Direct mail marketing isn't dead! You just need to use the right tactics for your mailing campaigns to get results. Many business owners try direct mail marketing once. They use a generic postcard design template, send out a few hundred postcards, never get any calls, and then they assume direct mail just doesn't work. If your direct mailing campaigns aren't getting results, you probably aren't using the right tactics. Making some changes will help keep your postcards out of the trash and in front of potential customers' eyes.
The key is standing out from the other marketing material in the mailbox. Your postcards need to grab the reader's attention so that they'll stop and read your offer.
Tactics for Direct Mail
One of the most common mistakes in direct mail marketing is treating your postcards like a display ad banner. Some people even take one of their banner ad designs and paste it straight onto the postcard as-is.
This simply isn't a successful approach to direct mail marketing and these postcards usually get tossed in the trash without a second glance. You probably know this to be true just from the experience of sorting your own mail. There's nothing that makes you stop and say "Wait, what's this?" This is what makes the design of your mailers so important. You need to design your postcards specifically for their intended use- direct mail marketing.
Designing for Direct Mail
The problem is marketing postcards look like exactly that- marketing postcards. If you want your direct mail marketing to be successful, you have to change that.
Most marketing postcards come across as irreverent, mass-distributed junk that's been blasted out to thousands of random people. There's nothing that grabs the reader's attention or gives any hint that it might interest them. People are going to spend, at best, about one second deciding whether a piece of mail is junk or not. Your design has to get their attention in that short, decisive moment. The reader needs to feel like your postcard was made especially for them. Otherwise, it's going straight in the junk mail pile, never to be seen again.
And before you start getting any ideas, making your mailers look like something they aren't, or attempting to trick the recipient in any way is absolutely NOT the answer!
We've all seen the financial loan advertisements in the mail which try to look like a check at first. Sure, it might cause people to read it for a moment, but as soon as they see through the trickery, they will immediately distrust your brand. The same goes for the old "final notice" trick and any other such deceptive methods. Those tactics will ruin your credibility.
So how can you get your reader's attention without resorting to shady, black-hat methods?
Ads are everywhere and people have learned to tune out the generic, irrelevant ads automatically. This is why personalization has become a key part of marketing. If you want to cut through all the noise and get your audience's attention, your marketing material has to feel like it was made for them. It needs to have an element of familiarity about it which clearly shows that it's not just some generic spam.
Nowhere is this more true than in direct mail marketing. Mail is a very personal thing and it must be a highly personalized marketing channel in order to achieve success. When you look through your mail, you are subconsciously looking for anything familiar to you, for example, a friend's name, the logo of your bank, and other things which relate to you personally. This is what we must leverage in our direct mail campaigns in order to get results.
Personalizing Your Postcards
Fortunately, there are direct mail marketing platforms that allow you to precisely target your campaigns. This makes it fairly simple to create a highly personalized postcard design. Being able to target highly specific areas is important to personalizing your postcard designs because you can choose exactly what neighborhoods are going to receive your mailers. This means you can incorporate something in the postcard design which will be familiar to all of the people receiving them.
Let's take a look at the example postcard design above. This is a design we did for Real Turf Solutions. It targets a specific subdivision in the local area where Real Turf Solutions was looking to get some more work.
The subdivision has an entryway with a sign which all of the residents are used to seeing on a day-to-day basis on their way home. We took a picture of this entryway sign to include on the postcard. The recipients will easily recognize this landmark and it shows them that Real Turf is familiar with their area. Seeing this familiar sight on a piece of mail grabs their attention and makes it more likely that they'll stop to read the postcard rather than just tossing it in the junk pile without a second thought.
We also added the greeting, "Hey Southfield" in big, bold text to compliment the picture. This serves as a way to open the dialogue as well, rather than leading with a sales pitch directly.
Next, we looked at lawns in the subdivision to see what problems people might be encountering in their yards. This is why we included the tagline mentioning weeds, brown spots, and mushrooms. These were common issues which many of the recipients would notice in their own lawn. This adds yet another layer of personalization and relevancy to our message.
Sure, not everyone is going to have those issues present in their lawn, but that's okay. We're after the ones that do.
Where do we take our message next?
The Pitch and Call-to-Action
So we've gotten the reader's attention, we've related to an issue they have in their yard, they're thinking "yeah, I am pretty tired of those problems in my lawn..." Now we need to tell them what can be done to fix it.
We make a brief pitch highlighting that Real Turf Solutions can help with the issues. Don't ramble, remember you have limited space and you want your message to be summarized for optimal readability. We want to save space so we can make our call-to-action (CTA) stand out more.
Providing a clear CTA is critical. This is where you tell the reader what the next step is. How can they get these issues solved? By calling to get a free estimate! We make this clear and easy to see by separating it from the other text. This will also help make your postcard's content skimmable for the reader. If they have to hunt for your CTA, you probably aren't going to get many results.
The phone number is conveniently placed directly below our CTA in bold font so that it is immediately clear how they can contact the business.
If you aren't tracking the sources of your leads already, you should start right away. Keeping track of where your leads are coming from will help you determine what marketing channels are most effective. This is often done by asking new leads "How'd you hear about us?" You can also include clever methods in your marketing to make sure you know when a lead is responding to a specific campaign.
We did this in our postcard design by offering 50% off the first application when they mention receiving this postcard. This serves as a fail-safe to ensure results from this campaign are tracked accurately.
Sometimes your office staff may forget to ask how callers heard about your business, especially if it's a very busy day or if they aren't in the habit of doing so. Plus, sometimes people will just give a random answer to the question or they get mixed up. But by providing an incentive to mention the postcard, we make sure that all results from this campaign get tracked. Who isn't going to take advantage of a 50% discount after all?
Special Offer Conditions
There are always people out there looking to pull a fast one on you though. A significant discount offer such as this needs to include some protection for your business.
We included a qualifying condition for the 50% discount offer, as denoted by the asterisk *. In fine print below the offer, we state that the offer of 50% off the first application is valid when they sign up for a one-year service agreement. Without a conditional qualification, you run the risk of people trying to take the 50% discount and then jump ship after one application.
This isn't being dishonest or manipulative, Real Turf Solutions doesn't offer one-time applications, they only offer yearly service plans. The company's proposals provide a breakdown of the plan's pricing and included service visits, so nobody is leading anyone to believe they are signing up for a one-time service. The conditional qualification just provides an extra layer of protection against people who try to be slick.
Let's Nail Direct Mail!
Direct mail marketing campaigns often get a bad rap these days, but most companies are simply using the wrong tactics. Your postcards have to get the recipient's attention to be successful. Generic, non-personalized designs get tossed in the junk pile without even being read. All the special offers in the world won't produce results if nobody reads them. If you want your mailers to succeed, you have to create a design that will stand out as something familiar and relevant to the recipient. That's how you will get your message in front of their eyes.
With the right approach, you can see great results from direct mail marketing. Direct mail can even be the key that gets you into those upscale, non-solicitation neighborhoods. We hope these tips help you succeed in your direct mail marketing. If we can help you with planning or designing your next direct mail campaign, just let us know!