How To Run A Successful Direct Mail Campaign

Long live Direct Mail!

No – Direct Mail hasn’t been superseded by email and telephone campaigns or posting on social media. A range of approaches widens your scope ; Direct Mail may reach the audience that other campaigns cannot reach. Sending out personalised mail to your customers or prospective customers and followed up with digital marketing can be a match made in marketing heaven.

Yes – Direct Marketing obviously costs something for design, print and distribution at the very least, so in order for it to be cost-effective it is crucial, absolutely crucial, that each campaign is carefully thought out to gain the maximum benefit for your company.

The 40/40/20 rule?

That old chestnut… it dates back to the 1960s, doesn’t it? Out of date, surely? But stop your inward groaning and take a look. It’s been shown, over time, that it makes sense. It still makes sense. Almost.

The rule says that 40% of the success of your campaign depends on your list selection, 40% on the offer that you communicate and only 20% on the creative aspect, the design of your flyer, postcard or letter. But surely, somewhere in those figures should be timing – it’s vital to send out your mailing at the optimum time. Let’s change those percentages to 30/30/20/20.

30% list selection – we can help

If you’re approaching current customers then, of course, you’ll already have a list – but make sure it’s up-to-date with the correct addresses and names of contact people. It really makes your company look slapdash if you get that wrong.

If you’re looking beyond your regular audience then constructing a database is extraordinarily time-consuming and buying lists online can be dodgy. At Mailing Expert, tell us the profile you have determined for your new prospects and we’ll be able to provide you with a carefully tailored, clean list so you won’t waste time or money approaching the wrong people – or people who don’t even exist!

30% offer – it’s up to you

Quite honestly, once your mailing is opened, your customer or prospect will be thinking, ‘So how does this benefit ME?’ Blabbing on about how great your company is simply won’t do (even though your company IS great!) You could offer a discount, a free gift or service, an ebook to download… It’s up to you to decide a) what you want your prospect to do, having read your communication, so you need a clear call to action, and b) what reward will they get for doing it?

20% creative – we can help

It IS important to get this right. It has to be compelling to engage attention – so we could help with size, design, copywriting, colours, images and top-class printing services. Choose the right medium for your message – should it be a postcard, a flyer, a greetings card or a letter? You don’t want your material to be mistaken for a piece of junk mail so make it look unique and classy.

20% timing – and follow-up

For time-sensitive campaigns, it goes without saying that your recipients must have enough time to receive the mail, make a decision and take advantage of your offer.

In general, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the very best days for your mail to arrive. Monday there is always a pile of stuff. On Friday, most people are winding down for the weekend ahead.

There are other aspects of time to consider too:

  • Industry peak times – people will be too busy to bother with mail so get it there beforehand
  • Seasons – does your product or service appeal to a certain sector at a specific time?
  • Theme weeks – if it’s not ‘Jam Doughnut Week’ it’s ‘Let’s Go To Work In Pyjamas Day’ – so could you target one of these?
  • Exhibitions – every sector has events and exhibitions – so find out when!
  • Current Affairs – what’s happening in the world? Could it be relevant?

The importance of follow-up is never to be underestimated. What’s the point of piquing someone’s interest with a carefully constructed communication then not doing anything else? A wasted opportunity and destruction of the initial interest you spent time and money trying to build.

So there’s the Mailing Expert Rule, hot off the press: 30/30/20/20

 

Mailing Expert

Wish you weren’t here? We’ll start 2017 off for you with our ideas for postcard campaigns. That’ll make you feel better!

Happy New Year to all of you from all of us and we hope you had a great time over the holidays – that’s if you were lucky enough to have a few days off. Well, here at Mailing Expert, we’re raring to go and the first thing on our minds is the humble postcard.

No, not holiday postcards. No, not saucy seaside postcards. What we’re talking about is the use of postcards in a direct mailing campaign and there are many reasons why this is an all-round Good Idea.

Here’s our top ten:

1. Postcards are the most cost-effective form of direct mail

Think about it – one piece of card, little copy to create, no envelope to stuff and seal, keeping costs down for high-yield campaigns. Small yet powerful!

2. People like getting postcards

Perhaps a postcard  reminds everyone of holidays, but whatever the case, the message is instant, without the need to spend precious minutes opening an envelope. Just a little tip – a postage stamp rather than a franking means your cards are less likely to be categorised as junk mail.

3. There’s a great opportunity for creativity in design

There’s nothing nicer than a colourful imaginative postcard dropping on your front doormat. Simplicity, clear imagery and a succinct message are crucial so your card has immediate impact.

4. Thinking outside the (post)box!

Super-creativity can add a touch of unforgettable genius to your campaign. We’ve heard of cards with messages that only show up when exposed to sunlight or are printed on indestructible material with a challenge to the reader to try to tear it in half. How to get your recipients engaged and likely to show your card to other people, which spreads your message even further.

5. A chance to clarify your objectives

When you’re describing your product, service or a special offer, it’s all too easy to burble on and confuse your audience. Not with a postcard! It’ll take a bit of time to hone your words into very few but then you’ll be clear in your own mind exactly what you’re offering – and so will your recipients.

6. Less to go wrong

In long correspondence, there’s a higher chance of making a mistake whether it’s a typo or an incorrect detail. It only takes a few seconds to proofread a postcard – but beware, a mistake on a postcard will show up big time!

7. The possibility of a noticeable increase in sales and revenue

A simple, effective carefully-considered direct marketing campaign with postcards can see a high return on investment for much less effort than other means – research says 20% more

8. People are more likely to keep postcards than other marketing material

Once read, there’s little aesthetic incentive to keep a letter, emails are often deleted  – but an attractive postcard might be pinned to a notice board, stuck into a diary or propped up on a  windowsill.

9. Multifarious uses…

Apart from information that needs to be confidential, postcards can be used to encourage new customers, promote your company, increase brand awareness, send greetings, direct people to your website, announce events and promotions…the list is endless

10. It’s fun to do!

Admin jobs and office work, let’s face it, can be tedious. Postcard campaigns allow you to give rein to your creative and jolly side – and all for the worthy aim of helping your company to grow.

At Mailing Expert we say HOORAH FOR POSTCARDS! Contact us at once on 01825 983033 or info@mailingexpert.co.uk to discuss your next campaign.

Mailing Expert

Print is alive and well (and living in Uckfield!)

We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again, loud and clear. Using print to communicate with your customers or prospective clients is still relevant and significant for your company, even in the face of ever-increasing digitisation. It goes without saying that it’s not the only medium you should use – but to dispense with it altogether, well, you’re really missing a trick.

Scientific evidence

In Philadelphia, Temple University’s Center for Neural Decision- Making (yes, such a place exists!) conducted a neuro-marketing study for the US Post Office. It focused on the differing response to physical and digital media when consumers were thinking about buying something.

In short, people were asked to look at ads, both on paper and in digital format. Their responses, like eye-tracking and brain activity, were measured, and they filled in questionnaires. A week later they were re-evaluated to test the long term impact of the adverts.

Surprising results?

Actually, not that surprising. It was found that adverts on paper beat digital ads in the following areas:

  • The amount of time spent reading
  • The emotional reaction
  • Remembering the source and content
  • A subconscious desire for the product or service
  • The perceived value of the product or service

Putting it into scientific terms, physical adverts actually produced more activity in the part of the brain called the ventral stratium, associated (as proved in another study) with future purchasing behaviour.

Worth thinking about, eh?

So don’t ignore print…

Print establishes a tangible connection with potential customers – an effective way for them to acquaint themselves with your product or service. It’s becoming an overlooked secret weapon for marketers, who too often jump on the bandwagon of being up-to-the-minute trend-savvy.

But don’t ignore the digital medium either!

Harnessing the strengths of both digital and print media will give your company the best chance of being found and also the best chance of growing your customer base.

That’s a scientific fact and here at Mailing Expert we can help with both!!

Give us a call on 01825 983033 to speak to one of our experts about your next campaign.

 

Mailing Expert

Happy birthday to us!

Five years old today

Happy-Birthday
On our fifth birthday, it’s a real time of celebration for us, because we’ve grown from strength to strength in just five short years. The time has whizzed by and the main thing is,  it’s been fun – hard work, but fun. What more could we ask?

We thought it would be a great idea to catch up with David Vaughan, the main man, to see how he’s feeling on such a momentous occasion, so we plied him with questions.

How did Mailing Expert all start up?

We wanted to created a environment where there was a focus on quality of service and consistency of approach. Having worked for a number of print and mail companies where the company priorities mattered more than customers, we wanted to work in a business where we could put people first and create symbiotic relationships that delivered real value to our clients.

How has the company grown over the past 5 years?

The business has grown through referrals and recommendations. Doing a good job for a client, big or small, is rewarding not just because it’s great to do a good job, but because happy customers are a great advertisement for what we do.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

We want to continue with steady growth, maintaining our focus on quality. In five years time we aim to have doubled the size of the business and be recognised as the best mailing company in Sussex for delivering customer satisfaction.

What has been the highlight for you in the time you’ve been in business?

Our first employee!  We took Mathew on as an apprentice. It’s been wonderful to see him grow with the company.

If you could change one thing, what would it be?

We sometimes hide our light under a bushel – we do fabulous things for our customers and forget that not everyone offers quality as standard.

And finally…how are you going to celebrate?

With cake!  We are also going to plant 5 trees (a fifth anniversary is represented by wood). This also symbolises our commitment to sustainability – we use environmental inks, paper that’s recycled or from managed woodland and recommend biodegradable poly-outers. We recycle all of our waste materials and packing – including staff drink cans and bottles.

Congratulations, David, and on behalf of Mailing Expert as a whole, we’d like to extend our thanks to all our clients, past and present. Without you, we wouldn’t be here.

Here’s to the next five years! And the next…

Mailing Expert

Universities and Student Unions – yes, timing IS everything with Direct Mail

…if not everything, it’s certainly a hugely important factor if you want your campaign to be successful and cost-effective, alongside targeting the right people with the right material.

Ignore lead-in times at your peril. We all know that, in the retail sector, preparing for next Christmas begins almost as soon as the decorations are packed away in the store cupboard in early January.  In the world of academia, reaching out to students so that they receive communications at the optimum time is no different and requires careful planning.

Why use direct mail for students?

Students, young people – surely they’ll be far more engaged with digital media or emails?  Certainly it’s a fact that they are swamped with electronic communications 24 hours a day. Therein lies the advantage of direct mailing.

It could mean having a well-designed card to hold in your hands, with your name on it, which doesn’t disappear in a flash, deleted with one click of a button, replaced in a minute by the next post on social media.  It has a shelf life, it gives a sense of ownership and also has a proven record for generating responses.

Direct mailing can also be used, when a student is enrolled, to send a comprehensive pack about the university or college, with booklets and multiple leaflets.

This sort of interaction must not be dismissed as old school. How much easier it is to make a printed communication reflect the brand and image you’d like to convey. How much more memorable than an email. That’s not to say that it’s an either/or decision – either direct or digital – but choosing the right combination of the two to best reach your target audience.

As an educational establishment, how can you use direct mail?

The possibilities are many:

  • Introduce the place of learning to prospective students
  • Inspire curiosity and a desire for more information
  • Send out a full prospectus to those who have expressed an interest
  • Invite people to open days and campus tours
  • Build your brand and keep your name at the forefront of people’s minds
  • Making sure new students know where to go and what’s on for Freshers’ week

It’s a meaningful and powerful way to interact. And of course, it can also be used to keep in contact with past students, for notification of events and to build networks for fundraising.

And what about timing for universities?

Student mailings have to be timed carefully as there is only a small window between receiving the data in August from UCAS, it going through clearing and then getting material sent out before the student is due to leave home for university in September.

There are other elements which must be factored in which will also have a bearing on your mailing.  How much time is needed between you submitting your order to allow  companies like Mailing Expert to design, print and distribute? Not to mention stock deliveries from sponsors which may be required for inclusion.

Most student mailings are planned roughly 4-6 months in advance, but some information is not confirmed until a week before, so all of us  really need to be on our toes, even if it is the middle of the summer when holidays are on our minds.

Success is the result of a solid process underpinning every mailing. We are called Mailing Expert for a very good reason. If you have academic mailing to carry out, please call us.

Mailing Expert

The font of all knowledge? Part 2

As promised in Part 1 of this series, this blog will address the issues and opportunities generated by the use of fancy fonts.

Fancy fonts are fun!

There are literally thousands of fonts to choose from these days, some of them completely free to download, some of them requiring a licence. In fact, it would be quite easy to drown in a sea of fonts that are now available and it’s for that reason that many people stick to what they know. However, with careful thought, it’s not necessary to be over-cautious. Success may come to those who are prepared to go that little bit further to find something out of the ordinary to make their brand stand out from the rest.

Even the names suggest a sense of fun and originality. Here are some of our favourites:

  • Bleeding Cowboyif you know Uckfield, this was used on the shop front and website of Elysium Engraving
  • Ecofont – actually takes regular fonts and fills them full of holes so less ink is used when printing!
  • Charcuterie Ornaments – “homage to the inventiveness, passion, and care of peasants” – apparently.
  • Doctor Cosmicucumber – the less said the better…

They certainly raise a smile in a world which can be dull and monotonous.

Web safe fonts – myth or reality?

Thinking about websites, in years gone by, only a few so-called ‘web safe’ fonts could be used, because it was impossible to see a fancy font on a computer which hadn’t already got it installed.  A default font would appear instead. This meant that all text on the internet looked pretty much the same.

One of the ways round this was to replace written text with an image of the writing, such as a .jpg. Such a clunky solution! It looked sloppy, considerably slowed download time and was a sure way to deter anyone from bothering with your website.

Without getting too technical, in these enlightened days there are a number of developments which allow an astonishing array of fonts to work well across the whole array of digital media. CDNs (Content Delivery Networks), such as Google Fonts or Typekit, do exactly what is required, freely delivering content like fancy fonts to consumers.

This aside, it’s still important to test your font choice to make sure it performs well across different environments. For example, email coding is not yet that adventurous, so sticking to tried and tested fonts in that medium is probably best.

Consider legibility

Not all fonts have been designed with legibility in mind. They’re simply created to make a bold typographic statement and not intended for large chunks of text. If you choose something that is too overpowering, it may distract people from your message – they’ll be too busy admiring (or hating!) the typeface instead.

Especially where websites are concerned, it’s best to use highly fancy fonts only for decorative purposes or for headlines. They’re a great way to get attention. For the body of your text, restrained is better because it’s easy to read. For print purposes, it’s slightly less of an issue because people dwell for longer upon cards, flyers, letters and brochures; however legibility must still be a paramount consideration.

A combination of different fonts may be effective but we all have to be careful not to create a mish-mash that’s confusing to the eye. Fonts come in families, so you could use variations of one typeface to make the final result more cohesive.

Interesting research about fancy fonts

To round up this blog, we’ve been fascinated to read some work undertaken by neuroscientists Hyunjin Song and Norbert Schwarz of the University of Michigan. They have discovered that, in certain circumstances, using harder-to-read fancy fonts can be a positive, even though it slows down the reading process. Apparently, it suggests to a consumer that more effort and skill is needed to create the product or service. They used restaurant menus as an example, presenting subjects with the same menus – one printed in fancy and one in simple font. The skills needed by the chefs to produce the food on the fancy font menu were rated much higher than for those on the simple menu – hence, higher prices could be justified!

It’s always a balancing act, isn’t it? Overdo this idea with your own marketing material and people may not bother to struggle through it, which they would as a captive audience reading a menu in a restaurant.

Here at Mailing Expert, we can help you to design material using appropriate fonts to make the end results both compelling AND legible.

 

Mailing Expert

Compelling copy can be clear as well

Or – how not to be too clever for your own good when writing marketing material.

Though technically anyone can write, the task of creating copy for websites, brochures, flyers and other marketing collateral is often delegated to copywriters because of their skill with words. That’s their job, after all. Horses for courses. Producing exciting messages to cajole potential customers into buying your product or using your services is in their blood, (or it should be), whereas the rest of us often haven’t the time, inclination or ease with words to write effectively.

We might struggle for hours on a piece of writing which a copywriter could create in a quarter of the time – and with better results – so it makes more sense for us to do what we’re good at and leave the writing to someone with the right skill-set.

Copy that’s as clear as mud?

Engaging a writer to, well, write, is only common sense. However, writers simply love words and like nothing better than playing with them. They love a little lick of alliteration, they’ll go to the ends of the earth for hyperbole and as for onomatopoeia – boom! (See what we did there? If not, it confirms exactly what we’re talking about).

When you’re trying to get across your marketing message, wordplay is all well and good. It makes copy quirky, witty and individual and can really give a sense of your brand image, BUT – that’s only as long as the information isn’t so tied up in linguistic acrobatics that it’s no longer clear what you’re promoting.

We’ve all seen adverts which make us shake our heads and think, ‘Well, that was very entertaining, but what exactly is it about?’ Cleverness kills conversions. On the other hand, copy that is clear to the point of being patronising can be oh so dull – and boring material loses sales too. It’s a dilemma…

There are more than two types of copy

It seems to be an ongoing debate in marketing circles – this idea of clear v clever copy. We’re here to tell you that you can have it all. Sometimes, clear, down-to-earth copy is required, just like the famous Ronseal ad, ‘It does what it says on the tin.’ That’s clear and that’s clever too.

Sometimes, clever copy can pique people’s interest. Here’s one from Swiss Life, financial and legal services:

I like working with you is impossible.

For all life’s twists and turns:

Flexible financial plans.

Clever. Compelling. It makes you look twice. Clear? Yes, we know what’s on offer.

Good copywriters will know which approach to use no matter what the product or service, to maximise effect and the chance of conversions. We all understand that a marketing campaign is wasted if it isn’t on-message and on-brand. That doesn’t mean that the message can’t be clever as well as clear. A clearly-stated benefit which is exactly the same as your competitor’s clearly-stated benefit isn’t going to make you stand out from the crowd.

Marketing guru, David Ogilvy says, ‘There are no dull products, only dull writers.” There are clever writers too. The cleverest writers know when they shouldn’t be too clever.

Mailing Expert

The font of all knowledge? Part 1

We all know that writing compelling content is crucial for marketing material but it’s easy to underestimate the importance of using the right font – a word now interchangeable with typeface  – for your website, flyers, posters or other paper collateral.

A font speaks volumes

Whatever you choose has an impact. It can make your business stand out from the competition.  When it’s too fancy or too small to read easily, it can annoy potential customers so much that you’ve lost them forever. It can convey your brand or the tone of the message you wish to get across or it can confuse because it’s inappropriate to the content.

For instance:

You’re advertising pre-paid funerals. Tell you what, let’s not use Curlz MT …

Curlz MT Font

Perhaps just a tad too jolly and informal?

In recent years, there’s been a lot of interest in what is actually a very complex subject. In 2001, Dr. Aric Sigman was commissioned to research into the psychology of fonts. Ten years later, Simon Garfield published a book called Just My Type.  These studies offer a fascinating insight into some of the different aspects of your font choice.

Yes, fonts are people too

First, each font has its own personality and in choosing one over another it says a lot about us at the same time. The infamous Comic Sans, for example, is meant to be perfect for ‘annoying attention-seekers,’ while Times gives a trustworthy and respectable impression. You’re advised not to use Courier unless you want to appear to be a real nerd. Oh and by the way, this is written in Calibri, which apparently has ‘a warm and soft character.’ Well, thank you kindly, but less of the soft, please.

The names of famous people are even attributed to fonts in the study, so for example, Richard Branson is Verdana (professional yet appealing) and Jennifer Lopez is Shelley (sex kitten).

Shelly Script Regular Font

It’s all very subjective, isn’t it? To us, Shelley doesn’t so much say ‘sex kitten’ as ‘Victorian school child’ – which brings us on to the next point.

Font preferences for readers

Apparently, different fonts appeal to different demographics and provoke various reactions, so when creating a web page or paper document of any sort, we should consider gender, age, culture and even personality to be more effective in reaching and captivating our chosen audience.

These considerations  all seems to become a bit simplistic and stereotypical, with blocky, bold, rectilinear fonts supposedly appealing to men, and curvy, round fonts allegedly preferred by women. Then, let’s use something funky for young people and LARGE AND CLEAR for an older age group.

In reality, we suspect, the most all of us want is something that’s easy to read!

Part 2 in this series, to follow shortly, is about fancy fonts.

 

Mailing Expert

Marketing plan or muddling through?

In honour of St. Bernadine of Siena, patron saint of advertising, who is specially remembered today (20th May), let’s have a look at marketing plans, which may well include advertising. Why not?

First, we hear you asking, “Why was St. Bernadine, 15th century Franciscan priest, the patron saint of advertising?” – yes, that’s a whole four centuries before the very first Coca Cola ad, which appeared in 1886. The simple answer is, because he was renowned for his passionate and persuasive speeches. Before his death in 1444, he preached for 50 days in a row. We would not necessarily recommend this as part of your marketing plan, both for your sake and your clients’ – but, passionate and persuasive words would definitely be a good idea to incorporate into any marketing material…

Why is a marketing plan important?

We’ve all done it, haven’t we? Been so busy with the day-to-day running of our business that we don’t feel we can spare the time for marketing. It seems counterintuitive to take time away from client-facing activities or fine-tuning production.

Instead, we may use a scattergun approach, reacting to external situations when they occur rather than being proactive and creating opportunities that will help our business to grow. A scattergun fires lots of pellets and the hope is that some may reach the target. Many of the pellets go wide and many fall to the ground. What a waste of effort and resources!

Planning our marketing makes absolute sense – it’s as simple as that.

Writing a marketing plan

If you do it well it will take time. Implementing a plan has plenty of challenges, but more challenging still is deciding what to do, how to do it and when. It needs contribution from every department even if that department is one person, and even if one person wears a number of hats within the company. Finance, manufacturing, personnel, supply – all these elements must be considered in order to be realistic about what’s achievable and where the focus is needed.

What does a marketing plan achieve?

(Aside from the obvious like identifying your target market and setting up focused campaigns – like the Direct Mailing that we specialise in at Mailing Expert).

Magnified illustration with the words Marketing Plan on white background.

  • A chance to reflect on the big picture for your company
  • Your game plan written out in black and white – so anyone can refer to it
  • A mega to-do list assigning specific tasks
  • A rallying point which will encourage commitment from your team
  • Provision of specific measurable results

So – take time to write a marketing plan and make St. Bernadine proud!