Direct Marketing Today: Does Your Direct Mail Treat Everyone the Same?


Direct-mail-marketing-does-your-direct-mail-treat-everyone-the-same_If you were in the market for a new pair of shoes, would you head to a store that offered only one style of shoes, in a single color, and all in the same size?

Probably not.

What if you could buy those shoes online, in your pajamas, from the comfort of you own home? Would that change your mind? Probably not.

If you’re buying shoes, you want something that fits you physically and something that fits your sense of style and makes you comfortable. You are you—you’re not someone like you.

Think for a moment about how you approach your customers, clients, and prospects when you send them a mailing. They’re all different. Do you treat them differently, or do you—so to speak—offer each of them the same pair of shoes?

This is, of course, an imperfect analogy. It’s probably not practical or financially feasible to craft a custom message to each individual on your mailing list. There are, however, things you can do so that the message you deliver is more meaningful than a generic one-size-fits-all communication.

One thing you can do is to segment your list—dividing your database up into smaller groups that better reflect the needs and desires of that group. Then think about what the different messages for each group might be. For instance:

Current Customers

(Individuals who have done business with you in the last 1-12 months) These individuals know you. You don’t have to explain who you are. You can talk to them new developments and things that are coming.

Past Customers

(Individuals who have done business with you in the last 13-24 months) These individuals also know you, but may need to be reminded about why they do business with you. And since they haven’t been in touch with you recently, they may want to know what’s changed since you’ve had contact.

Lapsed Customers

(Individuals who have not done business with you in the past 25 months or more) These individuals are a bit more removed from you. Perhaps you’ll need to re-establish your relationship. You may want to find out if their interests have changed. You might want to introduce new staff or dramatic changes that have taken place in your organization that might affect them.


(Individuals who have not yet done business with you but who have expressed interest) These individuals may not know you. They may have been referred to you or they may have gathered some information about you because they are interested in what you do. You may need to win their confidence and demonstrate how you are in a unique position to meet their needs.


(Individuals who have not yet done business with you but who fit your profile of an ideal customer) These individuals probably don’t know you at all. You’re starting from scratch with them. You may need to demonstrate to them that you have solutions that can solve their problems and that you are worthy of consideration. You probably want them to request more information.

Special Customers

(This group may spend more with you, be loyal, and be potential influencers of others) You may want to treat this group differently than others—perhaps rewarding their loyalty, or making them feel like insiders. And you may also want to ask them to be evangelists for your company—recommending you to others.

You can see that there is the potential for a lot of diversity within your database, and that data is important.  If you want to be effective in your messaging, you need to identify whom it is you’re speaking to and craft your message to their specific personalities and needs.

Direct Mail Best Practices