4 Direct Mail Mistakes You Can’t Afford

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Direct mail is a proven method for drumming up business, and it succeeds whether it is your main marketing strategy or in a supporting role. My specialty is direct mail marketing, particularly with postcards and there are four direct mail mistakes that I see over and over. These errors directly impact how much money a campaign can generate. So they are costing you money in a very real sense.

Let’s look at the four direct mail mistakes you don’t want to be paying for.

1 Using the wrong size postcard

This is common, because in this case you gut often lies to you. You are probably thinking, “How much of a difference can the postcard size really make?” That’s a normal reaction, but it’s way off base. In my experience, the size of the card makes a huge difference – especially in crowded industries like law. There are two major reasons for this:

  • Attention – Larger cards get more of it. Period. A bigger card helps you separate yourself from the pack. And the more attention you get, you more opportunities you have to convert a prospect into a client.
  • Reputation – A law office that consistently mails out a larger postcard will gain a reputation as a stable (and profitable) practice. The more people see that you are consistently promoting with large postcards, the more they will come to think of you as the go-to lawyer in the area.

Your direct mail provider should offer size options like this: Small (4x6), Medium (5x8), and Large (6x11). And although large cards work better in general, there are certain cases where you actually don’t need to go that big. To find out what size is best for you, answer these questions:

How much do other practices in your area market?

  • Not at all/I’m the only one (You can lean towards a smaller card)
  • Light to Moderate Amount (Lean toward a larger card)
  • Moderate to Heavy Amount (You need a large card)

Do your competitors also mail postcards, specifically?

  • No (You can lean towards a smaller card)
  • Yes (You need a large card)

How much explaining does your offer require?

  • Not that much/Easy to grasp (Smaller card is fine)
  • A little background info (Medium should do the trick)
  • A lot/Details are important (Go big or go home)

After answering those questions (truthfully!), you will know where to start with your postcard campaigns. After you’ve seen some success and are feeling comfortable, go ahead and test a different size card to see what difference it makes and adjust accordingly.

2Settling for a “Blah” Design

So you’ve got a postcard with sufficient size to catch prospects’ eyes. Now you need to turn that attention into legitimate interest. To accomplish this, your postcard must be designed in a very intentional way, from a marketing standpoint. You can’t just throw any “blah” postcard out there and expect to win. Throughout my career, I have identified 10 strategic design elements that a postcard needs to succeed:

  • Clear Headline
  • Supporting Graphic
  • Color that Pops
  • Intriguing Sub-Headings on the back that lead into benefits
  • Benefits
  • Enticing Offer
  • Your Name and Logo
  • Call to Action and/or expiration date for the offer
  • Contact Information – website, map, phone number
  • Return Address

Elements 1-3 turn attention into genuine interest in your offer. If these elements are unclear or non-compelling, the prospect will bail and all is lost.

Elements 4-6 take the prospect from “interested” to “sold.” Subheadings guide them into your benefits where they learn how your service improves their life. Finally, you provide an offer that makes calling you an easy decision.

Elements 7-10 close the deal by giving your prospects everything they need to respond appropriately. Don’t go through all the work of generating interest and then leave them with no way to respond! It sounds crazy, but I’ve seen it many times!

3Mailing to the Wrong List

The mailing list is the most important part of your direct mail campaign. A good one practically ensures victory, while a bad one will destroy even the best (and most appropriately sized) postcards. You absolutely need a high quality list of prospects that are predisposed to say yes to your offer.

Think of it this way. What if a divorce lawyer sent his mailing to a list of single people in his area? Nothing else about the mailing matters, because there is simply no need for his services in that market. That’s an extreme example, but there are many subtleties that go into choosing the right mailing list.

The task, then, is to find out what audience you need to target. You will probably have a good idea of who your ideal client is, but just to be sure, go back through your records.

  • Who actually retains you?
  • Are they mostly male? Female?
  • How much money do they make?
  • Where do they live?
  • Do they have kids?

Any and all of this data can help you – and of course you can tweak your list as you go! I created a client analysis checklist that can really help you figure this part out.

Luckily, once you know who you are looking for, getting a mailing list that targets the right audience isn’t all that difficult. Your ability to target is essentially limitless. You can target by age, income, location, number of children, home value, and even interests.

4Not Following Up Online

Your direct mail campaign is going to generate online traffic to your website. This is a side effect that far too many marketers ignore. If you truly want to get the most from your marketing campaign you have to find a way to follow up with that online traffic. Luckily, Google has made this possible, and a new product called Direct Mail 2.0 has made it simple.

If you opt for a Direct Mail 2.0 campaign (available from select providers), you automatically get online follow-up integrated into your campaign. Basically, as soon as a prospect visits and leaves your site, Google tracks them and displays banner ads (that match your postcard design) to that prospect until they return to the site and take the action you desire (fill out a form, etc.). I highly recommend that any campaign you run be a Direct Mail 2.0 campaign. It is only marginally more expensive, and includes call tracking and mail tracking as well as the online follow-up. It just makes life easier (and more profitable)!

Avoiding these four flubs has helped me generate postcard marketing success for over 60,000 small businesses like yours.

If you have more questions on mailing lists (which I’ve found is the most confusing part about direct mail), this free report may help: How to Choose the Right Mailing List.

For more by Joy Gendusa, read 4 Guest Blogging Tips for Lawyers.


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