Direct mail will be the most effective if you follow a few guidelines. Just using it blindly will not produce the results you want from all your efforts. Here are some ideas to get the most from your direct-mail campaign.
- Target the right audience. Your current customers are your best audience. But prospects who have an interest in or a need for what you’re selling, can afford to buy it, and can be motivated to buy now are your next best audience. Without a great mailing list, you’ve wasted some of your direct-mail dollars. It’s better to spend a little more on a great targeted list than to waste printing and postage costs on a mediocre one. You need to test different lists to find your best response and your correct audience. You can spend a fortune on the greatest mailing piece, but what good is it if it’s not in front of the right potential buyers? Effective lists will both save you money and make you money.
- Use high-quality material. What you send can be almost as important as who you send it to. I’ve received mortgage offers on a faded photocopy sheet with my name written in. There’s no way I would risk my home by dealing with the person who sent something like that. Be professional, colorful, and informative. Have a graphic designer set up at least the main sheet for high impact. An attractive and eye-catching piece will entice potential customers to read it and act.
- Make an irresistible offer. Consider offering a big discount, something free, a gift with order, free installation, a
two-for-one sale, a high-value coupon, a free sample, extended terms, or special personal service. Make your offer early in your material and several times more as customers read on. You need your offer to entice the prospect to take action, and they won’t do so if your material is tossed out. Make your best offer in your headline and make it stand out so your prospect will want to continue reading. Your offer can also be a new, innovative product or service that your target audience has been looking for. Above all, you must keep potential customers’
attention if you have any chance at getting them to take action, so give them something to think about.
- Be persistent. Mailing your prospect or customer list once and forgetting about it is not the correct approach. You need to mail every quarter or three times a year to the same audience for the best results. People may not need or want what you’re selling the first two times they receive your mail, but by the third time they may be in the market. I’ve mailed to the same companies for several years, and I always get someone who calls and says, “I’ve been looking for products like yours. Where have you been?” I just throw up my hands and get on with the sale. Afterward, I check my lists to see who we haven’t mailed in a while and get busy mailing them again.
- Create urgency. You want your recipient or prospect to take action now and not put down your material and forget about it. To create urgency, use phrases such as “limited-time offer,” “while supplies last,” “price increase coming,” “sale ends,” “not all sizes available,” “sneak preview,” “before open to public,” “call now for,” and so on. Customers’ attention spans will be short, so you need them to act now, or they never will.
- Make it easy to respond. Not everyone wants to order the same way, so be flexible. Some want to come to a store and browse, some want to browse your website, some want to mail you their order, and some want to call, fax their order, or email. Make as many of these options available as you can. If you’re selling outside your local area, you must have a toll-free number. Customers expect it, and some might not call if you don’t have one. Toll-free numbers are much less expensive than they were years ago. Your local phone company or long-distance provider
should be able to provide a competitive rate. Make it easy and comfortable for your new and old customers to contact you.
- Make it easy to pay. Accept as many different credit cards as you can and advertise this. Some people will want to pay by gift card or debit card, which can be set up on your current credit-card machine. Others may want to send a check or use the electronic check service that allows businesses to accept a check over the phone. Decide whether you can afford to offer a small discount if the customer pays promptly or in advance or with cash.
- Foster employee awareness. Does everyone in your business who would have contact with your customers know what’s being sent in your direct mail? If there are several different offers being used at the same time, do your people know about all of them? Have they actually seen the mailing piece so they know color(s) of ink used, so that when the customer calls about the blue flyer he or she got in the mail, your employee knows what the customer is talking about? It doesn’t matter whether you’re a two-person business or you staff 100 people, your employees should know more than the customers—or at least as much.