According to Ivan “Creating a killer DM piece requires a very special and diverse skill set. An innovate DM concept will only succeed if it’s underpinned by sound market research and directed to the appropriate audience (database).
Generally speaking, those who invest time in getting it right usually come out on top. When things do go wrong, it can usually be narrowed down to one or more of the following issues”.
1. Inaccurate or obsolete lists.
Too many companies send out mailings, receive little or no response, and wonder why. If your database comes from your own “house list”, make sure that it is kept clean and up to date. Failing that, make sure that the contact details within bought lists, such as those offered by various list brokers, have been updated/confirmed within the past 12 months.
2. Lack of research.
Make sure you know and understand your particular marketplace, your competitors and of course your customers. Making assumptions or going with a “gut feeling” has no part to play in the process.
3. Sub standard copywriting.
Unless you’re a wordsmith extraordinaire, insist on having your sales copy professionally written by an experienced copywriter. In our opinion it’s one of the hardest jobs around, and anyway, a well crafted letter is worth every cent you’ll pay in the end.
4. No call to action.
If you don't tell the reader what you want them to do, don’t be surprised if they don’t do it. Do you want them to call you? Email you? Post a reply postcard? Make it crystal clear what they should do and give them as many ways to respond as you can.
5. No testing.
Feedback from testing is invaluable. Both of us can recall many occasions where small test mailings delivered vitally important feedback that made all the difference. While customer focus group feedback is useful, be wary of uninformed opinion or help from other sources. While the intention is good the advice usually isn’t.
6. Where’s the beef?
Less sizzle and more steak is what it’s all about. Don’t bore the reader with lists of superlatives, trendy buzz words or long winded passages of text. If you don’t want your DM piece binned before it’s fully read, then get to the point quickly.
7. Playing it safe.
General Patton famously said” If everyone is thinking alike then someone isn’t thinking”. DM is an arena where it’s more important to stand out than to conform. Somewhere between boring headlines and gimmicks is a smart use of a headline that catches someone's eye without insulting their intelligence. You only have a few seconds to grab the reader, make it count.
8. Over egging the pudding.
This is a common mistake - prioritising design over content. Quite often, even the most experienced designers find it difficult to keep equilibrium between the design elements of the DM piece and it’s core content, resulting in eye-catching visuals but distracting the reader from the more important central message. While a high standard of design is indeed important, it should always act to support or enhance the selling proposition but never overshadow it.
9. You never called.
It might be ok following a one night stand but not a DM. The statistics tell us that following up your mailing through email or via telesales will significantly increase response rates. One contact point is often not sufficient to motivate the customer. It often requires repetition of the same message through various other channels to seal the deal.
10. Not tapping into expert advice.
Direct marketing and in particular direct mail has been around for many years because when it works it works very well. Many people have spent their careers mastering the art. However, far too few people tap into this bank of knowledge. If you can’t afford to employ the skills of a specialist DM agency for your campaign, then seek out some advice and guidance on line.
1. Invest in some killer creative.
Innovative ideas and clever concepts underpin really successful campaigns and give your mailing the edge.
2. Don’t give the game away.
The first hurdle for most mailings is getting the recipient to actually open it. Most people will not discard an envelope until they have established what’s contained inside. So try to arouse interest and whet their appetite for what’s within. Whatever you do, please don’t design the outer envelope in a familiar style as it will simply scream “junk mail” and we all know the likely outcome of that.
3. Make it human.
Write it like you say it. Don't worry about grammar. Don't overly concern yourself with punctuation either at this point. And don't wordsmith every sentence to death.
4. Bring a smile to their face.
Without question, we are living through some tough times and it can be easy to slip into a negative mindset. Resist this temptation. Take the opposite approach and you will stand out. Employing some wit, humor and intelligence will brightening up someone’s day and ensure that your mailing will be well received.
5. Remember what it’s all about.
DM is not just another communication medium, it’s a persuasion medium. Forgive the use of a well worn cliché, but the maxim that “telling isn’t selling” should be borne in mind here. Changing and influencing customer behavior requires a very different marketing skill set.
6. Make them an offer they can't refuse.
Don Corleone of Godfather fame clearly knew more about direct marketing than he was ever given credit for! It’s a simple concept but massively important. Make the very best possible offer to your audience that you can. Because, if the best offer you have doesn't succeed, nothing less will even begin to work.
7. Keep communicating.
Businesses in all sectors should continue to communicate with customers through direct mail during these uncertain economic times. A lot of people have the instinct is to pull back, but I truly believe that the companies that are succeeding right now are the ones that continue to connect with their target market. Companies that come through recessions, studies show, are the ones that market through a recession.
8. Improve your DM letter – 6 tips
- Indent the first line of every paragraph.
- Make sure that at least 70% of all your words are 5 letter words or less.
- Never have a paragraph of more than seven lines in any direct mail letter.
- Try to keep all your sentences short. Make sure the average is 14 words or less.
- Check the “you” count. As a rule of thumb, good letter copy contains repeated use of the words “you” and “your”.
- Have a “P.S.” at the bottom repeating your offer and contact number (80% of people read it!)
About Ivan and Jeroen
Ivan Lavelle is General Manager of Upper Case Direct, a multi award winning, Cork based direct marketing agency. The company provides dedicated DM consultancy advice along with creative, copywriting and mail merge printing services to clients such as UCC, HSE, Heineken and Cork City Council. Ivan also holds the honor of being the first ever recipient of the Irish Print Industry’s, 2008 Print Manager of the Year Award for his company’s achievements in the area of DM printing.
Jeroen Proos is key account director at Upper Case Direct, and as his name might suggest, hails from Holland. Jeroen’s marketing career prior to joining Upper Case Direct included posts such as marketing manager for European bath ware giant Grohe and business development manager for two of Holland’s leading direct marketing agencies. In the last number of years Jeroen has been responsible for developing and managing multi - million euro marketing campaigns for leading brands such as Telecom, Coca Cola and Procter and Gamble, to name but a few.