Make sure your mail isn’t junk mail

Mailbox Direct mail, be it the old fashioned kind – snail mail or that new fangled e-mail, is still one of the most effective marketing tools around. If you do it correctly. 

So let’s look at how to do just that.

Right Audience

Sending your direct mail piece to the wrong set of people is probably the most common (and most costly) error made in mailings. Spend as much time on researching your list as you do on the creative aspects of creating your piece.

Unless the people on your mailing list have a desire or need for your product or service, they’re going a pretty tough sell. Offering Marlboro products to non-smokers just won’t work. I don’t care how great the copy is!

Right Message

Before you start writing a direct mail piece, make a list of the three things you want someone to get from the contact.  No more than three.  Rank them.  Now, eliminate one.

At best, people are going to remember one or two things.  If you want them to take action or remember a benefit – don’t muddy up your message by hiding it among many messages.  Be clear about the result you want.  And then, don’t get in its way.

Right Timing

Naturally, you need to tell them how much it’s going to cost. And you think the price is a real steal. But, make sure you share the price at the right time.

No matter what you’re selling, a price has no meaning until your audience knows what they’re getting and why they would want it.

Once you are ready to talk money, you need to tell readers what makes your price so great – in terms of benefits to the reader. Remember, all they care about is what’s in it for them. So tell them!

Right Call to Action

As you create a direct mail piece, you should know exactly what you want the recipient to do. Call for more information, log onto your website, bring the postcard in for a 20% discount – whatever.

But be reasonable. No one is going to call up and buy a $50,000 car after one postcard.  Match your call to action with where the audience is, at the moment.  Good direct mail is about getting to the next step (asking for a sample, coming in for the test drive, answering a 5 question survey, etc) but to do that…you need to identify what the steps are and strategize how you are going to systematically move from one to the next.

Also, don’t assume they know what you want them to do. You should tell them several times exactly what you want them to do. Be specific. Let readers know exactly what action you want them to take — tell them, and tell them again.

Where do you need to improve your direct mail offerings?  Which one of these could have the most impact on your ROI?

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7 comments on “Make sure your mail isn’t junk mail

  1. Covering a little of my territory, Drew! No objections from me, but I would add this.

    80% of any direct mail effort is going to be based on the selection of the list and the offer being made. The remaining 20% comes from the creative effort (that includes the copy and the design.) I would, however, finesse the percentages a little and add timing of the mailing to the mix.

    If your recipient gets a postcard touting a fabulous sale after the sale is over, that’s a waste of money and everyone’s time.

  2. Roberta,

    I think of this post as the DM 101 sort of thing. Your posts are at the Master’s level! So, think of this post as a prereq. for reading your blog!

    I know who the Queen of Direct is and have no intentions of competing! ;}

    And you are right in your comment. Talking to the right people at the right time is more than half the battle. If you don’t get that right, nothing else matters!


  3. Ramsey Fahel says:

    Do Not Mail Opt-Out Law would be fair to everyone.

    The proposed recent “Do not mail” is an Opt-Out law. Only those not desiring advertising mail need opt-out. Anyone desiring advertising mail can do nothing – and continue to receive it. Why deny those wishing to avoid advertising mail the power to do so?

    I do not consider handling unwanted advertising placed against my will on my personal property to be a civic obligation!

    The US Supreme Court said in the Rowan case in 1970, ““In today’s [1970] complex society we are inescapably captive audiences for many purposes, but a sufficient measure of individual autonomy must survive to permit every householder to exercise control over unwanted mail. To make the householder the exclusive and final judge of what will cross his threshold undoubtedly has the effect of impeding the flow of ideas, information, and arguments that, ideally, he should receive and consider. Today’s merchandising methods, the plethora of mass mailings subsidized by low postal rates, and the growth of the sale of large mailing lists as an industry in itself have changed the mailman from a carrier of primarily private communications, as he was in a more leisurely day, and have made him an adjunct of the mass mailer who sends unsolicited and often unwanted mail into every home. It places no strain on the doctrine of judicial notice to observe that whether measured by pieces or pounds, Everyman’s mail today is made up overwhelmingly of material he did not seek from persons he does not know. And all too often it is matter he finds offensive.”

    Furthermore, the Supreme Court said, “the mailer’s right to communicate is circumscribed only by an affirmative act of the addressee giving notice that he wishes no further mailings from that mailer.

    To hold less would tend to license a form of trespass and would make hardly more sense than to say that a radio or television viewer may not twist the dial to cut off an offensive or boring communication and thus bar its entering his home. Nothing in the Constitution compels us to listen to or view any unwanted communication, whatever its merit; we see no basis for according the printed word or pictures a different or more preferred status because they are sent by mail.”

    We need a nationwide “Do Not Mail” law to create a one-stop, convenient place for homeowners to give senders the aforementioned affirmative notice that we do not want certain kinds of mail sent to our homes.

    Ramsey A Fahel

  4. Ramsey,

    Now why do I think you didn’t just type all of that especially for my blog post?

    Are you just commenting on all blogs tagged “direct mail?”


  5. Your post have brought me a greater insight into a deeper level of thinking for me and I just wish to say thanks.

  6. Singapore —

    Thank you. Glad you’re enjoying the conversation.


  7. I think of this post as the DM 101 sort of thing. Your posts are at the Master’s level! So, think of this post as a prereq. for reading your blog!!!

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