Direct Mail Advantages
As its name implies, direct mail is a form of advertising sent to a targeted group of potential customers. A direct mail piece typically includes a persuasive message along with a special offer or discount to entice the prospect to make a purchase or to request additional information. Although it sometimes may be dismissed as "junk mail," direct mail offers several advantages to the marketer.
One major advantage of direct-mail advertising is that it is highly targeted. A business can purchase mailing lists of potential customers through a mailing list distributor such the Direct Marketing Association or Dun and Bradstreet. For example, a small vitamin storeowner can order lists of people who buy vitamins or health products in her market. She can then prepare a direct mailing in hopes of getting these customers to shop at her store.
Direct-mail advertising is cost effective. Companies can easily design colorful or eye-appealing brochures with their computers and desktop software and have thousands of copies printed affordably by a print vendor. Additionally, a company can mail out smaller quantities of a direct-mail advertisement as a test. Once the company determines that the first mailing is successful, it can increase the number of mailpieces in subsequent mailings.
Direct-mail advertising is highly measurable, according to the U.S. Postal Service. A small company can easily measure the results of one or multiple direct-mail campaigns. This can largely be accomplished by keying the coupon used in a direct-mail campaign. For example, a small hardware store may place an ad in one of the direct-mail coupon magazines that are distributed to homes. The storeowner could simply include an expiration date on a coupon used for a September mailing. If a business mails out an individual direct mailpiece, the owner could write "Department 110" as part of the address for a January 2010 mailing. Subsequently, the owner can keep track of responses to each mailing and calculate the profitability.
Direct marketing can be highly individualized. Computer programs allow small companies to address consumers by name in direct-mail campaigns. Therefore, the message of the sales letter, for example, is directed at a particular person as if the owner is speaking directly to them. As many as 55 percent of people are eager to read their mail, according to the U.S. Postal Service. Addressing them by name can only enhance the experience and, ultimately, prompt some to buy a company's products.
Privacy in Marketing
With direct mail, your competition is less likely to discover your marketing strategy. Unlike television, radio or newspaper ads that are easily accessible by everyone, the only way your competitors will find out what you're doing is if they somehow get hold of your correspondence. This can give you a competitive edge, especially if your letter proves to be effective.
Ease of Response
Direct mail allows for easy response by your prospects. You can include a response card where prospects fill out their contact information and the best time to reach them and drop it in the mail. If confidentiality is a concern, you can use add a postage-paid envelope instead, which also allows people to enclose a payment.
(Rick Suttle, Demand Mania)