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Direct mail refers to postcards, flyers, or even letters a business sends by postal mail to potential customers. While email marketing eliminated print and postage costs, making it a very popular form of direct-response marketing, a shift is happening. Anti-spam legislation and spam filters have caused many mainstream advertisers to change tactics.
As a result, the use of direct mail is on the upswing. This tool can be incredibly effective as long as you follow a few simple guidelines.
Direct Mail: The Basics
Direct mail is a direct-response form of advertising. Direct-response marketing is designed to produce an immediate response: a phone call, a web visit or a sale. For example, an infomercial is a form of direct-response marketing. The message, "Call within the next five minutes and you can save 30%," seeks a direct and immediate response.
Direct mail also seeks a direct response. Your goal is to pitch your product or service to a customer and generate a sale. While the customer may save your direct mail piece for later reference, chances are most will not. A great direct mail piece delivers a simple message and provides a clear call to action. A postcard that says, "We are the leaders in the travel planning industry," does not create a call to action. On the other hand a postcard saying, "Book your trip by Friday and get 10% off," does create a powerful call to action.
Develop Your Campaign Message
Here are the basic steps for developing your direct mail campaign:
Create the Piece
How you deliver your message can be as important as what you say. Postcards work well for most businesses, but not all. If you sell products, postcards printed on high-quality paper can work well. If you provide legal or financial services, a letter may be much more effective.
Think about the impression you wish to make. Then figure out how to cost-effectively make that impression.
Also consider the recipient's first impression, If you provide high-end services, your customers will likely expect a personally-addressed, hand-stamped envelope rather than generic bulk mailing.
Evaluate the Results
One advantage of direct mail campaigns is the ease of evaluating its effectiveness. Simply total the sales generated by the campaign and compare those numbers to the cost of running the campaign. You can quickly gauge whether the campaign was effective – and whether you should change your message, your offer, or the way you create the physical piece.