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Direct Mail Works, So Why Pay Someone To Fix It?


Direct Mail Works, So Why Pay Someone To Fix It?

It’s a question that we hear from time to time in the advertising business. Usually, its part of a larger conversation about creating a better brand position during a period of growth, a discussion about improving ROI (rate of improvement) for marketing efforts, or perhaps as part of an ongoing print advertising project. Improving your direct mail efforts can certainly increase your customer base and increase business leads, but most companies just end up leaving money on the table because they cannot get the attention of the right person. It’s a leaky faucet problem— small waste adds up and leads to bigger problems.

Direct Mail: An Advertising Definition

Direct mail is defined as anything which is mailed directly from your business to your audience. As a B2B business, this would be mailing materials directly to another business or the leaders of those groups. A B2C business would send these pieces directly to your customers, or individually through a large list of potential clients.

This could be a postcard design letting people know about a new product or service that you have, this could be an invitation to a new event that you’re running, this could be a short letter introducing your business products or services in a great branded envelope, this could be a brochure folder in half in order to meet stringent US postal codes. This could even be a printed catalog (OK granted, there’s not really that many of those going out in the mail these days, but still, they should be covered here). Direct mail is print advertising items which you are send directly to a target audience in hopes of gaining new or continued business.

An Open and Honest Assessment

In 2012, I visited the Internet summit in Raleigh North Carolina. Over the years, the internet summit has moved slowly from internet technology-based topics into advertising and social media marketing-based conference. At this particular session, Keynote speaker Gary Vaynerchuk spoke about direct mail and direct mail marketing as a facet of the print advertising past which remains in force today. He asked very candidly to the gathered audience:

“How many businesses in the audience engage in direct mail marketing, mailing of any items directly to another business or company?”

About 80% of the people in the audience raised their hand. He mentioned that was good, and that he actually thought it was quite a lot more than that. He then talked about how important direct mail has always been for businesses as a way to engage their customers and ensure that most companies still existed. It was a great way for most companies to clarify to their customers that their products and the services were still as great as they’ve ever been, and how to entice them with newer materials.

He then asked rather directly:

“How many of you get junk mail delivered directly to you at home or at your business – pieces of print marketing that come directed to you.”

Every single person in their raise to their hand, not a ton but roughly 3000 people. He then demanded that they keep their hands up.

“Put your hands down if you look through and read every single piece of that direct mail and consider each strongly before deciding to pay or recommend that service”.

Every single person kept their hands up.

Gary Vaynerchuk Tells It Like It Is

“Of course you don’t! You’re busy, you have things to do. No one has time to read all the pieces that come in, let alone consider whether it’s worth purchasing or engaging with that marketer or passing each item along.”

This is true. We know for a fact that Direct mail marketing is put under the umbrella of “junk mail” and most people put it directly in the trash or recycling without reading it or looking at it. It was then that Gary asked the big question:

“So you know! You know that everybody throws these things away. So why do you do it?”

One member of the audience shouted out the answer: “Because it works!“

“Yes!” Gary shouted. “Because it works! Because our businesses would fail without it. What if you received one out of 1,000 responses to your direct mail? Would you say that was a good deal? Everyone agreed that it would be an excellent deal.

Gary went on to discuss that for every 10,000 items that we paid to develop, paid to design, paid to print, Pay postage on to have delivered and send out into the public, a high cost is accrued. However, the customers which are gained by each attempt far outweigh the cost of putting together direct mail pieces.

For every single customer that the average business receives, hundreds if not thousands of customers consider your work, your imagery, your choices, your best plans… to be nothing more than “junk mail.” Many people gloss over it without even recognizing it.

If it already works why pay someone to fix it?

So, if you know that sending out 60,000 brochures in the mail will net you roughly 6 new customers, each of which when placed together will bring profit to your company and possibly become recurring customers, why should you bother to pay for someone to help you design a nicer looking piece of direct mail?

Clearly, because you want more of your pieces to move out of the junk mail category.

Think about this just for a second: what does the junk mail that comes to your house look like? Chances are it’s an envelope. The envelope looks like every other envelope that comes to your house as junk mail… Each post card has an image that is only so-so, and copy which is blasé at best. The junk mail is focused on the business which printed it. It is not focused on you, the consumer. The piece of print advertising doesn’t engage you, won’t interest you, or connect with you in any way. In almost every case, there is literally no reason why you should care. If the piece was related to you and how your business could make money, well? What then?

Chances are likely that if the images strike a chord with you— you’ll hold onto it and look at it. If the words in the verbiage has the kind of clever thinking which urges you to engage and take part, show it to your friends and say things like “See, I told you! This businesses gets it!”— You’ll be more inclined to take that direct mail marketing to heart.

Who’s Going To Do It?

Your question is very likely this: Our team is doing the best that we can, so why can’t my creative or marketing team do this? Can we do this without hiring an advertising agency? Well, in response I certainly hope so.

If your team is truly great, give them a chance to step up their game. Always play to the strengths your team offers. If they could do this, they probably would have done so already… but maybe something is holding them back. Your team needs more freedom if they’re bogged down in day-to-day activities, keeping the doors open and the lights on. Either way, it is important to understand that if you’re not getting what you need, it doesn’t really matter who makes the change as long as the change gets made.

But, if you’ve given your marketing team or your creative team the flexibility to make changes to increase sales, and it’s just not happening… You may you may want to consider an outside source whose sole job is to increase awareness, move your company brand forward, and give you a boost to the ROI.

Perhaps your company needs a boost, and you’d like to make things bigger and better. Perhaps setting the pace for a new campaign is all you need, and your team will pick up steam after the first advertisement is created. If you’re hitting roadblocks, stumbling, or your print advertising and direct mail just isn’t working like it should, we’d love to talk with you about how you can achieve your vision

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