Direct Mail Renaissance: By Mark Saunders, Group Marketing Director, 9 Group

Marketers can seldom universally agree about anything worthwhile. We are a disparate bunch, spanning super creativity, yarn spinning and data analytics, so perhaps it is no surprise that every topic brings out a spectrum of views; black, whites and greys, plus a welcome dash of colour.

However, one thing that seemed to unite our brother and sisterhoods was the advent of GDPR. Not everyone believed that the bell had tolled loudly for email Marketing, but there was an overwhelming consensus that Direct Mail (DM) was back to stay. Well one year or so on, Direct Mail has indeed seen something of a renaissance, so perhaps timely to share my views on how to make it work for your business.

Make an impact
The first thing you need to do is avoid your Direct Mail being used to test the current aerodynamic flight path conditions from desk to bin. Make your envelope stand out, perhaps by using colour, or maybe a bold message that will make your receipients super keen to learn more of what’s inside.

Why not use a quirky shape for your envelope, perhaps include a thought provoking comment, or a useful gift – never a cheap pen please – leave that to Michael Parkinson and life insurance for the daytime TV viewer. Take care also to avoid emboldened Reader’s Digest Prize Draw type promises that nobody actually believes and will only launch that desk to bin flight trial.

A long and clumsy word that means you should address your mail to a named human being, not an office, department or function. Ideally this human being should still be alive and employed where you expect them to be, in a location and role that can generate business for you, so your data quality and integrity are paramount. A Direct Mail campaign using flawed data is a lingering, pointless exercise in incinerating cash.

Equally, make sure you are pitching the right opportunity to the right prospect or customer. The cash conflagration will only be fuelled by offering your latest mobile phone offer to someone who has just signed a new two year deal with you. Back to data quality and integrity again – there can be no higher priority for the modern Marketer.  Do this kind of thing well and you can assemble all the ammunition you need for your monthly ROI chat with the bean counting denizens of Finance.

Mix and Match
Stand alone Direct Mail will outperform stand alone email by a factor between 30 and 40, depending on whose research you are minded to believe, but the real trick is to run an integrated campaign using all the Marketing elements at your disposal. Combine your email and DM activity in a structured fashion and flavour with a spicy incentive, a desirable event, a febrile outbound calling day, a sharp survey, or just share some industry wisdom, gated, or otherwise.

Tell a story – with pictures
Nobody wants to read a list of features, so why do wayward Marketers construct a piece of Direct Mail that has all the charm and utility of a 1954 railway timetable? Don’t ask your product hero to write the thing either – these people have their uses, but under no circumstances should they be allowed to communicate in an unsupervised manner with your prospects or customers.

Why not just tell a story – what will this marvellous thing that you are trying to promote actually do for the target business? How will it make them feel? Why has it been developed? What are people saying about it? When will it be available? Who has been involved in creating this opportunity and who should be looking to exploit it.

Think about your choice of language and tone of voice. It probably makes sense to be affable and approachable, not domineering and bombastic. Make sure that your messaging is consistent with your brand – moody or out of character behaviour can arouse suspicion and lose trust.

Impact is not just about content though. You need some illustrations and an attractive layout to draw in your recipient. Don’t try to do this yourself in Microsoft Word. You need a graphic designer and a good one at that. If you persuade someone to open the envelope, you then have around twenty seconds to hold their attention, or guess what – you are in the bin, so invest in making your DM look and sound the very best that it can be. Do not try to be too clever, remember that clean and authentic design is what you should be aiming for.

So don’t delay, why not include a Direct Mail element in your next campaign?

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