To Direct Mail or Not to Direct Mail, that is the question...

Those who have success with direct mail tell everyone they know how effective it has been for them and how amazing their return on investment is, but often I hear from confused marketers how while they hear it is the single most effective element in someone else’s marketing mix, they can’t seem to make it work for themselves.

What I’m finding is that it usually is because they don’t “get” the right techniques for using direct mail, and as such they rarely make the most of even a smidgen of the opportunity that good direct mail can offer.

The golden rule of direct mail success sounds something like this: Success is based 40% on the list you use, 40% on the strength and relevancy of the offer you make, and 20% on how you execute. In other words, it is much more about saying the right thing to the right audience than how you say it. Content beats style for sure!

I'm teasing you with 4 Direct Mail Best Practice Most Asked Questions for 8 more and the whole White Paper now!

1. Do they even read ‘em?

While 25% of most ads are read, the Direct Marketing Association’s proven statistics are that 75% of mail is opened and read. When you consider that direct mail costs more per contact as it compares to an ad reaching the masses (many of whom it doesn’t relate to anyway) this is an important statistic to remember, because the quality of contact is much better with direct mail.

2. How many prospects/customers will call me as a result of my mailing?

As for the response rate you should hope for, 2% is the industry norm for prospecting leads. This has long been reported by the Direct Marketing Association in cases where “more information” is the call to action. While 2% may seem low, consider that on a percentage basis, ads typically get response levels below .5%. Also, consider that the responses from a pre-qualified mailing list are almost always better than from any other source. I guess the most important point here is not to get all hung up in the averages, and keep your eye on your objectives.

3. How many touchpoints do I make? How often should I mail?

The general rule is to mail 3 times in a relatively condensed period of time. Typically, you will receive 60% of your total response from the first mailing, 20-30% from your second, and under 10% from your third.

Want more? Sure you know you for the whole white paper!

Lose the "Retail-itude"

In a time when most customers are rare, and every dollar spent is precious, I am often floored at the potential for those whose responsibility it is to parlay respect to shoppers to disappoint.

I was privy to an anecdote of undeniable customer disservice today. Surprisingly, it was in a retail store that often hinges its reputation on its customer-centric philosophy. Sadly, what floored me was not what actually transpired, but that in times like these, and I do mean, economically so strained, that the management of any large chain of retail stores could be so inconsiderate as to leave a customer so angry they were left stomping their feet in dismay.

We’ve all been in the position of the customer and nearly all of us have found ourselves in the position to be able to “make it right” for someone in a customer service setting so I think that we can play this out while stepping into both sets of shoes.

In my world, there is no room for “retail-itude” when it comes to Managing. In this particular case, what came of it was a slew of sales people AND other customers listening and watching as the Manager mistreated a customer. The customer wanted to be recognized as a real person standing in a line waiting to check out. The Manager opened another register to do a “return”. The customer was waved over to her register which she promptly shut down just after processing the return. The customer had lost her place in the other line, and was S.O.L. (standing off line, though I know you know what I meant here!). The same customer had two small children with her and the whole mess was a meltdown in the making.

The Customer’s POV: She was frustrated at the long waiting time to begin with and was confused as to why she was waved over and then dismissed by the Store Manager.

The Store Manager’s POV: In the process of a return, she waved over other customers but then changed her mind. She was frustrated that a line had formed where there was none before and she decided that since the other line was moving again that they would just naturally shift back over to the regular register and she could go about her other work again. She was just helping out for a return and ultimately wasn’t responsible for checking customers out.

Neither one was necessarily in the wrong (though I would beg to differ on the point of the Store Manager being ultimately responsible for checking customers out), except the Store Manager gave the customer “retail-itude” by dismissing her both with a hand sign and verbally. An honest explanation as to why she couldn’t continue to run the register would probably have sufficed to calm the situation. But, instead, she gave the customer an attitude, the other sales staff watched and listened to her treat someone that way instilling in them that customer’s needs don’t matter.

The thought of the domino effect on the staff disturbed me though in some way it was the perfect explanation as to why certain stores have cultures that breed negativity amongst its staff.

“Retail-itude” breeds negativity and most certainly doesn’t instill loyalty in any customer, not the one who was left stomping her feet in frustration, nor in any of the 7 people in line watching the drama unfold. The only answer is to “just say no” and nip “retail-itude” in the bud. Positive management role modeling is the only way to breed a customer-centric culture and it’s a great investment in the longevity of your business.