Direct mail – postcards, ‘invitation-style’ mail, brochures, folders, flyers, etc. – is a very effective marketing, advertising and promotion tool which offers great flexibility and tremendous potential for creativity. It also provides the opportunity to talk right to your target audience, even if you’re targeting ‘consumers in general’ and you can deliver your message to people where they live or where they work. As we have already mentioned, direct mail is one of the most effective forms of advertising and promotion, if not the most effective! That effectiveness comes in part from the fact that it’s an ‘active’ marketing outreach, rather than a ‘passive’ outreach which must first wait for the audience to come to the promotion vehicle in general and your ad in particular, such as if you advertise on TV or radio, or in the local newspaper, etc.
Another reason direct mail is so effective is that, in theory at least, your mail will be delivered directly to your prospects – addressee by addressee – even when the promotional piece is sent to “current resident”. We said ‘in theory’ because the truth is, no one can ever really guarantee that your specific prospect will actually retrieve the mail the very day your piece is being delivered, unless the mail piece requires identification and a signature. The added costs for those postal services, on top of the cost of postage alone, would make the mail piece too expensive for most direct mail campaigns.
However, for some “high-ticket” items, such as real estate, car sales, luxury items, etc., the added cost might be justified, and warranted, in order to make a profound impression. That same logic may also be applied if you and your promotion partners decide to send something other than the usual, two-dimensional printed piece. For example, a box with a Halloween object inside, to accompany your Halloween promotion.
the downside for direct mail is, there is a tremendous amount of “junk mail” still cluttering mail boxes. In fact, most direct mail probably falls in the junk-mail category. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider direct mail, just that you should make sure your mail promotion will stand out from the clutter.
And, with that parameter clearly in mind, there’s one other thing to remember: direct mail will give you great freedom to be extremely creative, as long as your creativity is appropriate – for the audience targeted, for the theme or concept of the promotion and for each and every one of the partners participating with you. A promotional partner is a sponsor that is helping to pay for some or all of the advertising costs.
There are some mail ‘mechanics’ to keep in mind, such as, whatever the actual mail piece is, it should either provide advertising or promotion space for each participating partner or appropriate space to group all partners together, even showing the individual store names and logos, just the way a merchants’ association would for the participating merchants in a mall. Another direct mail ‘mechanic’ to remember involves the minimum number of pieces required to qualify for reduced bulk mail per-piece postage rates. And, unless your direct mail piece is going to be mailed for first class postage, you’ll need to acquire a bulk mail permit, for a fee, and the pieces in the mailing will need to be “bagged and tagged” according to the postal service’s requirements.