1. Get a list
Part of the 40/40/20 rule of direct marketing is knowing who your audience is and being able to target that audience with your direct mailers. This will save you a lot of money and increase your return on investment. Building your own list can be tedious and unscientific at best; and it’s easy to get scammed by online companies selling dirty lists full of false leads that cost you a lot of money.
2. Add value
Another tried-and-true tenant of the 40/40/20 rule of direct marketing is the value-added promotion. You’re wasting your money if your direct-mail marketing promotions don’t include sales, rebates or bonuses. The key is to give your audience a reason to purchase now, so make your offer truly unique and big enough to provide great value to your customers without breaking your budget. Make the offer time-limited to maximize your return on investment and have prospects redeem a coupon or offer code so you can measure your campaign’s success.
3. Look great on paper
Having a great design that stands out and also works to reinforce your message is essential to direct-mail marketing success. Make sure you follow basic design rules, but don’t be afraid to get creative. If you don’t have the software or inclination to create stunning professional designs, hire a graphic designer. The credibility that a professional design lends to your direct-mail marketing materials is well-worth the investment.
4. Use a great printer
Find a printer with a reputation for quality and customer service, and order a sample kit. Most companies will send you samples free of charge so you can see the quality of their finished materials firsthand. Pricing should not necessarily be the determining factor. In the printing world, you often get what you pay for and your company will not benefit from sending out direct-mail marketing materials with streaks or poor color quality.
5. Let your printer do the mailing
Most reputable printing companies have a mail house, or partner with mail houses, to deliver your direct-mail marketing materials. This can save time and money, because your mailing list can be addressed as the materials are printed. You won’t have the extra costs associated with shipping your materials from one place to another before actually mailing them to your prospects. What’s more, good printing companies are knowledgeable in printing regulations and postage pricing, so they can get you the best deal possible on bulk mailings.
6. Write effective copy
Great promotional copy identifies with the target audience through features and benefits. For instance, it’s not enough to simply say that a pair of sunglasses has 100 percent UV protection (the feature). You have to tell your audience that this will save their eyes from the sun’s harmful rays (the benefit). Many features have multiple benefits, and a good copywriter will pick them out. You must also motivate prospects through a call to action, which directly relates to your great offer. If you’re having trouble writing your own copy, your return on investment could be boosted by hiring a professional.
7. Choose the right medium
Will your audience respond better to a postcard, brochure, greeting card or sales letter? What emotions does the subject matter invoke? Choosing the right medium for your message’s delivery is as important as the message itself; and pulling it off in a professional and creative manner is even more essential. Consider using professional-grade paper and die cuts to shape your materials to help them stand out from the crowd, and perhaps a touch of gloss to earn instant credibility and long-term brand recognition.
8. Be the customer
Take a step back from your direct-mail marketing efforts and approach them as your prospects. How would you react to your materials? Is the offer strong enough? Does the brochure/postcard/flyer look credible? Do you just have to possess what they’re selling? Now, run it by friends, family members, co-workers and even passers-by to get their honest reactions. If you can’t convince them, you need to tweak your campaign.
9. Test the market
Many companies have wasted a lot of hard-earned marketing dollars, because they didn’t test the market. Before you launch a full-blown direct-mail campaign, you should always test against a smaller market to determine your rate of return. If you can’t make sales off a small portion of your target audience, you’re not likely to realize much more success with a larger demographic. Many companies even weigh different campaigns against one another, but if you don’t have the budget for that just remember to start small and make tweaks as necessary.
10. Follow up
This is another oft-ignored policy that can yield huge dividends. Following up with your prospects can snag a large number of sales in a short amount of time. The more personal you can make it, the better. Try following up a postcard with a brochure or sales letter personalized to the recipient (your printer can do this for you). A phone call could also be warranted, as long as it’s appropriate. Try collecting phone numbers and permission to call with more information as part of your call to action and offer to get the highest-quality leads for your follow-up.