Direct Marketing in a Week-Introduction

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Maximize sales through direct mail in seven simple steps.

picking the right promotional mix is not easy. Whatever is done it must be effective, and also cost-effective, and bought budgets and time are no doubt limited. Business does not arrive unbidden (or very little of it does), nor does it magically arrive just by crossing your fingers and shouting ‘Promotion’; so something must be done and time and effort must be expended to make sure it works.

Even in this electronic age, direct mail remains a popular form of promotion. It can certainly find and hold customers and do so cost effectively too. But, you may have noticed, it does not have the best image – the words ‘junk mail’ are frequently used in relation to direct mail offerings! However, used carefully, it can work for seller and buyer alike. This book sets out how to utilize direct marketing for maximum benefit for both.

Direct mail is simply a marketing, promotional technique like any other, but it certainly has the ability to ignite strong feeling, not all of them positive. Everyone appears to know someone who has been mailed about something inappropriate, or addressed wrongly as ‘Dear Madam ( or ‘Dear Sir’, depending on the correct gender). Everything here is thus pitched not just to make its use effective, but to make its use acceptable. One is not good without the other.

Success in many things is in the detail and that is certainly true of direct mail. Indeed, i once saw research that said that, faced with a mailshot, a reader takes just two and a half seconds to decide whether to look at it further or ditch it.

That’s quite a challange for the writer of such a piece. It was Samuel Johnson who said, ‘What is written without effort is in general read wwithout pleasure’, and certainly the words used to convey the message of any direct mail must be clear, persuasive and more (as we shall see). So som e of this book focuses on actually writing the message. Surely writing is easy, especially when you are describing something you know well, like your product or service.

Right, but look at the evidence. For example,information about a cross-channel ferry service announces;’ Shuttles leave every half an hour …on the hour! This was presumably originated not only by a poor writer, but someone with a pretty odd clock! Perhaps my favourite example of such mistakes is a sign in a Nottinghampshire hotel, which reads, ‘in the interests of security bedroom doors must be locked before entering or leaving the room’. A good trick if you can do it……or evidence of a fifth dimension, perhaps? This sign had been written, printed and placed on the inside of 256 bedrooms, all apparently without anyone noticing that it was nonsense.

Write to Sell

Remember, both the examples just mentioned (and one could mention so many more) are only a single sentence. If it is difficult to get that much right, then perhaps writers can be forgiven for struggling to complete a full description of their product, why someone should buy it and how they can do so.

The so-called ‘MEGO effect’ ( Makes Eyes Glaze over} is all to easy to invoke. For direct mail to work, and work well, you have to get the words that express your ideas down in a correct, clear, original and pleasing way, and the only way to do that is to check, check and check again. Read it over on screen, read it over having printed it out, read it out loud to yourself, read it out loud to someone else; do all this twice. And when you have done any editing this necessitates, do it all again. A systematic approach to all this is described in these pages.

In addition, a host of other factors must be right too. Each element is, of itself, not complex; there are core principles that make it straight forward and manageable to create good direct mail….and to reap the benefits. The trick of any good promotion is to create and maintain interest in potential buyers and prompt action. That action can take many forms: requesting more information, talking to someone – in person or by telephone – or visiting a website and more. Some promotional methods can prompt direct sales and direct mail is one of them. In some kinds of business it is possible to send a mailshot and measure its success in orders, and perhaps payments, arriving back in response.

In addition, what is done most relate appropriately to overall marketing strategy and to other elements of the business and of the promotional mix. For example, as I started to write this my morning post brought a brochure. It prompted me to check the organization’s web site, then telephone (with a query the web site did not answer) and place an order, paying by credit card. Although more than just the brochure was involved, this would be judged a success from the point of view of the sender – and from mine too, I hope!

One vital link these days is via electronic communication, and so included here is a chapter about the close overlap that now exists with email marketing ( see Friday’s chapter).

If you position the use of direct mail effectively within the totality of your promotional mix, and make it work well – and that means systematically making sure that every element of it works well. from a letter and brochure to an envelope and much more – it can be an important part of your business – generating process. In the following pages in seven succinct chapters, we review how to make that so.

Reference:Direct Marketing in a Week: Patrick Forsyth