If there is one traditional marketing tactic that gets close to as much flack as advertising, it has to be direct mail. You’ve probably heard it all before. “Direct mail is like throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks.” “Direct mail is a close cousin of cold calling.” “Direct mail is so…indirect.”
Like King Kong, I think direct mail as a marketing tactic is just misunderstood. There are just as many ways now as there were 50 years ago to use direct mail effectively and in an engaging style. Probably more. Like with everything, we just need to think in some different ways. Here are some ideas about how to make direct mail a more effective, more engaging marketing tool for your business.
1. Apply email logic: You probably have heard by now that before blasting out an email, you want to make sure you get people to opt-in to your communications. Otherwise you can be labeled as spam. With direct mail, there is a similar reaction – it’s called, “This piece is going right into my trash can.” Before sending out a mass direct mailing, qualify your audience. There are lots of ways to do this, including:
-> Renting names from a list house where geography, type of industry, and other factors can be filtered.
-> Rent a list from a trade publication that is audited – that way you know the list is qualified.
-> Rent a list from a trade show/event. This list of people is clearly engaged in the industry.
-> Send an email to your database saying, “Hey, can I send you…xyz.” Use email to opt in your audience.
2. Keep that consistent message: Is this starting to sound like a broken record yet? If so, good. This is so important. If you are tweeting to people and then you decide to send that same audience a direct mail piece, how can you let them know that you’re the same company? That you value their relationships just as you indicate online?
3. Make it useful: Just like with email, people are getting bombarded every day by come-ons, little gadgets, catalogs – all kinds of stuff. You know. You get all of that stuff, too. What sticks out in your pile of paper? The thing that can help you solve a problem. I always think of that scene from Chicken Run. “I’m tired of making miniscule profits!” And then, there on the desk, appears a flier that asks, “Tired of making miniscule profits?”
4. Let your audience interact: The people you are sending mail to are hopefully overlapping with the people who are liking your Facebook page and following your tweets. They’ve established that they have insights about your company, your products, and/or your services. Why muzzle them with your direct mail piece? Ask them to respond by posting a video to your Facebook page, or include a survey that could be returned as entry into a contest. Include a link or QR code that takes the recipient to a relevant video. Converse.
5. Think outside the box: This is so important, just as it is with your website, with your advertising, and with all of your marketing. Postcards can serve a purpose, but there is so much more that can be done now with direct mail campaigns. From DVD mailers to things I’ve never seen and can barely imagine, this marketing channel is ready and waiting for a slam dunk, thoughtful, engaging campaign. Are you ready to send one out there?
Over the last few days, we’ve talked about how to bring a Social Media mentality (engaging, interacting, conversing, keeping the same voice) to your website, to your ads, to trade shows/events, and to your direct mail campaigns. This of course is just the tip of the iceberg. If there really has been a revolution in how we talk to customers and prospects, out-of-the-box thinking can come in handy no matter what you are doing, whether it’s tweeting or meeting people at your booth.
Traditional media is not dead. Far from it. It can offer a depth to online marketing that you may be missing at your own peril. And traditional media does not negate the need for Social Media, video, and mobile interaction. In order to grow your business, you need to be able to do it all. And you need to be able to do it all in a way that engages with your customers and prospects.
What ideas do you have about merging the old and the new to create an engaging brand across the board? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
This is post #59 in the Engagement Series. Please feel free to hit the subscribe button if you are enjoying these posts. I follow my own advice and refrain from spamming!