The amount of advertising mail a consumer gets depends on many factors, such the number of magazines he subscribes to, how many credit cards he has, and what he has responded to in the past. Or he may be on a list that was sold from one mailer to another.
So why do people open some mail and toss out other pieces unopened? Something catches their eye or creates a desire to
know more about what’s inside certain pieces. You must decide how much you want to spend on copy and printing, but even lowbudget mailings can be creative and can pull good response.
Most items in consumer mail are lower priced if the mailer is looking for an immediate sale. Chances are slim that any person will immediately pick up the phone or go to a website and order a $1,500 sofa or an expensive diamond necklace as the result of a direct-mail piece. However, lower-priced goods, where there is less risk, are more likely to inspire a quick sale.
Big-ticket direct mail to consumers usually tries to create the desire to visit the store in person to get a hands-on demonstration. Whichever approach you use, you want the consumer to take some action as an outcome of your mail piece. As with print, radio, and TV ads, there must be a need or a desire for your products and the financial ability to buy before the consumer will act.
Here are a few ideas for consumer direct mail:
- If you’re sending a business-size envelope, use First Class mail; you’ll get double the response. And if you’re not sending via First Class, you won’t get undelivered mail returned, so you won’t be able to update your list.
- Self-contained or fold-open mailers that are colorful can be sent by bulk or standard mail for postage savings.
- Use a current list. People move often, and consumer lists become outdated quickly. Buy a current list within 30 days of each mailing for best results.
- If you’re buying a new list, wait until right before your mailing to buy so that it’s the most current list available.
- Don’t use only black and white unless you’re selling Dalmatians. Even a third color will make your piece stand out.
- Show a picture of your product in your copy on each page.
- If you’re a service business, show someone providing the service with a smile on his or her face.
- Use “hot” words in your copy, such as “free,” “new,” “easy,” “fresh,” “improved,” and so on.
- Make a special offer—be creative and different.
- Give several ways to buy—over the phone, in person, by fax, or on your website.
- Get several quotes from printers on the production of your mailing piece. A broker can sometimes find the best factory for your type of project.
- If you’re using a mailing house, the total cost after sorting should be no more than if you sent it yourself. Compare prices and find out how long it will take the mailing house to get it out the door.
- If you’re using different lists, code your responses so you know where they came from. Some lists will pull better than others, and you’ll want to use those lists again.
- Do test mailings to your best target customers before you spend your money on the others. You may want to make some changes or adjustments before the big mailing.
- Talk to several list brokers to get the best lists. Each may have different recommendations and ideas. Ask them to fax or email a couple of listings before you buy.
- Lists should be submitted to your mailing house on disc or electronically so they can be easily sorted for the lowest postage. Ask the mailing house for their preferred method.
- Do mailings of fewer than 500 pieces yourself, in house. There will be little or no savings if you outsource these small mailings.
- Have a follow-up mailing to send to all who become customers. If they are satisfied with their purchase, they are likely to buy again soon. Mail them with a different offer approximately 30 days later and another in 60 or 90 days.
- When people buy something, they like to receive it quickly. You’ll get better response if you offer a shorter delivery time— four to six weeks is too long. Free delivery is a big selling point; offer it if you can.
- Make your products and offers now items. Don’t try to sell winter coats in August or beach balls in January, like the stores do. Direct mail is a right-now, today, pick-up-the-phone-andorder proposition.
A small business needs to use its direct-mail dollars wisely to get the most orders for the dollars spent. Make your copy more consumer-friendly and leave out the heavy technical jargon. Be creative, unique, and urgent for the best results. When it works for you, consumer direct mail can be a great and inexpensive way to build your business. Because consumers are always buying, why shouldn’t they buy your products instead of your competitors’?