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The 5 Basic Steps of Setting Up a Direct-Mail Campaign

direct mail basics — ornate mailboxDirect marketing is a form of selling and promoting by communicating straight to the consumer, via mail, phone or email. For small businesses, direct-mail marketing has several advantages, including being able to target your exact customers, spend modestly to fit your budget and test different offers to see what works best, among other things.

Instead of running an ad campaign where it’s difficult to know if you’re going to get five or 5,000 responses and the message is fixed, a direct-mail campaign is more manageable and flexible — you can start out with a small- to medium-sized mailing to see what the response is like and make sure your small business can handle the influx of orders. From there, you can  add and expand or change the messaging. How do you go about setting up a direct-mail campaign? Here are five tips:

1. Decide what to market. This is an important first step. What do you want the recipient who receives your direct mailer to do — buy your product, book your service, go online or come in-store? Also, to whom are you marketing this direct-mail campaign? You may choose to target your existing customers, new customers, or a select demographic (age group, income group, gender, type of industry/business or area of town). Depending on what you want to market and who you are marketing it to, you can determine your message.

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2. Determine the format. Before writing the message, you have to choose the style of direct-mail piece you want to use. There are several different formats to select from, and the considerations here have to do with the length of your message. For example, can it be short and snappy and fit on a postcard, or does it need to be longer with photos accompanying it on a trifold brochure? Also, what fits into your budget? An oversized flyer or letter will be relatively inexpensive to print and mail; while a catalog is more involved and heavier, making it more costly to print and mail. Also consider the visuals that will highlight your message. The visual component is equally as important as your copy since that is likely what is going to first catch the recipient’s eye and make them interested in reading what your direct-mail piece says. Thinking about your visuals can also help narrow down which format makes the most sense. If you don’t have a lot of images you can use or your photo budget is limited, look for an industry-themed professional template from an reputable online printer that can visually communicate your product or service.

3. Write your message. Now you know the who, what and where. The next step is crafting the copy on your direct mailer. Keep a few basic tactics in mind. First, create compelling copy that’s going to draw your audience in. Yes, you need to explain your product or service, but remember to keep the message about the benefits to the customer, not just the features you want to tout. Avoid sentences that start with your company’s name or the word “We.” Next, keep the reader interested (e.g. super-long copy may lose their interest), and include a call to action that prompts them to buy or use your product or service. And last — don’t forget to include your address whether that’s your store address or your URL. You might laugh, but there are many businesses that have wasted their money by creating a good direct-marketing piece that interests the customer but then doesn’t tell them how to actually get the product or service!

4. Design your layout. You have your message, format and visuals — so this step should be pretty straightforward! Either hire a graphic designer, use a professionally designed online template, or have the Design Services team at custom create your direct-mail campaign pieces. These are your best options if you didn’t go to school for design, because you could easily waste your precious time trying to create your own graphics on your computer. Our best advice for a design with impact? Leave it to the professionals.

5. Send them off. The final step once you have your mailers in hand is to decide which class of mail you are going to use. Standard mail is usually fine, but First Class mail is another option that is still cost effective. Or, if you have some really hot prospects and you want to ensure getting their attention, consider splurging on a next-day package. Congratulations on creating your first direct-mail campaign!

How have you found success with direct mail campaigns? Tell us all about it on our 123Print Facebook page, tweet us @123Print or write a note below.

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  • Reply
    John Matthews
    October 16, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Easy to follow recipe for success when it comes to setting up your first Direct Marketing campaign. Very excited to share this post.

    • Reply
      Rhonda Walinga
      October 18, 2013 at 10:33 am

      Thanks, John! I’m so glad you found it useful 🙂

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