When’s the last time your small business sent out a physical piece of mail to customers? Chances are, it wasn’t very recently. In fact, just about the only companies who have gone out of their way to keep direct mail part of their core marketing group are Fortune 500s! Why? Because for many small businesses, email serves the same purpose and can be accomplished for cheaper, if not free.
Email marketing touts a lot of benefits that direct mail does not, however it also has one major drawback that’s often not considered: it can be trashed without even being looked at. Recipients can take one look at the sender’s name and know in an instant if they want to read it or dispose of it without even opening the message. In this way, email marketing can be instantly ineffective.
Not coincidentally, the major weakness of email is the same reason that, for the first time in nearly a decade, direct mail is resurging as a viable marketing option for small businesses. More specifically, the option of Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) via the United States Postal Service (USPS).
Junk mail? Think again!
The idea of “junk mail” is something that has long been a burden on direct mail campaigns. Since the 80s and especially in the 90s, direct mail advertising was the premier way to put your marketing message in front of customers. As a result, far too many companies jockeyed for face time through the mailbox, leading to mountains of advertisements that simply became fodder for the trash. Simply put: consumers became trained to discard any mail that even hinted at an advertisement!
Today, however, junk mail is far less prolific and more often than not, the advertisements in our mailboxes are from companies we subscribe to, regarding products we’re generally interested in. As a result, we spend a few more crucial seconds looking at mail before we decide what to do with it. Conversely, email not contains the majority of our junk mail.
The bottom line is that direct mail advertising is primed for a comeback (and already reinventing itself!), with the caveat that marketers need to learn from the mistakes of past decades. Some of these hard lessons learned include:
Blanketing the field
- Creating a clear, concise and feasible call to action. Today, incorporating websites, QR codes and individualized codes are made possible through smartphones.
- Using variable printing to engage customers right from the get-go. “Our neighbor” or “valued customer” might seem like nice salutations, but they remind customers they’re not being viewed as an individual, just as a member of your marketing demographic.
- Running multiple campaigns or the same campaign within too short of a window will put you on the shortlist to the trash can. Space your campaigns and re-tool them appropriately.
Understanding the history of direct mail and the potential possibilities that it now presents is only one half of the puzzle in reestablishing this core component of your small business’ marketing scheme. The second half is distributing your mail effectively. This is where EDDM campaigns have proven to be an innovative step forward for direct mail. They allow you to:
- Map a specific distribution area for your campaign, which helps you define your geographic service area on a more refined level.
- Control your mailer drop rates, to ensure you’re not overloading recipients with too-frequent advertisement campaigns.
- Gauge the cost of your specific campaign based on drop area and frequency.
Using a more targeted and refined approach to direct mail distribution through EDDM means giving your small business a better shot at ending up in the mailbox of someone who, at the very least, will take the time to glance at your mailer to see if the information it contains applies to them.
The obvious last step is to make sure you’re presenting a message, promotion or call to action that will grab the attention of the reader. The depends entirely on your marketing focus and your message.
The opportunity is in place, the distribution method is there; with the right message and campaign, you could find that your direct mail holds a coveted spot in the hands of a reader who isn’t just throwing it away. Read article →