Direct mail

Direct Marketing

Direct marketing is any unsolicited approach to cold or warm prospects, or existing clients. It can take many forms, a letter, a leaflet, an email or even a fax. The key to direct mail marketing is targeting the recipients effectively and concisely with relevant messages.

As with any successful element of your business, the groundwork preparation you carry out will reap the rewards. In the case of direct marketing, your database holds the key. Clean, up to date data, where you have their permission to make contact, that you use to add notes based on the source of that contact, profile information, when you followed up and what the response was will help convert cold prospects into warmer ones. The database will allow you to keep tabs on that evolving relationship as your persistent efforts eventually pay off.

Although average success rates of business to business direct mail are generally considered fairly poor at just over 6% (according to The Direct Mail Information Service), the beauty of direct mail is that you can measure its success which then allows you to change or adapt next time to better that response. The point of direct mail is that you send it to a named contact, a person that you have already discovered is the correct decision maker that would buy your services. This offers you greater opportunity for impact as you focus specific, tailored messages relevant to each recipient as opposed to a mass market advertising approach.

Competition amongst all the other direct mail landing on doormats or in in-trays or inboxes is stiff, so ensure your approach physically stands out (whilst still representing your company brand). When designing your leaflet put yourself in your recipient’s shoes. You have a pile of mail in front you, they are likely spend just a few seconds scanning your mail – don’t assume you have any longer to get their attention.

The mailshot doesn't have to be a leaflet or brochure, thinking laterally outside of the 'norm' will help your mailshot stand out and give you a good talking point to break the ice when you follow up with your call. As a creative, it's also your first opportunity to demonstrate how imaginatively you could improve the recipient's marketing. If you are not a designer yourself, try bartering with a fellow Freelance Alliance member to keep your costs reasonable.

As with any form of advertising your direct mail needs to get past any filter process before it reaches your recipient (hand written or unusual envelopes may help) then grab their attention, inform them of the key benefits of your service to create interest, then desire and then prompt that person to take further steps. ‘Calls to action’ may be to look you up on the web, or take advantage of an introductory discounted offer.

Do not let your list of prospects rest easy once they have read your mailing; following up with a telephone call is a necessity. Not only does it give the busy business owner a chance to ask direct questions concerning the service but it also gives you a great opportunity to gain direct feedback to your mailing, service and start to develop a rapport: if they don't need your service now, when is a good time to call back?

Direct mail can be an expensive exercise if you have not planned this properly. Setting objectives and budgets before hand is crucial to ensure you get the best return, but do also analyse the amount of business you gained as a result of each campaign so you know what works for your business. Bear in mind that it’s unlikely a cold prospect will have a project with the budget signed off just as your mailing arrives; it can take many months of following up before you see the fruits of your direct marketing labour.


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