‐ December 27, 2013


Do you want more sales for your business? Then you should include direct mail in your marketing efforts, as it is one of the most cost effective forms of advertising. Oh, you have tried it and it did not work for your business? With direct mail, like anything else in life, there is a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it.

I put together the following checklist to help you improve your returns. You can use this checklist to improve the response of any method of advertising you use, not just direct mail.

One of the most important elements of a direct mail program is WHO do you want to reach. Direct mail is the most targetable out of all advertising mediums. The first step is getting the best mailing list.

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  • Demographics – who is your customer?
  • Area – Where do your best customers come from? This is usually broken down by a zip code but we can also pull a radius around a street address.
  • Customer profile – usually age, income, sex, etc.
  • We can also pull a list with more narrowly targeted criteria to include hobbies and interests if needed.
  • Business-to-Business lists – What type of businesses are you targeting?
  • Industry type, employee size, gross sales and credit rating all are examples of how we can pull a business-to-business mailing list for you.

Remember, the more specific the mailing list the higher the cost. To save you money, it is important to focus on the key characteristics of the target prospect you want to reach.

After we get the information to get a targeted mailing list, we need to create an ad with the right message and build your campaign.

When do you want to mail the piece? From this date, we will work backwards to determine when you need to have your art approved. Keep in mind, normal printing turn around after you approve the art is 3 – 5 business days. To address and process the mailing, figure another 2 – 3 days after printing.

The 2nd most important part of your mailing is the message. Results-wise you can have the best, most targeted mailing list on the planet, but if message is wrong or is not targeted or is confusing you will get dismal returns. Our marketing specialists and graphic artists can design the piece, but the piece we design will only be as good as the information you give us. How do you create the right message?

  • What are you offering? What are the benefits of what you are offering? i.e. why would they want to buy it? Make sure you structure your offer from the perspective of the receiver of the message not from your viewpoint. Listen to what your present customers are saying about the product or service.
  • Call to action – Why should they respond NOW? You should give them some benefit for calling you now as opposed to six months from now. WHAT IS THE INCENTIVE TO CALL YOU NOW?
  • DO NOT use terms and nomenclature that people outside of your industry do not understand. If people do not understand what you are saying they will not come buy from you.
  • Tell them how to respond. Make it easy for them to respond. Give them a phone number to call and an email address.
  • Make sure you have your website on the card. This helps people who may want more information about your company. QR codes are a great way to direct traffic to your site.
  • Check the competition’s offers and prices. It is not vital that you have the lowest prices. But, if your prices are higher you will need to stress selling the benefits of buying from your business. Why is your offer better?
  • Sell the value. You may want to consider not putting a price on the direct mail piece but have them call for pricing. If you do this, make sure your sales force is drilled and can handle the leads when they come in. If you can offer the lowest price, do it. But understand that for most products there is one spot in the marketing ladder for a “Low Cost Provider”. Most consumers are more concerned about getting their money’s worth (value) than they are in getting the cheapest price. How can you demonstrate value?

** RULE** Do not put more than one or two products in one direct mail piece. The reason you don’t do this is that it tends to confuse people. You want to keep the piece as simple and straight forward as possible. Cluttered and confusing promo goes straight into the trash, un-read.

Next step, based on your target market and what you are offering, what is the best form of direct mail to use?

The final step is setting up a tracking system:

  • Brief everyone on the front lines in your company about the direct program you are doing.
  • Everyone should have a print out of the piece. They should know when the piece is being mailed. Drill them on how to respond and handle customer requests.
  • Anyone who works with and handles customers should be drilled to ask the new customer, “How did you hear about our company?” This is important to ask because sometimes people do not volunteer that information.
  • If you have the web address on the mail piece be sure to ask callers who say they came from your website, what sent them to your website.
  • If you use Google analytics, you will see that the hits to your website will go up after you send out a direct mail piece. Most people today will go to the Web to research and find out more information about a company they are considering doing business with before buying.
  • Make sure your website is set up to direct people to call you. Some business models work well for online ordering but most need human interaction to close the sale.
  • Anyone who works with and handles customers should have a little statistic sheet in their area where they can write down the number of incoming calls. You should have employees turn these sheets in each week. The best form of tracking sheets would have a place to write the customer name and the date they called. This gives you a tool to see how many leads were converted to sales. If your conversion rate is low you can track down why and correct it. Wrong product, wrong offer or poor sales skills are common whys for low conversion. Some products have a longer sales cycle so you may need to look at conversion over a several month period.
  • Calculate ROI. Click here to use our online ROI calculator to discover what a new customer is worth to your business.

Checklist for direct mail marketing (use this to help you make direct mail easy):

Target market identified. ______

Product chosen to market. ______

Benefits of product identified. ______

Price point of product. ______

Special offer with expiration. ______

Testimonials included. ______

How do you want them to respond? ______

What type of direct mail piece is best for the target customer and will be best received by the customer? ______

Target mail date. ______

Are employees briefed on the program?______

Who is assigned to track responses? ______

Do you have tracking sheets for your people on the front lines? ______

Is the target R.O.I. identified? ______

Number of leads needed based on R.O.I.? ______

I hope this checklist helps you with your direct mail program. Direct mail is one of the most effective and cost effective forms of advertising. Whether you are using postcard marketing, sales letters or special forms of direct mail knowing what will work best for your type of business and the basics of how to do it are vital to getting results. The fact is there is not another advertising medium that is as targetable, trackable or gives as immediate of a response as direct mail does. The above are common areas that can cause a direct mail program to fail. The more prepared you are, the more effective your direct mail program will be.

Mark Hale


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