Why Customers Ignore Your Direct Mail

“Direct Mail costs more than email,” Captain Obvious might tell you if he were writing this article. Yeah, well, compared to running television commercials during Super Bowl broadcasts, Direct Mail to your target market costs a whole lot less – and is a whole lot more successful for generating leads for your business.

Maybe Direct Mail costs more than yard signs. Yes, but Direct Mail to your target market also costs a whole lot less than billboards in Times Square in NYC, and is a whole lot more successful for generating leads for your business.

Ever heard of apples and oranges? They’re different, and comparisons between the two don’t always add up.

Each marketing format offers its own upsides, with just as much potential for misfires. So when contractors are investing in the valuable marketing tool of Direct Mail, you want it to be the best you can deliver.

A MarketingSherpa survey asked a few thousand consumers recently, “Why do you ignore print advertising you receive from companies?” They were then given a list of usual suspects to check off: clutters my mailbox (that’s what most picked); offer is not of interest to me; I receive too much mail; the ads aren’t interesting; they focus on the company’s needs, not mine. In any of these answers and others, the issue that is rising up again and again is: The Direct Mail does not meet my needs.

That is the key to differentiation. The difference between a satisfied and unsatisfied view of marketing, MarketSherpa has discovered, is whether the marketing puts the customer first. This is definitely a question you should ask as you send your next Direct Mail: How can your piece not just sell but best serve your customers?

One tactic that is highly favored by customers is to include discount coupons. People like that. They like holding onto that slip of paper that’s going to save them twenty bucks or twenty percent or whatever. But there are also other ways to add value, including providing timely, useful information (your customer newsletter is a stellar option for delivering this kind of value).

The other overriding question for Direct Mail success is, “How can your piece get attention?” To rise above that mailbox clutter, your piece should stand out as an irresistible invitation to learn more.

Direct Mail effectiveness has three components – and each, when aptly applied, answers the concerns that get mail ignored.

One part is driven by the quality of your mailing list. That accounts for 40%, experts say, and a good list reduces the chance someone will say, “This isn’t relevant to me.” The best list is your current customers (as the number one source of future business). The second-best is re-contacting old leads. Another good list is those who live in or around neighborhoods you have recently served, as well as targeted homeowners that fit your service area and demographics that are most likely to respond to your offer.

Another 40% of Direct Mail success is driven by the quality of your offer. This offer should be something of value, from which many benefits are derived, and comes with a sense of urgency, so they know to “act now.” This reduces the likelihood someone will say, “They’re focused on the company’s needs, not mine.”

That final 20% is driven by the creativity of your packaging, which answers the problem, “The ads aren’t interesting.” This doesn’t have to be golden bells and whistles; a winner can be a regular envelope with a superbly written teaser that gets someone to open the piece.


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