AMiable Solution #246: How Much?
Do you have a go-to direct-mail format? Maybe your department tends to favor traditional letter packages. Or maybe the sheer volume of your products and services dictates more frequent use of postcards. Or, perhaps, you find success with self-mailers.
If your format decisions are based on tests and results, great! Keep it up. But if you find yourself making promotional plans based on cost alone, Grant Johnson, the founder of Responsory, a multichannel marketing agency, issues a caution: the cheaper format is usually less effective.
According to Johnson, in his “Top 5 Tips: Direct Mail Checklist for 2015” article for Chief Marketer, most marketers tend to look at direct mail as a cost instead of as an investment. They often try to find the least expensive way to market instead of the most effective way. In Johnson’s opinion, too many marketers mail self-mailers and postcards when they should be mailing direct mail packages with letters.
Does that mean you should mail only or mostly direct mail packages? Absolutely not. It means that if your targeted market typically responds better to letter packages then you shouldn’t shy away from using them based strictly on costs. If you’ve done your testing and proven that letters perform better for certain audiences at given times in the decision process, then go for it!
But how do you decide what format to go with when you don’t have a clear history for a particular market? Robert Bly, copywriter and DM News contributor, suggested the following rules of thumb in his 2006 article, “Use a Letter, Self-Mailer or Postcard?,” and we think they still work today:
If the main response you seek is a visit to a web URL or to call your toll-free number, then use a postcard.
If your story is detailed and complex, then use a traditional letter package.
If your competitors tend to favor one format over another, then use that format, at least for starters.
If you are generating leads with a free offer, such as a white paper, catalog, or brochure, then use a one-page letter in an envelope with a business reply card.
The right format isn’t the only key to success, of course. You still need a great list and an even greater offer, but presenting your pitch in the best package is a great start.