Principal of Direct Mail

Direct Mail is your Direct access to give people a physical experience; to actually hold what you are offering, through letters, brochures, and a whole host of other options. When it's done well, it's highly effective, because it's by far the most cost-effective way of getting your material into people's homes and offices.

If done correctly, Direct Mail can be an incredibly powerful addition to your marketing toolbox.

Firstly, let's discuss what we mean by direct mail. Basically, it's sending stuff out in the post; anything, from 50 letters to a million brochures. Direct Mail is your Direct access to give people a physical experience; to actually hold what you are offering, through letters, brochures, and a whole host of other options.

When it's done well, it's highly effective, because it's by far the most cost-effective way of getting your material into people's homes and offices. If you send out 1000 brochures, you've already got 1,000 little salespeople working for you.

Now, there are two types of Direct Mail;

The first is anything you send to existing customers of clients. And the second is anything you send to people who've never heard of you. Now, as a general rule, sending mailings to existing customers should be a profitable affair. If you're not doing this already, do test it.

Using Direct Mail to reach people who don't know who you usually takes more work and more testing, but again, it can produce great results.

My suggestion is start by maximising your Marketing and your Mailings to existing customers. Then move on to testing new markets. Which ever you choose, here are some of the fundamentals of Direct Mail you must be aware of.

First of all, the principle of testing is absolutely vital for Direct Mail; you must test any new Direct Mail campaign on a small scale before rolling it out. There's a huge myth that exists regarding response rates to direct mail; that when you do your mailing campaign you should expect a 3% or 5% or 10% or whatever response rate. This is all nonsense, and if anyone ever tries to sell you into a Direct Mail campaign with these predictions, please run a mile! The truth is that no-one knows the results of a Direct Mail campaign until you do it.

Why? Because there are just too many variables. What you're offering, the price, your copy, the list you're sending it to, and many more. I mean a 1% response rate is great if your product sells for a million pounds, but not so great if it's £1.99. I can give you tips for Direct Mail and how to get the most out of it, but the key, as always, is testing; and most importantly, testing on a small scale.

I hear so many horror stories of people that send out 10,000 or 100,000 mailings and are devastated when they get a bad response.

One of the important things to remember about marketing is that it is, statistically, pretty predictable. All that means is if you sent out, say, 1000 mailshots and got 100 responses back, that's a 10% response rate. Now, when we say that Marketing is statistically predictable, I mean that if you sent 10,000 mailshots, chances are you'd get 1000 responses, or there about, because it's statistically predictable. If you are going to get a small response, you want to make sure it's on a small scale, not after you've mailed out 100,000 mailshots! So test; and test small. And when you've found your special goldmines, you get everything you can out of them.

You want to keep your mailing clear, simple, and to the point. Everything I said earlier about your benefits rather than your features are vital in Direct Mail. You should always include a letter with your brochure, and the magic word in that letter; in any letter you ever send to a Client, is you. By including the word 'you', several times in the letter, it ensures that you make it a personal communication with the person reading it.

If you want to use Direct Mail to reach new customers, it's worth testing renting a mailing list. There are companies that will rent you lists of everything you can imagine; people that have bought certain products, people of a certain age, and social categories. If you're in business to business, you can get lists of different people in any kind of company, managing directors, or financial directors, or IT managers; you can get lists of pretty much anything! By renting lists, you can target your niche market very precisely.

And finally, you can increase your response to a mailing by 100% to 1000% by following it up with a phone call, so test this. Either phone them yourself, or bring someone in to follow up for you.

So, your Action Step on direct mail is to come up with at least one category of people to test a mailing on. Now, they can be customers, or new people you want to reach. Do one small test, and you will have taken a major step towards making direct mail an important part of your overall marketing strategy.

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