We’ve been involved with direct mail for more than 40 years, and in that time a lot of things have changed. But one thing that hasn’t changed is that we’ll occasionally run across someone who will boldly contend, “Direct mail just doesn’t work!”
When we press for specifics (because we really want to know about this) we usually get a response along the lines of, “I tried it once and I didn’t get the results I was hoping for.” It’s pretty hard to argue with that. But when we ask people exactly what their expectations were, they often had no idea what to expect, or their expectations were unrealistic.
So what can you expect your direct mail to do?
- Support and Complement Your Overall Marketing Strategy? Absolutely! In today’s market, very few companies can survive with a “one-pronged” marketing approach. While it’s indisputable that business has moved to the Web, direct mail can be an effective tool in driving your potential customers to your website. Even high-tech companies such as Apple and Google have vigorous direct mail programs. Of course they use their direct mail to push people back to their websites—where they can give visitors as much information as they want.
- Help Reinforce Your Brand? You bet! The more places people see your name, your logo, and your message, the more likely they are to remember you—and maybe check you out. And direct mail tends to be “sticky.” Think about how many times you’ve gotten a card in the mail and held onto it to check it out later. People don’t do that as much with an email or when they come across something on the Web. That card on the desk or on the refrigerator is a constant reminder of who you are and what you do.
- Move People to Action? Of course! A well-done direct mail piece (whether it’s a card, a letter, a flyer, or a multi-piece package) can motivate people to pick up the phone and call or go to their computer and visit a website. It’s important that you execute your mailing well, that you have the right list and that you have a clear call to action. But people do respond to direct mail that presents information that’s important to them.
- Generate Leads? Yes! Direct mail can be a very effective tool to promote an event. People interested enough to attend an event are generally good leads. If they show up, they’ve already made some kind of commitment. The ones that don’t show up are probably not the ones you want to talk to face-to-face anyway. And direct mail can also be used to present an offer for more information. Once again, you’ll probably want to lead people to your website to fulfill that offer, but mail can help get them there.
- Make a Sale? Yes, but . . . To be honest, this is where a lot of the “Direct mail doesn’t work” thinking comes from. People sometimes have an unrealistic expectation that if they send out a mailing, their phones will start ringing with people who want to place orders. If you have a pizza restaurant or a juice bar and you offer a coupon in the mail there’s a good chance that you’ll generate a sale. But if you’re selling a high-ticket item (think a custom home, enterprise software, or a long-term service), you’re probably not going to make a sale based on a sing mailing. Those kinds of purchases have a long sales cycle and require lots of information. Your mailing won’t make the sale—but it can start the process.
Does direct mail work? Yes. But it’s important to have the right expectations—and to execute your direct mail properly. We can help you do that. For more details on how to use best direct mail practices—and to coordinate them with your other marketing efforts, download our free Best Direct Mail Practices eBook today!