In a world that is going further and further along the technological spectrum, there are some low-tech things that once upon a time would be considered "old-school" but have now become the new "cool thing." Think about music. It used to be that people would always want digital, that was the cutting edge. Now there's a whole bunch of audiophiles who prefer listening to music off of vinyl.

The same thing applies in your marketing.

There are several "old-school" techniques to generate leads that have become cutting-edge again. They stand out, in whole or in part, because of how the world has moved past them in most ways. 

So today I wanted to share with you one of my favorite "old school" marketing tactics: Direct Mail

My experiences with direct mail started over 25 years ago doing a tremendous amount of copywriting and direct mail sales for various information products. Over a 10-year period, the direct mail letters, brochures, and marketing collateral that I created helped to generate over $100 million of business.

When it comes to direct mail, the single most important three variables are: 

  1. The list: the list you choose is remarkably important. There's likely nothing else that you can do that would have the same leveraged impact than the choice of list. We'll go into detail about how to find the right list in a moment. 

  2. Your headline: the very first thing somebody sees when they open up your letter or direct mail piece.

  3. The outside of your mailing piece: this includes whether you use a label or directly print on the envelope, the fonts chosen, the choice of using teaser copy or not teaser copy, live stamp versus metered mail, etc.

Finding the Right List

Let's go into detail about how to find the right list, one of the three most important, if not the single most important, element of a successful direct mail campaign. 

For most small businesses, you're likely not going to be sending out tens of thousands of direct mail pieces. And if you do send out tens of thousands of direct mail pieces, you're likely doing them as what are called "carrier routes" or under bulk-mail rates. The expense of sending out tens of thousands of first-class direct mail pieces or more in any typical month is prohibitive and is likely not something the average small business would do.

But given the expense, and the ease at which people market through email, social media ads, and pay-per-click, most companies have abandoned any of their direct mail, with the exceptions of hyper geographic businesses like service companies or other retail-like establishments.

One of my business coaching clients owns and operates four automotive repair stores in Southern California. One of their primary ways of generating millions of dollars each year is through simple, direct mail postcards that are sent to people in their local area. The list that they use is what's called a "carrier route" which, in essence, means it goes to every home on a route that a postal employee delivers to. This is one of the least expensive ways of doing it, however the list is fairly indiscriminate as it goes to everybody on that list. For my client's business, a hyper-local automotive repair shop, carrier routes allow him to target businesses in the immediate vicinity of her repair shops. This has proved to be a very effective strategy to both generate call volume and car visits to get repairs in his shops. 

So, if you do have a very hyper specific business, bulk and/or carrier route options could work effectively for you.

But what if you want something more targeted?

You can try the following:

  • A targeted hot list. Sending a mailer to people in your house list that you have compiled together.

  • Purchase a list through a third-party broker. Information source providers and list brokers exist and they're easy to find online. The big ones in the industry include players like List Giant or Hoovers. 

When it comes to direct mail, you want to spend the extra effort to make sure that you have your key audience in mind and are only sending to those that could benefit from your product and service.