Improved marketing return with direct mail

Direct mail is a highly targeted way to reach a specific set of customers. Whether you use a “five-mile radius” around your store or “target males, between 30 and 45, who like to fish,” it can be confusing to you as a small-business owner in the West Palm Beach market. Here are three ideas to think about if you are considering trying a direct-mail program to grow your sales and your business. 1)      Creative will prompt action. Good creative is imperative in direct mail. If you are using an addressed envelope, the envelope and the content on that envelope must cause the recipient to open it – sooner rather than later. Creative that is interesting, and uses a call to action, will prompt the recipient to do what you want – which is, first, to open the envelope. The contents inside that envelope must persuade the individual to take appropriate action. Whether it’s “call now,” “use this key to see if you qualify for this prize at our dealership,” or “vote for me” – all need a strong call to action. Direct mail can be labeled with a personalized name; this will improve the chances of the recipient opening the mail. Why? Everyone loves to see their name in print! Consider using a postcard, instead of a letter, to eliminate the need to “open the envelope.” Since there are so many unopened pieces of direct mail, take that extra step and use a postcard mailer to ensure that it receives, at the very least, a glance. Remember: The sharper the creative, the longer someone will look it over. Postcards are often more cost-effective than a letter inside an envelope.

2)      The right target is key. It is imperative that you are sure of the type of customer you are trying to reach. Who are the best customers coming into your store, or buying your services? Analyze your customer records to see where they live, what types of jobs they hold, their levels of education and (household income), gender, whether they have kids … all these factors are the types of targeting that you are can use in a strong direct-mail campaign. An off-target message will not make the right impression on the potential buyer – for example, getting a “Dear Sir” letter or postcard in the mail if you don’t happen to be a “Dear Sir.”

3)      Seed your list. To ensure that you know exactly what the final piece looks like when it hits someone’s mailbox, ensure that the vendor you choose has placed your name into the list of the recipients. “Seeding” the list with your name is one way to ensure accuracy. But this will also let you know, as a small- to medium-size business owner, exactly when your expected responses will start. The U.S. Postal Service, as you know, does not guarantee a specific date that your mailed piece will arrive in homes. Therefore, seeding your list, whether you use your own customer mailing list or purchase a new one, will help you be ready in your store.


Direct mail can either be an extremely effective, or a very frustrating, way to advertise, depending on your approach. Just know that your response rates will be much lower than other means of advertising, often between just one and two percent. Direct mail takes advance planning, and time, to execute. Designing the creative, ensuring your list criteria are right, printing and mailing – all take time.

However, there are benefits to direct mail to help balance things out. For example, direct mail is targeted. You can potentially reach every household you want to, depending on the costs associated with direct mail.

Think of targeting differently, however, and you might well be pleased with the results. Consider the return on investment: i.e., how much your postcard or mailer will cost, vs. the number of units you want to sell. When you need more help on ways to better use direct mail, please call on us.

written by: Suzanne Pepper