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How to use Direct Mail Effectively

The Three Critical Elements of a Success Direct Mail Campaign

Let’s explore the three critical elements in every direct mail campaign.

They are: the LIST, the OFFER, and the CREATIVE.

Think of it as the WHO, the WHAT, and the HOW. Don’t worry, we’ll go to into depth with each one. Without a doubt the LIST is the most critical. Please write that down. The LIST is your single most powerful and most important element for direct mail. If you are going to be profitable with direct mail you must make certain that the right audience gets your message.

For example, don’t waste your time mailing me anything on cooking. I’ve grown up on my own, eating out a majority of my life. When I built my house I asked if they could leave out the kitchen because I don’t use it. The architect thought I was joking. The only thing I cook is if it says, unwrap and rotate every 30-seconds. So no matter how creative your package, I’m still not interested in anything related to cooking offers.

On the other hand, YOU CAN send me anything related to outdoor activities. I love hiking, camping, cycling and sailing, so offers related to those activities will definitely catch my attention. If I send my innovative and outstanding package to you on a topic you are not interested in, you won’t open or read it. But if I send you a mediocre mailing with an average offer on a subject that you love, there’s a good chance you’ll read it and possibly respond.

You can send an okay offer to a great list and make money, but even the best offer to the wrong list will fail.

Think about marketing LISTS in two categories. First is your in-house list. Your in-house list should be made up of responses from your outbound marketing, website, contact management system, past leads and customers. These are people that are qualified prospects that have either requested more information or have already purchased from you. They are contacts that you already own and can mail to when you want. This is your in-house database that should be set up to track relevant variables, like complete contact information, demographics, purchase history, last contact and last sale date. How frequently do they order, and how much have they spent with you are important questions to know when you’re creating offers for your in-house list.

Make a note right now to create a backup of your list. Protect your customer database as one of your most important assets. There are way too many horror stories I could tell you of customers who failed to follow this advice, only to have their list stolen by a disgruntled employee or corrupted from poor list management. Yes, you have to manage your lists. If you’re the type of company that has multiple database lists in various software systems, make it a priority to get them organized so you can use them. You need to clean your lists to maintain list accuracy.

As your database ages, you will be wasting valuable marketing dollars by mailing to bad addresses or outdated contacts. Typically, 3% a month move, retire or die. That means a 1-yr old list is only 75% accurate, and a 3-yr old list is only 50% accurate. And to capture discounted postage rates, the Post Office requires you clean your list using National Change of Address services, also known as N.C.O.A. and C.A.S.S. certification. Another way to help clean your list is to mail First Class with the mail piece marked with Address Service Requested. Undeliverable mail will then be forwarded or returned to you so you can correct or delete bad contacts.

The second category of lists is a RENTED LIST. These come in every imaginable size, source and criteria available allowing you to pin-point new prospects. There are list brokers that can help you identify the most responsive prospect lists for your mail campaign. Typically, you rent a list for a one-time mailing, with any contacts that respond to your offer being added to your in-house list, thus becoming yours to market to again and again.

One of the best sources for finding a reputable list broker is the Standard Rate and Data Service’s (S.R.D.S) direct mail book, which can be found online or at your local library. A list broker will help you find a list that will meet your criteria with minimal waste. Subscribe to the RSS Feeds to be notified of new posts. Use the link in the upper right corner and post your comments or questions below.

Author Byline: Ford Saeks, Business Growth Specialist, Keynote Speaker, Author and Consultant. Helping you find, attract, and keep your customers.

March 20, 2009 Posted By : Ford Saeks


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