The quarterly direct mail primer reminder

Every few months, I start seeing a sudden increase in the number of questions I get pertaining to direct mail. The fundamentals of direct mail tend to get lost in the overall tax practice marketing conversation these days, since that conversation is dominated by social media and mobile.

The fact of the matter is that direct mail remains one of the most successful methods for marketing a professional practice in any industry these days. Direct mail should be one of your top three or four “go to” methods for new lead generation, prospect follow up, and client retention. It ranks right up there with the telephone, Internet, and word of mouth as a primary marketing communication medium.

While there are many lengthier articles on this blog regarding this subject, I figured that some readers could use a quick primer on the subject. I actually posted the following seven points back in January, but they continue to remain relevant, and even I need the occasional bop on the head on this subject to remind me to use it more.

Direct Mail Primer
I consider the following seven elements to be the most salient points to always remember about direct mail:

  1. The purpose of a lead generation direct mail piece is to generate a response for additional follow up marketing — not to sell your services in the letter.
  2. Following up with phone calls the day of or the day after your prospect should have received your direct mail piece is pivotal to seeing drastically higher response rates.
  3. Letters with handwritten addresses are opened about 3x more often than printed labels. Real stamps drastically increase letter open rates, also.
  4. A compelling headline in your letter is the single greatest key to response AFTER getting them to open it. It is worth researching the internet for “direct marketing headline banks” to get examples of successful headlines from other people, and modify them to your needs.
  5. If you hit a 2% response rate from a direct mail campaign, you’ve hit a grand slam. Anything over one half of one percent is still good, especially in any business with a large transaction size (such as tax resolution).
  6. Sending a one-time mailer is usually a waste of money. Direct mail works best with “multi-hit” campaigns. E.g., send a first letter, then a couple weeks later send another one to people that didn’t respond. Response rates are additive, and in most cases, the longer the mailing sequence, the better. Side note: Make sure you’re sending the right sequence to the right mailing list (“market to message match”).
  7. Make a limited time offer in your letter. Offer them a report, a book, a seminar, something of value — and always assign a deadline.

Put these seven very brief tips into practice in your direct mail, and you’ll begin seeing substantially better results for your marketing dollars.