2nd of Four Basics in Direct Mail Makeover

2nd of Four Basics in Direct Mail Makeover: DEVELOP YOUR GAME PLAN

Now that you have all of the ingredients (and the right ingredients) for your direct mail makeover (the 12 step process), it’s time to put them all together to “form a game plan.” Let’s take a look at how to do that.

The 12 ingredients (or process) we talked about last week will help you form the dough ($’s and profits) you can realize from your direct mail campaign. How you mix these ingredients will determine the formulation of your dough (your game plan). So here’s what your formulation should look like and include:

• The Strategy (your offer)
• Targeted Mailing Lists (your target audience)
• Tactical and Creative Execution (your copy and design)

Understanding What the Offer Is. Your offer and strategy is the part of your direct mail campaign that attracts attention and builds interest. It is the total selling proposition, the deal you make to a prospect or customer – the combination of the product or service, the price, and the way you present the two. Choosing the right offer and its components and making sure it is relevant to your target audience is of utmost importance. There are two other considerations you will need to address.

1. Components of the Offer. Your offer needs to include specifics that pertain directly to the product or service and the price, i.e., terms of payment, time limit, incentives, and guarantees.

2. Structuring the Offer. The big idea in structuring your offer is to make it as compelling and irresistible as possible to the ideal prospect or customer. Here’s a few points to keep in mind:

a. Create a feeling of excitement
b. Do not go over the edge into the unbelievable; it’s an offer too good to be true
c. Make your offer relevant and appropriate to product/service and the need it fills; would you buy it?
d. Try for exclusivity – study your competitors offers, then structure your offer’s components that only you can make
e. Do not limit yourself; build emotional needs into the offer. Appeal to the psychological needs of filling basic needs.
f. Keep it simple. Make it easy for the customer to “act now”

Identifying Your Target Audience. Know what junk mail is? Uh huh – it’s preparing the most terrific direct mail campaign and sending it to people who couldn’t care less and a waste of time and money. Targeting – identifying your direct mail audience – is the best way to ensure that your prospects will find value in your direct mail product or service and have them take action. So how do you do this? Start by:

1. Knowing Your Current Customers. Find out every relevant thing about their buying habits in relation to your product or service. Why would do this? Because there are other people similar to your current customers who will want to buy your product or service. If you can develop the perfect composite of your current customers, finding more of them will be a lot easier. You will be able to use customer modeling, database services, and mapping to formulate your targeted list for your direct mail campaign (see #2 below).

2. Finding New Customers by Using Customer Modeling Techniques. Now that you know specifics about your current customers, you have options to zone in on your target audience (prospective new customers). One option is to use customer modeling which is a computer based way of profiling your customers. Among them are Database Services, Regression Analysis, and Mapping. There’s a lot to learn with these options so I will not go into specifics at this time.

3. Finding New Customers by Renting Targeted Mailing Lists. Using targeted mailing lists is another option to help you zone in on a selective audience. The goal is to choose the right list in relation to your product or service so you can “personally” talk to the people on the list and get on their radar screen, and show that you recognize their interests and needs and tell how your product or service will benefit them. Work with your mailing company on renting the right list.

Creating & Executing Your Copy and Design. There’s three components to consider in this stage of the formulation: Choosing Your Format, Creating Your Work of Art, and Printing Your Offer.

1. Choosing Your Format. As you refine your direct mail campaigns, you will find that different market segments need to receive different formats and offers. There are self mailing formats such as postcards, flyers, brochures, booklets and catalogs. There is also the complete direct mail package. The package usually contains the envelope, letter, brochure, order form and a reply device. Additions might include: buck slips and flyers, stickers, lift letters, and magalogs.

2. Creating Your Art Work. There’s much to consider when creating the actual art work: First, unless you are a writer and designer by trade (and you are probably not both), you should hire professional freelancers or an agency that can fulfill both the writing and the graphic design. Secondly, make sure that the copy written is relevant and personal to your audience and can “sell” the benefits of your product or service. And finally, design is not just about photos or illustrations; it is the overall layout. Good graphic design draws the reader in and guides her through the copy, and focuses her attention on key benefits. Optimum direct mail graphic design organizes the copy and graphic elements so as to move the sales story forward, to the order form or other “action device” to a successful purchase.

3. Printing Your Offer. Now that your offer has been written and designed, you are ready to move on to getting your direct mail campaign ready for print. So much to do in preparation for print and each step should be carefully thought out, preferably with your print partner.
Tip: Meet with your print partner early in the design stage to discuss what you are planning and whether it is the most economical way to proceed; it will save a lot of time and money. Among the preparation steps are: choosing the paper and ink that will fulfill the total design.

If you are satisfied with how your dough (game plan) looks, then it is time to Get Ready, Get Set, Send! See you next week for the 3rd of the Four Basics in the Direct Mail Makeover – Deliver Your Direct Mail Piece.

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