Cornering Your Direct Mail Problem

If you’ve embarked on a direct mail campaign and it doesn’t seem to be working, there could be a number of problems. First of all, though, keep in mind that the normal response to direct mailing pieces is only 1 to 2 percent. If you only sent out 500 pieces of direct mail, that’s only 5 to 10 people who would respond normally. And, when does anything that has to do with statistics happen normally?

Now, if you only got a few responses from 500 or so, there’s really nothing wrong with your direct mail campaign. You just need to do it a few more times to build up people’s memories. However, if you haven’t gotten even one response from your direct mail campaign, one of the following must have happened:

• You didn’t target the right people, so your piece got ignored.
• The design and/or layout wasn’t appealing to the recipient, so it wasn’t opened or read.
• The copy wasn’t clear or the entire piece wasn’t motivational enough (read: a snooze fest) to prompt action and the piece was thrown away.
• The offer wasn’t good enough to motivate people to get off their couches, or it was a badly timed offer.

If you used a targeted mailing list, you can eliminate the first reason. The other reasons aren’t so easy to eliminate. Ask yourself the following questions to try to figure it out:

1. Did the direct mail piece clearly state your product’s or service’s main benefit (if not multiple benefits)? Does your copy tell the reader what need or want the product fills for them?

2. Did you mention what advantages you provide over your competition as a reason to give their business to you? (Do you have a higher quality product? Lowest price in town?)

3. Was the timing of your piece right? Does your product or service have a season when it’s more likely to sell? For instance, people won’t be thinking about or looking for a lawnmower in the middle of winter. It’s best to send out direct mail for a summer item in the spring.

4. Is your product or service a major purchase for people? With big-ticket items like cars or major appliances that are only purchased every few years, it’s normal to see a zero response rate to one direct mail piece.

5. Examine your offer. Did you offer a big enough discount? Did you offer a free gift that is worth making a purchase for?

Generally, no matter what your problem was, it can be helped by doing one of the following:

Including a testimonial to show that your product or service has been proved to be valuable to other customers.

Repeat your direct mail piece. Send it out three times a month so that people have time to build a memory of your logo, your company name and your product or service.

If you did your own design or layout, consider hiring a freelance designer to help you out. You can pay for just this one project to see if it was indeed the layout that was the problem.

Change your offer. If you only offered 10 percent off a purchase, you may need to raise that to 20 percent off or some other kind of enticing offer.

Take a look at your direct mail materials, ask yourself these questions and try one of the suggested alterations and you’ll most likely see your response rate climbing.

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