Receive a response from your direct marketing.

We often use the term “direct mail marketing” to describe the fact that marketing mailers are delivered directly into the hands (at least the mailboxes) of targeted prospects. But this popular form of advertising is also called “direct response marketing,” denoting the fact that recipients take action to buy as a direct result of receiving your mailer. Either way, success depends on getting as much response as possible.

You have to give your audience reasons to respond.

When your postcard clearly identifies what’s in it for them, you’re giving prospect reasons to respond they cannot ignore because the reasons are so:

  • Relevant – meaningful to them as an individual. The better you know your audience, the better you can target your direct response marketing so it’s highly relevant to recipients.
  • Timely – solving a problem your prospect has right now. For instance, they just moved to town and need to find a new dentist (you).
  • Valuable – they will save time or money. Value can also come through exclusivity or other emotional factors.

Content that focuses on these benefits rather than a list of features will generate much more response. Knowing the elements of a great direct mail call-to-action can help improve your response rate as well.

Appeal directly to their emotions.

Your marketing must supply useful information to let recipients know who you are, what your business does, etc. But a “just the facts” presentation is dry. It’s doesn’t capture the imagination or resonate with people. Colorful, well-designed visuals cannot make the sale on their own, so adding an emotional “hook” helps make a more visceral connection with your prospect.

When you think about what’s in it for them, ask yourself why that matters to them. Solving their problem will make them feel more appreciated, smarter, impress their boss, impress the neighbors…or maybe they will simply have more fun, or feel more relaxed. Tell them how they’ll feel when they take you up on your marketing offer.

“Tried and true” doesn’t mean tired, it means proven.

Nobody knows better what works for local businesses like yours than your direct mail marketing company. Experienced, successful professionals love to share this kind of insider information with their customers, because they know it will help you get more customers. They can help you custom design postcards with all the right elements, so you can go from ho-hum or pretty good response to great.

But remember this: your business may be similar to others but you and your clientele still add up to something unique. That’s why it’s so important to…

Track results and study them.

Anecdotal “information” about response is quite often wrong. You think you have a handle on what’s working, but often business owners are shocked to see how far off they have been once they examine their actual statistics. The only way to know for sure what generates the most response for you is to formally track and analyze your direct mail marketing campaigns.

For direct response marketing, it’s most important to understand which offers and what timing perform best, based on the campaign’s goals and the targeted audience segment. You can’t keep all that in your head.

What you track matters, too. In most cases, simply noting which campaigns or designs bring in the most phone calls or website visits doesn’t tell you what you need to know. Your ultimate goal with all marketing is to make more money. Some campaigns are created to generate direct sales – bring this postcard and get free dessert with 2 entrees. Often, however, when someone responds you still have to convert them – for instance, your call to action invites them to schedule an appointment but they call with more questions.

In this case the number of callers doesn’t really matter, you need to know how many appointments were made and – now we’re getting to the best part – the total amount of revenue those appointments produced. Did you make a profit on your mailing, after subtracting your costs from that total revenue figure? The greater the margin, the greater your return on investment. ROI pretty much says it all.

Keep at it.

You wouldn’t dream of opening a business for one day (or even one month) and then closing your doors because you didn’t make enough sales. Direct response marketing is just the same. Sure, a certain number of people will follow up after your first mailing, because you nailed it perfectly with them – your postcard appeared in their mailbox at precisely the right time and with the right offer to spur them to action. But most of us need reminders. Your response will increase over time.

How many mailers do you need to send? Marketers have long considered 7 to be the “magic number” of repeat impressions required to motivate a response, but that can vary according to lots of different factors. The one thing you can take to the bank is that mailing just one round of postcards won’t do it.

Once again, your direct mail marketing company knows first-hand what works best and, once again, they’ll be happy to share that with you. Typically, you should mail monthly all year round if your goal is to create a steady influx of new business. For short-term campaigns, you may need only three or four mailings spaced a week or so apart. The key is to mail the same postcard each time, to build recognition.

Response is just the beginning. But it’s the critical first step in earning more sales and profit through direct mail marketing. Working to improve the relevance, timeliness and value of your content will bring you not only more responses but responses from people who are ready to buy.