Marketing

24 PRINCIPLES OF DIRECT MARKETING

There are four important elements in a "Direct Mail Package" and close attention must be paid to each: (Before anything, of course, comes the essential "idea" since the conceptual strategy is still key.)
  1. There are four important elements in a “Direct Mail Package”
    and close attention must be paid to each: (Before anything, of
    course, comes the essential “idea” since the conceptual strategy
    is still key.)

a) the graphics (carrier) which must be opened by reader – i.e,
“what does it look like?”
b) the offer: the way the proposition is phrased – i.e “what’s
the deal?”
c) the copy: the compelling description that gets the reader to
buy or act – i.e. “how is it said?”
d) the list: the targeted audience most likely willing to buy or
act – i.e. “who is it sent to?”

  1. Perhaps the most important element is the list since an
    excellent offer, with a striking carrier and compelling copy – if
    mailed to wrong list – can be a disaster. Others belive copy is
    most important, but don’t let ranking bother you since each
    element is important. Take all reasonable steps to get, use and
    keep the most accurate and up=to-=date lists possible to increase
    your margin of success. Set up a system to add names and keep’em
    current.
  2. Heed “Daly’s Law” – “Everything takes longer and costs more!’
    So. it’s wise to start project in ample time to make all elements
    come together in easy manner. Use “reverse timetable” to plot
    what needs to be done and when. For instance, you probably need
    to order lists first. Then, don’t forget the envelopes, printed
    stock, other enclosures , etc. Allow time for delivery and return
    action plus follow-up mailings.
  3. Direct Mail is a demanding taskmaster, so if it fails it’s
    probably you who missed somewhere, not the medium.. If possible,
    “test” some or all portions of your program so you can alter
    methods if needed.
  4. Writing compelling Direct Mail copy only seems simple so
    don’t be deceived. Heed basic principles of writing to single
    person in simple, straightforward manner – yet with style. For
    success, remember the 3 “S’s” of successful copy are: (1)
    Simplicity, (2) Sincerity, (3) Serenity. Long copy is not
    necessarily bad, in fact it can outpull short copy. Focus on main
    message you intend to convey. Never forget you want action to
    occur…NOW. Be sure copy answers the always-asked questions:
    “What’s in it for me?” Always keep reader’s perceived needs in
    mind. Do the necessary research to determine them.
  5. Closely analyze your potential markets and your offer so you
    can hone lists and copy to target your approach. Though you mail
    by the thousands, remember Direct Mail is more akin to a rifle
    than a shotgun. Write your copy to be read by one person at a
    time.
  6. Remember Direct Mail is a substitute sales representative.
    Where an in-person sales representative can immediately answer
    prospects’ questions and overcome objections when raised, Direct
    mail copy must anticipate all aspects and insure logical points
    are covered.
  7. Incorporate an action device – coupon, order form, reply card
    or envelope, phone number – to make it easy for recipient to take
    desired action.. Repeatedly tell recipient what action you want
    and make it simple to do. Put nothing in the way of getting an
    order or response. Use all action devices cited.
  8. A letter almost always works better in a Direct Mail package
    than a package – even a catalog – without a letter. Don’t worry
    if the letter repeats what’s in the catalog, brochure or order
    form. It’s there for a different purpose. The sales letter is a
    one-to-one communications to explain and sell, to get the
    recipient to act. The postscript is often the most-read part of
    the letter.
  9. If all elements of package are good, it is imperative repeat
    mailings be made. It’s difficult to wear out a good list and,,
    unless mailings are overdone, you can’t wear out your welcome.
    Let statistical probabilities and the laws of economics work in
    your favor rather than allow difference about making frequent
    mailings deter you. A common error is not to mail often enough or
    to a wider list.
  10. Keep detailed records of everything you do.. Follow a
    “systems approach” so you know what happened, when and why. That
    way you can repeat successes and avoid failures. Sometimes the
    difference of a tenth of a percent or less is all it takes to
    tune a marginal performer into a winner.
  11. Study all elements of your package so you can know what’s
    working. Is it the price? The geography? The timing? The phrasing
    of the offer? The list? The copy? The product? Which of those
    myriad elements, in combination or without one element, makes the
    critical difference in the return? Analyze your records closely
    and continually until you know why you’re winning and can repeat
    success.
  12. Keep current with changing postal rules, rates, regulations
    and procedures. Regularly monitor your procedures to insure
    you’re in full compliance. To illustrate expensive errors, a
    frantic client called after the Postal Inspector visited. We can
    help with postal problems.. Had he checked with us before the
    visit, the $5000 per word differential postal cost and worry most
    likely could have been avoided. We offer professional
    authoritative postal expertise but seldom can avert unchecked
    mistakes. Check in advance. (We can supply you with a checklist
    of valuable postal publications upon receipt of addressed, double
    stamped #10 envelope.)
  13. Save, subdivide and study the good Direct Mail you get to
    learn what to do – and maybe what not to do. Remember some of the
    things that appeal may, in fact, be “tests” that, when results
    are known, are failures. Never underestimate need for simplicity
    and complete honesty.
  14. People who take actions by mail are different from those who
    don’t. Thus it is wise to isolate them so you can easily remail
    with new or different offers. Remember the axiom: “People who buy
    by mail”…buy by mail…buy by mail…” Best lists are of mail
    buyers of similar products or services who recently purchased in
    same price range.
  15. Do what’s necessary to make your maill stand out, even “look
    peculiar” since it has to fight all types of competition. If it
    doesn’t get opened, looked at, and read…there’s no chance it
    will bring the action you want. Clever “teaser copy” on outside
    of carrier can work wonders.
  16. Wise mail merchants work at differentiating between
    “suspects,” “prospects” and (best of all) “customers.” Once they
    can distinguish names on lists among those three categories they
    are able to achieve cost efficiencies that novices can only
    dream about. So keep good records of what happens and when it
    happens with mailings to a particular list with a particular
    offer. Capitalize on success.
  17. Testimonials can be effective promotional tools, especially
    if they’re heartfelt and cogently express what the average user
    might feel about a product or service.. They’re even better when
    offered by celebrities or persons well-known to the audience.
    Treat testimonials like the jewels they are and gather more.
  18. There’s no such thing as a “normal” percentage of return
    that’s universally applicable across a wide range of products and
    services but, over time and by keeping careful records you can
    determine what some norms are for your offer (s). Goal then is to
    “beat your best”…if only by 1/2 or 1/4 of a percent!
  19. In producing Direct Mail programs these seven words may be
    cliche – but only because it’s true: “Nothing is as simple as it
    seems.” Continual care needs to be exercises at every step of the
    planning and conceptual stage, though any step in the
    conception-production process can become critical if close
    attention isn’t paid to what’s happening. “To error is human.”
    Yes. I’m aware of the error but that’s exact spelling of sign I
    spotted in printer’s window and I reproduce it to emphasize how
    vital it is that extreme care be given to this facet of
    production. Proofreading in a professional manner is essential.
  20. Direct Mail Copywriter John Yeck long ago cautioned me to be
    aware of these two “sinful” acronyms: KISS and CIPU. The first,
    “Keep It Simple, Sweetie” describes how to tell your message,
    while the second cautions us to avoid lapsing into business or
    industrial jargon which “we” understand but most everyone else
    doesn’t. CIPU stands for “Clear If Previously Understood.”
  21. While the Power of Mail will long be with us (even though the
    nature of the Postal Service might change) wise direct mailers
    see themselves practicing in the fields of “direct Marketing” or
    “Direct Response.” They become knowledgeable of the synergistic
    value from use of print media (magazines, space ads, newspaper
    inserts, etc) as well as electronic media (radio and/ or TV) to
    supplement their mail promotional efforts. The combination can be
    powerful.
  22. Continually study and be alert to what’s happening in this
    dynamic medium. It may seem that not much is new, when in fact,
    there are subtle but important shifts in many of the areas
    delineated in each of the four elements cited in Principle #1.
    (Our seminars, workshops and speeches point these out to
    sponsor’s audiences.)
  23. While the Power of Mail will long be with us (even though the
    nature of the Postal Service might change) wise direct mailers
    see themselves practicing in the fields of “direct Marketing” or
    “Direct Response.” They become knowledgeable of the synergistic
    value from use of print media (magazines, space ads, newspaper
    inserts, etc) as well as electronic media (radio and/ or TV) to
    supplement their mail promotional efforts. The combination can be
    powerful.
  24. Continually study and be alert to what’s happening in this
    dynamic medium. It may seem that not much is new, when in fact,
    there are subtle but important shifts in many of the areas
    delineated in each of the four elements cited in Principle #1.
    (Our seminars, workshops and speeches point these out to
    sponsor’s audiences.)
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