It’s the era of the entrepreneur. Now, more than ever, people are starting their own businesses. It begins with a great product or service and then you make the leap. You’ve opened your first business. Now comes what may be the most difficult task of small business ownership: finding your customers. There are countless ways to advertise, some more effective and affordable than others, but leading the pack is direct mail. But what exactly is it and what is a direct mail letter?
Direct mail is a way for you to reach out directly to customers who are more inclined to want what you have to offer. Sounds pretty great, right? It is. Having a direct line to your target customers is priceless. It can help you launch a successful business or grow your company to the next level. The best part is: direct mail letters are extremely affordable and effective.
What is Direct Mail?
Direct mail, by definition, is a marketing effort using a mail service to deliver printed promotions to your target customers. For example, those post cards you receive in the mail from local businesses are sent using direct mail. It’s easier than you think to get a piece of the direct mail pie. And here, at DataMasters, we’re going to tell you how.
Direct mail includes any type of printed marketing materials such as post cards, brochures, catalogs, newsletters, and sales advertisements. It’s likely you’ve been getting these for years from a variety of major corporations and even some local businesses. They know that this type of advertising is extremely effective and profitable. But why?
The key to direct mail is the unique ability to reach a specific target audience. With other forms of advertising such as newspaper, radio, television, and billboard ads, you don’t really know who you’re reaching. With direct mail, you’re sending your communication to a specific group of individuals. This means your advertising dollar is focused on the people who are more likely to want your product or service. Not only do you control who gets your advertisement, but when it’s delivered, what’s in the advertisement, and the number of people you reach.
Getting Started with Direct Mail
Getting started with direct mail is easy. Start by studying the advertisements you receive in the mail. Pay close attention to the layout of the advertisements, especially those in your industry. Ask yourself these questions:
- What is your reaction to the piece of mail?
- Which ones communicate effectively?
- What about ineffectively?
- Which are visually appealing?
- Which ads are too busy?
- What colors are they using?
- What fonts?
Really take the time to absorb what other companies are doing and learn about what you like. Remember that it’s just as important to learn what you don’t like and what doesn’t work. This will all help when you create your direct mail letter.
After you’ve got a good grasp of the type of advertisement you’d like to create, then you’re ready for the next step: Who are you sending it to?
Many companies test out their advertising campaigns on existing customers. If your business has a mailing list you may want to consider this route. If not, then it might be a good idea to collect names and addresses. If your customers enjoy your business then they’ll likely be interested in learning about sales and promotions through the mail.
If you don’t have a mailing list, that’s okay. There are several companies out there that can help you with this. The most important thing is to find a reputable company that obtained their contacts legally. The last thing you want to do is work with a company known for their bad business practices. Companies like DataMasters have current, legally obtained information you can customize to your needs.
What is a Direct Mail Letter?
After you have your list of names then the fun really begins. Now you’ll want to design your direct mail letter. But first, ‘What is a Direct Mail Letter?’ and what makes it effective?
A good direct mail letter won’t be overly long or include too much information. You want to catch the reader’s attention and direct them toward your goal.
Your goal could be any number of things. You may want them to visit your brick and mortar location. You could also direct potential customers to your website. Or you may even want them to call in for a quote of some sort. The goal really just depends on your business plan and where you want to funnel your customers. Goals can be vague (come into our store) or very specific (kids eat free on Tuesday).
Everything in your letter should direct the reader to the goal. For example, if you run a restaurant and Tuesday nights are habitually slow, then you may want to increase business on Tuesdays. One way of doing this is running a “kids eat free on Tuesdays” promotion. You can target individuals within a set radius of your business who are also parents. Your advertisement may show a family having fun together at dinner with text encouraging them to come in.
Benefits of Direct Marketing
Direct marketing is truly a blessing to businesses of all sizes. The ability to customize your audience really sets you ahead of your competitors. Not only that, but you can customize your advertisement for that specific audience. For example, a dentist may send out advertisements focusing on dentures for senior citizens while focusing on pediatric dentistry for families with young children.
The possibilities are endless with direct marketing as long as you have current information. If your data supplier has outdated information then you won’t reach the target customers you thought you were reaching and the return on your investment will decrease. But, with quality companies such as DataMasters, you know you’re getting the most current information available.