9 Steps to Successful Direct Mail
TIP: Can't afford a designer for every piece? Hire a pro to create a master template that you can change with new photos and copy. This technique is particularly cost effective for newsletters and other frequent, standardized promotions.
Even in the Internet age, many local-service companies rely on direct mail as a supplement or alternative to face-to-face marketing. Successful direct mail presents an image of quality and offers consumers substantive information that they can use. These steps can help you get noticed:
1. Hire a pro. Whatever you spend on paper, printing, and postage will be wasted if your mailing resemble “junk mail.” The services of a design professional are well worth the cost. If experienced designers you talk to are asking too much money, use your networking skills to identify someone who's just starting a business and willing to offer a bargain price.
TIP: Humor is a powerful marketing tool. A real estate associate in Columbus, Ohio, sent prospects a marketing postcard. A week later, he sent them the same postcard—crumpled up, then flattened—inside a business envelope with a hand-written note that said,” Please don’t throw this away, again.” His mailings netted a lot of attention and a mention in the local newspaper.
3. Create your own mailing list. Collection ideas include posting an “add me to your mailing list” feature on your Web site, using an open house guest book, or holding a free home buying seminar. Be sure you keep your list updated.
4. Send a consistent message to the same group of people. Research by marketing expert Edward Strong suggests that messages repeated at monthly or bi-weekly intervals are more effective for recall than weekly messages.
TIP: Code mailing responses by source; then you can determine if some sources of leads are more productive than others.
5. Match your marketing. Mirror the look and feel of your Web site and other marketing materials. Consistency is key. All marketing materials — including direct mail — should be easily identifiable as yours.
6. Create a personalized look. When you're doing smaller mailings, consider hand-addressed envelopes and commemorative postage stamps. Pili Meyer, author of Monday Marketing Tips, suggests hand addressing envelopes to your entire database and then picking five envelopes at random per day and writing a note to those clients.
Keep It Ethical
Never print or circulate materials that indicate preferences/limitations based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation. —Standard of Practice 10-3. Also, know that the federal Fair Housing Acts prohibit discriminatory advertising.
When recommending a service, disclose any business benefit or financial interest you receive. —Standard of Practice 6-1.
Never direct specific solicitations to prospects who have exclusively listed with another company while the listing is in force. —Standard of Practice 16-2
7. Don’t offend. Be sensitive to cultural or political sensitivities by avoiding stereotypes.
8. Include a free special offer, guarantee, or coupon. It gives people a reason to call you. Be sure to stick with something that’s targeted toward your niche. (Legal caveat: Determine if any state laws limit or restrict the use of premiums.)
9. Encourage people to respond. Offer a variety of ways to get in touch, such as toll-free telephone number, e-mail address, social media accounts, or pre-addressed, postage-paid direct-response postcards. According to marketing specialist Pili Meyer, you might also consider incorporating bar code technology into your marketing and direct mail materials. Though it's been around for a long time, the technology has recently "gone mobile," making it easy to encode information that can be accessed through cellphones or other devices. Meyer suggests downloading one of the free QR code apps or searching Google for a free QR code generator. Make sure the QR codes you create send users directly to your Web site. Apply the codes to all marketing materials, including direct mail, to provide customers with a fun, interactive way to visit your Web site.