Why I still love direct mail marketing … and why it still has a place in your marketing mix

I don’t know why. Perhaps because in my early days of copywriting it was one of the main methods of getting your sales message out there. I wrote lots (and lots) of it. And got to be quite (well very) good at it. It’s incredible in some ways that younger content marketers I speak to have never actually written a piece of direct mail and probably wouldn’t know how to start.

Nowadays, direct mail all seems a bit quaint and old fashioned. Writing your sales message on paper, putting it in the mail and waiting for the postie to actually deliver it by hand seems like a like a very slow, expensive way of doing things compared to today’s cutting edge online marketing methods.

But in spite of all this – in fact because of it – I still love direct mail. And I think it is well worth considering if you want to find new leads and make more sales.

Here are a few good old fashioned (but still very valid) reasons to consider direct mail:

* It literally goes direct to your prospect. Right into their hands. That always has been difficult to achieve in the world of advertising, and still is.

* It’s not so easy to ignore. Although I don’t have any figures to hand I’d guess it has a much higher open rate than say email. It’s much less likely to be junked and more likely to be kept.

* It’s tangible. Paper on print still has an element of value. It literally says to your prospect that you care about them enough to actually spend time, effort and money getting in touch with them.

* Not many businesses do it any more. Nor do they receive all that much physical mail. So it stands out. In marketing, it’s good to be different sometimes …. if not all the time.

That said, there are a few points to bear in mind if you want to use direct mail:

* Business to consumer direct marketing is a tricky old game nowadays. Writing to lots of people who at best will reward you with a smallish order value always was.

You need to have either  a very good mailing list, a very good budget or a very good writer (or preferably all three) to make writing to Joe Public at large pay off.

* Business to business direct marketing is a totally different, more promising kettle of fish though. If you want to contact a fairly small number of people who, ultimately could place large orders, it suddenly becomes a lot more viable.

There are a few things you will need to do to make direct mail work though:

* You need to target who you are going to write to very carefully and make sure you deliver a very effective sales message to them.

* You need a good list to send your direct mail to. A list of qualified prospects – people you know are likely to be interested in what you are sending them.

You can compile this yourself or maybe hire it, but it needs to be good.

Actual, personal names of those who are to receive your mailing are not absolutely essential, but are the gold standard wherever possible.

* You need to make it personal. Even today no form of marketing is quite as personal as direct mail. (A marketing email or tweet personal? I think not.) That usually means using a letter as part of your package, if not as your package in itself.

The usual rules of copywriting still apply by the way.

Here are some articles on this website which offer some tips on that:

How to write persuasive sales copy that sells

Eight power words to boost your copywriting

At the end of the day perhaps the best reason for using direct mail is that it’s predicable. And measurable.

Put it this way: Say you had £5,000 to spend on a campaign and you put it into some kind of digital marketing. Could you really, honestly guarantee that you would make any return on your investment?

Yes, you may do very well – and I’m not saying you shouldn’t use digital marketing for a moment – but I doubt you could guarantee it.

Put £5,000 into direct mail marketing on the other hand and you could be pretty certain of making some return on your investment. And the fact is, you can test it and see if your direct mailing works even with a smaller budget than that.

If you’re thinking of setting up a direct mail marketing campaign and need any help or advice drop me an email. mark @ markhempshell.com