Direct mail marketing can be one of the most effective ways to target key customer opportunities for your small business. Your mail campaigns can be sharply focused, or they can test larger market segments to refine your strategy before expending valuable resources on more elaborate and expensive marketing options.

Direct Mail Marketing Goals

To leverage a small marketing budget into a successful direct mail campaign, you need to do three things:

  • Establish your goals
  • Identify your target
  • Track the results

Wherever you’re going with your campaign, there has to be a goal in place. Mail marketing relies heavily on data mining to locate a target audience. Without identifying your focus, like a roll-out or product promotion, the money you spend buying a list and getting the message out is likely to be wasted. Even if you develop a list yourself, your efforts are best served by defining your goals before you begin.

Direct Mail Data Mining

Choosing the right data mining option is the next step. There are lots of commercially available marketing lists and list brokers who can put you in touch with the wonderful world of marketing data analysis. The one thing to remember here is that the more specific a list is the more valuable, and expensive, it’s likely to be. One proactive step you can take with any list you use is to verify that you have the correct contact name. Mail sent to specific people is much more likely to be read and remembered.

Using creative or cagey methods to identify potential customers works too, but it’s a complicated science. Some lists cross reference criteria, like cross-matching a ZIP code with an industry specific magazine subscription to come up with likely candidates. You pay more for targeted lists, but they’re worth it if you can isolate dynamic criteria that relates to your business. Being able to discover two or three interconnections when targeting prospects will help you draft a mailing program with teeth in it.

Direct Mail – Putting the Pieces Together

Your efforts are only as effective as your ability to track the results. Some list companies offer summary reports, but there’s a lot more you can do with the information you’ll get. If you’re testing the waters for a new product, a lack of response is as important an indicator as a full mailbox. This is a great example of one of the ways a contact management software system really comes in handy. It’ll help you track the results of a campaign and with careful maintenance and strategizing, accumulate information for future campaigns.

Good record keeping is important for another reason too. These mail direct programs are usually conducted as multiple mailers over a period of months. Expect to send a monthly mailing for six months or more. Potential customers need to become familiar with your name and get a sense of what you’re all about. Having a lead management software program in place can be invaluable for keeping track of the who, what, when and where of your mail direct efforts. It can also help you schedule future follow-ups and assign sales tasks based on location, product or just about anything else you’d care to track.

You’ve probably read that only 2 – 3 percent of direct mailers get a response. You can beat those odds by tailoring your mail marketing to your ideal potential customer base. Being small means you can respond more quickly to leads than your larger, more sluggish counterparts too. Once you have a realistic goal, an effective list, and a way to monitor your success, all your direct mail campaign needs is some clear and compelling copy.

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