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Direct snail mail marketing?

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jlwilliams

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First, I've been away from the forum for a while. It's been a roller coaster ride and maybe I ought to post a re-introducing myself thread. Anyway, this place is great. One of the internet's best destinations. Glad to be back.

At the moment I had a thought that I wanted to throw on the table.

I'm reading "The Boron Letters" (strongly recommend, it's a read-it-again classic.) As I'm reading and in my mind "updating" the context, applying the ideas to the internet age, the thought hit me. I don't think I've received a long form sales letter in the snail mail in years. I used to get them all the time. Honestly, I liked them. They could be fun to read. Good ones do grab your imagination and move you emotionally. I've seen the equivalent as web pages. I've gotten them as email. They stopped showing up in the mail.

Obviously, a multi page paper letter is an order of magnitude more expensive to send than the equivalent email. It makes sense that the bulk of the marketing world isn't physically taking totes full of letters to the post office. Does that mean that directly mailing letters to prospective clients is an extinct relic of a bygone time?

I wonder if the right product for the right market is still the right fit for a direct mail letter campaign. Maybe something targeting an older client. "The Boomers" have a significant slice of the pie, and they buy stuff. Would they still be as moved by tangible mail as they were when that was THE medium?

I still get postcard sales mail, I'm sure many here use them to promote your business. It's a great way to let people in a geographical area know about your service. What I haven't seen lately is the thick envelope that was the tell tale indicator of a multi page letter.

What do you think? Is it something that still works? Maybe you are sending long letters out and I'm just not on the list? Or maybe this is just a daydream spawned from reading classic Halbert?
 

100k

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1) Depends on what you're selling and the lifetime value of the customer.

If you're selling something expensive and complex that's worth $1000s or $10s of thousands of dollars to you per client then go for it.

2) If you're indeed selling an expensive item, then it might make more sense to give them a gift to go along with the letter - really give them a reason to want to read your letter.

Imagine if you're a doctor and you opened up a letter that had $100 bill in (obviously you'd need them to sign to ensure they got the letter) - you'd def. want to know why someone sent you $100 bucks in the mail - I'd probably want to read every word in that letter - even if I wasn't a "boomer".
 

OMJ

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First, I've been away from the forum for a while. It's been a roller coaster ride and maybe I ought to post a re-introducing myself thread. Anyway, this place is great. One of the internet's best destinations. Glad to be back.

At the moment I had a thought that I wanted to throw on the table.

I'm reading "The Boron Letters" (strongly recommend, it's a read-it-again classic.) As I'm reading and in my mind "updating" the context, applying the ideas to the internet age, the thought hit me. I don't think I've received a long form sales letter in the snail mail in years. I used to get them all the time. Honestly, I liked them. They could be fun to read. Good ones do grab your imagination and move you emotionally. I've seen the equivalent as web pages. I've gotten them as email. They stopped showing up in the mail.

Obviously, a multi page paper letter is an order of magnitude more expensive to send than the equivalent email. It makes sense that the bulk of the marketing world isn't physically taking totes full of letters to the post office. Does that mean that directly mailing letters to prospective clients is an extinct relic of a bygone time?

I wonder if the right product for the right market is still the right fit for a direct mail letter campaign. Maybe something targeting an older client. "The Boomers" have a significant slice of the pie, and they buy stuff. Would they still be as moved by tangible mail as they were when that was THE medium?

I still get postcard sales mail, I'm sure many here use them to promote your business. It's a great way to let people in a geographical area know about your service. What I haven't seen lately is the thick envelope that was the tell tale indicator of a multi page letter.

What do you think? Is it something that still works? Maybe you are sending long letters out and I'm just not on the list? Or maybe this is just a daydream spawned from reading classic Halbert?
Here's this thread in case you forgot about it.

 

jlwilliams

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Here's this thread in case you forgot about it.


Ha! Yes, I had forgotten.
 

Walter Hay

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Ha! Yes, I had forgotten.
That thread is well worth reading. Using pastel colored envelopes was a stroke of genius.

If I was still operating a business, whether B2B or B2C I would use snail mail for the simple reason that it is not fashionable and will therefore be more inclined to attract attention.

I expect that it would also be lower in cost than many PPC or social media campaigns.

The first challenge is to get the recipient to open the envelope, and the best way to do that is to make it intriguing by including an insert that is inescapably obvious.

In the big mailing campaigns I designed for my franchisees, a coin was in the envelope. Not just any coin. It was custom made to the size of a $1 coin, with the the outer perimeter on both sides bearing our company name and phone number. the center circle on one side had the word YES and the other side NO.

A P.S. which appeared to be handwritten in blue ink said “We hope you find our decision maker handy.”

Some businesses received a coin with Buy on one side and Sell on the other.

The coin would today cost no more than 50c if bought by the multiple thousands as we did. Many of the recipients contacted the franchisees to find out where they could buy such coins for their business. The answer was "We produce them." They were a small part of our labeling business, but the franchise network sold huge quantities.

The most important part of the letter was the headline. It had to be one that made the recipient want to read on. If it was not compelling the letter was a waste of money.

To decide on that headline to make reading on irresistible it was necessary to get inside the heads of the potential customers. Ignore marketing psychology at your peril. You must learn what emotional triggers will most affect your specific target.

Always include a PS. It should be handwritten, or at least look handwritten in a different color that looks like ink from a pen.

I don't like the idea of multiple page letters. They might work with some people, but once they realize what you are doing many will bin it.

Walter
 

Putt

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I think the effectiveness has already been covered pretty well. Most people find physical direct mail to have good returns.

If you have any questions of the logistical side of mailing, let me know. I run a direct mailing processing business so know everything there is to know about marketing mail.
 

YoungPadawan

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I would say direct mail is an excellent media to use, as long as your product/service is high priced enough. Using coins or other attention grabbers like @Walter Hay to make your mail lumpy is a great way to make sure it gets opened.

The price is also much more stable compared with PPC auctions, where your costs could fluctuate depending on your number of competitors/people bidding on keywords, so you don't have to reinvent the wheel every few months. There have been direct mail campaigns that have been mailed for years.

Also, if you are selling B2B, you can make sure your direct mail package gets opened by using FedEx, instead of just plain postal mail. It's more expensive, but you can track exactly when the package gets to the business, and then do a follow up call a day after the package arrived to close the deal.

Plus, there have been studies that direct mail is cognitively easier to process, than online media, plus the conversion rates are significantly better than online media.
 

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