Direct Mail: The Power of Consistency

Last Friday, I posted about a conversation I had with Mark Pageau, vp sales at Darwill, about how direct mail results can be sabotaged by post-mail factors unrelated to the mailing itself and, consequently, the importance of helping marketers think through the entire sales funnel when results are not what they expect.

Another issue that has been raised around the topic is consistency.  Too often, companies evaluate the power of direct mail based on a single campaign when, in fact, customers often need repeated exposure before they will buy. If a single campaign doesn’t produce results, it may not because “direct mail doesn’t work.” It may be that the product or service is one that customers don’t purchased based on a single contact.

Mark Zazeela, a shipping and mailing consultant based in New York City, has noted:

Many [marketers] don’t seem to understand the power of creating brand awareness. Brand awareness does not happen with one mailing. Brand awareness is created through a well planned and executed campaign.

Think of some of the most ubiquitous consumer brands. They are constantly creating new advertising. They understand that one television commercial or one magazine ad will not build a market following. They repeat, repeat, and repeat again.

Mail one time and wonder why it didn’t get you what you expected? There are so many reasons why people don’t respond to the first offer. They forgot. They misplaced the mailer. The timing was not right. They didn’t give it their full attention. Lots more reasons.

When thinking about direct mail, think of a campaign, not just a mailing. Think of it as an investment, not just an expense.

Laura Stamps of Kittyfeather Press, adds:

I usually give a prospect an entire year of regular mailings before I move that name to a less frequent list. I’ve been using direct mail for 27 years, and it doesn’t take long to realize what you’re saying is very true. So many times I’ll receive an envelope stuffed with 6 months worth of flyers and a check. That’s the beauty of direct mail. If a prospect is too busy to respond immediately she/he will often save your mailing and respond later, even 6 months or a year later. Direct mail is definitely “sticky,” but only if you’re patient and consistent.

So if your clients are kicking back against direct mail results, maybe the answer isn’t to mail less — it’s to mail more!

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3 thoughts on “Direct Mail: The Power of Consistency

  1. Harvey

    There are too many factors involved in direct mail to put the blame of failure on one. My experience tells me that it’s more than 1 mistake that causes a mail program to fail. Also, with response rates averaging .001, setting unrealistic response goals using tired formats virtually guarantees failure.

  2. Heidi Tolliver-Walker

    Agreed. It’s a smart strategy for printers to be willing to help the client analyze their sales funnel from start to finish to find the reasons for failed campaigns. Not every printer can (or is willing) to do it, but there can certainly be some eye-opening results when they do. Isn’t it interesting when the reason for the failure is something completely unrelated to direct mail itself?

  3. Phil Brown

    The odds of an in person cold sales call making a close are about 2%. Why would we expect anything different from direct mail? In the sales world, at least 6 repeat calls will guarantee you a smile and a handshake. It could be 12 calls before you make a sale. Consistency is the key!

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