Feb 11, 2011

Direct Mail Effectiveness

With the proliferation of e-mail and its resulting abuses, direct mail has become almost a novel approach by comparison. Because it performs so well in other arenas, many marketing practitioners believe that direct mail will do the same for their B2B lead generation programs.But when it comes to the complex sale, not only is direct mail ineffective by itself, but it is also frequently used incorrectly and even abused too. In reality, direct mail is simply being asked to do more than it is capable of doing.

Direct mail in the traditional sense is not effective – especially if you are trying to reach executives – unless you do the following things:
  • Target narrowly vs. blast a large audience
  • Use as a follow up contact instead of as an initial contact

Even though direct mail may not be as flexible, immediate, or economical as e-mail, if done with a high level of personalization and targeted to the appropriate players, it becomes almost an unexpected form of communication that affords another meaningful way to engage prospects.

The workhorse of business-to-business direct mail is still the one-page, personalized letter sent in a #10 envelope. Though it may seem old-fashioned and probably not very creative in today’s scheme of such things, well-chosen words in a short letter can perform wonders when they are part of a multi-modal lead generation plan.

The most common issue I see with direct mail in the complex sale is poor targeting. It seems that many marketers consider their database an afterthought. Outdated, unqualified, incomplete databases just won’t cut it today. Simply having a good list, from any standpoint, does little more than maintain the status quo. The database needs to contain the right people working within the right companies.