The Role of the Telephone and Direct Mail

The telephone is ideal for keeping databases up to date and for identify immediate need. It is an excellent tool for market research. The disadvantage of the telephone is that it does not leave a strong mental image in the recipients mind. Direct mail can plug this important gap. A well presented letter, with a reply element, is cheap to produce and gets results. You can add a corporate brochure to increase credibility.

No doubt many brochures will go in the bin but not before they have left a mental image in the mind of the recipient. The more often the recipient sees the image, and the more relevant your message, the more time will be given to studying the offer. It is for this reason that regular direct mail campaigns work better than a mail shot in isolation. People often describe direct mail as junk mail, but properly designed direct mail will get read.

Suppose you suffered from headaches and you received a letter which opened; `Do you suffer from headaches? We have the answer!' would you read on?

Of course you would! If your direct mail is well written, identifies with the prospects needs, and includes a reply mechanism, a high percentage of your mail will be read. One of the advantages of vertical marketing is that your communications are more likely to address the markets needs, and therefore be read. If you use direct mail to put across a dull story, the response will be low.

This can be a problem with selling (for example) accounting systems. Where the subject is dull, why not consider incentivising your offer?

Consider this; if you received a letter with a cheque for £100, would you read it? More realistic incentives include corporate entertainment, seminars and open days. For the later to work you should consider a quality buffet and a well known personality. Perhaps a talk from a recognised expert in the market could ensure a real benefit for all those who attend. On the other hand, the indirect offer may have no connection with what you sell, except that it provides an opportunity to build relationships with prospects in your market place. For a direct mail campaign to be successful you need three ingredients. An attractive proposition, a quality database to offer the proposition too, and you need a well designed letter to communicate the offer.

Marketing is a numbers game. The bigger the campaign and the more often you run campaigns, the more replies you will get.

There is no doubt that telephone canvassing and direct mail are more direct and usually less expensive than advertising or exhibitions. Advertising and exhibitions can be an excellent sources of leads, but most companies rely on entering the leads in to a database and then working the database using the telephone and direct mail. Another advantage of the telephone and direct mail is that progress can be measured quickly. This enables the offer to be fine tuned for best results, prior to large sums of money being invested in a campaign.

Clients often ask me how often should they service their database by telephone and direct mail and other marketing communications opportunities. The answer lies in the products sold and how long it takes a purchaser to make a buying decision. Wherever prospects are in the buying cycle - they should not be far from receiving information or a telephone call from your company. They should not be able to make a purchasing decision without considering your company and its products and services. Reply cards add credibility to your direct mail campaign and make it easy for the prospect to reply. The reply card can be designed so that if the recipient does not keep the letter or brochure, they will keep the reply card until it is required. For this reason it is important to print your telephone number on reply cards. Brochures can have a reply card element built in to their design, but the disadvantage is that there subsequent use spoils the brochure. A Business Reply Service Licence can make a small company look big and professional. The cost is minimal, so why not contact your local Royal Mail office for further information.

All reply cards should include well chosen research questions.

This is your opportunity to ask qualifying questions or to find out the hot spots. If you provide product and service headings, with tick boxes, your prospects can indicate the areas of most interest. As well as including space for their address, include space for their telephone number so you can call them back when you receive the enquiry. This will help you particularise the information you send, to their needs.

Rules for direct mail

  • Have clear objectives
  • Write a clear and concise letter
  • Indicate a clear benefit or offer
  • Mail to a quality, accurate database
  • Include a reply element with research questions
  • Consider incentivising the reply card or offer
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