When I was growing up, my mom used to tell me, “Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.” That usually meant that whatever I had just done, had to be done over again because it wasn’t up to standard. I didn’t realize until years later that this saying didn’t originate with my mother, but came from a letter that Philip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield in England sent to his son in 1746! (I bet even Mom didn’t know that)
But what do the words of my mother and an ancient English Earl have to do with direct mail in the 21st century? More than you might think.
Too often businesses and organizations don’t do direct mail well. They treat it as a task that needs to be done. Sales are down and somebody says, “We need to get a mailing out!” Then “somebody” gets tasked to do it. They’re not thinking about why they’re doing it. They’re not thinking about how best to do it. They’re simply doing it because someone said it should be done.
What happens when a mailing is poorly done?
The obvious answer is that you get poor results. If you haven’t thought through the essential elements of good direct mail for today’s marketplace, you’re not going to get your audience to respond. As a matter of fact, your mailing may not even get opened. So any hopes of boosting sales is probably out the window. But that’s just part of the problem.
Poorly planned, and executed direct mailings cost you money. If you don’t design your pieces properly, you’ll pay a premium in postage. And if you don’t create your mailings according to USPS regulations—you might not even be able to mail them at all. In today’s market, nobody can afford that kind of waste.
Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story. Direct mail that’s done poorly can actually damage your reputation. Sloppy design or poor copywriting can make you look unprofessional. If you don’t have a clear call to action, potential clients won’t know what to do (which makes you look bad). And if you don’t provide ways to respond that are clear and easy to use, you’ll frustrate the very people you’re trying to reach.
How good does your direct mail need to be? It’s not about winning awards for looking great or being clever. Good direct mail is well thought out. It has clear (measureable) goals. It’s designed and written so that it will get opened, get read, and generate a response.
How good is your direct mail?