Direct mail marketing may seem pretty straightforward to most business owners or marketing gurus: You buy or create a targeted, vetted list that drills down to your core ideal customers, you create a great design, you print, you mail, you track the results. Simple!
Except, of course, as anyone who has ever actually attempted a direct mail campaign can tell you, it’s never that simple. In fact, almost anyone with direct mail experience has had a ‘dud,’ a campaign that appeared to do everything right but which simply didn’t produce results.
The Subtle Flaws
The fact is, when you think about (or Google) mistakes you can make with direct mail, most of them are fairly obvious (though that doesn’t stop people from making them regularly in their own campaigns): Bad designs, ineffective lists, going wide when you should have been targeted or vice versa.
But some of the mistakes you can make that will dampen your campaign’s effectiveness aren’t that obvious – many can be downright subtle. Here’s a short list of some common mistakes in direct mailing that aren’t always obvious.
- Not Investing in New Customers: If your direct mail campaign is designed to attract new custom to your business, you need to be willing to spend some money to gain that customer – and not just in terms of your marketing materials, but in the offer you create to attract them. Offering someone an anaemic discount may not be enough to get them through your door.
- Not Enough Information: The mantra for direct mail (and marketing in general) is that people are turned off by lengthy text blocks or busy designs, and that’s true. But you also have to provide people with enough information about your offers or sales or services. Mystery does not make people take the time to investigate further – it just ends up in the trash.
- One and Done: Direct mail is usually a long game. The chances that your first mailing catches a large proportion of your prospects at precisely the right moment are incredibly low – so repetition is the key. Don’t go big with a single campaign and then sit around for six months waiting for it to somehow magically have an impact when most of your mailings were long ago tossed in the trash.
- Generic Addressing: If your customers are local businesses, your mailing list has to be targeted to specific people. Otherwise, it’s very likely the business’s mail room or receptionist will toss out your mailings. If you don’t have specific contact information, you’re using the wrong lists.
Direct Mail is a great way to get your name and logo out there and recognised, and can have a huge impact on your market share – but these subtle mistakes may not be obvious even when your campaigns are failing or only marginally effective. Just like a water leak in your roof, the reasons your direct mail isn’t working as expected are not always obvious, so the key is to look deeper.