The first goal of direct mail is to be delivered, so use the best list you can find and afford, because it won’t get opened if it doesn’t get there. Businesses move less often than consumers, but you must be sure your list is not more than a year old; six months or fewer is better.
As with any type of business marketing, you want to target the correct decision-maker—by name, if possible—for your product or service. Does a customer service rep really care if the company saves money on long-distance service? Not really; you need to reach the boss, who watches the expenses.
Some lists are available with the name of a person and his or her title. If names are not available, you can send your piece to the attention of the title of the person you’re looking for, such as CEO, Chief Engineer, Office Manager, Marketing Manager, President, and so on. When the piece is delivered to the correct person, you’ve increased your chances for a sale.
Here are some more ideas for effective business direct mail:
- Never use an address label on a business-size envelope—it’s unprofessional. Do use your return address.
- If possible, use commemorative stamps on your envelopes instead of using a postage meter. Not all marketers agree with this, but I believe that it still looks businesslike but has a more personal touch.
- Always send #10 envelopes First Class if you can afford to.
- Laser-print or type addresses on envelopes; handwritten envelopes are not professional.
- Have a response card or an order form with a toll-free phone number, fax number, and email address. People like to respond in different ways, so make it easy for them by offering several choices.
- If you have a website, encourage prospects to go there for more information.
- If you’re sending several sheets in an envelope, at least one sheet should be full color and should be the one seen first.
- Bright-colored envelopes don’t work for business; white or offwhite is much better.
- Offer something free or on sale to get quick attention. If your headline and first sentence don’t capture potential customers, they probably won’t read on.
- Start with a personalized letter if you have a target name or title.
- Get right to the point of the mailing near the beginning of your letter, or customers may lose interest. Don’t use deceptive or unbelievable copy. Be direct, honest, and informative.
- Ask for a response early and often in your copy and give the recipient several ways to respond.
- State some type of deadline, such as “Please reply by…” or “Offer expires on.…”
- Be unique and different but still businesslike and professional.
- Test different letters to see which one gets the best response.
- Offer extended terms or billing rather than cash up front. Ninety days same as cash is a good incentive and often is
- For higher-priced items, offer to set an appointment for a demonstration or a test model.
- Don’t make letters too long; businesspeople often have less time to read them than consumers do.
- Stress your guarantee. No buyer wants to be stuck with a bad decision and reprimanded by his or her boss if something goes wrong after the purchase.
- Use testimonials (if you have them) from other satisfied business customers in your copy.
- If you’re using direct mail to generate leads, stress free samples, a free consultation, more information, no obligation, a free seminar, and so on.
- Update your mailing list from any returned envelopes before you use it again. You’ll save not only on postage, but also on literature and labor.