The recession we are experiencing now will most likely continue “at least through the middle of ,” says Wachovia Corp. Senior Economist Mark Vitner. Other economists agree with Vitner and think that the economy will be flat for the second half of 2009.
For marketers, that means tighter budgets all around – with advertising, public relations, marketing materials, Web promotions, etc. However, direct marketing budgets are expected to outpace general advertising in 2009, capturing 53% of total advertising spending according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). The DMA’s “Power of Direct Marketing Report” also predicts that the ROI for direct marketing will increase, from $11.63 in 2008 to $11.74 in 2009.
Many large corporations are increasing their direct mail volume, with Chase and Capital One increasing 90% and 140% respectively in 2008, according to Mintel Comperemedia.
Using direct mail as a low-cost means of marketing can work for any type of business; just use the following tips:
1. Use targeted mailing lists. This isn’t the time to waste money on people who aren’t remotely likely to be interested in your product or service. The “spray and pray” tactic won’t fly now; it will only bring down your ROI, which won’t look good to Accounting. By purchasing targeted mailing lists, you’ll up the chance for a better ROI and will move inventory off your shelves more quickly.
2. Mail postcards. Postcards are generally the least expensive type of direct mail to send. Not only are printing costs cheaper, but mailing costs as well. Save the brochures and catalogs for those customers who meet all of your target audience requirements or who have shown an interest in receiving these heavier (and more costly) direct mail pieces.
3. Mail letters, and don’t forget to use the envelopes! What I mean by this is not to just send a plain envelope. Many people throw away direct mail in envelopes without even peeking inside. A great way to urge people to open the envelope is to include some kind of offer they can’t resist, like “Free gift inside” or “$50 coupon inside.” This isn’t the time to play games with people – tell them exactly what’s inside the envelope and why they should bother opening it. By printing on the envelope, you can get twice the persuasive power with only little more cost than printing the original letter.
The New York Times recently sent out an intriguing two-color, 1-page letter, with a perforated form at the bottom to return. The letter consisted of a brief list of benefits of getting the newspaper, and then the offer of 50% off for 6 months. The envelope included the teaser “Free gift inside” that made me open it. The free gift? A bookmark that had clues on how to fill out a crossword puzzle with tips for NYT Crossword Editor Will Shortz. A bookmark is a perfect gift, it’s cheap, and relates to the audience, who are presumably “readers” who would use the free gift. Make sure if you offer a free gift or a coupon, it’s toward something of value to the customer or prospect.
4. Use a student or university services to mail out your pieces. Many college designers are great at what they do, and can design a simple brochure, postcard or sales letter for you at little cost. Also, check your local university’s printing shop – with students manning the presses, these shops can pass on the lower wages as savings to you, while giving the students some real-world experience.