Direct mail is just one of the many forms of advertising and marketing that we can undertake. We all take in huge amounts of information every day. Before we leave home, we may talk with our families, receive mail, read a newspaper, watch television or listen to the radio. Advertising is just one element of this mass of information, so it has to work very hard to compete for our attention.
It is easy to overestimate the power of your advertisement and expect too much. Whilst there is no doubt that good and appropriate advertising does work, there are numerous factors to consider when investing in advertising:
• Advertising is persuasive not coercive: it cannot make people do what they do not want to do.
• Advertising has to be seen by its intended audience: so using the appropriate medium is essential.
• The audience has to be receptive: they must have an interest in your message.
• The message has to be driven home: a single advertisement may be missed or forgotten.
• Competitors advertise too: your offer must be better or different, otherwise why choose you?
The hardest fact to accept is that most people ignore most advertising. The key is to ensure that they take notice of yours. There are a number of reasons why people find certain advertising memorable, for example:
• They recognise your brand, company or its products/services: People like what they know. Regular advertising builds awareness.
• They have company, brand or product loyalty: Existing customers have a relationship and take notice of what you do.
• They are actively seeking to purchase: Your product or service is something they have already decided they need.
• They are “in the market”: Your product or service is something they are considering purchasing.
• The “offer” is attractive: Your advertising contains a positive incentive to purchase (e.g. a free gift with the purchase or a price reduction).
Good advertising works because it puts the company, its products and its messages at the forefront of people’s minds. It either stimulates an early purchase, or helps to ensure that people know where to go when they do decide to purchase.
The final point to consider is tell people what to do next. Nobody will buy from you unless they know how to, so always include contact information, e.g. CALL FREE ON 080012345.
Where to advertise
Once you have identified your target audiences, you need to communicate with them either directly (verbally or in writing) or indirectly through an advertising medium.
When choosing where to advertise, you must identify those publications, broadcast media or other methods that offer the best ‘fit’ with your target audiences. It may be appropriate to use different media and different messages. However, before you decide, you must understand what is available.
Direct marketing is one of the most accountable forms of advertising media, since both costs and results can be measured precisely. It also assists with customer relations by building a two-way dialogue, thereby helping you to understand customer needs and expectations. It includes such disciplines as direct mail, mail order, direct response advertising i.e. television, radio and press advertising which invites an immediate telephone or written response and telemarketing, where existing or potential customers are contacted by telephone. The industry average response rate is around 2.6%. Keep in mind though that is just an average.
There are three main aspects to a direct mail campaign that will affect its success:-
1. The mailing list
The best mailing list is the one that contains the most potential purchasers and is very accurate and up-to-date. This would normally include existing or previous customers. The difficult part is including potential new customers.
List Brokers specialise in sourcing the most appropriate lists for businesses. Rental charges are typically between £80 and £150 per thousand names for one use only. If you know what you want, you can also choose to go to a list owner or have your own unique list compiled by a list builder.
2. The proposition
The proposition is the offer that you can make that will encourage recipients to respond. It must answer the question ‘what’s in it for me?’
Accuracy of your information will influence how people react. Make sure all names and facts are correct. Information about your company, its products and its reputation will build confidence. Simplify the response mechanism, ideally by enclosing a post-paid, self-addressed envelope. Make them an offer, it is important you make clear the real reason why you are writing.
3. Creativity of the mailing
Creativity in direct mail is a means to an end. The use of stylish graphics, professional copywriting or photography should be used to achieve that pre-determined objective. Just as job candidates are expected to be well presented, so a “well-dressed” mailing is more likely to be read and appreciated than one that looks ‘cobbled together’.
Stylish, relevant design grabs and holds the attention. Literate, well-structured copy increases readership and response. Lastly, ensure that your direct mail complies with the Data Protection Act.