Direct Mail – A Numbers Game

Six seconds, one percent, 3000 addresses, thousands of dollars. Direct mail. It’s a numbers game.

Yes, it’s a numbers game, but there is no other marketing approach that allows a regular business to reach so many prospects, in such a powerful way, at so low a cost. Not advertising, not telemarketing, not personal sales calls, not the Internet.

Clients often ask, “What should go into a direct mail campaign?” Everything. Actually, no. Everything needs to be in a Direct Response Campaign; other direct mail campaigns require fewer things.

First, a definition: Direct Mail means addressed to an individual, not to the “occupant”, “general manager” etc. Neither is it un-addressed admail. There are two general kinds of direct mail, based on the target audience: business to business, and consumer. And there is a difference between regular direct mail, and “direct response mail”. Direct response is a subset of direct mail: in it, the goal of the campaign is to have the target respond to it, before it can be considered successful.

As consumer mail has the most statistics behind it, I’m going to refer to it most often. Where business to business (B2B) differs from consumer, I’ll put the B2B information in an “aside”.

Once they’ve come across your envelope in the post, your prospect will take less than three seconds to decide to open it or trash it. By opening it, they’re identifying themselves as real prospects.

B2B is often sent in plain business envelopes, which tend to be opened as a matter of routine.

Next your prospect takes about nine seconds to scan the contents: the response device, the letter, your brochure and the response device again. (People look at the response device twice, as it has their name on it, and, it turns out, people like to see their names in print.) If you fail to hook them in that time, you’re in the trash.

As you can see, you don’t have much time.

Your task is to get your audience emotionally involved with your mailing. They’re either emotionally involved or it’s into the trash.

One method, used in consumer mailings to build emotional involvement is creating visual clutter. Visual clutter roughly drags the viewer around the page, and through the various inclusions. By “exploring” the mailing, they become “involved” with it.

While this should work with B2B mailings, your business prospects are less tolerant of clutter.

Some direct mail approaches:

  • Postcards. The implication is: good news, an easy decision, quick to deal with. However, they can be seen as representing low value, if they are not done right. Production values and creativity are extremely important with postcards.
  • Self mailers. These are often used in B2B. They tend to have very high pass along value. They’re a quick read, and often used to sell seminars, conferences, single books, for lead generation or traffic building. Statistically, seminar mailings pull 0.3% or less.
  • Catalogues. These have a fairly high response rate, and are kept for a comparatively long time. However, they are hugely expensive to print and distribute. These are being replaced by postcard invitations to view an online catalogue.
  • Standard direct mail package. At the minimum, these consist of an outer envelope, sales letter, brochure and business card. They can get very much more complicated than this. These can pull from lower than 0.5% to as high as 5%, or even 10% for outstanding campaigns.
  • Standard direct response package. At the minimum, these consist of an outer envelope, sales letter, response device, brochure and return envelope. They also can get very much more complicated than this. Again, these can pull from lower than 0.5% to as high as 5%, or even 10% for outstanding campaigns.

For the most part, direct mail packages are seen as more personal than the other methods. They can also deliver a larger quantity of information. If you want someone to respond to you, you need to give them enough information to justify their actions.

In the briefest terms, any good direct mail package does the following:

  • It frames the offer.
  • It highlights the benefits.
  • It visually reveals the concept.
  • It calls the reader to action.

You don’t know which piece of your mailing a prospect will look at first. So, every element in the package must contain the key benefits and focus on the offer.

COPYWRITING

There are six kinds of copy you need to write for your direct mail piece. Each one plays a different, but important role.

The first is your benefit copy. It builds desire. A benefit shows the improvement that the user will gain through the product or service.

Then the descriptive copy makes up for the fact that your reader can’t “kick the tires”. This is where the product/service is made tangible. Visuals play a big role here.

Support copy validates your story. It can be data, statistics or research. Or it can be examples, case studies, histories, (Which are 3rd person recommendations.), or testimonials (Which are 1st person recommendations.) Of course, it can be all of these together.

Then there are the “sweeteners”. These are incentives and choices: “Free gift”, “Yours to keep”, “Buy now and get blah blah blah, etc.”

Finally, the “facilitators”: guarantees, “toll free numbers”, “pay later”, etc. These make it easier for your reader to say YES.

THE ENVELOPE

To develop a good envelope, you need to answer these questions:

  • What is your prospect thinking?
  • What’s going to get the envelope opened?
  • What’s going to get the response you want?

Consumer oriented direct mail envelopes announce that they’re advertising something. They use teaser copy, bold graphics, even photos to get people to open them. When people open these, they know they are about to be “sold” something.

Direct mail lead generation and other B2B mailings often use a more subdued #10 or plain 5 7/8 x 9 envelope, often without even a company name on the envelope. This has its dangers, as a recipient might feel “tricked” into opening it.

(Fundraising mailings often take the direct sales approach. The trick with them is not to look spendthrift.)

Postal regulations are complex. If you’re doing any large quantity mailings, review your options before you design your mailing. Review the regulations at ups.gov for Americans or canadapost.com for Canadian mailings.

If you intend to do a large mailing, it’s best to hire a lettershop to assemble it for you. They will actually save you money, as they can put your mailing together the best way to suit the postal regs. Make sure your materials will fit their equipment and your envelopes. For ease of insertion, your envelopes should be 1/2 inch longer and 1/4 taller than your material.

I intended to give you the whole story in this article, but I realize I’ve carried on for quite a long while. I’ll finish my story of direct mail in Direct Mail the Numbers Game, Part Two, where I’ll talk about sales letters, response devices and brochures.

2 Easy Ways To Give Your Postcard Marketing Campaign A Boost

Direct mail is dead, right?

It’s too expensive.

Nobody reads it.

And besides, email marketing is faster and cheaper. and for these reasons you should eliminate your direct mail marketing campaigns in favor of online marketing, right?

Wrong!

Direct mail is better than ever for the simple fact that so many small business owners are focused on Social Media… email marketing… and all the other online marketing shiny objects that your prospects metal mailbox is empty.

So would you rather compete in an empty metal mailbox?

Or be another email in a pile of hundreds?

The answer is obvious.

And in today’s article I’m going to talk about postcard marketing. In particular the two things you can do to give your next postcard campaign a shot in the arm.

Ready? OK, let’s get rolling.

2 Easy Ways To Give Your Postcard Marketing Campaign (PMC) A Boost:

1. The most important part of a successful PMC campaign.

Recently, I had a conversation with an “expert” on postcard marketing. And when I asked her what the most important thing was on a postcard marketing campaign she told me hands down it was how your prospect feels when they read your postcard.

Really?

I politely ended our conversation knowing I was not talking to an expert on postcard marketing. That’s because the most important element on a postcard marketing campaign (as well as any other marketing promotion you run) is your OFFER.

Plain and simple. What offer are you making on your postcard? Is it clear? Can someone recognize within a few seconds what they get for reading your postcard? If so, and assuming your offer is strong enough, then you may have yourself a smash hit.

If your offer is weak, or if it can’t be read, then you might as well flush your money down the drain because your postcard campaign will never work.

2. The second most important part to a successful PMC.

Alright, so you included a killer offer on your postcard. Now what? Is that all you need? Nope. Truth is the second most important element is your deadline. Do you have a deadline? If so, how long is it? And where is it on your postcard? Can you prospect see it alongside your offer?

If you have a killer offer next to a tight deadline, then you’ve got the best chance of having your next postcard marketing campaign succeed.

If you could use a steady flow of new customers, then head on over to:

Why Niche Marketing Is A Great Way To Build Up Your Business

If you want to get customers and get them now, then you need to know the ins and outs of your target market. The only way to do this is by research. But sometimes research can be overlooked especially if you’re selling in a niche that you already know things about and if you have “affinity” in the marketplace.

But for the sake of this article, we’re going to assume that you know nothing about a niche, and that you’re looking for ways to start making money in your business. Well if you’re stuck on ideas, the first thing that you should do is go into a niche. And this is a lot easier than it sounds.

By going into a niche, you allow yourself to do business in a little-to-no competition free zone. This should make you excited, because everywhere you turn in the market that you’re in now, there’s competition all around you. These competitors are eating away at all your sales and profits, and could care less about you.

It’s time for you to reclaim what’s yours. If you can make more money in your business without spending thousands of dollars to do so, then you stand a good chance of making money very quickly now – and far into the future. Just be sure not to tell anyone the niche that you’re in.

It doesn’t matter what business you’re in. You can go into a niche. For example, if you’re a professional marketer, instead of offering your marketing talents to all sorts of business owners, consider solely operating in a niche such as dentists. Dentists don’t know about marketing – all they know how to do is fix teeth. So you can come into this niche and take over immediately.

Plus, the beauty of marketing to dentists is that they have money to spend. So you can easily price a marketing solution to them for around $500. This will pad your pockets nicely while the dentists entire income doubles within a short period of time. This is the power of niche marketing.

But before you go out there and start marketing to dentists, you will want to either run an ad, or rent a mailing list. Both have their pros and cons, but the majority of them will buy from you anyway. If you were going to use the advertising option, lead with a strong headline focused on dentists.

For example you could say, “Attention Dentists! Could Your Practice Use A Constant Stream Of New Patients?”… or something like that. Dentists that are interested will respond, and to get more new dentist leads, run the same ad again.

I know I spent a chunk of time talking about dentists, but I hope you can see the lessons in this article and how they relate to marketing in your business. Follow these tips, and you TOO can have success. They have been proven to work for other businesses, and I’m confident that it can work for your too.

Good luck with using these tips to have the most success as possible in your niche.