Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.

Baker's Dozen INDEX

13 Platinum Direct Mail Ideas

Direct Mail. They call it AdMail in Canada. Some prefer Direct Mail Marketing or Advertising Mail.

No matter your description, Direct Mail has been around as a business marketing tool since pre-WWI. The teens of the 20th Century.

A long time.

Before radio. Long before television. At about the same time the telephone was being accepted as a business marketing too. And still today Direct Mail is going strong.

Around the world Direct Mail is used to generate leads for a sales staff. To build traffic at a retail location. To raise funds for a cause. And to create an order - that's why it is called "mail-order".

Direct Mail makes things happen.

This Baker's Dozen checklist of 13 ideas has been put together to help you assure yourself your next Direct Mail project has every chance of enjoying outstanding success.

1. Look at your Direct Mail as your recipient will look at it.

This is much easier to say than to do. Because each of us is personally involved - maybe even prejudiced - about our product, our service, and yes, our marketing and Direct Mail.

To create successful Direct Mail you need to get out of the office and visit the customer. Find out what's important to the people who buy what you sell.

Maybe chat with customers at a trade show. At a retail location. Over the telephone. Maybe visit your customers customers. Learn what is important ... and what is not important to the buyer.

The team at Burger King, Hyatt Hotels, the Affinity Group and countless others have programs in place that puts their staff on the firing line with customers. To learn first hand what really goes on in the marketplace.

How you think like your recipient is not important. That you do is critical to your Direct Mail success.

2. Remember your primary objective -
what you want your prospect to do.

As you create your Direct Mail think "Why am I sending this mail to this prospect at this time?" That is, what do you want the recipient to do when they get your mail?

Whatever it is it had better be important. Something significant. It should lead to a positive and profitable end result.

For example, are you generating leads for your inside telesales staff? If so, how many new prospect leads do you need each day for each sales rep? Know that number - and then know you are either reaching your objective ... or you are not.

It is okay NOT to reach objectives. What?, you say. Yes, not achieving your objective is not the point. What IS the point is knowing you do - or you do not.

When you are successful you do more of what's working. When you are not so successful you back-up, evaluate, make changes - and charge forth again. Without objectives firmly in place you have nothing to shoot for.

Have objectives to shoot for.

3. Does your #1 benefit hit your prospect
right between the eyes?

No matter the product or service, there are always a collection of benefits.

And there are always ONLY 2 or 3 or 4 real reasons people buy from you - do business with you. All the other "benefits" are the frosting and candles on the cake - not the cake.

Not sure which are the most important benefits you offer? It's easy to find out; ask your sales reps or customer service people. Because those who meet face-to-face with your customers or talk with them about their needs, hear what you need to know - and they hear it every day. A pattern is built - these people learn that pattern.

Find out why people buy from you. How they use your product. Learn their level of satisfaction. When you do this you'll soon have the #1 benefit clearly identified.

4. Does your #2 benefit hit your prospect
right between the eyes?

See Direct Mail point #3. Everything said there is equally applicable here.

The difference is only that rarely does anyone buy anything for a single reason. Almost always there are 2 - sometimes 3 or 4 - reasons why someone makes a buying decision.

So, as you learn what's important to your marketplace, keep a list. In priority order. And feed those points back to your new audience in the same order. #1 first. #2 second.

5. Does your mail package "flow" -
does it all go together?

This is a tough one - it is so subjective.

Everyone has an opinion. About sizes, shapes, colors, number of inserts in a Direct Mail package. About teaser copy on the envelope and a running headline in the letter.

And a long list of other options.

Yet, when it all comes together, you know it. It "feels" right. It looks like you. If you're the Salvation Army, your Direct Mail must look "poor". If you are Rolls-Royce, your Direct Mail had better look "rich".

Make certain your Direct Mail "flows", so your audience sees it as all together. And make certain it looks like you.

6. Does your package encourage your prospect
to open it at once - NOW!?

The envelope in Direct Mail is the "carrier". It carries your message to your audience.

The envelope is a funny element, too. As until it is touched, looked at and opened - it is without any doubt, the most important piece of any Direct Mail package. Once it is opened it is next to worthless.

So, think about your "carrier". Does it look attractive? It is interesting? Does the shape, size, color, teaser copy, window on the front and/or back get attention? Does your envelope get opened NOW!?

It is important to spend enough time on your envelope to make absolutely certain your reader will see it, reach for it, look at it, be intrigued by it ... open it. Bingo!

7. Do you see your letter first?

What makes Direct Mail different is the letter.

No other communication tool has the personality of a letter. The one-to-one person-to-person flavor of a letter. The letter tells your story. It introduces your benefits. It lets the reader get comfortable with your message.

So, if possible, you want your letter to be the first thing your prospect sees - the first thing they read.

As you design your Direct Mail package think "how can I get my reader to see and read my letter first?" Sometimes this is impractical. It just doesn't work as you develop the total package. Still ... think about. As your letter is what makes Direct Mail a powerful tool.

8. Does your mail address the benefits
you offer against the NEEDS of the prospect?

First, talk benefits.

People do NOT buy buttons. For buttons are a feature. People DO buy what happens when you push buttons. The "push" gives the benefit.

And then there is a "desire". Or "dream". Or "want". None of which sell anything.

Oh, it is fine to want or dream or desire ... nothing illegal, immoral or unethical about it. Thing is, if that is where your prospect stays - you will never sell them a thing.

You must turn the "want" into a NEED. You must show how your product fulfills the "dream" - which makes it a NEED. You must demonstrate how your service will meet the "desire", making it a NEED.

People buy results. Sure, they talk otherwise. Yet, when push comes to making a decision, if you can show their NEED will be met, you've got a new customer. If not, you don't. It's almost that black and white.

Fulfill NEEDS with your Direct Mail.

9. Do your graphics support the copy?
Do they make the copy better?

In this age of high technology graphic capabilities, combined with zillions of color combinations, it is easy to get carried away with the "look". Do not do that with your Direct Mail.

Direct Mail is a read medium. Meaning the copy, the text, the words carry the message. The graphics, the layout, the design, the format, the look and feel are all there to make the copy better. Nothing more.

Certainly graphics are important. Personally, I do not want to do Direct Mail without some excellent art to make it better. Yet, if I must make a choice of copy or art - for my Direct Mail - copy wins every time. Hands down. It isn't even close.

Use graphics to make your Direct Mail better.

10. Does your response device include
a summary of your full story?

A "standard" Direct Mail package includes these elements:

An outgoing mailing envelope.
A letter.
A brochure or flyer or some other insert.
A response card, fax-back form, some way to reply.

Make certain whatever your response device (or devices ... many times you may include more than 1) has your full story.

Meaning a summary of your service. Of the key 1 or 2 product benefits. Your offer. Date or price or other specifics, if you are looking for a "sale". Your location, phone, fax, E-mail, web site and "snail-mail" contacts - all of them!

Why do this? Because once your Direct Mail is open you have no assurance all the elements will stay together. Every piece in your Direct Mail package must carry your message. Especially on your response vehicles. In full.

You want your prospect to have your complete story. You want to be found when that prospect is ready to become a customer. And you want to be easy to do business with.

11. Is there a reason to act now ... an offer?

An offer is mandatory in Direct Mail. It is not optional - you must have an offer.

Let's define "Offer": an offer is a reason for your prospect to consider doing business with you - NOW!

An offer is over and above features and benefits. It might be a premium. It might be a bundle of products. It might be a special price. It might be a unique combination of services. It might be a deal timed to a date.

Offers rarely make the sale. What an offer does is STOP your prospect, give them pause, asks them to think about you. To consider doing business with you.

Always have an offer in your Direct Mail.

12. Is it easy to reply to your Direct Mail - now?

The easier you are to do business with the more likely you are to gain new business.

If you include only your phone number, no address, no fax number, you are limiting the ways your audience can reach you.

If you want to drive your prospects to your web site and give only your URL, you most certainly will get some hits. And you will also be leaving business on the table ... from others who do NOT want to visit you that way.

Adopt the philosophy you'll take business anyway you can get it. If you'd rather get it by E-mail ... fine, list your E-address first.

Along with your phone, fax, web site, business location and "snail-mail" address.

The more convenient you are to reach, the more likely you are to be found ... and to do business with.

13. If you were the recipient mentioned in #1 in this list,
would you respond?

Looking at your mail this way is tough. As when you have put all your efforts behind a Direct Mail approach, it is hard to say you would not respond.

Yet, that is exactly what I am suggesting you do! Look at your Direct Mail with the recipient in mind. What do you honestly think they will do when they receive your package?

Readers have 4 primary choices to make with every piece of Direct Mail:

Read it now.
Stack it for reading later.
Route it to another person, pass it along.
Toss it - trash it - in the bin, the waste basket.

And readers make this choice about your Direct Mail in just 2 or 3 seconds per piece of mail. Which means you had better be good! And if not, back-up and start again.

Okay, the end of this Baker's Dozen Collection ... 13 Platinum Direct Mail Ideas. Use them all to make your Direct Mail even more successful.

Baker's Dozen INDEX

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