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24 Great Direct Mail Tips For Entrepreneurs

April 18, 2010

by John Sternal

When done correctly, direct mail can be a highly effective resource for entrepreneurs and small businesses, even when working together with email marketing. Here are 24 ways your direct mail may be failing you. And although there is talk that the U.S. Postal Service is going to cut down the number of days it delivers mail, entrepreneurs will still capitalize from direct mail to grow their business. Use these 24 reasons as guidance to help you develop and implement effective direct mail campaigns going forward.

1. Call to action is bad or nonexistent: Once you’ve got them reading your piece you’ve got to tell them what you want them to do.

2. Forgetting to test: Direct mail marketing is the art of constant testing. You’ve got to be committed to trying different approaches from everything like design and copy to packaging and offers.

3. Too much fluff and hype: If you sound too much like a used car salesman you’ll end up in the garbage faster than you can say garbage. Practice the art of generating excitement without using too much hype.

4. Bad grammar and no proofing: Yes, the whole world is working off text message language right now, or at least it seems that way. Don’t allow your direct mail marketing to go this route.

5. Can’t grab their attention in headline: Think of the last time you received a direct mail marketing piece. As a direct mail tip remember how you responded to one all because the headline was absolutely catchy?

6. Not studying what works: Direct mail marketing has been around for many, many years and thousands of companies have made a lot of money. Before you do any direct mail marketing you should study what has worked and what has not.

7. No follow up plan: Congratulations. You’ve just sent out a direct mail marketing to your target customers. Now what?

8. Design that doesn’t work: I’d advise against using a tie dye-themed design if your target audience is just not that into tie dye. I’d strongly advise against it, actually.

9. Poor functionality: Your direct mail marketing piece must do more than just look pretty. It must work towards getting the desired response.

10. Bad copywriting: Arguably the most important element of the entire piece. You’ve got to know when to be clever, witty, funny, serious, etc. Know your audience.

11. Targeting not on target: Speaking of knowing your audience, do you really know them? When’s the last time you did a customer audit to figure out what motivates them?

12. Going cheap on the postage: Sometimes it makes more sense to pay a little more to arrive a certain time. Is it worth more to spend more if you ultimately make more? You know the answer.

13. Creative doesn’t hit the spot: In marketing, creativity is ultra important. Think about what gives your creative juices a boost and really spend some time thinking about how to grab your customers’ attention.

14. Not integrating with other marketing: So many small businesses and entrepreneurs have missed out on the chance to tie in their direct marketing with other marketing efforts. Large retailers have become successful at integrating direct mail with email marketing, for example.

15. Lost opportunity to drive traffic to Web and blog: A follow-up to the previous direct mail tip, but today it’s a natural fit to use direct mail marketing to drive people to a Web site, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, etc.

16. Contests that fail: Contests are a great way to get interaction with your customers. But if the contest doesn’t prompt someone to participate, something went wrong and it can destroy the campaign ROI.

17. Looking like your little brother made it: It may not be the best direct mail marketing piece ever made, but it at least has to look professional. Remember, your name is on it and people will create a perception of your company.

18. Lack of branding: You’ve got to always establish and extend your brand identity, including messaging, design and logo. Make sure every direct mail marketing piece always reflects your company’s branding.

19. Going once and done: If you’re going to just send out one direct mail marketing piece and then expect huge results, don’t waste your time. All you’ll do is create more trash for the earth. Direct mail marketing is a commitment that pays off over time.

20. A printer that doesn’t understand your business or customers: Yes, it matters. A good printer can make your direct mail marketing because they may be able to offer great strategy and insight where you lack experience.

21. Not having a DM strategy with calendar to plan out the year: I can’t underscore enough the importance of NOT shooting from the hip. Above all else, have a long-term game plan in place so that your direct mail marketing can become strategic.

22. Paying attention to package size (too much will waste money while too small won’t get noticed): The answer to this one is different for every company, and every mailing. As a direct mail tip study your campaign, offer, incentive and customer to know which direction you should go.

23. Using phrases that tell people it’s junk mail: Avoid using phrases like “No Gimmick,” and “Financial Freedom,” which tend to set off alarms in people.

24. Bad use of testimonials: The right testimonial can enhance the value of any direct mail marketing campaign. The wrong one can quickly make you look like an infomercial.

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