Direct mail remains a very powerful marketing tool and a key component to any integrated marketing strategy—if it’s done properly. There are, however, some principle fundamentals that govern your success. Unfortunately, it’s fairly easy to make mistakes with these fundamentals that can dramatically (and negatively) impact the outcome of your direct mail efforts.
Let’s take a look at four common direct mail blunders that many businesses make and talk about how you can avoid them.
#1 NO Understanding of Audience
Many businesses make the mistake of not getting to know their customers. They may know where their customers live, what they buy, and even how much they typically spend. But that’s not the same as understanding the questions, problems, pains, and issues their customers face. And it’s precisely those things (and being able to communicate how their company’s products or services solve those problems) that will allow a company to connect with new customers. Additionally, many companies assume that all of their customers are the same—so they present them all with the same message.
What Can You Do? Create personas (descriptions) of your ideal customer(s). And segment your audience into different types as appropriate. Then create messages that speak to the specific needs of each group.
#2 NO Specific Focus or Goal
Too often companies push out a mailing, “Because we need to” rather than with specific goals in mind. They don’t consider what they want to accomplish or even what they should spend. And the result is that they often can’t really say if their efforts succeeded or not.
What Can You Do? Set specific goals (number of responses, number of leads, sales goals, etc.) for each mailing. Then keep track of the results so you know whether or not to repeat the effort.
#3 NO Clear & Easy Call to Action
This is related to #2, but with a focus on the audience. Very often a company may want their audience to take a specific course of action, but the direct mail piece either doesn’t make it clear what the recipient is supposed to do—or the instructions are confusing and unclear. As a result, people simply don’t respond.
What Can You Do? When you begin creating your direct mailing, start with your call to action. What exactly do you want people to do? Write that first (“Call 555-1212 and ask for offer ABC” or “Go to www.acmepools.com/specialdeal”). Then create the rest of your piece. Test this with someone outside your company to make sure it’s clear and that it works before you do your mailing.
#4 NO Attention to Design
Sometimes companies equate good direct mail creative with pretty pictures and clever copy. Your direct mail piece should look good. And your copy should be compelling, but the main thing is to be clear about what you have to offer and to make it incredibly easy for people to respond (see #3).
What Can You Do? Make sure your graphic designer and copywriter understand what’s really important. Make sure the real message is front and center and that the graphics don’t distract from the message or inhibit the response. You don’t want people to say, “What a cool mailing!” You want them to take action!
Are there other mistakes businesses make with direct mail? Sure. But if you work at avoiding these four, you’ll be way ahead of your competitors who keep making the same ones time after time.
P.S. If you’re looking for some powerful, but inexpensive ideas for using direct mail, check out this post that offers six ideas for using postcards to drive traffic to your website!