Direct Mail Displays Personality, Professionalism

Receiving a lot of junk mail is no fun for anyone, especially when it’s products or services that do not apply to your lifestyle. It usually piles up on the kitchen table and gets tossed out during the next “spring” cleaning.

That’s why direct mail is such a tricky advertising medium. The direct- mail piece must be eye catching, customized for a specific audience, and it must give recipients a reason to call your company. Otherwise, it’s literally trash!

Finalists in the Direct Mail category of the 1996 Security Sales Sales and Marketing (SAMMY) awards use flashy phrases and slogans, unique designs, incentives and even cash to grab attention. All have the common goal of getting recipients to keep the direct mail piece and make a call to the alarm company. Dealers also have found that following up a mailing with a phone call proves profitable.

Targeting Your Market Boosts Response

When creating a direct mail piece, you should first identify your target audience. Are you looking for high-income residential clients or small commercial facilities? Do you want to target single moms or families in a specific area? The most effective pieces are customized to offer benefits that specifically relate to your targets. The response will be much higher and the prospects will be more qualified. “We have found that sending to a targeted market is much more successful than randomly sending direct mail pieces,” says David Ching, president of American Home Security, Inc. in Atlanta. “We send to new homeowners, because they’re very security conscious and interested in protecting their new purchase, so they’re more likely to buy.”

American Home Security was a 1996 SAMMY finalist for its black-and-white postcard depicting a nude baby that is almost three dimensional sitting in front of a home under the slogan “Protect Your Assets.” The card also utilizes an offer for a free home security analysis to coax recipients to read on.

Because the postcard is targeted at new homeowners, the company has hired a mail service to get updated mailing labels every month. “We want names of people who have been in their homes for three months or less,” says Ching.

Tracking Mailings Helps Identify Direct Mail Success

It’s also important to track the success of your direct mail pieces as well as all other forms of advertising. When prospects call, ask where they heard about the company. This can help you determine whether you’ve hit the bull’s-eye on the target or missed by a mile. “Our salesmen always ask why a person is calling and how they heard about us,” says Dick Murphy, sales manager for American Alarm and Communications in Arlington, Mass. If prospects do not seem to be in a hurry, you might also ask what they like about the piece or what caught their eye. Also, calling prospects to see if they saw the direct mail piece is an effective tool for salespersons in that it’s a great way to “break the ice.”

“We always follow up with telemarketing a couple of days after the mailing goes out,” says Bill Graham, vice president of sales and marketing for Guardian Protection.

One of Guardian Protection’s direct mail programs consisted of 80,000 letters and the return was 2 percent. “We get about 400 to 500 sales per month from that mailing, which is about 25 percent to 30 percent of the company’s business every month,” says Graham. Some of that success is based on follow-up calls. “We call about 75 percent of that 80,000; 25 percent are unlisted and we don’t get the phone numbers,” says Graham.

Discounts, Exclusive Offers Move Prospects to Action

Direct mail pieces are great avenues for disseminating discounts and special offers, such as coupons, free gifts or free monitoring.

“If the direct mail piece doesn’t give people a reason to call, they won’t call,” says Baker. Sentry has utilized direct mail pieces to offer a coupon for a free personal security device or a discount. “We’ve even offered free life-safety material if they allow us to do a presentation in their home,” says Baker.

8 Quick Tips for a More Successful Direct Mail Campaign

Market to a targeted audience.

Personalize the piece by customizing it for the targeted audience.

Include a special offer, like a coupon or a free gift.

Design the piece with retention in mind.

Print the phone number and the company name in large type.

Follow up direct mail pieces with a phone call. Keep track of where prospects hear about your company.

Subscribe to a mailing list service.

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