Want a Successful Direct-Mail Marketing Campaign: Avoid These 7 Mistakes

Barbara Spagnola - Thursday, September 22, 2016

Direct-mail marketing is one of the oldest methods of marketing and was said to be started back in 1917 although some claim the roots go further back than this. Although social media marketing is now the most popular medium for any marketing campaign, many companies still find direct-mail marketing profitable.

There are still a large marketable audience that doesn’t use the internet. If it seems to be unsuccessful, there must be a mistake in implementing it. Today, we will cover seven mistakes you should avoid in order to make your direct-mail marketing campaign successful.

 

Seven Deadly Mistakes of Direct Mail Marketing Campaign


Direct-mail marketing is one of the oldest methods of marketing and was said to be started back in 1917 although some claim the roots go further back than this. Although social media marketing is now the most popular medium for any marketing campaign, many companies still find direct-mail marketing profitable.

There are still a large marketable audience that doesn’t use the internet. If it seems to be unsuccessful, there must be a mistake in implementing it. Today, we will cover seven mistakes you should avoid in order to make your direct-mail marketing campaign successful.

 

Seven Deadly Mistakes of Direct Mail Marketing Campaign



1. Have the Right Demographics

Currently, some demographics have been growing faster than others in the US according to the latest research. For example, if you wanted to target the baby-boomer generation that are retiring now for joint ointment, then you would need to have a research of a public relations group that knows where the majority of these people live. Another example would be that of targeting the Latino population for you’re the right demographics, again you would need a research company or a Latino Public Relations company that can tell you more about this specific demographic.  

 

2. Not Using a Letter in Your Mailing Package

Some marketer’s direct mail only includes brochures. It’s true that brochures may contain your complete message. However, many people would still consider this junk mail. If you include a letter, your mail will become more personalized and interactive. As a result, your mail will most likely get a response. Just don’t forget to include your call to action in your letter.

 

3. Feature vs Benefits

It has always been the practice of many companies to emphasize benefits more than features. This is effective in some cases, especially in actual sales presentations. On the contrary, this is not the case in business-to-business marketing. Most companies process mail and have their marketing specialist’s study what is offered. Companies are interested more on specs than on benefits that are repeatedly mentioned by almost all marketers.

 

4. Not Having an Offer

Direct-mail marketing is all about an offer, not a product or a service. The mistake that most marketers make is to send mail that only talks about their products or services. An offer is something like freebies or advantages that receivers may enjoy upon responding to your call to action. One good example is to ask receivers to sign up to get some freebies or free subscriptions. Use such free offers to expand products and service’s market.

 

5. Superficial Copy

Don’t send mail that contains vague messages. Your mail is not intended to inform or provide knowledge. Instead, your mail is intended to get a response.

 

6. Overselling

People are now apprehensive about sales pitches. If your company has been trying to expand its public relations pitches, and you seem to be hitting a wall you don’t want to oversell. It’s best to go to a bigger company like that of Fineman PR to bring you the success you need so you don’t over strategize.

 

7. Starting with the Product - Not the Prospect

Make your receivers feel they are important. Talk about them in the initial part of your copy before you go on to your pitch. Don’t make them feel that your product is more important than them.

 

Conclusion

Direct-mail marketing is still relevant today. Although smartphones and the internet have made it easier to reach customers online, postal mail can still catch attention of a vast audience and will so for years to come.

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Author’s Bio

Wendy Dessler

Title: Super-Connector at OutreachMama

Wendy is a super-connector with OutreachMama and Youth Noise NJ who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition. You can contact her on Twitter.

Photo: http://www.outreachmama.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Wendy-Dessler.jpg

Direct Marketing Focus - Save Money, Save Time: How to Control Your Mailings

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, August 13, 2014
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If you're like many direct mailers, you think you have absolutely no control over your mailings. Right? Ah, but it's not so. You have a great deal of control over them. The trick is to know when and how to do all the "little" things that can ensure you maximum return. 

No matter how good your sales literature is in content, if it's not sent properly, if it's not sent when it should be sent and if it's not sent to the right people it's a bad mailing. It's destined to fail. 

Let's assume for now you have a really good mailing list. That leaves the matters of packaging your mailing and timing it. Both depend upon to whom you're mailing. If your mailing is going to consumers in their homes you do it one way. If, on the other hand, it goes to business people in offices it is handled entirely different. 

So first, evaluate your prospects. Who are they? What are their habits? 

Let's take business people. They get a ton of mail on Monday. They also often have meetings on Mondays. (Those horrid bell-ringing events we all hate.) Friday is a day that many people take off or leave their offices at noon. They have their minds on the weekend. (Unless they're like some of us who are entrepreneurs. We do business any day, any hour.) 

So to send those people mail that will get to them on those days is suicide. Yours! You'll increase your returns if you avoid those days when mailing to business people. 

If, however, you're mailing to people in their homes, try to get it to them midweek or on the weekend. Also, holidays are good for consumers. But they're very bad for business people. 

After your mailing is done the fun begins. Make a chart. I keep mine in a three-ring binder. On it put a place for the date, the day of the week, returns and responses. Under responses make a place for the per day responses, the total responses and the actual percentage of the total mailing it represents. 

I also usually try out three different sales letters. So I keep track of where I send each letter, i.e. what zip code or town or state. Then I can begin to see which letter pulls best for me. I then begin to use only that letter. 

Then you want to figure out your actual break even point. You know your advertising cost and you know what you can afford to get a lead. So you divide what you can afford to spend at break-even for a sale into your advertising cost. Then you will know how many sales you must get to break even.

Let's say your break-even or par is 5%. If you're not getting that you can do a number of things to improve your chances of success. 

You can raise your price, lower costs, try another list, make your prospects a better offer, improve the quality of your marketing literature or increase the size of your average order. To increase the size of your average order, I usually offer a package deal. This is a combination of two of my most popular items that people usually buy separately. I sell it to them as a package. They get a good deal and I increase my average order. 

Suffice it to say that you must keep track of everything about your mailing. 

From the kind of envelopes you use to what's on the envelope you will either improve or reduce your chances for success. Every little thing in direct mail matters. 

If you see your mailing is not doing well you can change it before going further. Sometimes you need only to change something very minor. You may be mailing on the wrong day. You may be using an envelope that turns people off. It could be a hundred things. 

Direct mail is one of the finest ways to increase your business. Joe Danler, a RE/MAX broker in Wichita, KS, is living proof. Danler does about three very large mailings of 10,000 pieces each per year. He makes himself known to Wichita residents while other agents remain anonymous among the hundreds of other real estate agents who daily roam the streets in search of listings. 

The difference is, Danler gets them. He does so well, in fact, that he's sold more homes than any RE/MAX agent in the area in the last year! And best of all, he doesn't have to cold call. People come to him because of his direct mail. 

RE/MAX agents, unlike most other real estate agents, can control their own advertising. They do not co-op and are not told how to advertise. As a result, they can be very creative. That pays big dividends to people like Joe Danler. 

Danler has been in the real estate business for eight years. He started using direct mail two years ago. "Direct mail has been important to reach people who weren't aware of me at all," he says. 

He adds, "It's an important thing for people who have really thought about a real estate need but have not started looking yet."

It's a good initial first step to let people know that I'm out there," says Danler. He says direct mail gives him name recognition. 

So we know that direct mail works. But the fact is you have to have control over your mailings. You can't just mail out a ton of letters and wait for your leads. It doesn't work that way. 

Before you do your next mailing, plan it out. Get the best list available. Prepare the finest DM literature money can buy. Plan each step and chart your success. Direct mail can make you successful. But first, you have to become a successful mailer. When you do, your returns will increase and so will your income. 


About the Author

Susanna K. Hutcheson is a professional advertising and direct mail copywriter. She was the first copywriter to utilize the Internet as a place to market this type of service. Susanna has clients all over the world. She writes everything from Web site content to direct mail and radio spots. Visit her Web site athttp://www.powerwriting.com. Her email address is powerwriter@powerwriting.com. Telephone: (316) 684-0457.

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Capturing Best Customers With Best Quality Data

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, August 13, 2014
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As the largest installer of residential gas, heating and hot water equipment and the dominant provider of gas-heating service plans in New England, KeySpan Home Energy Services directs several major marketing campaigns every year. With every new initiative, Director of Marketing Mike Fusco faces a wide range of challenges in getting his company's message to the right audience. Far more than simply targeting the correct geographic area, Fusco believes that his company's marketing success springs from several crucial elements.

"Prior to my role in marketing, the company had used a variety of partners for generating consumer and business lists," Fusco recalls. "Subsequently, we began testing them on a number of levels: the efficacy of the lists, the accuracy and deliverability of names, the ease of working with their personnel, the speed of turnaround, merge-purge abilities and the ability to get the formats we wanted. Our experience was spotty, at best," he explains. 

After struggling with wide discrepancies in deliverability and unreliable turnaround times, Fusco acted on a consultant's recommendation of AccuData, the nation's largest independent data and data solutions provider.

"We found very early in our relationship with AccuData that with every mailing, there is never any question in terms of deliverability. Their lists are very, very accurate," says Fusco. "Secondly-and this is very important in our industry-we find that the lists the AccuData team provides are always representative of the total universe of names for the target we want. They consistently give us 20 percent more names than we can get from an alternative vendor."

Building a better universe of data

For KeySpan, the ideal "data universe" can change with every new marketing campaign. One of the great advantages of working with AccuData, according to Fusco, is the company's "almost miraculous" ability to identify and target his company's best prospects. 

"We get a great variety of lists from AccuData-not just generic households," he explains. "We often use precise, non-standard targeting in our lists-for example, we'll segment by income, or target certain SIC codes with specific criteria. AccuData has even generated business lists for us based on the square footage of the building! It's another way they help us market more efficiently, to get a better response rate."

AccuData's Energy Data Solutions Team adds further value to KeySpan's data by appending key information to each target. "We've come to rely on the AccuData team's ability to make the most of every list they generate," says Fusco. "When they give us names, we don't just get a raw count of the target. We get valuable information appended, including our internal sales territories, utility flags, and source tracking. Instead of relying on the mail house to take extra time sorting out a complex, three-stage mailing, AccuData provides us with a ready-to-mail list, which saves time and money."

Expanding a successful partnership

After establishing a history of proven direct mail success with AccuData, KeySpan began using the company for its outbound telemarketing efforts as well. Again, AccuData's value-added resources have paid off.

"AccuData's list of businesses includes all the specific, relevant information: contact info, fax numbers, how long they've been in business, the title of the decision-maker," Fusco says. "AccuData even found a list of homeowners with in-ground swimming pools. Any request we've made, AccuData has been able to find it. And they don't just find a list, but a good list. They get it right, and they do it quick. Their turnaround is amazing."

For Fusco, there's no question that the relationship between KeySpan and AccuData has evolved into a successful partnership in the three years since it began. "The AccuData team truly defines the word 'team,' and we, as a business, have a great working relationship with them," he says. "They've eliminated the potential for frustration and wasted time in getting our objectives met. With AccuData, we get the list we need, when we need it-every time."


About the Author

Carolyn Petrie provides editorial marketing services as well as direct marketing writing. Her company, Content 911, is based in Minneapolis, MN. Contact her at petrie911@mn.rr.com.

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It's All About the List!

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, August 13, 2014
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Did you know that 40% of any direct mail campaign's success lies in selecting the right list? Read our Top Ten Tips for creating, sourcing, expanding and maintaining top-quality data.

Top Ten Tips for Selecting the Right List

1. Find the right data consultant. Almost all list brokers, managers and owners are willing to handle the administration of your chosen list. However, it's best to find a consultant who can offer more: good advice, proven experience and a wealth of options for you to consider. A reputable consultant will spend considerable time collecting information about your business and your needs, before making a recommendation.

2. Practice list hygiene. Mailing to a poorly-maintained list can be very costly and inefficient. List hygiene will help you maximize your customer data and keep your house list clean so that you can catch outdated information before it costs you.

3. Play by the rules. In these days of increasing privacy concerns, make sure any list you buy has been scrubbed against the national Do-Not-Call list. For increased response, you might also look into purchasing an "opt-in" list, comprised of people who have given permission to be contacted, or a "double opt-in" list, which contains targets who have confirmed their desire to be contacted.

4. Use what you've got. Your own customer data may be the most responsive list you'll ever use. Many companies falsely assume that their customers already know all about their products and services—but in many cases, they would be likely responders to new or even current information and offers. Mail to your house list at least once a month. Remember, you own it—it's free!

5. Expand your list whenever you can. Your list can become even more valuable as you add to it with names of people and businesses through customer referrals, invoice stuffers or on-site signups.

6. Ask yourself two important questions. First, if you could identify your perfect customer, who would that person or business be? And secondly, how do you know that your perfect customer has those particular identifiers?

7. Be specific. When you define your perfect customer, don't be afraid to go into detail. There are so many lists available today that the right data provider or broker will be able to find almost anything you desire. Looking for first-time home buyers within a certain salary range? Or retired pet-owners in a particular state? From complied to response, from consumers to businesses, your list is probably out there.

8. Test, test, test! This is common advice in the direct marketing world, but followed too rarely. Don't give up after one shot. You could have a wonderful design, great copy, and a solid offer, but be mailing at the wrong time. In the end, you have to test until you see what works for your situation. Test variations on lists, design and timing to find out what works.

9. Work your best lists. As part of your testing program, use parts or all of your best lists frequently, until response starts to wear off. Until you test, you won't know how often your new customers want to hear from you.

10. Monitor your results. Of course, this tip goes hand-in-hand with testing, above. But it is crucial to keep good records of all your results, even for tests, for a year or more so that you can put all that learning to good use. Use "keycoding" (a unique code on mailing or parts of mailings) so that you can accurately monitor your responses. Then be sure to share the results with your data provider, so that you can tweak your list purchases to get better response next time.


About the Author

AccuTips is a free monthly e-newsletter full of direct marketing news and legislation, strategies, how-to information, case studies, resources and more. For more information, visit www.accutips.com.

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Mailing Deep

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, August 13, 2014
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To be successful, the business-to-business marketer must include a rich matrix of influencers. There may be as many as 15 or 20 individuals in a company who influence a business-to-business sale. Because most business decisions are made by more than one individual, it is usually more desirable to include many influencers at a few companies than to include a few influencers at many companies. In other words, it is much better to have in the database 10 individuals at each of 1,000 companies than to have one individual at 10,000 firms. 

Mail to all the influencers in the customer company—from the CEO to the clerk who uses the product, if possible, to hit every level of influence. Be sure not to forget the finance and technology people who are also impacted by the decision to buy.

Various third-party resources can be helpful in database marketing to influencers. Resources that can explain, in general terms, who influences the buying decision include: trade associations, industry analysts, and trade-press editors and reporters. Information companies such as Dun & Bradstreet and business-press publishers can be helpful in identifying the correct titles for individuals who influence sales. 

At a finer level of detail, publishers of leading trade publications can provide, for a fee, a list of every subscriber with a certain title or higher. The marketer can then append its own database with the new names from the publisher's list. Or the publisher could provide a list of all subscribers who reported on the subscriber qualification card that they recommend, influence or make final decisions on purchases in the marketer's equipment category. Again, the marketer could use the data to expand and enhance its database.

Closer to home, the marketer can identify influencers by interviewing the sales force. The company's salespeople know how the sales process works and which customer representatives play a role in the buying process. When interviewing the sales force, ask:

• Why do customers buy our products? Is it to solve business problems or technical problems?
• Does a technician drive the purchase, or is it the manager of a department?
• How high in the customer organization does buying authority rise, or how much budget authority is needed to approve the sale? Is it at the executive level or the manager level? 
• Who in the customer company may be affected by the purchase but doesn’t make the buying decision?
• Who are the ones who say, “Well, they never asked me?” Those individuals may be the most important influencers to build a relationship with. 


About the Author

M. H. "Mac" McIntosh, an authority on inquiry handling and sales lead management, is president of Mac McIntosh Incorporated, a sales and marketing consulting firm specializing in generating high-quality sales leads and turning them into sales. He can be reached at mcintosh@salesleadexperts.com.

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Direct Marketing Challenges

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, August 13, 2014
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Direct mail...it's not like any other marketing medium. Have trouble with a TV ad you've placed? Maybe a magazine placement? "Make goods" are available. But in direct mail, disasters happen just days before the drop-dead mail dates. And then, it's too late. All is lost. With direct mail, disaster can lurk in a million different locations, and often, where least expected. So take heed of the horror stories I'm about to share with you.

1. One production manager had the same printer print all the components of his mail package at the same time: the outer envelope, the reply envelope, the generic letter, the lift note, and the 4-color brochures. He also decided to have all those materials shipped to the mail shop all at once. That sounded like a good idea. The mail shop would get all the required materials at the same time and then the job would be ready to mail after the sample package was approved. What could be more efficient?

Well, this was the hinterlands of Pennsylvania, In the dead of winter, So getting from point A to point B wasn't something to take for granted. The semi truck transporting all of those beautiful envelopes, letters, lift notes and 4-color brochures, slid on the ice-covered roadway, turned over, rolled down an embankment and then burst into flames. The fire burned for FOUR hours. Guess why? Yep, all that volatile fresh ink. Luckily, the driver of the truck was OK. But, given that every single mailer was inside that truck, the whole campaign was sunk. All that money spent and nothing to show for it. Needless to say, the mailing didn't go out the day it was promised. The State Troopers called the resulting firestorm, "the Perfect Barbecue". Gotta love "COP HUMOR".

2. A major telecommunications company wanted to advertise and promote its prestigious data recovery capabilities. Its direct mail agency came up with the following concept: The package would be a large, shrink-wrapped plastic pill bottle with a brochure/letter inside, with the theme "First Aid for Your Data Network." The local post office approved the design for mailing but the client decided it wanted to mail from a different post office, and the actual mailing post office was not contacted to look at and approve the design of the mailer.

This was just after the 9/11 attacks, and the "anthrax through the mail" scare was a major concern. So when all 50,000 of the bottles showed up at the client's chosen post office, all 50,000 were promptly rejected. So they all needed to be shipped to the post office that approved the mailing in the first place. But that wasn't the worst thing that happened. Not even close.

The worst came after all the bottles reached their recipients. The client received over 70 phone calls from prospects and customers expressing outrage over receiving such a "scary" package.

In conclusion, even the best of direct mail talents are sometimes in awe of the ingenuity of "Murphy's Law" creeping in and spoiling your mailings. Regardless, if you plan on doing direct mail marketing, go with an experienced professional or agency that has learned and experienced these types of disasters so you will be not the client that we can all learn from these types of direct mail marketing mistakes.

James E. Sullivan, a Northern California Business Marketing member, is the Project Director of the direct mail consultancy and direct mail advertising agency called Optic Nerve Direct Marketing. Check out their website for additional useful resources, including a "75 Point Checklist" for direct mail at www.opticnervedirect.com.


About the Author

James E. Sullivan, a Northern California Business Marketing member, is the Project Director of the direct mail consultancy and direct mail advertising agency called Optic Nerve Direct Marketing. Check out their website for additional useful resources, including a "75 Point Checklist" for direct mail at www.opticnervedirect.com.

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