The past few years have seen the emergence of inbound marketing as a more effective way to reach potential customers. The inbound approach to marketing essentially pulls prospects to your website with helpful information these individuals are looking for. It stands in contrast to outbound marketing, which pushes a message out to prospects who may or may not have requested it.
While that’s a bit of an oversimplification (click here for a more thorough explanation), it captures a significant difference in the two approaches.
One of the strongest arguments Inbound marketers make is that outbound marketing (traditional forms of marketing) is invasive. Outbound messages show up uninvited. They arrive whether you asked for them or not. That’s absolutely true, but is it always a bad thing? Some intrusions are irritating and uncomfortable—like when a stranger rings your doorbell in the middle of dinner to sell you magazine subscriptions.
It’s a different story when you’re sitting in bed, reading the paper on a Saturday morning and your smiling toddler opens the bedroom door to peek in. That’s a welcome intrusion!
Direct mail can be like either of those scenarios: It can either be an unwelcome intruder that irritates you, or it can be something that unexpectedly offers you something of value.
How can you make sure that your direct mailings do the latter? It really harkens back to some of the fundamentals of good direct mail practice.
- A Good List: Just because your list is comprised of legitimate, certified addresses doesn’t mean you have a good list. Even if the demographics of the people on your list (income, gender, spending habits, geographic location) seem to match your profile of a good customer, that doesn’t mean you have a good list. You need to be sure that the audience you’re mailing to is really interested in what you have to say. If not, you’re an intruder.
- A Good Introduction: If you’re going to show up at someone’s home unannounced, you better have a good reason for being there. Your direct mail piece needs to be about the person you’re talking to—not about you. You’re interrupting them because you have something that can help them.
- A Good Offer: Even if you’ve got the right audience, you need a clear message and a good offer. It’s not enough to simply identify something your audience wants or needs. You need to provide a reason and a means to respond—and you better make sure it’s an easy, sure-fire way to respond.
By the way, when it comes to marketing your products or services, it’s really not a question of using only inbound or outbound methods. You really need both “push” and “pull” marketing—working together. You’ll be much more effective if your direct mail (outbound) points prospects to a specific landing page on your website (inbound) for more information or to place an order.
Is direct mail invasive? Yes! Does it sometimes interrupt people? Absolutely! Is that always bad? No. Generally, we don’t mind being interrupted or disturbed if that intrusion ends up helping us out or making our lives better.