​Dust Off Direct Mail! It’s Still a Smart Business Plan

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Dust Off Direct Mail! It’s Still a Smart Business Plan

Do you think direct mail marketing strategies and business plan has gone the way of the dinosaur? Think again. In 2013, about 2 out of 3 consumers reported purchasing something as a result of a direct mail ad, according to the Direct Mail Association (DMA). Not surprisingly, senior citizens of the age 65 and higher are still the most responsive demographic, simply because they tend to stay at the same address for many years and they enjoy reading their mail. However, what may surprise you is that young adults (18-34) are the second most likely to buy from a direct mail ad, according to Epsilon. How could this be? Because young adults are constantly inundated with email, spam and social media messages, and direct mail stands out as something different.

Still not sold on a direct mail business plan?

Consider this, then: Direct mail, according the DMA, is priced around the same as pay-per-click or email advertising! Furthermore, direct mail ads usually average somewhere between 2% and 6% response, depending on quality factors of the ad as well as numerous other nuances that can be learned with time. Not sure what 2% to 6% means in comparison to digital advertising? Just to give one example, email ads usually average something like .12%. Yes that’s not a typo, that’s .12%! That means you would have to send seventeen emails for every one direct mail ad you sent to get the same response. Are you still following? Good.

One of the great things about a direct mail business plan is that it is easy to test cheap. Here are some pointers to help you get the ball rolling in direct mail.

1. Choose a format and a style that looks professional and stands out:

  • For short, simple messages, you are probably best off using postcards. They come in various sizes, so choose one that suits your message. Keep your design simple but make it pop off the page; you want the consumer to want to read it. Also, you may use both sides of the postcard to maximize space if you need to say more or use one side for an eye catching photograph.
  • If you’re a product or service that will need lengthier explanations, a sales letter is the way you probably want to go then. Get it opened by making the outside appear mysterious. Experts say that envelopes with no marketing copy at all on the envelope is best—the consumer will not want to throw away a piece of mail that may be potentially important.
  • If budget is more the concern for your business, fear not! Just print out as many simple flyers as you can afford to, then fold them in thirds and seal them. Use a bright color paper to stand out and let personality and passion shine through. People respond to passion. Remember that.

2. Make an offer they can’t refuse. Direct mail ads should promote a special offering of some kind, like a sale or a package deal. In general, it’s better to offer dollars-off rather than a percentage off—for whatever the reason, consumers perceive more value this way.

3. Create a real sense of urgency. The promotion you are offering should only be the beginning of the reason they should buy now. Time limits are simply the best way to get a customer moving. Just make sure not to do this too often or customers will devalue the “regular price” you have set for your product. Create urgency by adding incentives that cost you nothing but that save the consumer money or make the consumer’s life easier. “Throw-ins,” free gifts, buy-one-get-one, first month free: these are all classic advertising incentives that have worked for decades. Use them.

4. Put your passion and your personality into it. People follow passion. It’s a magnet and it turns something on in people that will make you feel good too. Be confident that you are offering something valuable, and always remember why you do it, don’t always worry about the how. Look at your business this way: You cannot fail at it until you quit at it. Remain firm in the ethics of your business and people will eventually take notice.

5. Run a small test, track the ROI, and roll out. When you have a brand new offer, you are going to want to test several variations of wording, styles, colors, etc. Don’t go too crazy here, just test what is working best and stick with it. Use coupon codes in your ads and have customers report this to you. Another print the link to your website, where you can track data easily online.

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