The Direct Mail Marketing Commandments


Direct mail is alive and well. According to research from Huffington Post, 79% of people who receive an offer in the mail act on it immediately. Every time I present that statistic the eyebrows go up, and they say “really?”

I am not surprised by this number because direct mail campaigns are part of my marketing strategy.

These days, we must diversify our marketing efforts. The online world is noisy and cluttered. Physical mailboxes are less crowded thus making it a great option. The attention span of an online consumer is sad, four-eight seconds!

While 30 billion pieces a month are fighting for attention on Facebook each month, your re-purposed content could be in transit to a prospective customer’s mailbox.

Before you commit to a program, think about the following:

  • Who is your audience?
  • Where do you find these people?
  • What type of mail would interest them?
  • Will your call to action get them to act?
  • How do you want them to feel when they hold your mail?

Direct mail may not be for everybody; your type of business and margins will help decide this. If you have high margins, then you can probably afford to commit to a long-term plan. Your audience needs to see your face and message continually.

If your sales margins are low plan your budget carefully or you could risk wasting a lot of time and money.

Like advertising, we are campaigning for trust. This process takes time.

Can you get business from one mailing? Absolutely! I have done it.

By thinking about every little detail and sending something that resonates on a deep level, you can get immediate responses. One word of advice though, don’t expect it. Consider this success a bonus and keep moving forward with your campaign. Expectations can get us into trouble.

Adhere to these guidelines, and you will succeed:

  • Start with your sphere-of-influence – By now you should have a database dedicated to past and present clients or any other people that have an interest in what you do and can send referrals your way. Build from there.
  • Choose a farm area and own it – remember, building trust and brand awareness will take some time.
  • Send something of value – Always. Think about how you feel when you receive valuable information, that is how your audience should react. Send an offer with a DEADLINE so that customers can act sooner than later or maybe never!
  • Stand out – Choose colors that align with your branding and odd shaped fliers, postcards, or envelopes. You can also send actual “stuff,” can’t do that online!
  • Personalize everything you send – Hand write cards, notes, envelopes (if you are able). Show you care rather than making it seem like you do.
  • Add a call to action – What do you want them to do? How? When? People that haven’t met you yet are most likely going to research you online before making a call. Your landing page should reduce barriers to the final decision and convert the viewer. Make sure it has testimonials from past clients!
  • Be consistent – If you are sending something to your sphere-of-influence, consider touching them monthly. You will have to find the sweet spot for other audiences through experimentation. At least six times per year is a good start.

Most people have a throwaway and keep pile before they even get inside the house. Which pile will you be in? Believe it or not, you CAN control this to some extent. Just think, you could make it inside someone’s home and hang around for a while if you give them a reason to keep you around.

Tracking conversions from direct mail campaigns aren’t as easy as online, so you will need to add a code or some way to track your progress. Make it a habit of asking your customers how they found you.

This information will help you understand what works and what doesn’t.


Direct mail might be a good option for you.  Like most forms of marketing, we have to experiment. The more we do, the better we become.  The struggle for consumer attention is real, and we have to go above and beyond to get it and also keep it.