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5 tips for mastering direct mail

Direct mail is a marketing ploy that is done exclusively by mail and which involves sending out brochures, flyers, postcards, catalogs, or other printed material directly to large numbers of potential customers.These mailings advertise a product or service and are meant to solicit orders.

Besides direct mail, there are many different ways, many of them less expensive, to market.Costs of direct mail include buying prospect lists and testing packages, postage, creative work, paper, printing, etc.When you consider how much goes into it, you have to wonder why anyone would choose this method to market.A few of the reasons you may want to choose this venue is because you want to:

- drive foot traffic into a retail shop
- generate traffic for a Web site
- garget customers who are unfamiliar with the Web, don't have access,or just distrust it
- showcase products and services in ways that other marketing cannot, such as through a catalog
- improve customer service
- send content or news, such as in an informational brochure
- shift consumer perception of your brand

Once you've determined that direct mail is your most effective channel, here are 5 tips for mastering direct mail that will help drive responses and boost your sales and leads.

1.Focus on your loyal customer base.Know what each customer on the mailing list has purchased, when they last purchased something from you or a competitor, how often they buy your product or similar offerings, and what amount they tend to spend on that product or service.You will want to know who your best customers are, where they live, and what their preferences are.Experts say that consumers need to receive at least three pieces of advertisement a month to notice marketing, so spend your marketing money on people that you are fairly confident will take advantage of it.After all, it would cost the same if you mail 5,000 pieces to 5,000 customers or mail five pieces over five weeks to 1,000 targeted customers.

2.Provide real incentives.Direct mail is ineffective unless you get your target to respond to your offer.Offer incentives such as a sale coupon, a free trial or sample, a guarantee of service or refunded money, a special deal for a limited time, time-savers, head-of-the-line luxuries, special shopping experiences or some other reward for taking action.

3.Test your market.Although list brokers can often offer good advice, don't be too confident.Before sending out your entire list, test it to check the return rate.You should track the codes on the testers so that you know how effective the lead lists are.

4.Find partners, then track results.If you are a local merchant or franchisee, you can consider shared mailers as an effective marketing tool.Some mailers that are available are Valpak and Money Mailer.The way this works is you decide how many ads you want distributed, choose what specific household qualifiers you want, and then the company designs the ad, prints it and inserts and mails it for you.However, you must be prepared to follow up.

5. Set appropriate response goals.Make sure you've set goals that make sense for your business.Some businesses may only require the sale of one product in order to recoup on their direct mail investment and still make a profit while others require a much better response rate.Everything depends on your product and your price point, so set goals appropriate for you..

In summary, mastering direct mail can take time and money.However, it can be a very effective way to drive business and attract customers.Because of the high costs involved though, make sure you create effective ads and attach attractive incentives.

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