All the above are typical responses to the idea of doing direct mail. And as a marketer, I’m fine with that because it means less competition for me.
You might be surprised to know that direct mail is in my top three conversion tactics. It works because I have a definite strategy behind it. And it works because I commit to making it memorable and valuable.
I believe in the Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass with regards to how the relationship between prospect/buyer and the solution provider (seller) must develop, namely Know – Like – Trust- Try – Buy – Refer – Repeat.
I also believe in an integrated marketing approach where having a sound strategy in place enhances the success of every tactic. There are no tactics (marketing campaigns) that are done in a vacuum – it is orchestrated in such a way to further past campaigns and pave the way for future campaigns.
My favorite use of direct mail is following a speaking engagement. Speaking gigs are great because they fast track the Know – Like – Trust – Try portion of the Marketing Hourglass. At the beginning of the presentation, I tell my audience that I will be drawing for book giveaways at the end of the presentation and to toss their business card into the bowl for the drawing.
Those business cards become my mailing list.
I will put together a 3-dimensional mailing as a follow up. It includes a logo’d item – I pick something unusual and incorporate that into the copy. The message piece is a full color high quality print that includes my logo. I reference the topic of the presentation and have a call to action. I hand write a personalized message on as many of the letters as possible. For example, if there was a referral partner, I’ll write a note that says something like “I thought you might be interested in my follow-up to the session attendees…”
If I had a conversation with an attendee following the presentation, I will hand write a note referencing that discussion.
A letter, logo’d item, and my business card are sent off in a padded envelope – and it looks “lumpy”. I bought the logo’d item in bulk and have an inventory on hand. Not including my time (and there is probably 5-6 hours of my time involved) the cost per piece is about $5.00.
A mailing list of 27 resulted in three phone calls and one email in response – all highly qualified.
I would never use this approach as an initial mailing to a cold list as it would be cost-prohibitive and wouldn’t avail itself to the personalization. But as a follow up to an audience that knows me, it is very effective.
(Margie has a nice piece on direct mail as well – Five ways to create a more engaging direct mail campaign)