Creating an effective direct mail campaign in a high-tech digital world

Recent studies have shown that there is a basic foundation that every business needs to establish before they start getting too fancy, creative, or complicated with their marketing strategy.  You could picture the marketing strategy for most small businesses like a train.

The engine of the train that fuels the most basic functions of your marketing efforts is 3fold: your website, your email drip systems, and printed advertisements.  Without these basic 3 in place, most businesses find that other media types are less effective.  (Not that they are not effective, just that they are less effective)

Once print, web, and email are in place, then you can fuel your efforts through content marketing.  As content is added and you are seen as an expert, then social media, podcasts, newspaper columns, and broadcast become a lot more effective.

In this article, I want to focus on the print aspect of your marketing engine.

Every business requires continual visibility with potential customers.

  • Big businesses have the budgets to buy huge spreads in a national glossy magazine.
  • Smaller businesses with residential services often have good luck with local neighborhood magazine.
  • If your product costs less than $100, then a coupon mailer could be effective.
  • Non-profit typically find that Newsletters with stories and a clear appeal to donors along with a BRE is a fundraising technique that is more effective than nearly anything else they try.

All of these options can be more expensive than a really small business can afford.  (Like the kind of business that is just a husband and wife team with a truck and some tools)  So if you are just getting started, let me talk a little bit about high-touch, low-tech postcard and greeting card marketing.

There are a few reasons why you still get glossy postcards and greeting cards in the mail during this digital age:

  1. Postcards and greeting cards are impossible to avoid. They make an impression as soon as people see them.  Even if they go right in the trash, they make an impressions the entire way to the trashcan.  A well designed piece on thick glossy paper can feel really valuable and will often sit on a desk or a countertop for a long period of time making impressions the entire time it is there.
  2. Glossy postcards and greeting cards help your business to look serious and established. Digital marketing is also really effective, but it can also feel temporary and impersonal.  Postcards and greeting cards appear to take more labor and effort to deliver so people will often take them more seriously.
  3. Postcards and greeting cards are extremely targeted.
    1. You can send a mailer to just your former customer list and in doing so, you know that your marketing to red-hot clients.
    2. Some greeting card service will allow you to automatically send cards to people on their birthday and other significant occasions.
    3. You can target a neighborhood through Every door direct mail (EDDM) and you know that everyone in that key neighborhood is going to see your piece.
    4. You can acquire a list through the chamber or a lead service that is put together for your demographic.
    5. In all these cases, it is very specific in it’s target

Let’s focus on postcards specifically

Glossy, color postcards are relatively inexpensive to produce and relatively inexpensive to deliver.  Research has shown that direct mail is most effective when it follows these guidelines:

  1. Use a headline that is 7 words or less
  2. Use a single, eye-catching photo or just a couple of well-chosen pictures. Less is more!  Front-facing, smiling women are always a safe bet.  White space is your friend and will help with readability.  Avoid putting on long laundry lists of services.  Put on a featured service that is a good entry point for your business.  A customer will find out more about what you do as they get to know you.
  3. Use a minimal amount or text and make a call to action very clear. People need to know what you are offering or what you’re asking them to do when they get the mailer
  4. Make it client-focused. Show and describe the user experience rather than talk about your company.
  5. Use high-quality paper. People are less likely to throw away a postcard advertisement that feels substantial

Using these techniques will help your business stand out and grab your customer’s attention while not breaking the bank.