Companies often aren’t aware of the power of postal direct mail. (Yes, I just called it junk mail in the headline to get your attention) As a Marketing Consultant, I’ll always ask new clients who are their potential customers. Those that reply with laser-specific groups, e.g. architects, GPs, surveyors or accountants – will likely be advised to consider direct mail, amongst other things. And the same is true of consumer targets too. If a client says they want to target a certain type of person, living in a certain type of house, with certain interests – that’s a prime candidate for direct mail also.

Do you mean email marketing?

No. Email marketing has traditionally best been used for warm contacts, or customers, rather than cold prospects in my opinion, though there are exceptions. And here’s the thing: When the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) come into force in May 2018, email marketing will have a mandatory opt-in not opt-out meaning that anyone you email must have given you permission. It’s the same with SMS, too.

But postal and telephone will be opt-out. So, you just need to check your data against the MPS (Mail Preference Service) and the TPS (Telephone Preference Service) to verify that no-one has registered to opt out of receiving post or calls.

The reality is that most companies will probably avoid using existing data and paying to screen it against the MPs and TPS. It’s often easier, cheaper and more effective to buy or rent recent data from some of the excellent third-party suppliers out there. Be sure to check with them that their target data is TPS and MPs screened. It usually is.

But direct mail doesn’t work

Oh really? I recently carried out a campaign that cost a few hundred pounds and returned in excess of £7000. And why do you think that so many large national companies engage in direct mail. Surely, they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work?

It can work very well with two provisos:

  1. You have a specific target group of prospects
  2. You know how to plan and manage a direct marketing campaign.
But it gets binned

Poorly targeted direct mail gets binned – I agree. And too many companies rely on a “spray and pray” approach that just gives direct mail a bad name and annoys recipients. But think about it – there must be certain things that you want people to write to you about? I’m a keen fly fisherman. So, I’m genuinely happy to receive information, offers and adverts through the post about anything to do with that and my other interests – be they personal or business-related.

Common mistakes people make with direct mail

Below are a few of the typical errors that would-be Direct Marketers with little or no training make. I was fortunate enough to have studied at the Institute for Direct Marketing where we learned techniques to add extra percentage point of return.

And don’t forget, every percentage point counts. When you’re calculating whether you think direct mail is worth a shot, you need to work out your average profit per sale and calculate what sort of percentage of replies and conversions you’ll need to make it viable. But don’t forget to fact in the lifetime value of a customer too. How long do you keep a customer for and how much might they spend with you over time?

Typical errors
  • They get their priorities wrong and worry too much about whether their mailer should be orange or green rather the focussing on the data. In Direct Marketing, data is everything.
  • Not writing the mailer correctly: There are a number of techniques including AIDA and short track/long track writing that will hold your prospects attention better. I’ll be happy to talk to you about these.
  • Forgetting the power of the letter: People receive fewer letters these days, so a well thought out, well targeted one can really make a difference. In fact, some direct mail campaigns can be just a well-written letter, though many will have a folded mailer which takes the reader through a sequence of pages and a call to action.
  • Forgetting an incentive: An incentive nearly always results in better response rates. The trick is working out what type of incentive. I can give you many examples of things that have been successful over the years
  • Not using a theme: A “golden thread” which connects the messages and look of the mailer can make a real difference. Good, simple design is important too. Themes can even involve physical things that are enclosed. I’ve had great success sending an 8-piece jigsaw in a poly-bag. I mean, you’d want to put it together, wouldn’t you?
  • Not following up with a call (Business to business only)
Best solutions

There is no substitute for experience. I can help you identify opportunities as well and plan and manage a campaign for you. If you have clear “vertical markets” or target groups, email me to arrange a conversation and let’s explore some opportunities! huw@huwjohns.co.uk