Using Direct Mail as a Promotional Tool to Grow Your Brand

promotion in the mail boxBy: Christa Nelson, MBA

For many of us, publicity and promotions usually conjure up a list of activities such as boosted social media posts, articles, awards, promotional announcements or events, such as golf tournaments and other charitable sponsorships. While all of these can be great brand awareness activities for your organization and well worth your time, there is one promotional tool that often is overlooked – direct mail.

This savvy promotional tool was popular for years, trended out and is now back on the rise. The benefits of an eye-catching, uniquely-crafted, strategically-targeted direct mail piece far outweighs the bad rep that has been associated with the mass mailing over the years. Let me address some of the negatives usually associated with direct mail pieces to put your mind at ease.

Direct Mail is Expensive = FALSE
With the evolution of digital printing, the cost of printing direct mail pieces has gone down significantly. You typically don’t have to have the high quantities to get the price breaks anymore. Short runs can allow for more targeted and personalized mailings. In general, the more targeted your efforts are the more successful they will be. Shorter runs mean you can go to the extra effort to customize them for your audience making for a more authentic experience.

The price of postage for most standard pieces has remained reasonable. The standard sizes allow more room to elaborate and provide in-depth information. Customers want to be more informed so a well-designed piece with perfectly crafted content can help you communicate the added value your organization brings to the recipient.

It will take too long to build a list – the opportunity will pass me by = FALSE
There are free and inexpensive resources for obtaining and purchasing lists. There are many ways to capture customer and potential customer data to build your own list. There are mailing services that can help you save time and money by scrubbing lists to ensure accuracy, decreasing duplicates and using bulk mail rates. Where there is a will there is a way. Frankly, if you aren’t capturing your customer or potential customer data there is a problem Houston – let’s talk.

My Piece will get lost in a sea of junk mail = FALSE
But, you argue, “my client’s mailbox is already overflowing with ‘junk’ mail and our piece would just be lost in that pile.” “Not so,” says those who have used direct mail effectively. Get creative, make sure your piece stands out in the crowd. People actually enjoy getting mail that isn’t a bill. You create an opportunity for another touch with your client base to help keep your brand top of mind.

Also, consider, the additional benefit of sending out frequent mailings is database maintenance. With each mailing, you can use the bounced parcels to inexpensively update addresses and contact information. Someone in your organization should be tasked with contacting these bounces. This could be used to motivate and reinforce client retention and personal contact – a reason to reach out and/or reconnect.

You can’t measure your ROI = FALSE
If the clean database alone wasn’t enough of a return on investment to motivate you, consider implementing some call-to-action on your piece. With any marketing activity, you can plan to track your efforts. Having a clear call-to-action on the piece is a great way record ROI. For example, you can have a special web address, a custom email address, a promo code, a bar code, or ask the recipient to bring in the piece or fill it out and return via mail. Get creative, but if you decide to use a bar code or a QR code, be sure to test and double test it. (I have had a QR code fail that still stings a bit.)

get creative with your direct mail pieceStill not convinced, I can think of a few examples where mail campaigns have been quite successful.

A National Engineering Firm specializing in geotechnical and environmental engineering and materials testing launched a very successful year-long direct mail campaign that featured lessoned learn from case studies. It provided summaries of notable cases, quality control tips and highlighted various services and experience. These award-winning pieces proved quite successful in brand awareness, focused and targeted client development and relationship building reaching many legacy clients and new clients alike.

“It is the most recognizable thing we do as a company,” says the Director of Business Development for a national engineering firm. “Often when I call on a company for the first time and they see my business card they immediately know that we’re the company that sent the ‘Lesson Learned’ piece.”

A woman-owned construction management company launched a successful year-long direct mail campaign with the intent to celebrate their clients and potential clients by providing a personalized holiday card for various holidays throughout the year. They picked non-traditional holidays to celebrate creating a buzz throughout the year and driving significant traffic to their website. “Happy Leap Year!”

A minority-owned civil engineering company launched an award winning year-long direct mail campaign to celebrate black inventors in the transportation industry. Their informative pieces were so well received they were recognition by several organizations and won a national education award.

A local non-profit sent construction hardhat invitations for their community celebration event. People are still talking about the invitation years later. The event was so well attended and received, many elected officials and local celebrities were in attendance to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of the community. The extraordinary invitation set the stage for a successful event.

Christa Nelson
Christa A Nelson
Marketing Strategist

I could go on… thinking outside the box is a key ingredient to a successful direct mail campaign. Whether it is the type of piece or the reason for the message the use of direct mail as a promotional activity can help you grow your brand. If you need help launching your next direct mail campaign, the team at MCS is here to help. Give us a call or stop by the office.