How to: Be Successful with Direct Marketing

How to Be Successful with Direct Marketing

Print Mail: It’s still a thing

I don’t care what they say, print marketing is not dead. It is easy to get carried away with the instant gratification of Facebook, the tracking abilities of e-mail marketing, or the ease of a blog post, but there is still something to be said about direct mail. For as many millennials there are monopolizing marketers’ attention, there is also a huge population of the public who do not participate in social media or check their email 60 times a day… people who value a tangible print piece. There is always room to subsidize your digital marketing efforts with good ol’ fashioned print, and here are some key points to keep in mind and implement for the most effective print piece possible.


1. Know your audience

This is crucial for every avenue of marketing, but the importance of marketing to your target is exaggerated when it comes to print. When designing for digital, chances are your efforts are going to be seen by a huge and diverse demographic, so it’s acceptable to be broader and more generalized in your approach to creating e-mail blasts, social media posts or display ads. When developing a direct mail piece however, you are going to be targeting a much narrower group, and must skew your designs to directly speak to your audience. This means using colors and design elements that are appropriate to your target, language and tone of voice that is in line with your audience, and lifestyle images that reflect those of your pinpointed demographic. i.e. don’t use an image of a young couple, fervently playing volleyball on beach with a tropical drink in hand, no matter how appealing the photo might be, if you are selling luxury extended stay Caribbean getaways. In this case, you would use an image of an older couple, relaxing on a lounge chair, book in hand – even if the imagery isn’t as alluring—as this would be the kind of demographic that has the time and could afford an extended luxury vacation. And don’t neglect nuances like font size. If your target is a senior audience, text should be larger, simple [san] serif, and colors should be deeply contrasting, for an easier read. A fair amount of time should be dedicated to researching and getting to know your audience, so as to design a direct mail piece that really hits home. (Get it? Hits home!)

2. Make it pop

Your piece needs to stand out in a sea of white envelopes if you want it to grab any attention and survive the quick mail shuffle. This means designing a piece that is as differentiated from the cookie-cutter as possible. Avoid using a plain white or neutral front panel, sticking to bold and bright colors, as well as vivid imagery. Another sure way to stand out is to design brochures or flyers that implement a unique structure, size or layout. You can create something oversized, a piece that is long and narrow, something with an accordion or newspaper fold, to name a few. And if the budget allows for it, Textures, varnishes and laser cut-outs will really make your piece pop. From start to finish, you must be cognizant of implementing unique and eye-catching elements that will make your piece the MVP of the mailbox.

3. Make a deal

As a standard, the general public has come to expect direct mail pieces to offer a coupon, deal, or a special promotion, so this should be incorporated as a general rule of thumb. And doing so is two-fold. (Get it? Two-fold! We are so punny). There is no better way to measure your ROI than to offer a promotion that is unique to a specific mail piece. When it comes to digital marketing, it can be quite a challenge to measure the sale conversions of an email, blog post, or social media. But with print, you can directly measure how successful your piece is by using an offer code, special advertised pricing, a unique deal, and so on. Similarly, by offering a promotion, the receiver is more likely to hold onto your piece. Even if they are not in the market for your product or service at the exact time of receipt, if your offer is rich enough, most people will hold onto your brochure or flyer for longer than they would if the offer presented is not as valuable, just in case they find themselves in your market in the near future. Thus, the contact in possession of your mail piece might anchor it to their refrigerator, put it in a coupon book, or even just leave it atop a shelf, where your direct mail is visible and in sight (subconscious branding, anyone?), and most importantly, not in the trash. All points to keep in mind when crafting your next print job.

4. Don’t go into information overload

It is very easy to get carried away and start adding as much information as possible onto a flyer or brochure. You want to let your target audience know of all your awards, how long you’ve been in business, the Fortune 500 companies you serve, etc., but a convoluted piece will drive readers away. No one wants to open a flyer and see a novel staring back at them, so your message has to be succinct, easy to understand and to the point. You might have to sacrifice some written content that you want to squeeze on there, for sake of attractiveness and how visually easy your piece is on the eyes. And if you can organize your piece to read smoothly, chunking together pertinent information, with a good balance of white space, you will have a recipe for direct mail success.

Other tips and tricks

  • Save the cheese for the burger and skip the big yellow “SALE” sticker. You want to present your promotion in the most sophisticated style possible, straying away from anything that might look “car sales-y”… unless your piece is for used cars, of course.
  • Be cognizant of folds, staples, glue dots, etc. Make sure you work these elements into your design, being aware of what content might be intruded upon.
  • Don’t sacrifice paper weight or finish for the sake of savings. Choosing a substantial paper weight or incorporating a varnish or unique finish into your design will make all the difference, and really set your piece apart. If you use chintzy paper, your piece will come off as just that.
  • Find a reputable printer. Once you hand your design over, you have to be confident that you are going to receive a high-quality production job. A poor printer could totally kill the integrity of your piece. It is equally important to find a printer who is timely in their response and easy to work with.
  • ALWAYS check the proof with a fine tooth comb. This is your very last chance to look over your design, so don’t throw it away! At this point, your eyes have been free of the piece for some time, and you can approach it with a fresh perspective. And if you can get a printed proof, even better.

Need to create a one-of-a-kind direct mail or print piece? Let WDG help! We don’t just design and develop websites, we offer full marketing services too.

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