With the rise of social media, email, and text messaging, many business owners have forgotten about an old reliable marketing tool. When done correctly, direct mail allows you to put the right message squarely in the perfect prospect’s hand at the exact time they are looking for a solution to their problem.
But because of its high cost when compared to targeted social media ads (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter), direct mail should only be used when it is possible to get your message to a very specific list of prospects.
One caveat: as mail becomes even rarer, it will become a great tool for cutting through the clutter of online advertising. So don’t be afraid to try it.
Study up on direct mail marketing before you make a big investment.
I would start by reading Dan Kennedy’s book No B.S Direct Marketing. Pay attention to his list of 10 rules that every direct advertising piece must have to be successful. He states, “Following these rules will keep you on track, save you a lot of money, and dramatically improve your marketing.”
Rule 1 – There will always be an offer or offers.
Rule 2 – There will be a reason for the customer to respond right now.
Rule 3 – There will be clear instructions on how to the customer should respond.
Rule 4 – There will be tracking and measurement.
Rule 5 – Whatever brand building occurs will be a happy byproduct, not bought on purpose.
Rule 6 – There will be follow-up.
Rule 7 – There will be strong sales copy, not vague hyperbole.
Rule 8 – In general, it will look like “Mail Order Advertising”.
Rule 9 – Results rule, period.
Rule 10 – You will be a tough-minded disciplinarian and keep your business on a strict DIRECT marketing diet for at least six months.
Message, market, and media
Dan Kennedy also lists the three components of the results triangle that every successful marketing and advertising campaign must get right to be successful. These are message, market, and media.
Market: When you craft your message, who is it supposed to resonate with?
Who do you want to respond to your advertising?
Who is your ideal customer?
Who is your current customer?
Who do you want to be your customer? This might be the most unasked question by business owners. But why not make the business you want?
Message: Match the message to the "who" you identified above. Dan Kennedy likes to say, “Match the Bait to the Critter”. In marketing, “bait” means two things: your message and whatever “thing” you offer to spark direct response. This can be a discount, literature/information, a free service, or a small gift.
Most business people get poor results from advertising and marketing because they use no bait, lousy bait, or the wrong bait for the customer they hope to attract.
Media: Use the media your market (the "who" you identified) pays attention to and notices. Then, find as many different ways as you can to reach the WHO as you can afford.
Use the four rules for creating high-response-generating advertising.
The following rules are in Chet Holmes' book The Ultimate Sales Machine (another book that must be in your library):
Rule 1 – It must be distinctive. The first important thing about your ad is whether or not it attracts attention. The best response-generating ads catch the eye and hold it. What can you do to really stand out?
Rule 2 – Capture attention with a screaming headline. The most effective ads have a headline that follows this important rule: “Tell me what you want to tell me in 3.2 seconds.” It should give a benefit and focus on the prospect by using “you” or “your” instead of using the word “we”. It should communicate its message immediately and make you want to read or listen on for more information.
Rule 3 – After your headline hooks them, your body copy has to keep them reading. First, the copy must focus on your prospect, not on you. Next, each sentence should unfold the “story” you want to tell and keep the prospect interested. The body should not tell me what it is. Tell me why it is valuable.
Rule 4 – Include a call to action. Always include a strong reason to act now. “Call now for a free report (only 100 left).” “The first 100 to respond receive free shipping.” Chet Holmes discovered that including a coupon in the lower left-hand corner of the page increases response by providing a noncommittal way of responding.
You should consider using direct marketing, especially if your competitors are not. It can be a great way to cut through the clutter.
Just be sure that you learn how to use it correctly. Otherwise, you can spend a ton of money learning the hard way.