Direct Mail

Of all the marketing communications opportunities available, the one which seems the most misunderstood is direct mail.

For a direct mail campaign to succeed a number of considerations must be taken into account and these include:-

  • Who the target market is
  • The product or service which is to be offered
  • The way in which the message is to be communicated
  • The frequency with which the message is to be communicated

The more focused the target market, and the greater the research into what that market needs, the more successful your direct mail will be. Your mailing has to stand out from the crowd, it has to be noticed and read. Your direct mailing has to land on the right desk at the right time.

In business to business communications the decision to purchase is usually made by a Decision Making Unit and good marketing will be sensitive to the needs of each member of that unit. Users want a user friendly system, managers want useful information so they know what is going on, and directors want a system which will provide low cost of ownership and reliability over a period of years. Directors also want reports to identify if their managers or profit centres are meeting targets and if not, why not. A direct mail campaign must address these issues, if it is to achieve its objectives.

People like to buy from those who know what they are talking about and those that have experience in the market they operate in. So, even if you sell horizontal products, such as Microsoft products, you may like to consider presenting your company as experts in a particular field. Your knowledge and your natural empathy, when communicating your product or service to a prospect, gives the credibility you need to close the deal at a higher gross profit margin. You do not have to give the deal away to get the business. Your prospect is happy to pay a premium price to buy a system from you because he likes you and believes you and your company will look after him.

The way the message is communicated

The way the message is communicated is as important as the message. Any marketing communications piece must be appropriate to the market you are operating in. Do not send expensive gaudy brochures inappropriately as they will put some people off. On the other hand if you were selling systems to ad agencies, marketing companies and sales promotion agencies, they are more likely to appreciate and read an item which shows artistic creativity!

Some of the most successful direct mail campaigns I have run have been based on a nicely presented letter with a well designed reply card. These look more personal, are easy to read, immediately identify with the problems the recipient is likely to be facing, and offer a benefit.

When I ran a direct mail campaign for an Apple Mac dealer, I used a brochure. I went to a top London creative agency and they produced a very clever design which could be produced at low cost. The campaign worked well as the Apple Mac users (all creatives!) wanted to open the piece because the design appealed to them. The cost of design was £1,000. A bargain.

Sell a dummy

Instead of using direct mail to generate leads for a dull product, why not consider offering a series of interesting seminars? You will find the uptake is better. Seminars are a soft sell and people are happy to respond. But once the lead is in, your job is to sell a system!

Message repetition is boring

At the risk of talking myself out of a job, let me say that message repetition might be boring for you, but its what the market wants to hear. So if you develop a good marketing piece, work it! When you develop the next piece, re use the content that worked well.

Long lead times

The sales cycle tends to be long in the Var and ISV business so it is important to use direct mail to warm your market up before they have a need. You can do this on entry in to a market by frequent direct mail. Do not forget to support your direct mail with other marketing communications opportunities. The trick is to mail people sufficiently frequently that they will get a mailing from you whilst in the purchasing cycle. But more than that, it is important to use direct mail, and all forms of marketing communications, to build warm feelings towards your company so that when a prospect recognises a need, they automatically think of your company and yours alone! Your company is the established supplier!

Rules for successful direct mail include:-

  • Identify a profitable market and mail everyone in it
  • Maximise the features and benefits of your product to that market
  • Design appropriate and attractive mailing items
  • Design a good reply card and include a research element
  • Tick boxes on reply cards are excellent
  • Mail your target market often
  • When you focus on target market segments you are able to focus your direct mail and marketing communications opportunities to their needs.
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