At the end of this month (February 28th in case you want to watch), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will honor the best films of 2015 at the 88th Academy Awards ceremony. A lot of people will be watching to see who the big winners (and losers) are.
At TMR Direct we have our own ideas about “winners and losers” when it comes to direct mail. As you can imagine, we see a lot of it—and we probably pay more attention to the direct mail we receive at home than the average citizen does. I asked around the office for some memorable direct mailings from last year, and here are some of the responses I got. We won’t mention any company names. Instead, we’ll focus on what worked and what didn’t—at least in our minds.
- Dental Mailing: I moved and needed a new dentist, so when a nicely designed flyer arrived with pictures of the staff (it made them feel warm and inviting—which is important to me!), it grabbed my attention. The office was 3 miles from my house, which made it super convenient. It had a great offer (half off my first cleaning). I kept it on my desk as a reminder to call (a real benefit of direct mail). I’d say it was a winner.
- Lawn Mowing Service Mailing: I live in a rental community that takes care of all yard maintenance. It doesn’t matter how great the design of the card is or how well written the copy is, or how fantastic the offer is. I don’t need the service. Sorry, but that’s a loser.
- End-of-Year Charity Mailing: Like a lot of people I get a fair share of year-end appeals. This one highlighted a particular group that works with at-risk kids. But instead of trying to tug at my heartstrings, they simply told stories of kids (with photos) who had been positively impacted. I knew where the money was going and I understood what they were all about. It wasn’t too slick and it wasn’t sloppy. And the timing was right. I made a contribution—online, actually, so this organization integrated their offline and online activities. I’d call it a winner. By the way, here’s a look at how IKEA successfully integrated their direct mail and digital marketing channels!
- Veteran’s Insurance Mailing: I’ve been getting the same mailing two or three times a year that offers me a special deal on health insurance as a “thank you” for my service. The problem is that I’m not a veteran. That makes me not trust the people sending out the mailing. They’re either to lazy to check the list or they’re dishonest. I’ve been throwing these mailings away unopened for years. That’s a loser!
You may be picking up a bit of a pattern here. The mailings that were winners weren’t necessarily good because they were so glitzy or clever or dramatic. And the ones that were losers didn’t fail because they were poorly written or designed. More than anything, the success or failure of these mailings came down to whether they had anything of value or importance for the people receiving them.
If you want to have a winning direct mail program, make sure you pay attention to your audience and that you give them what they want to know. And make sure there is a way for them to respond.