16th Apr 2006, by Andrew Barr

SME Direct Mail / Mailshot Campaigns

Marketing seems to go in cycles, one month we get loads of Public Relations requests, the next online marketing camapigns and this month seems to be the month for direct mail (DM) enquiries.

In recent months I have seen some right old tosh written about the best way to get improved response rates for DM and surprise surprise you get all the wordsmiths coming out saying "use my copy and I guarantee you X% improved results".

Pah... tripe. Copy is only a very small part of it. Getting it read in the first place is half the battle

I have waxed lyrical about a recent DM conference I attended elsewhere on this site (see the free Feb and March newsletters) so I will just kind of sum up.

A plain, cold, direct mail (Jargon Buster1 Cold = the resipient does not know you, your brand and has never ordered anything from you) will get zero response rate... not 1-5% as the old style DM research used to tell us, 0%. That is scary. To put into context, you spend time getting a sales letter together (say half a day), send 100 to print cos you want it to look really slick, pay for 100 stamps and 100 envelopes and then off you go...

You then get nothing back! Gutted.

So why is this? What can you do?

First up, make sure your database of target names is correct. There are thousands of mailing list companies out there, instead of just buying any old list, try to find out how they ensure that the lists are accurate. Also, spend some time cleaning up your list, i.e. ring round and make sure that the person on the list is actually the person you need.

Rule #0 - Get your marketing database up to date.

The basic gist of it is that unless your brand or product triggers a positive subconsious reaction in the readers mind then the chances are they will not even open it.

Rule #1 - Don't put your logo or product info on the envelope unless you know the customer has heard of you.

The overall design of the DM, be it a postcard or sales letter (although I would suggest sending a post card with no call to action (Jargon Buster 2 Call to Action = The bit in your sales letter that makes the customer want to interatc with you)) should be eye catching and quirky. Something memorable.

Rule #2 - Don't go for the hard sell straight away. Maybe lead up to it with a few warm up mailshots

Rule #3 - Make the DM eye catching

If you can afford it put something in the mailing that they can keep with your branding on. The most common thing is a pen, but I have seen some classics in my time such as an airoplane sick bag, and even glitter (which really annoyed me as it went all over my desk, keyboard, hands and then face so i looked like a drag queen princess.

Rule #4 - Don't use glitter :-)

If you have gone down the route of the warm up mailshots, on the final one that you should follow up with a call, make some form of offer e.g. if the customer gets in touch with you by X date they get a Z% discount.
This is known as an incentivised mail shot.

Rule #5 - Try and incentivise your final mailshot if you are sending out a sequence.

Rule #6 - Follw up the final mailshot with a phone call.

Hope this helps

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