Making Direct Mail Work for Your Business

Direct mail is making a big come back but it's not like it was before. It's no longer a numbers game. Highly-targeted, highly-personalised and highly creative is the order of the day. That means lower volumes but higher margins. Here's what you need to know in order to win more direct mail work for your print business...

How you can win more direct mail work

You’re probably tired of losing work to digital channels such as email, mobile and the web. In an age of digital communication, many of the marketing communications that you could rely on as the bread and butter of your business are now being displayed as pixels on screens rather than ink on paper. Things have changed drastically!

But the game is still the same. Whatever channels are used, marketers still want to acquire and retain as many customers as possible. And they want to do it in the quickest, most-efficient and cost effective manner. The major difference nowadays is that your clients have a wider array of channels to choose from. All you’ve got to do is show them that print makes sense.

And print does make sense. Especially when it comes to direct mail...

Direct mail still works

Attracted by the lower costs per contact, many marketers moved en masse to email for their direct communications. You probably lost some tasty direct mail programmes as a result. What many marketing managers failed to recognise, however, was that with everyone moving to email, inboxes were going to fill up pretty quick, making it harder to grab attention.

Now we are seeing a shift back to direct mail. It cuts through the clutter, it’s harder to ignore and split tests show, that in terms of cost per response, direct mail actually yields better results. Recent studies have found that 77% of the most successful companies in Ireland, those that maintained or increased their revenue over the past 12 months, all use direct mail.

Direct mail is different now

Although we know that direct mail can yield the greatest return, marketers face various challenges in capturing customers attention and are also restricted to smaller budgets. They want to use the most effective campaigns that will give them the biggest return on investment but also stand out from their competitors marketing activities.  

They want their business message to be more than just simple text and they need to play with other elements to make it creative and eye catching. They expect vibrant colours, new shapes and exciting media. The key factor for direct mail is that it cuts through the clutter, gets attention and is differentiated from other pieces. 

You need to raise your game

For this reason, printers today are being set new challenges and have to meet the ever demanding needs and requirements of their customers. 

Customers are demanding personalisation of direct mail pieces. Today personalisation can be the deciding factor as to whether a piece of direct mail works or does not work. Again the piece has to be eye catching and unique in order for the customer to be interested. For this reason printers have to be prepared for creative print coming through the door.  

Another demand of customers is the JIT (Just in time) / shorter print run approach. Whilst direct mail pieces may be very creative, printers have to be able to respond to quick requests and have the resources in place to make the print job a success. 

5 Top Tips for Winning More Direct Mail Work

1. Data - Get to know data!

Make sure you've got the resources in-house to effectively clean, manage, merge and manipulate your clients' databases. Register as a data processor and make sure you are comfortable digitally-printing highly-personalised direct mail pieces

2. Design - Get creative!

Move upstream and help clients create their campaigns. Not every marketer has the budget to splash out on creative agencies or professional designers. Offer your clients affordable ways to come up with creative, eye-catching mailers and start getting a bigger slice of their direct mail budgets

3. Equipment - Get the kit you need to succeed!

Ensure that your digital print capabilities are up to snuff. Direct mail is all about personalisation. Get digital kit that can cope with volume and still churn out great image quality. Finishing is important too. Outsourcing intricate cuts, folds and flaps eats into your margins. Look at up tooling to keep it in house.

4. Media - Source substrates that excite and delight!

Direct marketers want media that cuts through the clutter. Ensure that you can get the most exciting media at the best prices and offer your clients access to the latest and greatest in digital print media.

5. Fulfilment - Add value by packing and despatching!

Complete the process by offering your clients packing and fulfilment. This is a great way to make life easier for your clients while increasing your share of spend.

Irish printers need to understand that direct mail hasn't gone away. It has just changed. Volumes are lower but margins can be much, much higher! If you are willing to raise your game there is plenty of highly-creative DM work there for the winning.

If you have seen an upswing in the volume of direct mail work you are doing or if you have worked on any really creative direct mail projects, we'd love to hear about it. Let us know below...

Also at this years Smart Marketing Awards you can enter your business into the supplier of the year category. For more details about the awards click here...