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Sales Eye - The secrets of direct mail (April 11th, 2005)



The secrets of direct mail

11 April 2005


There are lots of sources for leads and new business.



These include cold calls, print ads, telemarketing, direct mail, referrals and online ads. It is wise to have a marketing strategy that encompasses all of these. At Lynka, we have had some of the best results with direct mail pieces. So here are some secrets that should help you devise an effective direct mail campaign.


What is direct mail?

Direct mail can be described as a form of direct-response advertising that communicates a message to a specified client base. In most cases there is a clear expected response or desired result of the activity, whether it is to purchase something, fill out a reply card or call a phone number for more information.


Catalogues, invitations to grand openings and postcards are examples of direct mail; however, the most popular is the simple direct-mail letter. It sounds simple, but the execution is challenging. With all the mail that customers receive on a daily basis, you have to create something that will not only be read by your customer but also cause him or her to act.


What kind of response do you want?

When planning your direct-mail piece, start with the end in mind. How do you want your customer to respond? What action should they take? Once this is decided, you should make sure that it is convenient for the customer to respond. For example, if you are selling homes outside of Warsaw and your desire is to get people to visit and see the beautiful homes you have to offer, you might not get a very good response. But if the desired response was to fill out a reply card or visit a website (where they are required to register), you would be able to generate more responses. This can then be followed up by a more personal contact, which should raise your chances of a prospect coming out to visit your site.


One way of increasing your response rate is offering them something free for responding. Everybody loves free stuff; just witness people walking around tradeshows collecting free pens and bags everywhere they can. Setting a deadline or time limit, such as, "offer only good until the end of the May," is also effective. But stick to your offer, and instead of extending the deadline, offer something different next time.



We all know this old acronym; it stands for keep it simple, stupid. This saying was created with the idea for companies to keep their message simple in an era of complex products and services. Remember, you only have a few moments to grab the readers' attention, so keep the details to a minimum.


Start with an outline for your piece, which should include a headline for your letter, features and benefits, your offer and time frame, testimonials of your service, and a close. We almost always add a PS at the bottom of the letter to emphasize a point, or to facilitate action on the part of the reader.


Know your target market

Clearly defining who your target market is will help you create your direct mail piece. Instead of sending out a mass mailer to everyone in your database, start by targeting a more narrowly defined group. The more specific you can get your list, the higher response rate you will have. After a trial run, you can tweak and alter your message and send it out to a larger group.


Don't ignore the base

Direct mail is not just for new business. You may find it is most effective with existing clients. Direct mail and special offers keeps your name and message in front of the client more often, so that way when they do require your services, your contact info will be easy to find.


An effective direct-mail campaign will require a significant amount of time, energy and money. It would be good research to start collecting some of the direct mail you receive now to see what grabs your attention. Everything from how the envelope looks to the color and size of the fonts in the letter. As always, the devil is in the details.



From Warsaw Business Journal by John Lynch, Matt Lynch -"The Sales Brothers"