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Direct mail works – if it’s backed by a clever idea

Out of the blue, a few weeks back, I received a small white polystyrene box in the office addressed to myself at Sufu Marketing. I let slip the inevitable “but I never get interesting mail” and with some excitement tore open the box. Inside was a china mug, with an explanation about the crafting of the mug and the printing quality etc… Wrapped inside the mug a letter addressed to Cat from an agency wanting to white label services on our behalf. Disappointed on two counts – I don’t drink hot drinks and my name is not Cat – I tucked it to one side and didn’t think much more of it.

About a week later another unannounced box arrived again. Inside this brown cardboard surprise I found a silver tin with a compliment slip wrapped around the outside (this time addressed to me) suggesting the contents of the tin would go well with the mug previously sent by said agency. Indeed they would have done, mini biscuits!

Now of course this was a more interesting gift but I couldn’t help remarking at how costly this direct mail campaign had been for the agency.  The postage alone on both items was over £5 – factor in another £5 for the contents of both and this could turn out to be a very costly campaign, depending on how many prospects they mailed, but more importantly I couldn’t help but feel this was a highly untargeted campaign. There had been no pre-qualification, was I in the market to outsource project work? The first email was incorrectly addressed and I was not a Tea or Coffee drinker, and how did the mug and biscuit tin relate to their message?

I did to be fair get a follow up call from the agency to see that I’d received the items, and that is a practice I usually recommend with a direct mail campaign.

Is direct mail still viable marketing? It’s expensive, but when it’s done right it can be highly effective. So how do you get it right?

There are lots of factors that make an effective direct mail campaign but perhaps I can use an example of another piece of direct mail campaign that arrived in our post box just a week or so later that I felt hit the mark much better to demonstrate.

On the Friday before Valentine’s weekend we received a small piece of ‘lumpy mail’. Inside was a small box of 4 Montezuma chocolates (Montezuma makes award-winning luxury gourmet chocolates) with a company branded banding and a little message saying “Fall in love with us again”. Also enclosed was a small envelope with a little card showing their latest performance stats.

For me, this was a much more successful marketing campaign for a number of reasons: –

  • It was correctly addressed to me!
  • It contained a clear and relevant key message “Fall in love with us again” (appropriate as I hadn’t used their services for some while)
  • It was branded.
  • There was a clear call to action.
  • The cost of the mailing was much more realistic than a china mug, biscuit tin with biscuits, and the associated postage.

Yes direct mail is still a viable means of marketing your business, the trick is to take the right message and deliver it to the right audience in the most cost effective manner driving the best return on investment possible.

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then convert it into lasting brand opinion.


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