Direct Mail: Testing, Testing, Testing can you hear ME now?

Allegra Michael Grant

 

 

 
To continue with our dance theme from the last entry, let’s look at the start of the dance. We need to be heard. We need a microphone. One that works. We need to test that mic. Direct Mail needs to be tested. Tap, tap, tap. Do you hear ME? We are fine tuning here. Not everything will work. Some tunes bring everyone onto the floor. Some do not. Ever been to a dance where no one is getting up? Conversations are low. People are looking around checking out the ceiling, the floor, the shape of their paper cup, their watches. Looking for the exits. When do we get to leave? Have we spent enough time here? Shouldn’t I be somewhere exciting right now? Then, suddenly, a tune breaks out. It’s alive. You love the beat. Maybe you’ve heard it before. Your feet are moving. Everyone crowds onto the dance floor. They are coming to the party. Moving to the sound. In Direct Mail, you want to be that sound. Over and over. They never want you to go away. They keep coming back. You have found the magic. The right tune. Testing, testing, testing is your route to finding that song and becoming what everyone longs for. With that objective, let’s focus on ME.

Is the Direct Mail message getting through to ME? We won’t know until ME communicates with us loud and clear. Although we send the message, it is ME who determines if the message is ever received. It is ME who decides to contact us. They control the channel. Think of the intro to “The Outer Limits”, a 1963 Sci Fi television show. That’s us on the couch in front of the TV. How do we get that remote to work?

As we know, marketing is a continuous process constantly evolving to meet the needs of ME and like all marketing, testing is critical to the success of Direct Mail. Marketing is not a one hit wonder. It is not a home run. It is a series of improvements until we load the bases and the runs start to come in. It takes time. Marketing is like the movie, “Moneyball” for those of you who like Brad Pitt and sports. It is a focus on the stats, on the numbers, on the results. Some of the methods we use to separate and measure the results of our campaigns are things like: numbered coupons, gift cards and reply cards, various offers, different toll free #s and email response addresses for each campaign, specific QR Code and PURL landing pages tied to each campaign.

We send Direct Mail to segments of our markets to gauge the response to our offers. These segments might consist of geography, gender, age, customers, prospects, income and previous purchases etc. It is important that we send a sample size that will yield “statistical significance”, but not one that uses up a large portion of our list. We might send out 5-10% of our list to a minimum of 500-1000 per campaign. We will need to measure the results of each modified campaign so that we can focus our efforts on what has provided the highest responses and alter the offers accordingly. Remember that our success depends upon the list accuracy (50%), the offer (30%) and the creative (20%).

There are Power Locations on every Direct Mail piece. These are locations that will be noticed first by ME. They are: the outer envelope, the opening or heading of the letter, the closing of the letter, a PS section in the letter, a burst in the letter or card, the lower left portion of a postcard and an insert in a letter. Straightforward offers or calls to action should be at these locations. In other words, it answers the question, what’s in it for ME?

Next week: Social Media…The Twilight Zone of Marketing


Direct Mail: The Dance Continues

Allegra Michael Grant

 

 

 
So, let me get this straight. Are we saying that Direct Mail is like dancing? Well, yes, it sort of is. But like everything in life, there is more than one way to perform this dance. One form is a physical expression of individualism with or without a partner and with or without the flow of the music. It is spontaneous and eclectic. Touching is usually not allowed. Another form is the movement of two people in synchronization with the music. Think of Dancing with the Stars.

Direct Mail is Dancing with the Stars. It is planned and rehearsed over and over. It is not random. It is not spontaneous. It is you engaging your partner with a series of choreographed moves. In Direct Mail your partner is the customer/client/prospect. You guessed it, it’s ME, the object of your attention.

In Direct Mail we don’t just show up at the dance and jump out onto the floor, well, not unless a lot of substance abuse is involved, but that usually doesn’t turn out so well. Planning is crucial to the success of Direct Mail just like any marketing campaign. The first thing we need to do is to decide with whom we would like to dance before we even get to the floor. We need to target an audience. What does ME look like? This is a focus on your products and services and the markets that could use them. Why should ME dance with you? List the benefits because you will need them in your direct mail marketing. We are only going to use a few of these benefits at a time in Direct Mail because we want to provide a simple, easy to explain benefit that can be grasped quickly and acted upon urgently. Again, it’s all about ME.

Where do we find ME? The best targets are your house list. That is a list you have compiled from your database. This list is 5 to 10 times more likely to respond than a purchased compiled list. After all, they have danced with you before. Hopefully it was a good experience for ME. Another good target is a response list. This is a list you have purchased and it consists of targets that have purchased from other’s direct mail in the past. In other words, they have danced before. This list is 3 to 5 times more likely to respond than a purchased compiled list. They like to dance. The next target list you can use is a compiled list. Again, it is something that you have purchased and it is random, but relevant to your product or services. It looks a lot like ME.

Next week: Direct Mail…Testing, Testing, Testing can you hear ME now?


How will Direct Mail get to ME?

Allegra Michael Grant

 

 

 

Direct Mail! You mean Junk Mail, don’t you? I mean, who wants that? The answer, it seems, is quite a few of us not only want Direct Mail, but we respond to it quite well.

First, let’s establish the definition of Direct Mail, what it is and what it is not. Direct Mail is a subsection of Direct Marketing. It is a mailed item addressed to a specific individual usually based upon a prior business relationship or upon research. It offers specific benefits for that individual. It’s not unaddressed circulars and flyers that arrive in the mail or with a newspaper. That’s the stuff we call Junk Mail (believe it or not, the response rates for these are pretty good too). So once again, it is marketing directed at ME. You could consider it to be like an email or SMS text message, but without the digital component, or, as more and more are saying, the annoyance factor.

Now, like a lot of digital messages, you may not have asked for it. You may not want it. You may not even look at it. BUT…it’s not in your face. It’s not in your space. It’s not using resources that you are paying for. It has not demanded your time and used your money to get to you. Like digital media, it does not have your permission to be there, but you know what? That’s okay. You can look at it when you want to. ME is in control and ME likes control. It is personal and ME likes personal.

One more time, Direct Mail is the only media that can be used to contact ME without permission. Good news! Right? Well, yes, but it’s only the first step to get to ME. You caught my eye, but there has to be more than that in the relationship. Like remembering my name would be good for starters. What about what ME wants? Have you thought of that?

Rule #1 in Direct Mail is to address ME by name. If you don’t know ME, why should ME communicate with you? If you are mailing to existing or former clients/customers, then presumably you have their names (just a guess here). By the way, according to a 2012 report from The Ballantine Corporation, after receiving direct mail, 70% of consumers have renewed relationships with business they had previously ceased using (you really called!). Now, if you are prospecting, then rent a list based upon the known attributes of your clients/customers. That same Ballantine report states that 40% of consumers say that they have tried a new business after receiving Direct Mail (you really know ME). According to the Direct Marketing Association, 66% of people will open an envelope with their name on it (ME likes ME). In addition, according to Target Marketing, 69% of marketers will use Direct Mail for new account acquisitions. The right names on the right list will provide 50% of the campaign’s success rate and remove the stigma of old school push, mass-marketing.

Rule #2 is to send a message that ME is interested in. 30% of your success will be based upon your offer. It’s all about ME. You know your product and you know your audience. Targeting is the very established process of creating an offer of specific interest to a specific group. It is relevant marketing. With Direct Mail you can deploy a PURL campaign that is focused on the wants and needs of ME. It will begin an interactive conversation with ME using content that ME controls and that you provide. Using Direct Mail as a bridge to Email marketing and thus, cross channel marketing is very effective. Remember that 143% increase in response we reviewed on May 14, 2012?

Rule #3 is to get ME’s attention right away. You have their name (50%). You have their offer (30%). Now you need their attention. Creativity and design will provide the remaining 20% of your success. Just to make it clear, creativity is not only art. It is a point of differentiation. Examples would be: images that support the message, the size of envelope, the colour of envelope, the message on the envelope, the headline. ME is busy and has lots of things to do. Drab and bland just doesn’t cut it when you want to get to ME.

Rule #4 is to create a sense of urgency. Present ME with an offer that expires in a relatively short time line of say, one to two weeks, maybe a month dependent upon the business. The point here is that there must be a final date for the offer and that date cannot be too far away. If this is something that ME wants, then ME must act right away.

Rule #5 is to have a call to action. Define what must be done, when and how. If you know ME’s name, have something that ME is interested in, have caught ME’s attention, have something that is about to slip away, then you must let ME know what to do. Now that you have taken it this far, it’s the only decent thing to do.

Next week: Direct Mail…The Dance Continues