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Direct Mail Basics

When done correctly, direct mail is one of the most effective marketing tools available to small businesses, regardless of industry. Unfortunately, many first-time mailers (and even some experienced mailers) overlook some of the basic "rules" of creating an effective direct mail campaign. Following are some well-tested tips to consider when planning your next mailing.

The success of your campaign relies on the following:

1. The accuracy of your mailing list
2. The perceived quality of your offer
3. The appeal of your mail piece

An oft-quoted rule is the 40-40-20 rule. It states that the mailing list makes up 40% of the success of a mailing, the offer makes up another 40% and the package itself (paper, design, copy) is responsible for the remaining 20%.

1. Buy a good list

  • Understand who your best customers are
  • Select a qualified mailing list provider
  • Work with your list supplier to develop the most effective prospecting list for your needs and budget

2. Create a powerful offer that will entice people to respond

  • Make sure your offer is clearly spelled out and easy to understand
  • Offer something with high perceived value
  • Don’t cloud your offer with restrictive “caveats” unless absolutely necessary
  • Don’t underestimate the power of the word FREE
  • Make it easy to respond (via website, email, telephone, mail and fax)
  • Offer a money-back guarantee
  • Repeat your offer, response options and guarantee as often as possible

3. Create an appealing mail piece relative to your target market

  • Your mail piece should reflect your company’s positioning and sales strategy
  • If you are perceived as exclusive, unique or high-end your mail piece should reflect it
  • If customers buy from you primarily based on low pricing, your mailer should have a “budget” look and feel to it.
  • Keep your copy simple by using clear, short and descriptive sentences.
  • Write with emotion using the first-person perspective (use you, your, me, mine and our)
  • Personalize the piece
  • Identify with the readers needs
  • Tell a story, refer to a statistic or quote a famous (or infamous) person
  • Describe the problems that your product or service solves
  • Use a call to action ­ tell the reader what you want them to do
  • Include a deadline