Is your direct mail on their desk or in their trash?


(The first in a series of discussions on direct mail).

Combining the right components to work together in a direct mail campaign can keep your direct mail marketing efforts and budget from being wasted. Just like making sure the strategy, messaging and creative are all in line with your marketing efforts, making sure the right data is used in combination with a direct mail campaign that will reach your audience that drives sales.

Do you know who your customers are?

It takes a powerful combination of the right data to effectively reach your target. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is so much more than buying the right software or list. The secret to CRM is the continual collection of pertinent data for defined marketing goals and objectives. Appending customer records on an ongoing basis with information relevant to your business is critical to growing the usefulness of any list. The goal is to match the offer with the right customer. It’s important to fish where the fish are.

How do you continue to refine your knowledge of your customers?

Tracking the responses from any direct mail campaign is extremely critical. Integrating the results into the CRM system to enhance relevant data more completely defines the customer for future marketing. Do you really want to  send to people who didn’t respond to your offer?

Come back and other offers are another good way to improve the reach of a direct mail campaign. Evaluate ROI to determine the cost of customer acquisition and if direct mail works for your business.

What success stories can you share? Have you had a direct mail failure?

(My post originally appeared as an e-tip on bronsonma.com. Reprinted with permission)

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4 Responses to Is your direct mail on their desk or in their trash?

  1. Sherry Lowry December 29, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    My Most Significant Direct Mail Success: (small in # but substantial both in satisfaction and learning)

    Our goal: Mail a very well designed postcard to pre-qualified mental-health and/or “pastoral” professionals regarding specialized mentoring and training we offered in an emerging, niche-industry.

    Timing was good. “Managed care” as defined by insurance for therapy and counseling for individuals and families or couples was definitely evidencing more as “mangled care.” For the most part, even authorized and “needed” therapy or counseling was too often being limited to 5-sessions, often to deal with long-embedded emotional challenges.

    Our “offer” was about an interesting and feasible means for capable practitioners to diversify into new ways of offering services – partially building upon their pre-existing skills and former training with some caveats and additional grounding.

    This turned out to become my “lifetime,” most successful direct mail-out. Even better – it actually ended up being much more contained, affordable and smaller a mailing than I anticipated.

    This was specifically due to just exactly what you state:
    a very, very well defined pre-notion of who our targeted candidates for receipt were, paired with invaluable, pre-awareness of one piece of their buying history.

    Qualifier – Purchasing History:
    This was when it first became possible to make online purchases, so the purchasing history we were able to tap in advance was a brief but cogent combo reflected on the “list” we chose: purchased by phone or mail-order (or online) over $xxx within the previous year-to-date.

    Qualifier – Professional Qualification:
    Their educational history at least in one regard we also specified so we had a double-qualifying list: they had been credentialed in any of several specific ways — all requiring a graduate academic degree, plus additional specialized coursework. In our case, we wanted to reach mental health or pastoral professionals carrying specific certifications, requiring supervision and advanced training to work with specific populations or certain circumstances – such as within the domain of family therapy (LMFT). Other examples: LPC, LCPT, LCPC, LCSW, LMSW, LSW, etc.)

    Postcard:
    We selected to use 5″x8″ high quality postcard stock, 4-color printing, with a “free” offer and multiple ways to research us and our work, and how to contact us in clear terms stated.

    Our Offer:
    Our “offer” was around what you most want to know yet don’t know who to ask about the training and requirements for “business coaching.”

    The whole concept was brand-new and had not yet imploded or exploded- but was beginning to catch the full attention of the counseling and therapy fields. This was perceived by those professionals either as great opportunity OR great concern, and as field fore-runners, we were both experienced and professionally qualified to directly address the topic from either approach.

    Challenge Factor:
    Our “medium” for this exchange with our collecting “group” was possibly the biggest barrier they had to address – a free teleconference, unheard of at that early stage, plus a regular, long-distance call was required to join us on the conference telebridge.

    Most people at that time did not yet have low-cost telephone-calling cards, nor were people yet making that many long-distance calls regularly, but we took a chance on this and it went fine.

    Result:
    We basically only mailed 2,500 of the cards. By that time we clearly had enough candidates for THREE vs ONE of our teleconference sessions – who had also responding not just for that phone # but also for 2 free articles we could either fax, email or mail them in advance to help them prepare. In exchange, to be given the phone # to call — we asked for their “one burning question” for us to address for them personally/professionally, in addition to the other material we had prepared for them. With that they also reverified their contact info, plus gave us their email addresses if they had such, and their phone and FAX # – none of which we originally had.

    Ultimately, from these respondents, we then enrolled three “mentoring” and coaching programs of 12-registrants each lasting six-months each.

    So, in all, we stopped our own campaign once we’d reached critical mass around our initial goal. To this very day — 16 years later, I’m still working professionally with 3 of these people as individual clients who are now also all established in their very changed businesses that resulted.

    Additionally, my colleague I ran this program with and I were both “teaching” and training in other official “business coaching” programs, and 10 additional of that initial group of 36 took more coursework from us. We now continue to know them as colleagues.

    For me, the lifetime value of a client (or former student) and the relationship and friendship that grows from this is paramount. I’ve never actually “done the #’s” as in $$’s around the expenses of the campaign and the pay-back to date. But – i know it was a remarkable return-ratio for our original investment.

    Our Action Steps:
    1. after a clarification and identification process, we purchased a 10,000 outreach list of “labels” of our double-qualified candidates from a trusted source we found by personal referral. Culling through the package we later received back, we immediately eliminated about 100 of those. Either “the credentials” (as in letters) following their names did not clearly enough meet our criteria – OR the type of “clinic” or business they were affiliated with was obviously more “medically” or “rehab” focused than we sought.
    2. We printed 5,000 postcards, realizing we would probably know by then if we wanted to reprint again or if we’d bought a “dud” list, the market maybe just wasn’t viable enough, or HOPEFULLY, we’d get lucky with our initial mailings to the point of not needed to have the full expense of a 9,900 piece mailing.
    3. We sorted out what seemed to be our Top 500 most likely extra-qualified candidates and mailed the first run I seem to recall on a weekend to be followed by a “regular” work-week. We maybe knew to do that early or late in the month – but I don’t really recall if our research included that ‘know-how’ or if that could even be relevant. We “guessed” we probably did not want it to arrive on a Friday or Saturday. More on this would be interesting to know more about in terms of the “science” of direct mail.
    4. We planned to mail another 500 cards the next week, then the next until we had hit the 5,000 mark in circulation.
    5. Instead, we were able to basically start hosting our first of eventually three conference calls, which then converted into training/mentoring groups – reaching our initial goal gracefully and easily.

    As it resulted, we had an amazing response right away. Shortly thereafter, email marketing and online communication blossomed.

    I’m knowing now we had much more opportunity to follow-up on than we actually pursued — but at the time, moving more into the electronic outreach medium was the progressive choice that also worked. No regrets. Fond memories, though, and thanks for the chance to re-visit them here.

  2. Chris Bailey December 29, 2009 at 2:48 pm #

    Marilyn, you nailed it with your question on refining knowledge of our customers. The CRM is just a tool…if we don’t collect and maintain important information on our customers and prospects, then that’s our failure.

    My one tip for success is to remember that direct mail is one channel in a multichannel marketing plan. Along with a compelling Ask, build touch points in the direct mail that guide individuals to not only make contact offline (through phone) but also through special URLs that help complete a circuit into the online CRM.

  3. mmccray March 18, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    The layout was designed for me.

  4. Emily June 1, 2010 at 5:19 am #

    Marilyn, you nailed it with your question on refining knowledge of our customers. The CRM is just a tool…if we don’t collect and maintain important information on our customers and prospects, then that’s our failure.

    My one tip for success is to remember that direct mail is one channel in a multichannel marketing plan. Along with a compelling Ask, build touch points in the direct mail that guide individuals to not only make contact offline (through phone) but also through special URLs that help complete a circuit into the online CRM.

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