Saturday, February 7, 2009

From Junk Mail to Power Mail

Last week blogger Nancy Schwartz wrote about receiving a direct mail piece from one of her favorite nonprofits -- the adoption agency they used. But instead of receiveing a direct mail piece that engaged and nurtured the relationship between the agency and Nancy's family, the piece ended up having them question the strength of the operation. Her experience inspired me to write a bit about how to turn your Junk Mail into Power Mail.

How much mail do you get every day? For some, that daily ubiquitous pile of paper is almost a status symbol. For others, it is just one more hassle and headache in an already crowded day.

The issue of what is so commonly referred to as an overload of “junk mail” has gotten worse, or so a report released by the Consumer Federation of America says. The report, which surveyed more than 1000 people found that 78 percent of respondents believe the amount of unsolicited mail, or junk mail, they receive irritates them "a lot or a little."

Of the 78 percent who found it irritating, 48 percent said junk mail irritates them a lot. That's an increase of 2 percentage points over the prior year's survey.

Direct marketers say, however, that if direct mail is targeted, it is a very effective and welcome form of marketing communications. And the United States Post Office agrees. They rank direct mail third just behind TV and newspapers in marketing effectiveness. The critical ingredient in making direct mail work, however, is targeting.

Think about it, sometimes that “junk mail” catches your eye, and quietly, while no one is looking, you may even open it. Why? The reason is quite simple. The offer or packaging of the mail interested you enough to cause you to look further. Junk mail are only those pieces which promote a product or service you don’t want or need, or a cause which doesn’t resonate in your hearts.

The most savvy direct mail experts all agree that you should have the best offer and packaging in your direct mail piece. However, it is the list that you send it to which determines your success.

Next time you prepare to send out a letter, brochure, or other direct mail piece consider the following questions which will help increase the effectiveness of your list.

  1. Is direct mail the best medium to carry this important message? If not, go back to the creative drawing board and identify the best way to get your voice heard.

  2. Who is the specific target audience for this piece (men, fathers, women, mothers, purchasers of fitness equipment, general public, registered voters, etc.)?

  3. What is the audience’s profile and characteristics (age, sex, lifestyle, work habits, relationship to your product/service/issue)?

  4. What does the target audience do in terms of lifestyle (What do they read on a regular basis, where do they live, or where do they go for vacations, dinner or entertainment)?

  5. When is the best time to reach them with your message (time of year, day, month, event considerations)?
By identifying these basic characteristics of your target audience, you can purchase lists that more accurately match your ideal prospect, thus increasing your direct mail piece’s effectiveness and staying away from “junk mail”.

-- David Kinard, PCM

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