For years direct mail has been an important component of any effective marketing strategy. And while the Internet has changed everything about the way business (and marketing) is done, direct mail still plays a crucial role, so businesses naturally want their direct mail efforts to be as effective as possible.
Over the years a lot of the advice that marketing experts offer on how to get better results from direct mail marketing has focused on the “tips and tricks” of direct mail. But direct mail success doesn’t begin with “tips and tricks.” It begins with good planning and with having the right goals. How can you be smart about your direct mail marketing goals? Here are a few suggestions.
You know the old saying that if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time? It’s true for direct mail. You can’t have vague goals. “Improve sales,” isn’t specific enough. Neither is “generate leads.” And don’t even think about goals such as “Generate Awareness” or “Build Brand.” Make your goals specific: “Generate 25 new leads that sales can follow up in the next two months.”
You already have a specific goal (25 new leads), but how will you measure that? How will you know that the new leads came from your direct mail efforts and not from some other marketing effort? Have you put tools in place that let you assign results to the right activity?
Sometimes businesses have unrealistic goals. They don’t know what to expect so they shoot for the moon. Chances are that if you send out 1,000 pieces of mail you’re not going to get 750 responses. Be realistic with your expectations. It’s OK to push things a bit, but don’t set yourself up for failure.
Make sure your goals really matter—that they are relevant to your business. Don’t set your goals to impress someone else or to look good. Set goals that will help you accomplish a strategic objective for your company. “Capturing Mindshare” may sound impressive, but is that really the kind of goal you can measure? And even if you could measure it, how would it help your company?
Evaluations of your direct mail efforts can’t be open-ended. It’s important to have a realistic time frame in which to measure your results. Part of this relates back to being measurable (note that the goal was 25 new leads within two months). There’s another aspect of timeliness. If you’re a restaurant offering a Valentines Day dinner special, you don’t want to mail your offer on February 12th. You’ll miss your window of opportunity. That means you need to plan ahead so that potential clients have time to respond.
Having SMART goals for your direct mail efforts is a great first step toward direct mail success—and overall marketing success. If you’d like to learn more about how you can leverage the power of direct mail in an increasingly online business world, download our free Best Direct Mail Practices in an Evolving Marketplace eBook.