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A Strong Case for Direct Mail

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

By Jim DiProspero, Vice President
Specialists Marketing Services, Inc.

With limited budgets of both time and money, where can I get the most bang for my advertising buck? Business owners continue to ask this question with an increasing volume of choices powered by the proliferation of social media sites and digital advertising opportunities.

Any company seeking new business today has a wide variety of media choices, from print, radio/TV, web sites and social media. Continuing research has shown that one of the most cost effective forms of getting new business is through good, consistent, targeted direct mail. Targeted direct mail lists have several advantages that make them unique. If you know your best customers, then you can use targeted direct mail to reach more of them and generate qualified new business leads. This applies to traditional brick and mortar stores, professionals, or even start up web sites.

Direct mail has the advantage of being perceived as the least intrusive and therefore the most welcome type of advertising. Several studies over the years confirm that most people prefer direct mail to other types of advertising. A recent article, “The Future is Now” in the industry magazine Deliver makes a strong case in support of this. Furthermore, there is less competition in the mail box (due to increasing diversification of marketing budgets online), and this may often lift response.

Unlike an e-mail or SMS text message which can be deleted by the push of a button there seems to be something about a direct mail piece, be it a postcard or a letter that conveys legitimacy on the part of the mailer and encourages the recipient to keep it.

There are a few tried and true techniques that should be employed, or at least tested, on your direct mail campaign

  1. Have a clear call to action. Give your direct mail recipients a compelling reason to contact you.
  2. Make an offer they can’t refuse. Give them something such as a discount or a two for one offer — something to entice them to try your product or service.
  3. Include an expiration date on the offer.

Probably the most important advantage of direct mail is the ability to precisely target audiences better then other forms of advertising. This is due to the lists and data that power its distribution to the right audience. No other channel (online or offline) has the wealth of acquisition data to drive lifetime value (LTV). Although many online advertising sources are real-time, they are often lacking in regards to the big picture of a customer’s purchase (or giving in the case of non-profits) behavior over time.

You may have the most relevant message, and your printing and graphics may be the best money can buy, but the single most important element in the success or failure of your marketing efforts is your selection of the most targeted and appropriate mailing list.

Targeting of your most concise audience is paramount. It many cases it is not enough to target by demographics like age and income you need to target by affinity or interest.

In response to the splintering of the homogenous mass market of yesterday, list marketers have been working at identifying the moving targets and shifting trends of the market place. There are literally hundreds of different lists available to target just about any niche market or affinity group you can think of.

Specialists Marketing Services recently launched a new mailing lists search portal for its Direct Data Division that provides visitors with easy access to rate cards and information about specialty lists and data.

Here you can find an audience for just about any product or service. Keep in mind, you want to reach as many qualified prospects as you can without wasting your message on those who are not interested or can’t purchase your product — targeted direct mail does just that.

If offline marketing with direct mail is not part of your overall mix, then you may be sacrificing LTV at the expense of impressions and clicks. An integrated approach is best.