Every once and a while I get something that is just too good not to share. Dean is a fellow Master’s Program Graduate and is the CEO of one of the finest Ad agencies I’ve ever been exposed to. I received this article last week from him and thought it dovetailed into the branding series I wrapped up this last week. I hope you enjoy Dean as much as I do -
If direct mail is considered the most targeted form of advertising, then why do so many people experience miserable failure?
Most buy a list, merge it with their own, (sometimes), create a mail piece, and blast it off to a list. Next, they wait for the phone to ring and when it doesn’t ring, they blame direct mail for the failure. I wish I had a dollar for every business I visited that said “We tried direct mail…it didn’t work.” Truth be told, it wasn’t the fault of direct mail.
Let’s just say a few or more of the 10 keys of direct mail success never made it into the loop. The 40/40/20 rule is a broad stroke look at what makes direct mail work: 40% of the success is due to the quality of the list you’re sending to; 40% is due to the strength of your offer; and 20% is due to the graphics and printing of the mail package.
More specifically, let’s go to the 10 keys.
1. First, before you mail, make sure you have an accurate, updated prospect database, and, depending on the offer, also send to your existing clients. How and where you buy your list is critical to the success of any project. Unfortunately, most lists purchased are obsolete by the time they hit your desk. If the list isn’t current, use a title slug such as Marketing Director, President or HR Manager on your labels instead of a person’s name to get to your prospects. However, contact names are always more effective. If you’re planning to send a valuable package out to a list, spend the time to call and confirm detailed contact information. You’ll need it for follow up anyway.
2. Make sure you send a mailer that clearly presents a strong offer of real value. For example, the words FREE, COMPLIMENTARY, 2 FOR 1 or 20% OFF are gold in the direct mail arena. It’s proven that these words are mental magnets to your mail recipient. If, in the chaos of running your business, you haven’t thought of anything great to offer, create an offer of real value before you mail. Don’t try to be cute with hyper-creative copy and esoteric graphics either. They don’t call it direct mail for nothing – be direct.
3. They say color increases readership by 41%, but great copy and a well-designed piece creates readership. Color isn’t everything, but it helps and is recommended.
4. Make it easy for the recipient to respond to your offer. For example, include an “800″ number or a prepaid envelope or reply card, especially if you want more information from the prospect. This will enable you to track where the leads are coming from and measure the effectiveness of the campaign.
5. Make sure everyone in your company knows about the mailer before it goes out. You’d be surprised how many people will call an advertiser, and the employee who picks up the phone is clueless or untrained on how to field the call.
6. Use an odd shaped or oversized mail package. It stands out from the mountain of mail we receive and is always worth the extra money.
7. Test different mail packages to the same database to determine which brings a higher rate of response.
8. Never do a mass mailing without a small test mailing, and always check postal regulations for your mail campaign to see if it meets standards and is optimized for postal discount and delivery efficiency. Trust me on this one.
9. Always follow up on every mail piece with a phone call, if possible. Sales conversion rates can multiply by 10 with good telemarketing and lead qualification follow-up.
10. Don’t mail just once. To determine mailing effectiveness, mail at least three times to the same list.
11. Why eleven if it’s “The 10 keys?‘ A good marketer always goes beyond what is expected and gives something of extra value to their audience. Lastly, whatever the cost, always measure the effectiveness of every marketing effort. A good marketer always measures and does more of what works and less of what doesn’t. It’s that simple.
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