Direct mail is the hot new media

Direct mail is the hot new mediaWho would have thought it?  People have been predicting the death of direct mail for over a decade.  And yet, here we stand in 2013 and have to admit — direct mail is the hot new media.

As everyone flocks to spending more time online, a curious thing happened  Our mailboxes got a lot less crowded.  Which means that we pay more attention to what shows up every day in the mail.

Which doesn’t mean you don’t still have to do it well.  Many people sort their mail over the wastebasket and if you don’t catch their attention in those few nanoseconds, all could still be lost.

Here are some of our favorite ways to make sure McLellan Marketing Group‘s clients get noteworthy results from their direct mail efforts.

Be odd:  Odd sized mail is always noticed.  Or use a translucent envelope with a bright colored piece of paper inside.  Think texture too — maybe the envelope feels interesting or different.  The point is to get noticed before they even open up the piece.

Be lumpy: Want to get opened for sure?  Be 3-dimentional.  Lumpy mail gets opened because no one wants to accidentally throw away something of value. And better yet — no admin or secretary is going to open a package addressed to their boss.  So you can dodge the gatekeeper with a bit of bulk.

Be late:  The focus has shifted from drop date to in-home date. Studies have shown time and time again that the end of the week to be most effective for delivery. This is based on the tested and proven theory that many people spend time on the weekend going through mail that was put aside to look at again. Having the mail piece arrive closer to the weekend puts your mail on top of the pile.

Take advantage of the fact that direct mail is the hot new media — start showing up in your customers’ and prospects’ mailboxes but do it smart.  Be odd, lumpy and late and you’ll get opened every time!

 

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The magic is in the media mix

The other day I got a direct mail solicitation from Google.  Yes, that Google.

It was a good reminder me (and now to you too) that none of us can afford to get lazy when it comes to media mix.

If the King of Online recognizes the power of a printed piece, then we should probably pay attention too.

We know that people need to hear our message on average 8-13 times before they even notice we’re talking to them. But, in this age of being fascinated with all things digital — we need to remember to keep focused on creating a media mix — and that means adding some offline efforts into your overall marketing plan.

In fact, some are arguing that the hottest “new media” in terms of performance is direct mail.  We’ve all rushed away from printing anything.  Which means the mailbox is a lot less cluttered than an email inbox these days.

Best of all, by mixing your media, you can use one to point to the other.  Your direct mail can drive traffic to your website.  Your blog or FB page can encourage people to request a product sheet or attend a meet up at a trade show.  (Oh…you’d forgotten that face to face is a media too, didn’t you?)

As you plan your next campaign, consider these “old school” off line tactics and see how you can blend them into your media mix — and connect them to your shiny new digital efforts.

  • PR placed article in a trade pub — driving online trials
  • Face to face meetings that result from an email invite
  • Direct mail, driving them to an online video
  • Voicemail message, inviting them to a webinar
  • Radio spots inviting listeners to download a podcast
  • Hard copy white paper/article which introduces them to your online library of content

I’m not suggesting that you always need to cross promote between on and offline.  I just wanted to show you what’s possible.  And how going old school with your media mix should be part of your plan.  I don’t care how hip and cool what you sell may be.

 

 

 

 

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Just because you can…

At MMG, we’re often heard saying “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”  This applies to many things but it seems to come up most when we’re talking about design.

  • Just because you can use 12 fonts on one piece doesn’t mean you should
  • Just because you can auto tweet every 5 minutes doesn’t mean you should
  • Just because you can make your logo spin and catch fire on your website doesn’t mean you should
  • And so on….

Which is why this direct mail piece I received caught my attention.  It’s a perfect example of this axiom.  Check out the short video demo.

 

How about you?  Are there places in your marketing plan that perhaps you’ve crossed the line a little?  Are you guilty of doing more just because you can?

I see this a lot when a business owner tries to DIY their marketing.  They just aren’t quite sure where the line should be drawn.  Remember in most things — simple and clean will beat complicated any day.

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Direct mail marketing do’s and don’ts

I’ve always been a fan of direct mail, especially 3-D direct mail.  It’s pretty tough for someone to ignore a package addressed to them.  Assuming you’re mailing to the right audience — it can be very effective.

I get a fair amount of 3-D direct mail related to the blog and my agency McLellan Marketing Group.  So I thought we could examine two recent efforts and glean some do’s and don’ts.

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A party in a box!

The first mailing came in a huge box and as you can see, it was this metal wash basin, filled with microbrew beers and some snacks.   All it needed was some ice and we were ready to go.

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My own personalized mini trash can!

The second mailing came in a smaller box and the box itself was part of the message.  Inside the box was a small novelty trash can and a personalized message adhered to the inside lid.  Inside the trash can was the sales letter. (The teaser copy on the lid directed me to open the trash can.)

Let’s dig into the do’s and don’ts and see how these two efforts fared.

The Do’s:

Address it to the right person: Spell their name correctly and be sure you use the right “version” of their name.   My full name is Andrew but no one calls me that.  I know that you don’t have a clue who I am if the label says Andrew McLellan instead of Drew McLellan.

Tie what’s in the package to your message:  Don’t just send me something random.  Help me remember who you are and what you are selling by making the 3-D gift part of the message.

Give me the next step: Once I open the package, it’s my move.  So what do you want me to do?  Visit a website, send in a bounce back card, call you or wait for you to call me?

The Don’ts:

Don’t do a one and done: No matter how clever your mailing is, remember that in  marketing, frequency still matters.   So plan a series (you can mix flat and 3-D mailing to keep the budget in line) or tie the 3-D mailing to some other efforts (e-mail, calls, or even mass media).

Put yourself on the list: Unless you are assembling each package by hand, make sure you are on the recipient list.  You want to see how it looks from the receiver’s point of view.  Did the box get all dinged up?  Was everything still in place or had the contents gotten jumbled in transit?  Was everything that was supposed to be in the package included?

Don’t let the coy thing play out too far: Teaser campaigns can be a lot of fun.  But, they only work if you pay off the tease pretty quickly.  Odds are you’ve invested a fair amount of money in this campaign.  So don’t waste it by not being clear about who it’s from and what should happen next.

So let’s go back and grade our two examples.  The beer basin was addressed correctly, but that’s the only Do it got right.  There was no message included in the box.  I have no idea who it was from or what they wanted me to do next.  Which is a real shame, because I am sure it cost a pretty penny.

On the Don’t list — obviously the coy thing, if the anonymity was intentional, was played out way too long.  It’s been a couple weeks and I still haven’t heard another word.  Which also means, at this point, it’s a one and done.  So while it was an awesome mailing — memorable and something I will remember, it didn’t do much from a direct mail point of view.

On the flip side, the simple trash can mailing, which was clearly less expensive and a little more home grown, got all of the Do’s and Don’ts right.  The message and next steps were very clear.  I’ve already received an e-mail follow up and the mailing came through with everything in place.

You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to create an effective 3-D mailing campaign.  Far better to do it simply but well.  (And if you send me the beer — please let me know so I can say thank you!)

How about you — what’s the most memorable 3-D direct mail piece you ever received?

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