Understanding Direct Mail (Page 2)

A few of the most common advantages of direct mail are listed below. Other advantages depend on the package and the objectives of the program or piece.

1. Targeted: Direct mail can be targeted to any definitive criteria.

2. Attention: You have the recipient’s undivided attention in that your message stands on its own and does not compete with editorial material or competitor’s ads/messages, while being “read”.

3. Economical: Direct mail is economical per contact because you reach only the audience you desire and usually a more qualified prospect than other media allow.

4. Controlled: You can control the timing of your message and deliver it at the most appropriate time for you and your goals.

5. Personalized: Your message can be personalized throughout including name, product, dates, companies, etc.

6. Sells: You can establish benefits for the reader up front, tell them what you want them to know and back it up with facts to support your claims.

7. Persuasive: You can influence a reader’s decision and create brand preference.

8. Informative: Direct mail can provide complicated in-formation in a controlled manner. This will enable you to better educate your reader.

9. Measurable: If appropriate, you can measure response and develop research information.

10. Generator/ Communicator: You can p ave the way for sales calls, keep in touch during slack periods, or even boost morale and attitudes on a one-to-one basis.


1. Establish a goal for the mailing.
In order to be successful you must have a goal for the mailing or program. This is the only way you can measure your results. Typical goals include: getting an order, soliciting an inquiry, introducing a product or salesman, announce a new use for a product, develop brand preference, educate the reader, getting a reader to visit a Web site, or develop good will. As with any medium, determine if the goal is attainable and realistic. Also you must determine how you will know if the goal has been reached, ie... surveys, stock sales, product sales, increased productivity, less absenteeism, page hits, or more inquiries.

2. Highlight Benefits and Advantages to the reader.
Answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”. Appeal to the individual’s basic emotional needs such as greed, hunger, security. Give him/her reasons that fit their requirements and tell them what they stand to gain...better performance, more profits, an easier work-day... special offers... be specific when possible and relevant to your objectives. Talk to them not at them, and tell the reader what is in it for them.

3. Recognize the importance of the overall image.
Your direct mail communication reflects you and your product. If elements are thrown together and stuffed in an envelope, it’ll show in the end. To be effective, every piece in the mailing should fit with the overall objective - even the content of the letter. Each individual piece should be designed to reflect the message and the recipient whether a chief executive or a secretary. A common misuse of direct mail is to gather up extra sales material and send it off instead of developing an integrated and related package designed to achieve a specific goal.

4. Utilize existing list information.
The list of potential recipients is your most valuable tool. Most companies have lists complete with names and titles of customers. From this list you can analyze buying trends, times, $ amounts, product potential, credit information, and many other elements which can be used to target your message.

Lists of people inquiring about your company / product can be included in your mailings, when appropriate, then cultivated and refined according to interest. Once your list is compiled, regardless of source, it must be constantly updated for address, duplicates, and buyer qualities. A customer list is valuable because:

1. They are already familiar with your company.

2. Half the sales job is already done.

3. They are usually qualified for other products or services you have.

4. They have less resistance and are more open (usually) to your message.

5. In a sense, they form a target list for your competitors.

When at all possible, you should include personalization on in your programs. It enhances your message, even when creating goodwill among employees.

5. Make it easy for customer to order.

Provide telephone numbers, extensions, best calling times, distributor’s address, store locations to make it easy to order,web addresses and E-mail contact addresses. Even if you’re not looking for a response, provide a vehicle for reply...a reply card or phone number and/or an E-mail address. In image-building programs, you might survey to find out valuable information which can put you ahead of the competition by providing an option or service that meets their needs. Another method is to provide comment cards, for opinions. Get the recipient involved. Keep in mind, that depending on your goals, an “order” can sometimes be classified “sold” if it contains involvement on the part of the recipient.

6. Mail in a series - once is NOT enough!

Frequency is the key element in any media program and its effects. Although documented countless times, proper frequency is seldom observed by business advertisers. One call “closers” are infrequent, just as it usually takes several sales calls from a salesman to close the deal. Regardless of the objective, it takes repeat action to “sell” the prospect. Along those lines, the tougher the objective of the program, the more mailing pieces that are needed.
Example: A test package for AT&T consisted of eight mailings before the prospect made an inquiry. Series mailings, regardless of the objectives, are the backbone of direct mail success.