All Hail Direct Mail -9 Hot Tips to Make Your Next Campaign Sizzle

I’ve a confession to make to you.

I’m a direct-mail junkie (pardon the pun). I cut my teeth on direct mail 33 years ago and in the years that have elapsed I’ve generated around £10 million of sales from direct mail for all manner of businesses; large and small. I’m no longer the lone voice in the wilderness proclaiming the many benefits of direct mail for small businesses. According to the Chartered Institute of Marketing and other revered organisations, direct mail is very much the comeback kid.  More of us are reaching for a pen and paper to grab our prospect’s or client’s attention.

So, why should direct-mail be a potent part of your marketing mix?

  1. It’s fantastic for generating meetings with cold prospects. By way of example in the last two years I’ve been running quarterly direct mailshots aimed at small businesses for one of my clients, an accountant. We’ve added 15% to their fee income from direct mail alone. The main call to action in the letter is to “get in touch and book a meeting at no charge.”
  2. When it comes to impact, direct mail beats many marketing tools hands down. A snazzy envelope in your corporate colours; a lumpy element to add intrigue and you’re pretty much guaranteed your envelope will be opened and the contents read. This applies whether you’re targeting the most senior decision-maker in a huge organisation or, the office junior in a small business.
  3. You can target a handful of folk or thousands in one hit. And you can increase the response to your initial mailshot by adding in a cold call, an email, a follow up mailshot and a charming introduction on social media.
  4. It’s a proactive tool that puts you in charge. You’re not relying on people to find you online in dribs and drabs and in their own good time. You’re targeting them.
  5. Despite the hike in postage costs direct mail remains the ultimate marketing on a shoestring tool. Often all it takes is a letter and a business card to whet the appetite of a cold prospect or encourage a client to find out more about your new services.

And…if you are planning a campaign using email, add direct mail as an additional element to build on awareness and interest.

But how can you avoid falling into the junk mail trap? Where your envelope and its contents are dispatched to the waste bin without as much as a backward glance?

  1. Get under the skin of the audience you’re targeting. What are their deep underlying needs for what you’re offering? What are their present arrangements likely to be? What’s happening in their world that could impact positively or negatively on their desire and ability to do business with you? Capture your thoughts. You’ll need them later on when you’re crafting your messages.
  2.  Clean and accurate names and addresses. Squeaky clean data is at the heart of all successful direct-mail campaigns. So, if you’re buying a mailing list, ensure your list provider is a member of the Direct Marketing Association and the List Warranty Register. Ask for a sample of 6-12 names and addresses and check their accuracy. Are you provided with a named contact? You may well be but, is it the contact that you need? Ask for their mailing accuracy guarantee which should be at least 95%. If you’re planning on making telephone calls before or after your mailing, make sure the list has been cleaned on a daily basis against the Telephone Preference Schemes and right up to you buying it.
  3. Gather your compelling messages. Would a couple of client case studies convey you’re a safe, trusted and experienced pair of hands? How about a few lines of genuine unedited testimonial from delighted clients? Can you provide facts and figures to underpin any bold statements? Make a list of the top 5 relevant benefits you believe will encourage the person to contact you.
  4. Be clear on what you want the person to do once they’ve received your message. It’s unrealistic to expect a cold prospect to buy on the strength of one communication alone. But, suggesting a meeting or one step down from this a phone call or email to express their initial interest are realistic calls to action.


I’ve just scratched the surface and we’ve not even looked at what you’re going to include in your mailshot to elicit a WOW response. So, in my next blog I’ll share how to write the mother of all sales letters!

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