direct mail to communicate…dead?!

There’s one thing that we all can agree on, direct mail is not what it is used to be.  But ‘dead’ it is not. 

What is true is how we use direct mail in our marketing efforts and how it integrates with our other traditional and progressive marketing techniques.  Believe it or not, consumers are pretty smart, and can see right through the advertiser.  There is no need to try to trick them or play with their head.  Just talk to them.  You’ll be better off for it.

So how can we talk to all of our customers and prospects all at once?  That seems pretty daunting, right?  Not true.

Marketing was always thought to be a game of numbers, and many will argue that it still is.  Or is it; I’ll let you decide.  We must engage this smart consumer or business executive in a way that speaks to them, engages them in the solution that you are offering and hits a nerve that keeps them up at night.  Your whole campaign must be targeted to your audience.  They key is the database.  Whether you have a house list or a purchased list, be sure the leverage the information that you have.  If you buy a list, talk to your list provider about your campaign and who you are looking to attract (a good list broker should ask you too).  Many providers have access to different selections when it comes to lists whehter it’s age, income level, or the type of credit card they use.  Leverage that information!

Let’s take savings and investments, as an example.  Sam is a Financial Advisor and is looking to build his database of prospects and bring on 10 new clients this year.  In the past, he’s spent long hours cold calling, attending trade shows, begging for referrals, and sending 1,000’s of direct mail letters/cards (the ‘spray n’ pray’ method).  He’s been able to stay afloat but feels that he is working harder than he needs to get the same results.  He’s getting ready for a new DM campaign and looks to buy a list of 1,000 people within a 1 mile radius of his office with a message helping people to save for retirement.  STOP.  Let’s think.

  • Who is in this list?
    1. singles,
    2. young married couples,
    3. middle market with school age children, or
    4. near retired empty-nesters
  • What are there needs?
    1. Start to save for the future
    2. Establish a base for your spouse and soon-to-be family
    3. Save for your kids’ college fund
    4. Ensure that you will be taken care of in retirement

What I see here is not a list of 1,000 people who should receive 1 message, but 4 segments to receive 4 very different marketing messages that Sam needs to get across.  Don’t talk about starting a plan for retirement to the 3rd and 4th market above.  That message is not relevant.  Moreover, each call to action should be different as well as the means to connect back with Sam.  The first three markets may be heavy on utilizing the web to connect (social media, personalized website response channel, etc.); the last demographic may prefer to connect via phone call, snail mail, or even email. 

Direct Mail as we know it is changing.  Consumers and business solution providers need to collaborate and discuss the changes of how we market the brand.  Gone are the days of spraying and praying, we need to think about our prospects and clients as people not a record on a list.  Talk TO them, and they just might talk back…

Market Smart,
– {AP}


2 thoughts on “direct mail to communicate…dead?!

  1. amyatwordpress

    Great article, I concur. You need not only a quality list, but you need to know how to segement as well. “Gone are the days of spraying and praying…” Now that’s how NOT to use direct mail effectively! Direct Mail is alive and well, I posted about the five ways Google uses it to reach local businesses. Read all about it here – thanks!


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