with Direct Mail
Using direct mail
as part of an overall marketing plan can produce results, but it can also
be a waste of precious resources if not done properly. The keys are:
you want the direct mail to accomplish.
materials to produce the desired results.
Having a good
Making sure the
mail is processed effectively.
Following up as
Direct mail is usually
thought of as a way to send large numbers of the same materials to many
people as cheaply as possible. In reality it is just like sending a letter
without the time consuming tasks of writing, signing, addressing and putting
stamps on hundreds or thousands of letters. Direct mail has become a widely
used, and in many cases very specialized, way of generating results.
Your Goals Should
Dictate the Form of the Mail Piece
If you consider the direct mail you get, it usually falls into one of
three categories. It may try to motivate you to make an immediate purchase
- a pre-approved credit card. It may offer you an easy way to get more
information - request a brochure or request a contact. Or, it may just
be a way for a company to stay in front of you - a newsletter.
Each of these goals
usually results in using a different type of written material. Using a
written piece to produce an immediate sale is difficult. The offer must
almost be overwhelming and the process of buying must be extremely easy.
With a pre-approved credit card, it may be a "no-fee, low rate, act immediately"
message where all that is needed is a signature or one toll-free call
to activate the card.
Direct mail pieces
that are designed to generate leads usually indicate how the product/service
being sold may solve a problem. An invitation to a financial planning
seminar on investing may respond to your desire to handle your finances
more intelligently. The postcard from the local furnace repairman offering
to clean your furnace may be trying to help you solve a problem you didn't
know you had.
Companies that offer
relationship-type services often use regular newsletters to build a favorable
presence of mind with prospects so the prospect will think of that company
when they are ready to make a relationship change decision. Financial
institutions do this extensively and often mail newsletters to existing
customers to reinforce and defend their relationships.
Have a good list
One of the apparent attractions of direct mail is that it can enable you
to reach many new prospects with a purchased list. The problem is that
many lists are unreliable or outdated. If you are considering buying a
list, investigate it thoroughly. Many list vendors offer lists that have
been compiled from public information or other lists. Expect that 10%
to 30% of most lists are outdated as people move or die, or their situation
The more you know
about the people most likely to be interested in your product/service,
the more you will be able to find the right list or screen a larger list
down to your most likely prospects. Let's assume you are trying to generate
leads for your relatively high-priced product or service. You may want
to consider the following list screening variables - zip codes, home values,
estimated income, length of residence and age. Most of this type of information
is available from quality list providers. The more specific you get, the
fewer people will be on the list and the more you will pay for each name.
Expect to pay from
10 to 50 cents for each name you buy. Remember that even the best materials
with an irresistible offer will not produce results if the person receiving
the mail can't afford what you are offering.
Implementing a direct mail campaign doesn't always mean hiring a "direct
mail house" to do it for you. Many businesses do it themselves. The question
of whether to use an outside service is usually based on volume and the
internal resources you can devote to the effort.
If you are considering
thousands of multi-part pieces, a direct mail house will probably be able
to do it cheaper. They have the mailing equipment and will probably be
able to utilize bulk mail postage rates. But, don't let a 15 cent savings
in postage (first class compared to bulk rates) be the only factor in
making the decision. By the time you consider all the costs - the list,
materials, processing and postage - you will probably spend over a dollar
per piece on the mailing.
If your targets are
limited in number and you have the internal resources, handling a direct
mail program internally may be the right choice.
Follow up, Follow
up, Follow up
Once you send the mail, the most important work begins.