Direct Mail Marketing – Deliver Your Message and Get It Read

There seems to be a concern among marketing managers that direct mail marketing is effectively dying. There may be some truth to that statement. Certainly the cost of mail has increased in recent years. Effective marketing is of course all about reaching the right prospect with the right message and getting the maximum return for the advertising dollar. In the past, direct mail marketing has been one of the least expensive and most effective methods of presenting a message to the public. Studies have indicated that in recent years response rates have dropped precipitously due to over saturation. Recognized mail is separated from what is obviously a solicitation and it isn’t even opened or read.

In general, postcards are more effective than letters because they are less expensive than letters. Also they command attention with an element of “flash” and there is no conscience effort to open to open an envelope required. On the other hand, postcards are impersonal and usually do not thoroughly deliver the sales message in a formal and exclusive manner. When the recipient receives a postcard, it is obviously a mass solicitation rather than a personal invitation. Envelopes with a return address from what the recipient perceives as a professional organization may get more attention “if they are opened”.

So how do you get them opened? One method is to provide something of real value in the envelope and call attention to it on the face of the envelope. A major insurance company mailing hundreds of thousands of solicitation mailers per month was considering abandoning their direct mail campaigns because their resulting rate of leads had dwindled in recent years. The Director of Marketing was introduced to the idea of including prescription drug discount wallet cards in the envelope. The insurance company did not offer medical insurance of any kind so there was no product conflict. The drug cards provide a discount of up to 85% on all prescription drugs at over 80% of the pharmacies in the US. The outside of the envelope was branded “A Gift From XYZ Insurance Company”. The implication is if you open the envelope you will receive something of value at no cost to you. The second motivation to open the envelope comes from the fact that the recipient can feel the plastic wallet cards in the envelope. Curiosity alone motivates the recipient to open the envelope even if the message is mistrusted.

The insurance company determined that they could include a card for the family, a second card specifically designed for savings on pet medications as well as their marketing piece in the envelope without increasing the bulk mail postage cost. The drug cards are free so the only additional cost to the direct mail marketing campaign is the printing cost of the cards which is two cents each when printed in volume. The director of marketing reported that from their first 100,000 direct mailings incorporating the drug card they received a 30% increase in leads for their agents.

The result of this strategy is that the recipient is gifted something of real value that saves money repeatedly and will never expire. The card is branded with the donor’s company name and logo. Each time the card is presented to a pharmacist and money is saved attention is brought to the donor. Certainly the intended message to the recipient is better received; particularly on subsequent mailings.

This strategy will work for almost any industry promoting products or services. It only takes a little imagination to determine the correct message to convey the idea that the direct mailing piece should be opened. The message on the plastic wallet card “Free Prescription Drug Discount Card” promotes the idea that this is not another piece of junk mail to discard without reading.

For those who are considering a direct mail marketing campaign or those who have had little success in the past this may be the solution to getting your message across. There may be other ways of inducing recipients to open your envelope but offering a service of true value at practically zero cost would seem to be the most practical approach. Direct mail marketing isn’t dying but like anything else in our increasingly competitive environment it takes imagination to stay ahead of the competition.

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