Perhaps you’ve never thought of your direct mail campaign as a form of networking. But with networking defined as “interacting with other people to exchange information and develop contacts”, there are actually many similarities between these two marketing strategies. Here are three pearls of networking wisdom that may help to improve the results of your next mail-out.

1. Make it Count

One of the first rules of networking is that it’s NOT an opportunity to find out how many business cards you can dole out in one go. When it comes to making your contacts count, direct mail postcards – like your business cards – should be viewed through the lens of “quality over quantity”.

Understanding your key customers ahead of time is what paves the way to meeting new ones. It will help you to better define your target market, and will ultimately make your mailout more relevant in terms of:

  • Personalizing your connection with your intended audience
  • Supporting a positive first – or second – impression
  • Giving your contacts a good reason to get in touch with you

Investing in promotional materials to distribute to strangers yields little in the way of marketing value. Don’t waste time and money mailing to unqualified leads. The more often your postcard or brochure lands in the mailbox of someone who can relate to it, the higher your response rate will be.

2. Develop a Relationship

You can’t skip the small talk at a networking event and expect to walk away with any profitable relationships. Getting to know your prospects – one demographic at a time – is the best way to build credibility and instill a sense of trust.

When you network, you ideally look to establish common ground with someone who can help you, and who you can help in return. This “one-hand-washes-the-other” scenario is essentially what direct mail marketing is all about:

  • your offer solves a problem for your would-be customer, and
  • they reciprocate by making a purchase from you

But every worthwhile relationship needs nurturing, and this can take time. Even when your customer profiling makes it clear that you’re targeting the right audience, repeated exposure to your brand is often necessary before prospects become leads, and leads become clients.

3. What’s in it for Them?

Have you ever noticed that networkers who spend all their time talking – instead of listening to the person they’re talking to – don’t tend to make much progress? Many businesses make the mistake of approaching their marketing from a one-sided point of view – playing up every positive feature they can think of to try and move their merchandise.

But studies confirm that the average consumer’s attention span is only 8 seconds long! If your direct mail materials aren’t designed to resonate with the recipient right away, you could lose a golden opportunity to sell to them.

By focusing on the question of “what’s in it for them”, you’ll be better equipped to provide an answer that’s both specific and easy to understand. A captivating headline or sticky slogan will go a long way toward drawing your prospects in, but your offer had better address their personal needs if you want it to spur them into taking action.