People Are Hungry for More than Digital Can Offer, So Put Direct Mail on the Marketing Menu

People Are Hungry for More than Digital Can Offer, So Put Direct Mail on the Marketing Menu

Be smart and realize that modern marketing resides both online AND in the traditional mailbox

Do not be the entrepreneur that tosses direct mail aside as if it were something digital marketing has effectively replaced.  That would be a mistake and it could be a costly one.  It makes about as much sense as assuming that water can replace food if you are hungry.  People are hungry for print marketing, probably now more than ever before because of the great surge of online sales pitches and headache delivered though a full inbox of spam email.  So, should you throw together a quick, direct mail campaign?  No.  Obnoxiously generalized, misleading and sloppily designed mail pieces sent to a large, untargeted audience are the result of well-intentioned, but naïve professionals. They may understand that direct mail can have a great effect on their bottom lines, but they really don’t know how to do them effectively (…and why should they?  They have a business to run. They are not digital print, design and marketing experts).  A careless shotgun approach to direct mail can backfire and put your message in the trash, too.

So how does one find and implement a campaign using the efficacy of traditional printed mailers?  First, understand that some of the most effective and inventive marketing strategies are done through mail delivered to a prospect’s actual mailbox.  Yet, they can be terrible, frankly. And there is a lot of terrible printing out there because there are DIY business owners wearing “too many hats”.  You would be wise to get yourself into the direct mail game, but if you want to get the greatest results for your money, you need a critical eye with experience and a specific, practical set of goals.

Doug Harlan, Minuteman Press Regional Vice-President located in Chicago represents the number-one rated digital print, design and marketing franchise, whose slogan, “We Design, Print and Promote…YOU!” let’s you know that you are not alone when it comes to putting together a sweet, results-generating direct mail campaign.  Doug gets a little more specific on how to get started in direct mail, “You can tailor the criteria to specifically target the base you are interested in or that you’re looking for – such as household income, age, profession – so many different avenues that you can compare.  EDDM – tends to work better for retail businesses because you can target an area around that specific business.  With that you can look at business to residential or business to business.  By helping your customer determine what kind of customer they want.  A jewelry shop, for instance, can determine who they want to target. Utilize VDP (variable data printing) to specifically target a message precisely to an individual or business.

Traditional, high-quality printed mail is the only media that doesn’t rely so much on chance.  With direct mail your intention to deliver your message has a greater shot because with the simple act of opening a mailbox, your target audience has it in their hands.”

Once is never enough…

When we are in school, we look at material from our classes more than once because we know once is never going to be enough to connect with the concepts we need to grasp.  We electively (for the most part), put math books and cliff notes in front of ourselves in order to absorb the information and get more bang for our educational bucks.  In the same way, one mailer is not going to be enough, even if it is gorgeous, targeted and printed by a digital print master, there is no escaping the need to find a proper balance that includes the frequency of mailings to your target audience.  It is possible to send out too many or too few and the resulting effect can either annoy or make zero-impression on people, neither of which will enhance your customer base with new loyalty and repeat business.  If you have developed a clean, up-to-date list of prospects, you cannot put yourself out there once and assume they will consider you so fabulous that your marketing is complete.  Marketing of any value doesn’t work like that.

Frank Endicott owns Minuteman Press, Indianapolis, IN, and as a marketing specialist, he and his staff are able to help clients line-up their targeted lists, design a carefully strategized direct mail campaign that offers latitude to address seasonal pieces with frequency that is right on the money.  Since Minuteman Press International is the number one digital print, design and marketing franchise, the end result meets the highest expectations.  Frank’s manager, Jon Bullock, shares the winning mantra that is often part of the solution when Minuteman Press franchise complaints from B2B clients pour in about their previous direct mail effort – and it is, “Repetition.  Repetition is important because building a brand happens over time. Having a well-designed, call-to-action, multiple piece mailer allows your name to get known and your ROI to increase because it is hitting the same people over and over, in just the right way. Look at TV commercials and radio ads and realize it is the same thing just more direct to your customer by list or area. Everyone has different expectations on ROI with mailers. You should measure your ROI in dollars, not calls.”

Jon continues with 3 recommendations for direct mail success from Minuteman Press, Indianapolis, IN:

“If you get even 2 or 5 sales from a multiple piece campaign it is certainly worth the effort. But it has to be well planned in the following ways:

1. The design of your card has to be easy to read, fewer words the better, and have a strong call to action

2. How your staff answers the phone and talks about the benefits the postcard promotes in working with or buying products from your company.

3. Most important is your follow up, they reacted, make sure to get their contact info so you can land the sale

We suggest a minimum of a 3 piece mailer because it builds trust and allows multiple opportunities to get your message across. It is vital for your team to track who calls your company because of the card. Ask them if they called you because of a postcard, or how did they hear about you. Having the campaign well-crafted gets great results.”

And with direct mail, size can matter…

Consider this advice from Doug Harlan, Minuteman Press International Regional Vice-President in Chicago:

  • “Typically sized mailers may go unnoticed. For instance, the bigger postcard will get attention and standing out is key.  You should consider something that is a little bigger than average mail.  B2B industry professionals such as Minuteman Press can advise specific ways to print your message on unique stock that will make sure it does not blend in and get lost.  Among other factors of quality and strategy, consider size as you design your direct mail campaign because everything you do to be outstanding counts. “

The Direct Mail Association, naturally, makes a practice of studying the effects of direct mail and its findings are consistent with studies from other sources that could be considered less biased, which is good to know if you are a skeptic.  For instance, Compu-Mail post-on-print ad statistics tells us that people spend 25 minutes looking over direct mail and 48% of them keep those direct mail pieces for future reference. The same study tells us that 73% of consumers prefer mail to other ad types, with 40% of them willing to try out a new business in response to a direct mail campaign.

Bill Watters, owner of Minuteman Press in Kingston, PA, helps his clients unleash the message of their brands in effective direct mail waves.  He shares, “One of my clients, an eye doctor, uses a 6×11-inch full-color postcard, mailed July, August and September, to promote back-to-school eye exams and a frame sale.  The combination of full color and the large size of the postcard makes his message stand out in a mail box filled with other items. Doing the mailing three months in a row reinforces his message and serves as a reminder when post cards #2 and #3 arrive in the mail.  Repetition works!”

Be careful not to be perceived as lazy and boring*

*see a digital print, design and marketing specialist to avoid this

The worth of what you are offering can affect how frequently you plan your mailings.  For instance, if you are giving something uncommonly valuable, you will be able to send mail more frequently while avoiding turning your clients off and having it all backfire.  If you fall into the trap of sending the same tired stuff, you have made yourself spam and you’ll be treated that way.  Kiss good results goodbye unless you keep it fresh and the prospects realize a true benefit so they can claim it and tell their friends how fantastic your business is to them.

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