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5 Cons of Direct Mail Marketing

Consider the Downsides of Direct Mail Marketing

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Direct mail marketing is a highly unpredictable method of marketing your business. Mailing direct to potential (and existing) customers can be lucrative. However, before you spend thousands of dollars on a direct mail marketing ad campaign be sure to consider the pros and the cons.

Pros of Direct Mail Marketing

1. You Need Professional Help for Successful Direct Marketing Campaigns

Unless you plan to hire a local teen to hand-deliver flyers to doorsteps and cars windows in parking lots you will probably need to hire a marketing professional to help you with your direct marketing campaign.

There are many skills required to create an ad campaign including design, targeting the right market, mail list purchases, and analyzing your results.

Direct mail marketing can pay off but it is more likely to pay off when you hire a direct mail marketing professional who knows your business to help you develop marketing strategies and implement initial targeted mail marketing campaigns.

2. Direct Mail Marketing Failure Rate is High

Direct marketing is never as simple as it sounds and the failure rate is extremely high. For most direct mail marketers the direct mail return ratio equates to a loss. When profits do result from a successful marketing campaign they are usually a single digit success.

For example, if you send out 1,000 postcards at a cost of $750 (printing and postage) you need to generate enough sales leads to at least pay for the ad campaign. If you run a clothing boutique and your average customer spends $100 per visit you would need to get 7 or 8 new "average" customers to break even.

Direct mail marketing is about building new relationships and getting the word out about your business - it is unlikely you will get rich from direct mail marketing.

3. Non-Targeted Direct Mail Marketing Campaigns Always Fail In Some Way

If you send out inserts through a local direct mail advertising company you will reach potential customers in your local community. But you will also waste money reaching all the other folks in your geographic area that are not specifically targeted.

Direct mail marketing campaigns must be targeted to be successful. For example, you send out 10,000 solicitations to your community and get few or no responses. Was it the address list? Did people even read your ads? Or, were your ads simply ineffective?

General direct mailings are rarely worth the money unless your business serves an entire community (i.e. church or grocery store). It is always better to consider targeted marketing which will cost you more to develop and implement.

4. Analyzing Results of Direct Mail Marketing is Difficult

Creating a direct mail ad campaign that allows you to track its success is hard. The best way to do this is to offer coupons or discounts that require the customer to bring in the ad. Other than offering incentives (that further eat into your profits) you have virtually no way of tracking the success of your ad campaign.

If you require customers to bring in generic ad coupons at best you will be able to see which mass mailings brought in the most customers based on the ad itself (the type of coupon or discount offered). Unless each coupon has a unique code or other way to identify a specific customer you will not know where they live, their sex, age, or capture any other important marketing demographics.

5. It is One of the Least Cost-Effective Ways to Advertise

Direct mail marketing can and does work for many businesses. But only direct mail campaigns that are thoughtfully developed, implemented, and analyzed are worth investing in. To simply send out ads in the mail on your own is the least cost effective way to advertise.

If you do not have the budget to hire a professional marketing company to help you develop a large targeted marketing ad campaign you are unlikely to see much success for small campaigns conducted on your own.

Instead, spend your advertising money on an ad in a local newspaper, magazine, or bill board.

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Brian Price, executive director of marketing

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