The Power of Direct Mail

“Direct Mail can give your business advantages and opportunities you won’t find anywhere else.”

This is a quote from the inside front cover of a guide provided by the United States Postal Service on direct mail. It had my head shaking affirmatively when I read it. Yes, direct mail can do so much more than any other advertising media. More businesses should use it. When we suggest it to our clients, often times their response is that it is too expensive.

Direct mail can be expensive, if you use it incorrectly. But the beauty of it is, that you can easily control your costs, unlike many other forms of media.

As an example, let’s look at TV commercial. It costs X dollars per spot based on the time of day it runs and the popularity of the television show. Your spot may have a wide reach in your market area, but when it airs you are ‘crossing your fingers” and hoping that all the right people are seeing your ad. Your ad does not come onto the television screen addressed to the person viewing it, calling out their name, like a letter does when it lands in the mailbox.

Here are some stats from the USPS book I cited above on advertising mail readership.

81% of households read or scan some or all of the advertising mail they receive.
Of the 81%, 48% read it, and 33% scan it.
19% said they don’t read it.

Source: 2007 USPS Household Diary Study.

With direct mail, you control the format, the quantity, the postage, and the timing, and can work all of these factors to fit your budget and control your costs. You can target exactly who you want by buying lists based on specific criteria that identifies who your customer is.

Let’s go back to the television spot example again. Once your spot runs, its gone. Into thin air, never to be seen again (unless you have it TIVOed). With direct mail, your message is tangible and has lasting value. It can be passed on to others or saved for future reference. It can be as interactive as you would like it to be. You can see it, touch it, smell it, hear it, or even taste it, depending on what you send.

Direct mail is the most engaging media of all because it can invoke all five of the senses, and the more you can get your prospect to engage with you, the better chance you have for them to become a customer. With direct mail, you can even tell your whole story if you want with a 16-page letter. Try doing that with a 30-second TV spot.

Here are some additional convincing stats to encourage you to use direct mail:

46% of adults surveyed responded to direct mail advertising they read or looked at in the past 30 days. Of those:
23% visited the nearest location
21% visited the sender’s website
12% call a number on the mailing
9% replied via email

Source: Vertis Communications Customer Focus 2007 survey.

Curious to know what kinds of direct mail messages get the most response? From the same Vertis Communications Customer Focus 2007 survey, in descending order:

1. Coupons
2. Buy One, Get One Free
3. Percent Off and Discount off single item
4. Gift Card
5. Grand Opening
6. Everyday Lowest Price
7. Gift with Purchase
8. Loyalty Card Offer
9. Consumer Tips
10. Event Invitation

Kathy Jiamboi
Owner of Creativedge Marketing, where growth-oriented dentists find dental practice marketing strategies and advice to take their practice to a new and higher level.
More articles by: Kathy Jiamboi
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