Direct mail marketing can be an exceptionally effective choice for many types of businesses, used alone or in conjunction with other marketing techniques. Postcards are particularly popular with small businesses for their affordability and impact, although sometimes a brochure-mailer can sometimes also be appropriate.

Whether you’re just now discovering direct mail marketing or it’s been a mainstay of your local business promotional efforts for years, it’s handy to have a checklist you can reference from time to time, to ensure your mailers produce consistently excellent results.

1) Audience

Which of your marketing personas is this mailing for? Most businesses have more than one type of customer or patient or client, and you can target either current customers or prospects. Knowing who you’re talking to and what’s most important to them drives everything else about your direct mailer – the design, the content, the mailing list, the timing.

2) Mailing list

Direct mail works only if it’s delivered to people who are very likely to be interested in what you have to offer. And it’s cost-effective only if the delivery rate is very high. When you rent or purchase mailing lists, are you taking full advantage of your targeting criteria options to zoom in on your hottest prospects? Are you scouring your internal database(s) regularly to ensure addresses are still accurate? If not, you’re wasting precious resources and getting less than you’re paying for.

Are you using your inbound marketing and other techniques to continually add new names to your mailing list? Have you evaluated whether the post office’s Every Door Direct Mail option makes sense for your business or certain campaigns?

3) Creative design

Are you presenting key elements on your postcard or brochure so they produce maximum impact? Generic postcards do your business a disservice rather than setting you apart. A custom, professionally designed postcard is crucial so your mailer looks its best and clearly reflects your business and its personality.

Mailers that perform best include:

  • A can’t-miss, straight-to-the-point headline – if you short-change this element you could lose readers before they get started.
  • Photos that tell your story better than words
  • Color and layout to instantly grab attention, with consistent branding that reinforces name familiarity.
  • Content that is brief, using bullet points or short phrases that deliver your message succinctly.
  • “Finishing touches” that add legitimacy and give your recipients multiple ways to contact you – name, address (and possibly a locator map or other helpful details), hours, website URL, email address, social media icons. Each of these details is small but mighty powerful in helping people make the decision to choose you.  
  • Beautiful, crisp printing that says you’re a professional and care about quality.

4) Content

Is it clear who you are and what you do? If you’re prospecting, you need to introduce your business and tell people what separates you from the competition. Why should they choose you as their new dentist, try your restaurant or gym or tax service rather than going somewhere else? How will they benefit – a problem solved? An emotional or psychological need met?

Content should build trust and a personal connection with your recipient. Are you adding testimonial quotes and other credibility-builders like logos or lists that show your professional affiliations, accreditations, awards, etc.?

5) Offer

The purpose of direct mail marketing is to make sales or attract leads you can nurture and convert later on. Merely telling people about your business is rarely enough – you may spark interest, but you probably won’t spur action. Are you giving people a solid reason to respond? An incentive/reward such as a discounted price or percent off, a gift with purchase, an exclusive early-bird preview or introductory offer will seal the deal.

6) Call to action

Does your mailer clearly tell recipients what to do next? Should they call, email, visit your website or stop by in person? You can’t make a tempting offer and then just leave them hanging. If you expect people to figure out for themselves how to follow up, they won’t bother. Or they’ll set your mailer down, intending to deal with it later, only to forget about it. You want them to take action while it’s top-of-mind.

Are you imparting a sense of urgency that propels prospects to act fast? You can limit quantities or set an expiration date, but don’t make the quantity so limited prospects will think they have no chance or make the deadline so close people don’t have time to respond (or so far away there really isn’t a sense of urgency after all). Learn more about creating an irresistable call to action.

7) Timing

Are you scheduling campaigns for times when prospects are most likely to respond? Are you scheduling enough repeat mailings to assure maximum response?

8) Tracking and analytics

Your goal isn’t response, it’s making sales so you get a great return on your marketing investment. The only way to know how well your campaigns are performing is by tracking results and calculating your ROI. This also helps you see which offers or other elements are working best for you, so you can refine your marketing over time. Consider using a special phone number you can track and also record to study and improve phone sales skills. If you do, be sure it looks local, because your prospects want to buy from a local business.

Use this checklist to create and review your direct mail marketing, and you’ll:

  • Know exactly who your audience is, so you can precisely target your mailing.
  • Know what they want most, and your content can reflect that.
  • Give recipients a compelling incentive to act now.
  • Set a campaign-appropriate mailing schedule.

That’s the path to success whether you’re prospecting for new leads or looking to sell more to existing customers or renew your relationship with inactive customers.

Want some real secrets? Download our Postcard Mailing for Success Checklist.