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Direct Marketing

Marketing sure has changed over the years. Yet, the old-fashioned direct marketing approach still works in some cases.

This type of target marketing was first introduced in the late 1800’s when Montgomery Ward mailed his first catalogue to rural customers.   This led to a new way for companies to advertise their goods to customers. By 1929 direct mail had become so popular the United States Postal Service was forced to offer a new lower bulk rate for high-yield direct mailings in order to reduce business mailing costs.

Today, it is virtually impossible to open your mailbox without a few pieces of direct mail falling out.  The quantity of this “junk” mail may be considerably less than it was a few years ago thanks to internet marketing, but it still remains a viable option for many businesses who want to promote their products and services to a select group of customers.

Worried that direct mail is too old fashioned for today’s trendy consumer?  Industry research shows that direct mail campaigns continue to yield a 3-5% result.  This percentage although modest still makes direct mail a profitable way to advertise for many smaller businesses and service providers.

Common Direct Mail Tactics

When it comes to direct mail tactics, there are several ways to promote your business:

Catalogues:  although expensive to print and mail, catalogues are still popular among many consumers and can be sent via request.

Postcards:  an easy, fast and inexpensive way to let customers in on a sale or other promotion. This basic two-sided advertisement is most commonly used to announce a grand opening, special sale or some other important company news.

Inserts:  these one-page advertisements or announcements may be included in a variety pack, newspaper or even another businesses’ billing.

Door Hangers:  usually reserved for local businesses or services like lawn care, housecleaning, restaurants, etc., door hangers can be used to remind local residents that your business is located right in their neighborhood.

Internet Banner Ads:  considered a hybrid between traditional print mailers and modern internet mailers, this type of ad works the same way as postal service mailers only through an internet server.

Billboards:  although not really a direct mail piece which goes from house to house billboards are a great way to advertise in a specific area in a large visible manner.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Direct Mail

One of the main advantages of a direct mail marketing campaign is the ability to see if it’s working right away. No need to wait around and try to determine whether it has been effective.  Put a coupon on your mailer and you will see immediately if business increases by the number of coupons brought in. The same is true for catalogue sales – if you track sales using catalogue numbers.  Offering free shipping using a specific code is another great way to track catalogue sales.

But these are not the only advantages to using direct mail pieces. Here are a few more:

  • Audience targeting:   by purchasing premade customer lists you target specific types of customers by age, region, buying history and more.  This can help you reach just the right customers.
  • Market Testing: want to see if a new product or service is viable? Test it out on a small target audience using a direct mail piece.

Although very popular and successful, there are also a few disadvantages to direct marketing campaigns you should be aware of:

  • It can be expensive:  The cost of designing, printing and mailing bulk brochures, packages, catalogues and mailings can be much higher than other promotions.
  • It often is thrown out:  People hate junk mail and if your marketing piece doesn’t grab their attention, the odds are great it will end up in the recycling bin without being read.
  • Alienation:  Some recipients may go as far as to “boycott” your company if bombarded with unsolicited advertisements or mailings.  The best way to avoid this is to only send periodic mailers.

Direct mail marketing may be one of the oldest forms of advertising, but it still remains a viable option for many small local companies.  The key to success using direct mail marketing is developing a solid mailing list, creating interesting and productive mailing pieces and making an effort not to annoy potential customers by bombarding them with too many ads.

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