Ten Questions to Ask about Your Direct
Direct mail is exactly what it says – literature or a
sales or promotional piece that is mailed directly to
the home or business of a potential user. Like all
effective marketing, a direct mail campaign must be
carefully planned and targeted. This form of advertising
usually requires a large mailing list of potential
customers to get a reasonable number of sales. Before
undertaking any direct mail campaign, the following
questions may help you think through this option.
- Goal-setting: What do you hope to
accomplish with this mailing? Why do you feel direct
mail is your best advertising option?
- Financial Planning: What is your budget for
this mailing? For follow up?
- Timeline: When do you need this mailing to reach
targeted consumers? Is it seasonal, dated, price
- Targeting the Consumer: Who is your target
market? Is this an existing market for your product or
a new niche you hope to create for your product?
- Consumer Appeal: Who will develop and
produce your direct mail piece? How will your piece
get noticed among all the “junk mail” people receive?
Have you interviewed professionals who have a proven
record in direct mailing? Direct mail is an expensive
process and is not a place to provide family and
friends with a “learning experience.”
- Distribution/Mailing: How do you plan to
mail your promotional piece? Will you mail it first
class or bulk? Do you have a permit? Will you use
labels, handwritten addresses, laser printing? How
much will it cost to mail each piece?
- Inventory/Services: Will you be able to
“deliver the goods” you are promoting? Think
carefully. The inability to deliver on promised goods
or services will cause long-term damage to the
reputation of your business.
- Measuring the Effectiveness of the Campaign:
After you establish your goals (Step #1), you need to
have some kind of measuring mechanism in place to
determine whether you reach or exceed your goals.
- Evaluating the Results: When your
promotional window is finished (this is the time from
when the consumer receives your mailing to the time
you have allowed for them to respond), you need to
back up and take a hard, long look at your promotional
efforts. You must review what worked, what didn’t, if
you need to change or improve to achieve better or
- Budget Review and Evaluation: Produce a
report for every line item in your budget. It should
show what you actually spent compared to what you
planned to spend. After evaluating your efforts,
review your budget/expenditures and variances with an
eye toward what worked and how you may need to “juggle
the budget” in the future. Was this direct mail
campaign worth the money and effort? Are you happy
with the results?