As digital “business to consumer” (B2C) efforts approach the end of their third decade, can you guess which age-old and non-digital method continues to bring in great results if thoughtfully executed?
- A) Big ads scattered about multiple categories in the local Yellow Pages physical book?
- B) Sharpie penned graffiti in bus station restroom stalls?
- C) Costumed sandwich board barkers strolling up and down your block?
- D) A sophisticated piece of direct snail mail?
According to Forbes contributors, if you chose “D”, you’re correct.
Steve Olanski, writing for Forbes last August, quoted from a lengthy study commissioned by Great Britain’s Royal Mail. “Direct mail is effective because giving, receiving and handling tangible objects remain deep and intuitive parts of the human experience.”
In that same blog, John Patinella, CEO of Money Mailer, revealed that over the past 8 years his company has grown its franchisees from 135 to 175.
That’s largely because of some compelling recent stats: American advertisers spend about $170 per person on direct mail and earned nearly $2,100 in goods sold for an ROI of over 1,300 percent.
That translates to a response rate for direct mail of 3.7 percent. By comparison that rate is 2 percent for mobile, 1 percent each for either email or any social media platform and 0.2 percent for banner advertising.
You might be thinking that all these statistics are skewed by Baby Boomers, or worse, parents of Boomers—a demographic of 60 to dirt towards whom you have very little interest and pretty much vice versa.
Well, you’d be wrong, you ageist hater!
In another 2018 Forbes blog, Steven Pulcinella, chief digital officer at a Florida based direct response marketing firm, wrote “I’m not going to say that all Millennials prefer direct mail over digital because that would just be a broad generalization, but we do know that over 75 percent of all Millennials pay attention to it.
“And the biggest surprise may be that their affinity for real delivered mail, in general, surpasses that of other generations. They are more likely to scan their mail, more likely to take time to read it and to show it to others.”
It appears even Millennials eventually tire of staring at tiny screens all day, which is good news. Now, how can you take advantage of it?
5 Tips for Direct Mail Success
Are you ready to give direct mail a shot? If you are, keep in mind that, like any endeavor, there are a number of do’s and don’ts to be heeded as you journey on the path to success.
Go Classy & Hire a Pro
First off, go classy or go home. Spend as much of your budget as necessary to ensure your targets are receiving a compelling, sophisticated, and entertaining hunk of mail. As I’ve told every salesperson I ever hired, you get but one chance to make a first impression.
To make that stellar impression you must hire a pro. There’s just no debate. You have no more resources or expertise in marketing to undertake this project than a fledgling trunk slammer has to do what you do. Moreover, you don’t have enough time or Xanax.
And think about it: Wouldn’t it be fun to briefly be the customer for a while?
Size Matters & Don't Cheap Out
Size matters. Although a simple “Here’s a picture of my family—Vote for me” postcard might be sufficient for a local politician, this vehicle is not right for you. Their canvases aren’t large enough for you to introduce yourself, deliver your story and offer a call to action.
Resist the temptation to cheap out. Either of these styles is doomed to disappoint regardless of how many you decide to mail.
I’d recommend a 10.5 x 15-inch trifold brochure. This is a standard size mailer that gives you three to four times the geography of a postcard or coupon. The trifold gives you plenty of room to show off what you do from pictures of your very finest installation to some of your simplest with a couple in between.
By showing off a range of projects, you appeal to a broader sphere of potential customers while letting them know you can do anything—sort of a visual version of the home handyman’s “No job too big or too small” cliché.
Here are some thoughts on other visuals that should be worth at least 1,000 words each: A shot of your truck, or better still, your fleet. How about a portrait of the entire staff smiling in their company-issued polo shirts at the front of your building or inside around your reception area.
Don’t waste valuable space printing your line list or reproducing the collage of vendor logos that’s been under a tab on your website probably unchanged from the day you took it live. All but the savviest and/or nerdy targets would recognize more than a few of your brands.
If you can legitimately lay claim to having ever sold or installed any of these products, here are (in no particular order) some compelling visuals your targets are likely to recognize:
- The original Nest thermostat
- A white Sonos subwoofer
- A Ring doorbell
- An Echo Dot
- A Schlage or Kwikset door lock
- Any Bose speaker
- An LG, Samsung and/or Sony TV.
Any or all of these may be your “go to” products or not. The pictures merely represent your expertise working with them. Images are of the utmost importance because, regardless of age, most of your targets don’t like to read and have short attention spans.
Use Starbursts & Freebies
Create one phrase that needs to stand out, like “6-Year No Interest Financing Available” in a bright colorful starburst. Why a starburst? Anything that positively impacts your customer’s money is a “call to action”—marketing lingo for “a reason to buy,” and starburst is an eye-catching graphic that can easily attract attention.
Don’t waste space on explaining anything more than “Limited Time Offer—Details In Store” in a much smaller font.
The best call to action is a limited time proposition of something for nothing. There is no other word in advertising that comes close to the impact of “FREE”. However, for us in the CE business, “free” is a bit of a challenge. We don’t have a lot of meaningful stuff to give away, let alone successfully represent that freebie as a true value proposition to our target audience.
I suggest looking outside our business for a meaningful call to action. Consider offering a $100 gift card to a popular local restaurant or maybe even a supermarket, theme park, resort or high-end Cineplex. You can negotiate your actual cost per card with the individual businesses. Again, your direct mail pro can help you with all this including any fine print you need to add.
Work Together on the Nitty Gritty
You and your agency should work step-by-step regarding your mailer’s story, layout, color and font choices, copy and graphics and, finally, how big and demographically specific a mailing list to rent.
As you surely see with each step, this project gets further and further beyond your paygrade, let alone your time constraints or the number of Xanax left in the bottle.
Now, order up that large pepperoni pie, pour a big glass of your free Mountain Dew, sit back, relax and wonder how you’re going to schedule all that new business.