Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Direct mail can work... except when it looks like this!

Direct mail is making a comeback.

When you hear of the term "junk mail" today, you're probably thinking about the junk you get in your email inbox. Believe it or not, junk mail used to actually refer to... wait for it... MAIL!

The ease and affordability of email made it the golden child of marketing, but also made consumers an easier target for junk email. But as consumers become more spam-filter-savvy and as corporations block more and more unidentified inbound email, marketers (at least the progressive ones) are returning to direct mail, and getting much better at it.

There is still less promotional mail than in its heyday, but some direct mail packages are personalized, sophisticated, impressive and in many cases compelling (inspiring the marketer's desired response).

However, as much as I applaud marketers for their clever return to direct mail, I cringe when I see stuff like this (click on the image) in my mailbox.

This company really tried hard. They went door-to-door (no postage) and tried to deliver a compelling message. I still don't know what that message is, because there is NO CHANCE I am going to read this.

Neither are you.


Please, if you're considering a return to promotional mail, remember:
  1. Keep it simple (which means SHORT)
  2. Make it pleasing to the eye (my eye needs to be drawn to it, but not overwhelmed)
  3. Include an offer that is really hard to turn down or ignore. No more "10% off online orders" or "save the tax". It may seem like a lot to offer, but it's truly not enough. Give away something valuable for free (no free fridge magnets!) or consider the deepest possible discount without having to declare bankruptcy.
  4. Think about the last item YOU got in the mail that inspired you to act in some way. What made it so effective? Can you use that tactic in your program?
  5. Make it easy for them to act. A simple phone number or url ( for example)
  6. Once is never enough. Send multiple mailings. Remember that people need to hear something 6 or 7 times before they actually HEAR it. Oh, and never send another mail offer to someone that's already responded! Pay attention to the details.
  7. Ask for feedback. Ask friends, colleagues, family members if they would be compelled. Don't try too hard to measure the results - direct mail often just build brand awareness. But you can get opinions about your program and work on improving the next one.

1 comment:

ummhumm | creative studio said...

Hi Glenn
Good post. I agree that all signs are leading marketers back to direct mail marketing.

With advances in technology, there are many compelling, exciting options for creatives to use variable data within images as well as text.

I would add that it's wise to utilize all channels when marketing. That includes social media, email, print ads and direct mail, to name a few.

Focusing on 1 medium might cause you to miss a valuable market segment.

Looking forward to your future posts,