direct Mail Marketing vs Junk Mail
Direct mail advertising is much different. When done properly, direct mail marketing works very well for small business. Junk mail does not.
- Direct mail is personal and specific. It speaks directly to the prospect by name. It addresses a problem that the recipient has, fills a need, or fulfills a wish. It compels them to act.
- Effective direct mail advertising is primarily focused on the prospect, not on you or your business.
- Direct mail advertising is targeted. The recipients have been identified and chosen for a specific reason. Direct mail is not sent to every address within a range of zip codes.
The difference between junk mail and direct mail should be clear in your mind before you start your first direct mail campaign. Before you stuff that first envelope or drop your postcard in a mailbox, ask yourself whether you're sending junk mail or not.
Direct Mail Marketing Can Help Your Small Business Grow
Direct Mail Marketing Tips
Here are a few quick direct mail tips to get you started on the right track.
- Focus on your list. Your mailing list is the single most important determining factor for direct mail marketing success.
- The best list by far is your in house list. These are your past and existing customers. The people you already have a relationship with. Ever have a pizza delivered to your house? Did you get a menu or a coupon in the mail from that same pizza place a little while later? If you did, it's because they understand that their in house list is gold for direct mail campaigns. Selling to existing customers is cheaper and easier than trying to find new ones. Someone who bought from you in the past may well be willing to do so again provided they had a good experience.
- If you need to buy a mailing list, work with a reputable mailing list broker or vendor. I have personally used NextMark and have heard good things about infoUSA. Both offer all types of targeted lists for both business to consumer and business to business. B2B mailing lists can be a bit more expensive than B2C lists, but not always.
- When buying a list, don't just buy a list of anyone and everyone who lives close to your business. That's what junk mail senders do. Think about who your ideal customer is. Are they male or female? Young or old? Have they bought products that are similar or related to yours in the past? What is their income level? Do they have kids? Are they college graduates? What do they like to do in their spare time? A good mailing list provider can help you find new leads once you identify your target customer. Ask your list broker to get you a mailing list that best matches the customer profile you came up with.
- Offer something of value to your prospects. Something that will get them to take action. Give them a reason to call or come visit you. An irresistible coupon. A free consultation. A free trial. Offer something your competitors don't. You have probably received a number of direct mail pieces in the past that amounted to little more than a business card. Just contact information and a description of the business. If your direct mail idea is to to offer nothing, you'll get nothing in return.
- If you're looking for direct mail marketing ideas, give postcards a try. Granted, you probably won't be able to say everything there is to say about your small business. Direct mail postcards are cheaper to produce and less expensive to mail making them one of the better direct mail ideas for those just starting out or those who have a limited marketing budget. Also, people tend to at least look at a postcard as opposed to reading a long sales letter or opening an envelope that obviously contains a sales pitch.
- Don't give up too soon. Don't just do one mailing and expect an avalanche of new business. You want to do a series of mailings over time. Successful direct mail marketing campaigns require a sustained effort. A lot of direct marketers and phone sales people believe in the "rule of 7" which states essentially that it takes 7 touches before a prospect will buy from or do business with you. I haven't seen any solid, scientific evidence to back up that belief, but from my own personal experience selling services, I can tell you that my first contact close rate is not very high. If you are going to give direct mail advertising a go, plan on giving it at least 6 months.
Small Business Direct Mail Marketing
Many small business owners are under the impression that they are launching a direct mail advertising campaign when in fact they are just sending junk mail. Make sure that you are not making the same mistake. If you start with a quality list, offer something your target audience will find valuable, and make a consistent effort, your direct mail marketing campaign has a much better chance of being successful as opposed to blanketing your local area with your offer with no regard for targeting.