Can I Be Direct…? Part IV

Can't you see I'm busy?

It’s 1959…; this poor gal’s juggling eighteen things and managing multiple deadlines.

The phone is ringing off the hook… that’s good. But junk mail is pouring in at the rate of 39 pounds per day… that’s not good.

In the future, most of it won’t make it to her desk.

You see, if your post office looks anything like the one I was at today in Green Bay, then right in the middle of all the lock boxes are tables to sort your mail…

And on each end of the table are very large recycling containers to toss all the junk mail so that it doesn’t waste our time back at the office.

That said, a basic rule of thumb to have your correspondence actually reach your desired target is to make sure it doesn’t resemble all the stuff that you have your own staff throw out now. You know…, the spam.

Yet, good people in your industry will make the mistakes we spoke about here, or here, or here. They will shred their financial resources and marketing budgets on wasteful mass-marketing tactics that yield little or no return, and we’ll let them.

Yes…, happily in fact, while we focus like a laser beam on reaching and engaging your very best prospects.


As a small business owner, it is likely you don’t need 300 new customers next month. No…, in fact you may only need a handful of really good new ones in the 1st quarter to have an incredible 2009.

In a previous post, we talked about identifying your three best customers and using their attributes to create an ideal customer profile. I then asked what life would be like if you just had three or six or twelve more exactly like them.

For most of us, it would be a merrier Christmas.

So, why not start now and make it happen for next Christmas? Why not do it while your competition has decided to hunker down, quaking in their boots about the credit crunch and the economy and their 401k and the banking industry bailout… and the next industry bailout and…


Direct mail can be a great medium for starting and building strong business relationships, but it needs to be done right. It must work to deliver specific objectives of your marketing plan, fit within your marketing calendar and budget, and contain measurable components to track ROI.

You’ve identified the attributes of your best customers, both in terms of demographics and behaviors. You’ve identified others in the the market that possess those same qualities.

Now, it’s time for some homework. You must know exactly what the biggest concerns of your market are, and how you can solve those challenges. Thankfully, never in the history of the world has research been easier or less costly to get. Don’t skimp here.

It is important to note that most people who try to guess on this one, tend to guess wrong. Or worse, they follow the lead of a competitor (who probably guessed wrong), and end up with just another me-too message.

Consider joining your ideal customer’s industry associations, and read their publications. And by all means, subscribe to google reader alerts for news about their industry, company, products, and executives. Not only will you love the price… it’s free, but you will find a wealth of information to use in your marketing efforts.

And regarding contact information, take extra care to make sure your list data is valid… names and titles spelled correctly. If marketing B2B, don’t trust the list… call the company and verify before you send. Making mistakes on easy-to-obtain information just reflects a lack of follow through and attention to detail.

Then be sure to personalize the entire direct mail package, whatever it is. From the handwritten envelope, card or label… to the greeting and the message content. Your reader is going to know that you understand them, their business, and their challenges…; and that you are prepared to bring solutions that can help them.

From now on you will only market to those who meet your criteria for an ideal customer, and we’ll let the competion fight over all the marginal and misfit accounts out there. Next Christmas, you’ll be glad you did.


So, what should or should not go into a direct mail piece?

The first rule is not to try and cram everything into one reading. Following that advice, we’ll cover a few of those ideas tomorrow. I look forward to speaking with you.



Make sure that the recipient of your correspondence meets the qualifications of your ideal customer.

An easy place to start is to break down the demographics and behaviors of your best three customers. Use this information as a profile to find new customers just like them.

Don’t allow your direct mail to look like the junk mail that you or your staff currently throw away.

Don’t skimp on research; it has never been easier or less expensive to get information than it is today.


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