5 Direct Mail Marketing Strategies That May Be Working Against You

They may sound like a good idea on paper, but these direct mail marketing strategies could lower your chances of reaching new customers.
January 31, 2018

Direct mail marketing literally puts you and your company in the homes of your prospective customers. 

While consumers may be barraged by tweets and Facebook posts about every product under the sun, direct mail is tangible and it's a chance to make your business stand out from the crowd. 

But be careful! Direct mail isn't ever free, and it's not all created equal. If you're expecting a return on your direct mail marketing investment, you want to make sure you get it right. 

In my years as an entrepreneur, here are some mistakes I've encountered (some of which I've even made) that can hurt your direct mail marketing success.

1. Making your mailer very complex.

Shrinking attention spans mean you've got to grab your audience's attention quickly and get to the point.

With the exception of very technical, specialized niches, which can actually benefit from more in-depth marketing, your goal should be to deliver your call to action (CTA) in as few words as possible.

Oh—and may I suggest that the words you do use be as close to perfect as possible? When I'm evaluating direct mail marketing, my question is always “Can someone unfamiliar with my industry understand this in under a minute?"

The best direct mail marketing pieces I've seen don't simply list the features of an offering. They focus on how their offering will transform the lives of prospects.

Color choices, font choices and sizes … All of these decisions can affect how successful your direct mail marketing campaign can be. So try to be clear and concise.

2. Forgetting to provide a special offer.

In most cases, the point of marketing isn't simply to announce the fact that your company exists. If your direct mail marketing doesn't make a special offer, you could be missing an opportunity to make your audience feel a sense of urgency.

CTAs like “Call today for your free trial," or “Enter your email for a discount on your first purchase" are examples of telling your prospect what you want them to do and giving them a reason to do it. You want to light a fire under the people who get your mailer, and a special offer is a great way to do just that.

3. Sending your direct mail marketing to everyone instead of a targeted mailing list.

I'm sure you've developed your own list of names and addresses for your existing customers. (You have, right?) But when you're looking to broaden your scope and capture new business, you need new addresses.

Marketing companies and individuals have access to lots of lists, but they're not all created equal. It's important to ensure you're buying or renting an up-to-date list that includes the right demographics. Targeted lists will cost you more, but may help you get the most out of your direct mail marketing.

4. Sending a mailer without plans on how you'll follow up.

I think of direct mail marketing follow-up in two categories.

First, you need to check in with the prospects you've targeted. Did you mail out a catalogue? You could send them a postcard with a discount code one week later.

In addition to following up with customers, you also need to evaluate the effectiveness of your campaign. If you've sent out coupons for your retail store, make sure your cashiers know to save them so you can determine if your marketing efforts paid for themselves.

Whether you're tracking online discount codes or free gift cards, make sure you take the time to follow up, both with customers and your results.

5. Focusing on the product, rather than the prospect.

You might have created the shiniest, most awesome widget in the world. But if I don't understand what it will do for me—how I will benefit—I have no reason to even consider purchasing it.

The best direct mail marketing pieces I've seen don't simply list the features of an offering. They focus on how their offering will transform the lives of prospects.

Will your product make tasks easier? Will it save people time and money? Can your service help people to become smarter, faster, stronger, or richer? The point is to shift attention from your product—something your prospects have no emotional ties—to their needs and wants, which they do have strong emotional ties. Try finding out what matters to your audience and making that your focus.

Direct mail marketing costs money, and that means you have to make sure it's worth it. Avoiding these mistakes can help you launch a campaign that is worth every penny.

Read more articles on marketing & sales.

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