Direct mail takes on any number of forms. I utilize a mini portfolio with inserts that fit into a shirt of jacket pocket and full color postcards. My clients use vehicles such as 9" X 12" portfolios (folders), four page full color sales flyers, full color sales sheets, book marks, booklets, standard three-fold brochures, and any number of lure packages. The latter, lure packages are sometimes called bulky mail. This item is intriguing in that they contain items that recipients can't help open, because curiosity overtakes them. I've taken the effort to send a folding chair promotion to a serious prospect I wanted to get a meeting with. In effect, I sent the chair to sit in while we met. I've used fishhooks, fake rolls of money etc. Creativity is the criteria. They will dispose of a letter, but a box is something they will not so easily discard without looking.
No matter what the package form, the message must also be compelling. Don't ramble on too much about you. It's about them - what their pain is, what is in it for them? Other than bulky mail, be prepared to send any direct mail piece more than once. An intriguing idea I've used in the past involved a scenario involving a second party. Understanding that our targets are sometimes too busy to read a lengthy offer, I put together an audio CD and packaged it with a coupon for a FREE coffee and donut from a local donut chain. The drill was that they drop by the drive-through and pick up the free coffee and donut and while driving home, then, pop in the CD and listen to my story and pitch.
Is your business complimented by another? A bookkeeping business is complimented by an accountancy, a law firm, or a business consultant. By joining forces you can benefit from each other's lists and join marketing dollars allowing all participants to benefit from larger budgets. Build joint products and sell them as a group.
No matter what the idea, good direct mail is first and foremost the message, the vehicle of delivery (brochure etc.), the audience, the method of delivery, and the follow-up. If your market is local and relatively targeted, deliver it personally and put your money towards making it memorable or interactive like the CD idea above. I would always have any traditional direct mail campaign tied to an online component.
The main difference with on-line marketing is that everything is digital. No bulky packages here. BUT, the advantage you have is that the message is delivered straight to your target's in-box. Delivery costs are also remarkably low, if not free. If you are working with an email service, your marketing can be validated. You can use analytics to determine if your target actually opened the marketing email. Try that with off-line direct mail. The email is also linkable allowing you to lead the target through a sales channel.
Offering something of use to your audience for FREE allows you to begin or add to your opt-in email list. Email harvesting as I call it, is the process you'd use to get businesses to join your marketing list. Once on your list, you can start marketing services that they would find compelling. You can use different promotions and sign-up forms to break your audience down into niche markets. If you are that bookkeeping service we mentioned earlier, you could segment your lists into different types of businesses. You would then market to those niche groups speaking their language and offering them assistance based on needs unique to their industry.
On-line marketing allows you to send people a printable coupon offer when you would like them to show up at your place of business. Using some creativity, you can use this mode of promotion to aid traffic. In case you haven't seen it already, I have a video on my website that explains how I utilize on-line promotion.
As I have already mentioned, it is still first and foremost the message that is vital here. No matter how you get the message out there, if the message is about you and not them and their pain points, you are more or less blowing smoke. If you have a realistic budget, you can use direct mail to build and maintain awareness, generate traffic, and get response to an offer. Off-line, a 4-6% response rate is considered excellent. On-line I've enjoyed on average a 25% - 40% open rate. My main focus is on-line because it allows me to consistently place my message in front of my audience several times a month. NON-STOP.
I think the worst thing you can do in direct mail is make it an ego piece about you. While there is nothing wrong with bragging, the lead-in message must be something that addresses their pain points. Give them a great reason to call you and not the competitor. Have fun with your marketing, it will make your brand shine. Never stop promoting yourself. Your brand can't grow unless it's fed.
Article topic requested by: Thomas Chappell at .GreenTech Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona