There’s no doubt about it: we live in an online age. But even when there are lots of compelling reasons to take things online, we find companies such as Apple and Google using direct mail as part of their overall marketing strategy.
That’s because—used wisely—direct mail is still an effective way to reach people, stick in their minds, and move them online to your website where you can effectively and efficiently follow up.
Can you do it yourself? Absolutely! To be honest, however, direct mail is even more of a challenge than it used to be. And the “using it wisely” part demands attention to a number of different areas that are critical to your success. How do I know that? It’s what customers tell us when they come to us for some help with their direct mail efforts.
Here are some of the biggest challenges our clients say they face in this critical part of their overall marketing strategy:
You can’t just “do a mailing” and expect it to work. It requires planning and identifying your audience and your key messages. It also requires thinking about how you’re going to get people to respond—and how you’re going to deal with it when prospects do respond. Some businesses have their hands full just running their business, and don’t have the expertise (or time) to create a direct mail strategy.
Direct mail pieces (whether they’re cards, catalogs, flyers, or letters) need to be designed properly. Otherwise they may not meet postal regulations (which means they’ll cost more to mail or they may not even be able to mail at all), or they may not get the attention of your audience. Some customers don’t have the in-house expertise to do that.
Everybody can write . . . right? We all had to do it in school. But when you’re talking about direct mail, there is a certain amount of skill and knowledge necessary if you want people to read your material—and respond. A lot of our clients know their products and services inside out—but they don’t know how to communicate their expertise in a way that grabs attention and motivates prospects to act.
I alluded to this above, but knowing the ever-more-detailed-and-complicated USPS postal regulations is critical. Small mistakes or oversights can cost you a lot of money. Or they can delay your mailing (which can make it worthless if you’re promoting something with a deadline), or can even cause your mailing to be rejected altogether. Most businesses we know can’t afford the time and effort to stay on top of the ever-changing rules.
Your list (the people you plan to mail to) may be the single most important component in your direct mail success. Mailing to the wrong audience virtually guarantees your failure. But many companies don’t have someone on board who knows how to evaluate mailing lists and process them.
Having enough time to do all the things you need to do is perhaps the biggest obstacle many businesses face. For one thing, if you ask an employee to do something that’s out of his or her “wheelhouse” the chances are good that it’s going to take longer. People who do it everyday are more efficient—and will probably generate better results.
If any of those key factors to successful direct mail marketing strike a chord with you, you may want to consider enlisting the services of someone who does this day in and day out. Will it cost you something? Of course! But it may actually be cheaper than trying to do it yourself—and will probably generate better results.
Direct mail may only be a small part of your overall marketing strategy, but it can have a major impact. If you’re not prepared to meet the challenges of doing it right, don’t worry: help is available!