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Common direct mail mistakes to avoid

The National Federation of Independent Business reports that “Direct mail gets you into the homes and businesses of your customers — where you might never be, even if you called and asked for an appointment. And it lets you reach many, many more people than you could by yourself.”

Common direct mail mistakes to avoid

But direct mail campaigns involve more than sending out a company brochure or postcard. Many direct mail campaigns fall flat due to these common mistakes.

Not Using the Right Mailing List

The purpose of a direct mail campaign is to generate awareness about your product, service or company and one of the most common mistakes is not contacting the right recipient. Knowing your target market is critical. It’s important to keep your client list up to date, or if you’re purchasing a list, buy it from a reputable source. A list provider should be CASS certified, which verifies the validity of the addresses.

Poor Copy

The problem with direct mail pieces is that many go straight into the trash can without being opened, much less read. Good copy means your pieces get noticed and strike your recipients’ curiosity. Find out what the customer wants to know about your product or services—and then tell them. List the benefits before features. Sell the offer not the product and clearly describe how your solution will benefit them by making your copy simple and easy to read.

Not Testing

Another reason many direct marketing campaigns fail is that they don’t take into account the rapid changes in the marketplace that should be monitored by testing. Middleton Hughes of DM News says, “Make every single promotion a test. By not testing, you are throwing away a golden opportunity to improve, an opportunity that may give your competitors an edge. Study and act on the results of your tests.” How many leads were generated? How many qualified prospects were obtained or appointments scheduled? Testing will help you develop ways to improve the results for your next campaign.

No Offer or Call-to-Action

Sending out a brochure or a letter doesn’t create excitement or generate much business. Your direct mail piece should offer more than price reductions; it needs an offer and a call-to-action, which tells your prospect what you want them to do, and how to receive their reward. Some of the most effective offers are free trials, free gifts, money-back guarantees and sweepstakes or contests. Most readers will skim your mailer rather than read it so briefly describe the offer (a free gift, for example), then tell readers to respond (a call-to-action would be offering a free gift to customers who book an appointment).

Poor Follow-up

“There are three types of people you should be following up with, suspects (people in your target marketplace), prospects (people who have responded to your marketing but have not purchased, and customers (people who have purchased something from you),” says David Fey of Business Know-How. “With suspects, you’ll want to entice them to call you or visit your store / office. With prospects, you need to persuade them to make their first purchase. And with customers, you want to convince them to come back and do more business with you and give your referrals.”

How to follow up marketing activity

Ryan Derousseau of FORTUNE Small Business says, “You want to show a personal touch when contacting prospects for your company – but the phone may be too intrusive. You might have to spend a little money to get the return you want, but you can do it in ways that minimize costs maximizing the impact of the campaign.”

Recession-Proof Sales with Direct Mail

Direct mail is a form of direct marketing that connects you directly with your customer through traditional mail. Whether communicating with a simple sales letter or full color catalog, direct mail allows you to have personal one-on-one conversations with your valued customers and reach out to new customers without spending a fortune.

Direct Mail Objective

Before starting your recession-proof direct mail campaign, develop your mailing objective. Outline one key objective; the direct mail campaign should achieve and design your direct mail package accordingly. Whether you wish to sell a new product to customers or drive more traffic to your store, make your mailing objective one that is measurable.

Direct Mail Package

Based on your overall objective for your direct mail campaign, determine what components are critical to effectively communicate to your customers. If your goal is to drive customers to your website or to educate customers about a new service, a simple postcard may work. If you wish to sell a new product, a well-written personalized letter with an informational brochure will help you close the sale.

Direct Mail Offer

In times when budgets are tight and you are challenged to do more with less, direct mail can serve as a silent salesperson. With the right offer, direct mail can help you close the sale at a fraction of the cost of traditional sales methods. To present your offer effectively, use compelling copy and interesting graphics to motivate action. Make your direct mail offer easy to understand and engaging. If your mailing objective is to inspire your customer to place an order, give a sense of urgency for ordering now. To help improve your sales response rate, be sure to include an order form, the right price and reasonable payment terms, and a risk-free guarantee.

The Direct Mail Envelope

Common direct mail mistakes

Now that your direct mail package is nearly complete, don’t forget the envelope. The envelope plays a critical role in direct mail. Not only does the envelope ensure the mailing reaches the intended recipient, it can also help improve results.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, if your direct mail looks like personal correspondence you can significantly increase the open rate. Choose an envelope that is different than a standard white business envelope. A linen envelope shaped like a wedding invitation may be more likely to be opened than one that looks like junk mail. Postage stamps also help give your mailing a more personal appearance and increase the chances that your direct mail package will get opened.

Direct mail offers you an affordable way to keep your customers engaged in your business and improve your sales prospects even in a recession.

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