In my experience with direct mail marketing there are three major elements that determine the success of a direct mail campaign: the audience, the creative and the offer.
Understanding how to communicate your marketing message in these three areas gets you a step closer to getting new customers.
The Audience (40%)
This basically referes to who is receiving your message. If you are Coke you basically want the whole world to see your message (and they do) but if you are a one location restaurant you are going to depend on people that live and work within 1-3 miles of your location, at most. Therefore your marketing message needs to go to the right people and any money spent targeting more than this is not a good use of your marketing dollar.
Some examples of this:
A family dental practice should target all dwellings (homes, apartments, condos) within a 5 mile radius that meet a certain income critieria Could they attract new patients from 10, 20 miles or beyond?
Possibly. But in a city with the density of Atlanta where there is literally a dentist around every corner their advertising dollars would produce a better return in those 5 miles right around their practice.
Another example: A painting company should target single family homes, within a certain geographic area with homes of a certain income and size where the owner is more likely to pay someone to paint the house rather than do it themselves. Depending on how many crews the painting company has that would decide the number of homes they reach
The Creative (20%)
This refers to the “look and feel” of your Ad. If you are a high-end restaurant ($20+ plates) then you want your Ad to reflect that. If you are a family friendly, fun hangout you want that casual, fun look. If you are a doctor, an attorney, a financial planner you want to reflect the professional and serious nature of your service. And so on…
Unfortunately I see many clients get stuck in this part. Spending hours deciding wether the Cambria font is better than Verdana or that the hazel blue background is not as good as the light blue, etc. Notice that this part is the smallest contributor to overall success so plan accordingly.
The Offer (40%)
I left this one for last because in our experience it’s one if not the most important when it comes to direct response.
Now I’ve heard clients say this to me before: “but I don’t want to discount!”
I hear you…
But let me ask, lets say you own a restaurant, did you know Atlanta has one of the highest per capita rates of restaurants in the country?
What makes someone come into your pizza/BBQ/sandwich/Mexican/Italian restaurant for the first time?
Probably one of these:
They drove by…
Someone told them about it….
They read a good review of your food (which you only get after getting people in the door!)…
They receive at their home (which is 5 min. from your restaurant) a PRINTED advertisement for your restauran with a very attractive image of your food, your menu and an OFFER to give you a try for the FIRST TIME!
So yes, you will be giving a discount the first time they come in. But then if you do your job right they come back, one, two, three times a month at regular price.
Then they tell their friends, they keep on coming back…that is where the gold is: when you turn a first time customer into a regular customer.
This example can in turn be applied to so many different kinds of businesses: retail stores, home improvement services, professional services, etc.
So it turns out that the offer in your direct mail advertisement is as much to your benefit as a business owner as it is to the customer, so if you are going to put effort and time into advertising, come up with the best offer you can with a focus first on response and then on profitability.
Putting it All Together
Keep these three elements in mind when putting together your advertising with a strong focus on the offer when trying to acquire first time customers. Then you can apply this approach to any medium you use, wether it’s direct mail, digital, print, radio, TV, etc.