direct mail mistakes

Direct Mail Mistakes to Avoid and Tactics to Follow

Are you using direct response marketing to advertise your business?

What method are you using to primarily promote your products and services? Is it working well for you? If not, it may be time to scrap it and do something different to get the word out about your products and services. Now notice that I didn’t say “get your name out there.” You never want to “get your name out there” because you will lose a lot of money in the process of doing this.

Instead, since you are a small business owner, the only kind of marketing that I advise is direct response marketing. With direct response, you hold your advertising accountable. If something isn’t working, see if you can tweak the campaign to make a difference. But if you’ve tweaked and tweaked and tweaked some more… it’s probably time to scrap the ad and start over from scratch.

Unlike brand advertising (the sole goal of building company awareness), you don’t risk as much money on your advertising efforts. Big companies have millions of dollars to spend on advertising and don’t think it’s “ok” to spend that kind of money on advertising.

Brand building is something that I don’t recommend – unless you’re franchising a McDonald’s or something. And even then still, headquarters will do a lot of marketing for you, plus McDonald’s is already well-known, that you will have to do little to no promotion to get people to come to you.

With that being said, would you like to know about some aspects of direct response marketing that can work for you? If so, then great! Here’s one critical part of a successful direct response marketing campaign.

What is the most important component of direct response marketing? – A good offer

Now there are very few products in the world that can sell themselves. And your product may be one of those rare items. But if you’re like the rest of us business owners, you have to be creative. One way to get the attention of a passing prospect is to offer something for free.

Start with a free report, free webinar, free book, a free sample, or even a free consultation. These lead generators are great for getting people to flock to your place of business. If you see a decrease in sales, maybe it’s because you aren’t selling more to your existing customers or because your ads are geared towards selling – instead of offering more information.

This is a crucial point. 80% of your entire business profits will come from repeat business from your existing customers. So make sure that you’re marketing to these people first, and then focus your efforts on gaining new customers.

You can use postcards or one-page letters to communicate with your customers. The truth of the matter is that they want to hear from you. Nobody likes a one-night stance. Once they’ve bought from you, you should make it a point to nurture your customers and attend to their every want and need.

This is the easiest way to improve your sales, and you will be asking (or kicking) yourself, wondering why you didn’t do this earlier.

Direct Marketing Mistakes

There are many mistakes that business owners make that affect their business. I intend to delve into these mistakes so that you don’t have to do these same problems for yourself. Here’s the first mistake that a lot of business owners make:

Picking a poor list is one of the biggest direct marketing mistakes.

When I say “list,” I’m talking about a direct mail list that you get either from a list broker or the SRDS. I can remember when I first got started with direct mail. I made the mistake of mailing it out to all local business owners in my city. The thought convinced me that since they are local, they should be more than willing to do business with me.

Boy, was I wrong?

I got no response from all of the letters I mailed out, and I thought it was an exposure reason why it failed. So what did I do? I mailed out a second time the same offer to the local business owners in my city again. I didn’t make any money at all. I only got one response from the letters that I mailed out from this bakery, which didn’t pan out because I had no idea what I was doing.

In hindsight, if I could do it all over again, I would focus on my list. I would buy or rent out a list. You see, the lists in the SRDS are all direct response lists – meaning that they bought something to be placed on the list. This is a far better list than what I had been trying to do previously.

Here’s another mistake that small business owners make (, and it’s something that I have been guilty of also):

Mailing a list only once is a huge direct marketing mistake.

In direct mail, it’s all about multiple contacts. You need multiple contacts with your prospects to close the sale. It has been proven that multiple contacts may boost your conversion rates.

So the next time you get a lead, contact them three times within the first 30-days. After the 30-days are up, mail the list once a month for a full year. This constant contact will help to keep you in their mind when they choose to make a purchasing decision.

If you didn’t already know, I’m a big fan of direct mail. It’s a fast way to get leads and customers – but only when it’s done right. There are tons of products on direct mail marketing on the market today, but all that you need to know is that your success with direct mail boils down to three crucial components:

  • Your list
  • Your offer
  • Your sales letter

Direct Response Marketing Tactics To Follow

There is a right way and a wrong way to market your business. Hopefully, you will choose the way that is less hassle, less stressful, and more profitable. And the only way to do this is to use direct response marketing to sell your products and services. Personally, direct response is the only method I’d use because it works now and is more accounted for than brand advertising.

If you want to know how to make direct response advertising work for you, then you’re in the right place. Today I’m going to show you some direct response marketing tips that you can use to see immediate results – right away. So let’s get right into it. Here’s the first aspect of direct response marketing that you should be doing in your business.

Generate a lead

If you’ve never tried to generate a lead in your business, then you probably have never heard of this technique. This technique of generating a lead is well-known in the profitable circles of direct marketing. All generating a lead is all about is that the sole purpose of your ad is to get them to call a 1-800 number, or get them to visit your website for more information.

This is key because, with a lot of leads in your marketing funnel, you’ll make a lot of money because, as we all know… “the money is in the list.”

This principle is well known in the online marketing world, but the same still applies to offline marketing. You want to generate a lead so that you can follow up on them and be right in their minds’ when it comes to buying a product or service. The more leads you have in your marketing funnel, the more money you can expect to make from your list.

Here’s another aspect of direct response marketing that you should do.

Operate in a niche

Niche marketing is very important to you and the success of your business. Instead of operating in a wide and broad market, you can carefully structure your products to meet the needs of a smaller group of people in your market.

So, for example, if you’re a lawyer, instead of targeting a wide variety of people, go into a niche and serve only those people who have been in a car accident. Or focus on a group of people who have mesothelioma. Lawyers who do this find themselves spending less on advertising, all while earning more in their business.

So what about you? Are you going to go into a niche where you can charge more for your products or services, or are you going to continue competing with fellow business owners in your city? I suggest you choose the former rather than the latter, because it can make you extremely profitable in the end.

There are more aspects of direct response marketing that I will focus on in another article, but these two principles should be more than enough to get you in the right direction of marketing your business.

How to succeed with direct “mail”?

I’ll admit. Direct mail has taken a hit in the last couple of years. This is mostly caused by the increased costs of mailing out a letter, buying a mailing list, and marketing material duplication costs from printing agencies. But even though direct mail costs more, it doesn’t mean that it’s ineffective.

Direct mail still works. And here’s a tip: if you do most of your marketing online, you can increase your conversion rates if you incorporate direct mail into your marketing mix. If you have an autoresponder along with your customer’s mailing address, instead of only sending them follow up emails, send them a personal letter in the mail that contains tips about the topic you’ve previously sold them on, and include an offer letter that contains some information about the product that you’re selling.

In a sense, this is one way that direct mail can work for you. The people you are mailing already know you and like you, and are looking to form a relationship with you. This is something that you should be excited about. Now, if you’re trying to solicit a prospect that hasn’t bought anything from you before and this is your first time mailing them, you have to have a clever strategy for turning them into customers.

Luckily, there are things that you can do to attract a high-value prospect to your business. The first thing begins with your mailing list. There are all kinds of brokers out there that would love to sell you a mailing list, but the bottom line is that they get paid a commission each time they sell one of their lists. So whether or not the list is effective for you is something that you will see
when the results come in.

But there are some things about hiring a list broker that seems a bit fishy. First, since they get paid for whatever list they sell, it doesn’t matter to them if your campaign is successful or not. Second, they get many people calling in for a list, so they won’t remember your name, nor are they trying to build a relationship with you. If I were you, I would request a list that is as niche-specific as possible. Hopefully, your list broker agent will help you find a quality list such as this one, but more than likely, they are unable to do it.

If you don’t want to go down the path of a list broker, you have another option at your disposal: something called the “SRDS.” SRDS stands for “standard rate and data service,” and it’s a giant directory of people who are renting out their list. In my opinion, this is a far greater deal than hopelessly relying on a list broker to select a quality list.

One thing that you should know about the SRDS is that it can get quite expensive. But if you select your list right, drill down to the most specific attributes of a potential customer… and combine this with a high-priced product… direct mail can become a walk in the park for you. I’ve seen it done, and this is something that you should do too.

Good luck with using this information to have success in your business.

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George Meszaros is the editor and co-founder of Success Harbor where entrepreneurs learn about building successful companies. Success Harbor is dedicated to document the entrepreneurial journey through interviews, original research, and unique content. George Meszaros is also co-founder of Webene, a web design and digital marketing agency.