Spend to Win: The Secret to Direct Mail Success
Direct mail continues to be an effective tool for reaching customers – regardless of whether you are a B2B or a B2C operation. I’ve been using this space to tout the effectiveness of direct mail for a while, but I still have people telling me direct mail doesn’t work.
And then I have to break the hard truth: their direct mail isn’t working because they are cheap. Nobody likes to hear that, but it is true. But this attempt to save money almost always backfires because there’s little ROI in a half-measure campaign.
There are typically three areas where an effort to save money backfires: list acquisition, design and print, and follow-up. I’ll cover why each one is absolutely critical if you want to see a positive ROI – even if it seems counter-intuitive.
There is no substitute for a quality mailing list. You need to ensure that your mailer is going to the right people at the right address. Outdated or inaccurate lists will end up costing money because you’re wasting time, print resources, and postage on people that do not matter to your business.
Instead, invest the money in a real list that is highly targeted. This will ensure that your mailer ends up in the right hands – and that is the first step toward finding success with your direct mail campaigns.
Design and Print
Digital tools have made graphic design easier to reach than ever before. But here’s the truth: graphic design is more than tools. A professional designer has spent years thinking about color psychology, information hierarchy, and other design principles. Canva just can’t substitute for years of hard work.
And similarly, skimping out on print costs is a bad idea. You might save a few pennies, but your reputation will pay for it. Flimsy stock, poor graphics, or amateur printing will hurt your brand by making you look unprofessional. It might save you a little bit today, but it can cost you thousands in lost sales tomorrow.
Finally, many direct mail campaigns fail because there is no follow-up effort made. A single piece is mailed and the business owner sits back and waits to reap the benefit. But no benefit comes, and the blame is placed on ‘outdated’ direct mail.
Finding success with direct mail requires follow-up. And that requires an investment, either in time (phone calls) or money (another mailer). People don’t like to hear this piece of advice, but it is absolutely true. A one-and-done direct mail piece is a waste of money. Instead, you need to think of direct mail as a single touch point in the process of getting seven or eight touches. This concept is just sales 101 – and it equally applies to direct mail.
Direct Mail Success
Nobody wants to hear that they need to spend more money, but sometimes it is just the hard truth. You can skimp and send out a poorly designed mailer to an ill-defined audience with no follow-up. But it will most likely be a waste of time and money.
So, rather than throwing money at three or four half-measures, invest in a single solution that will bring in a positive ROI. And when your marketing and advertising efforts are creating a positive ROI, the direct mail cost is largely irrelevant because they are paying for themselves (and then some).