If you apply the same basic research skills to your direct mail ad campaigns you will be far more successful than if you do not study your competition.
Every insert in a direct mailing package – even for a completely different type of business from your own - is competing for the attention of the recipient. Instead of throwing away junk mail, from now on study it for "keywords," content, and layout - just as you would for website optimization. The only significant difference is that instead of looking for keywords to entice search engines, you are looking for "buzz words” to attract the human eye.
So get out all your junk mail and start reading it. Here are tips on how to study junk mail for developing your own successful direct mail marketing strategies:
- Look for Patterns: What words or phrases are being used over and over again in the ads? Do you see more "on sale now" or "our biggest sales event of the year?" Chances are the companies advertising paid someone to help them develop buzz words. Consider how you can use similar phrases in your own ad campaigns.
- Count Coupons: Count the number of sales ads vs. coupons. What are others marketers in your area doing? If you see more coupons in a particular industry (i.e., renovations, dry cleaning, clothing or grocery stores, etc.) instead of sales events there may be a good marketing reason why.
- Study How Ads Speak Directly to Targeted Consumers: Advertising images and phrases that relate to something consumers identify with are critical in making a connection with a potential customer.
For example, pizza companies often tie sales to sports events, while flowers and gift companies increase direct mail marketing around Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and Christmas. Charities look for innocent faces and injured animals, while lawyers and big corporations tend to use powerful looking professionals in suits to sell their image.
- Looks Count: Words play a very important role in advertising, but when it comes to direct marketing (especially if your ad is being inserted into a mass mailer) looks count even more.
Without thinking, toss a handful of direct mail from other companies onto the table or floor. Which ones immediately catch your eye, and why?
It is important to remember that some consumers respond to bright colors and others will respond better to a more corporate toned-down color palette. But very few people will respond to visually cluttered or busy visual presentations.
While you are looking at what drew your eye also pay attention to what you immediately reacted "yuck!" to.
- Front and Back? You will pay extra for printing on the front and back of direct marketing mailing inserts and it may not even be necessary. However, if you do not print an ad on both the front and back sides some marketing companies will put someone elses' ad on the back of yours. You can always fill a blank back with a small map, your contact information, or better – a coupon!
Playing it safe by following the advertising herd in a general sense is wise. But direct marketing can pay off bigger if you keep it clean, simple and find a niche and fresh approach.
As you study direct mail for ideas and clues about what to do, remember to also study direct mail for ideas about "what not to do."
You can avoid costly mistakes by taking the time do your research before launching a direct mail ad campaign. If you do not, your ads will almost certainly end up in the consumer “yuck” pile. In marketing terms, this is known as the trash can.