Pushing the Envelope–Getting More from Your Direct Mail Efforts

“They Got Me”—Direct Mail That Works!

I get bombarded with direct mail. We all get bombarded with direct mail. The reason is simple—it works! Still. Whether it is catalogs from retailers, postcards from real estate professionals, Val-Paks and other solicitations, reaching customers via their mailboxes seems to have never been stronger, despite increases in postage, recessionary times and other barriers for marketers. This past month I received two direct mail pieces that not only got my attention but elicited a response.

The first piece came in the form of a small, folded brown paper bag. I thought it was a birthday card I had bought and forgot to address. The paper bag had a white label with my information on it, no return address and the correct postage, obviously. It stood out in my ‘postal pile’ like a sore thumb and got my immediate attention. I quickly opened it up… A six-panel folded, four color promotional brochure from Marrazi Audi, Land Rover, Jaguar, complete with enticing images of cars, specials and engaging copy. Marazzi must know that I have an affinity for these cars and could potentially be in the market for one soon. “Well done!” I thought.

The other piece came in the form of an eight-panel folded to two-panel, 6×10 poster from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On the back of the live area of the piece (what came viewable via mail) were three special rates for tickets; Adult tickets $35, Youth tickets $25 and Group tickets $32, each with specific terms and engaging images. I quickly tallied up a day for the “family” at a Bucs game, complete with travel, hot dogs and other stuff, in my mind. “Expensive but not as bad as I thought,” I muttered to myself. The other side with the label had a mobile call to action to “Text ‘BucsClub’ to 82672 for a chance to win two (2) stadium club seats for the 2010 season.” – A brilliant use of integrating other marketing with direct. If they didn’t get me one way to commit to a game, there’s a chance they could get me to opt in and receive mobile marketing alerts. In addition, it read “Free Josh Freeman (the quarterback) Poster Inside!” Great value! So I opened the Bucs piece and was pretty impressed to find the cool 24×10 poster of Josh with the Bucs home schedule listed at the top. The filler content on the back of the poster (the other two panels) had more features, benefits and ticket booking information to further draw me in.

Let me make something clear—I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan and have no allegiance to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, since I live near Tampa Bay stadium, enjoy NFL football and could easily picture myself with the fam checking out a ‘live’ game experience for ~$200, the marketing from this piece was successful. It got to me. Also, if I liked entering sweepstakes and contests more, I would immediately opt in to their mobile text “BucsClub” for a chance to win season tix. Lastly, if Tampa Bay were my favorite team of choice, that poster would have likely gone up immediately on my office wall for 24/7 branding, and the Bucs marketing team’s constant call to action reminder to buy tickets to one of their ten home games. My brother is a Bucs fan, so I’m going to pass this along to him because it has value—now it’s become viral…

Make Your Direct Mail Work Harder

Cutting through the clutter of other marketers’ direct mail is difficult. Doing what everyone else is will likely not get you great, if any, results these days. Unfortunately, trying something different and unique that stands out and generates greater response usually carries a premium cost. I’m sure Marazzi’s paper bag campaign was not inexpensive. And, an eight-panel 24×10, four color, glossy Bucs poster folded to 6×10 and mailed had to have cost a pretty penny as well. Needlesstosay, these marketers understand the value of their direct marketing and have likely calculated the expected response and return to be greater than the costs—so they went for it.

In planning your creative direct mail tactics, consider enlisting a professional marketing agency for creative direct marketing strategies that suit your business and will generate response from your target audience. Ask printing shops what creative options they have and what they cost for “breaking through the clutter.” And, lastly, do the math. Figure out your expected response and return rates, the average revenue/profit per order and stack that against your costs. Also, keep in mind other non-quantifiable measures like branding value, stickiness, and viral potential. If it makes sense in the long-run—go for it and be sure to track your results for future mailings.

Here are some more tips to help generate greater return from your direct mail efforts:

  1. Be Creative with Your Format: Using a brown paper bag, an unusually sized postcard and/or a cylinder that rolls off your desk are a few ideas of formats that get attention and work!
  2. Personalize: Many fulfillment houses have the ability to personalize your direct mail. Nothing beats getting a piece that says your name all over it with an offer that has been tailored especially for you!
  3. Leverage Meaningful Content: Use professional case studies, share schedules (like the Bucs home games) and include other content that has “sticky” value, or, in other words, will make the recipient want to keep it and refer to it for a long time and not immediately throw it away
  4. Include a Strong and Urgent Call-to-Action: You’re sending your direct mail to elicit a response. Be sure to tell them what that response is (i.e. “Book Your Trip Today!”) or you may never get it!
  5. Integrate Your Direct Mail with Other Marketing Efforts: If you are using email, mobile and/or other forms of marketing, do not be afraid to include those calls-to-action in your direct mail. You may just get your recipient to respond to one of those instead of buying which is a successful metric for your piece

Direct Mail should be part of a total integrated marketing mix and is not advised as your only stand alone marketing tactic. When executed correctly using the tips and suggestions above, along with proper and sound strategic planning, your business will benefit from it.

About the Author

Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Naples, FL since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and has taught Marketing at New York University for over five years. For more information or to learn more, email him atabiasiatsmartmarketingllcdotcom  (abiasiatsmartmarketingllcdotcom)  , visit www.smartmarketingllc.com or call 239.963.9396.

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