Posts tagged #directmailcreative

3 Reasons Why Direct Mail Works

Letter Creative Pointers.jpg

1. Involvement

Direct mail brings unique advantages. Most people check their mail box daily for bills, Birthday cards, special offers from their favorite companies. They look forward to getting their mail.

Unlike most electronic communications, mail gives the added benefit of touch and feel as well as packaging that includes coins, magnetized cards for their refrigerator or other surprises that encourage investigation. Interesting folds and other direct mail involvement add interest to its contents. These are proven involvement techniques that increase response.

Personalization such as name, most recent purchase and other relevant recipient characteristics enhance readership to provide unparalleled response when used assiduously.

The long form nature of the classic direct mail package that includes a personal letter, product brochure and separate response device allow the advertiser to tell the whole story. Effective copy and design encourage scanning, so the prospect quickly understands the message purpose and call to action. Many readers go first to the response form that skillfully sells the selling proposition and prompts the response action. Most readers will make a decision within seconds whether they are interested in the offer or not.

The graphic of the letter above illustrates the most important elements that are scanned by readers. Benefit headlines and body copy need great copywriting skills to create the product need and the advertiser’s solution in a one-to-one communication setting.

The writer must anticipate the most common potential respondents’ objections and address them in the copy.

Direct response mail must create urgency to the offer with time limits, limited stock and other methods to overcome human inertia. It’s not enough to create demand for the service or product. Inaction by putting the mailing aside to deal with later dramatically reduces response. Everything must be done to encourage the the reader to take immediate action.

2. Targetability

Let’s expand on the power of personalization that targets the recipient where it counts.

Personalization data available on compiled prospect lists is extensive. Name, professional title, salutation title, address, type of home, age of home, home ownership, income, cars owned or leased, and so on represent only a few of the hundreds of data points available for each name. For business file selections, SIC codes, number of employees, corporate office addresses, key executives by name and title, annual sales, other location information challenge the advertisers’ knowledge of their target markets.

As for house files, many advertisers fail to use purchase history and other product demand clues that would greatly improve their response rates through list segementation and mention in the copy. Clients often overlook the value and importance of their lead names to the point of not saving such names for follow up mailings.

The two most valuable segments to acquire new business will not come from prospect or rentals names, but from house databases.

For example, what is more relevant to a painting company than mailing to past customers who painted their house 5 to 7 years ago indicating it’s time to repaint. Or what about a tutoring company who assessed a family’s children who would benefit from hiring a tutor to improve their academic success but did not buy several months ago? Such names are farmore responsive than any rented files.

Personalization says to the prospect that the advertiser’s product is relevant to their needs based on previous purchases or inquiries. Such relevant direct mail will continue to succeed when the direct mail is properly targeted and personalized.

3. Builds awareness and response simultaneously

Direct mail reigns when it comes to credibility when compared to other outbound lead generation and new customer acquisition channels. Planned direct mail copy and targeting not only creates awareness, but sales the product at the same time.

Reinforce direct mail’s natural market penetration with credibility techniques. Reduce risk by offering a strong guarantee and thoughtful testimonials from previous customers.

Think through the entire selling process by creating a landing page that promotes the offer, pre-fills the recipient’s information and summarizes the benefits contained in the direct mail package. Use pURLs that populate the page with customer information making the response process easy and immediate.

PURLs track all responses in real time through the advertisers’ browser. The call-ins contain a unique 800 number that improves the accuracy of the tracking. And any mail-in response forms are coded in the lettershop back to the mail piece that generated the response. This assures proper channel attribution.

Avoid any stop-actions in the copy. Do not direct people to your website, a YouTube video or social media article in the mailing. In fact, the landing page should not link to the advertiser’s website or encourage anything that will interrupt the response action. It’s OK to list the address and website in the standard locations because 60% will visit the company’s website anyway. Remain focused in the copy to take advantage of that initial impulse to respond.

On a concluding note, take advantage of the power of email when mailing to customers (not prospects). Send an announcement email to prepare the recipient immediately before they receive your mailing and then a follow up email a few days after they receive the mailing. Such omnichannel integration increases response.

The 7 Essentials of the Direct Marketing Creative Brief

Successful creative development comes from the research

Successful creative development comes from the research

If you plan and evaluate direct marketing efforts, then you know the challenge of pulling together the essential information for your creative assignment.

Due to the scope of the creative brief required for direct marketing projects, I see the creative brief as a melding of the marketing plan with the creative strategy.

For that reason, the creative director should not be the primary point person for writing the creative brief. That duty falls upon the marketers of the organization.

There are literally hundreds of creative brief formats out there. But they all tend to miss at least one of the essentials parts that can make the difference between success and failure.

Let's start with the characteristics of strong direct response creative briefs.

Effective briefs are:
• Clear about the objective
• Focused and direct
• Logical and brutally truthful
• Rich with emotional insight
• In sync with the overall brand
• The result of information provided by the client, the agency team and any primary/secondary research available about the product or service

Weak briefs are:
• Provided to the creative team without an offer or lack guidance for the development of a compelling offer
• Preoccupied with the client's needs rather than those of the audience
• Incomplete and unconvincing
• Missing concrete and factual support for the claimed product benefits

Looking at the contents rather than the format, here are the seven essentials of the DM Creative brief.

1. Get a handle on the product or service benefits.

- What are the benefits offered by this product?
- What is the primary benefit?
- Is there a unique selling proposition?
- What do present customers say about this product?
- What do third parties who are respected by the audience say about this product?
- How does your product compare to competing products or services?
- Compile printed and electronic literature that may already exist about the product.

2. Share the objective (s) and what we have to do to win? For example...

- Generate actual appointments from key businesses.
- Beat an existing control.
- Enroll new members.
- Convert existing leads to buy the product "off-the-page".
- Remind lapsed members of a deadline for an existing offer.
    Note: I like to share any known response rates generated by past efforts telling the creative team what success looks like. Quantify the objectives.

3. Who are the targeted prospects or customers and what makes them tick?

- Share the list information if it is a mailing going over data contained in the file that can be used for personalization.
- Provide any available psychographic and demographic information about the target market (s).
- Go into the research of why people buy and do not buy the offered product.   
- Get deeply into the emotional motivators of why the audience might buy or not buy the product.
- Summarize key research information about the customer or prospect audience.
- Provide any relevant testimonials or third party endorsements.
- Based on the audience descriptions, what tone should the creative take on?

4. What is the call to action or offer for this particular communication?

- What offers have worked in the past?
- What offers have not worked in the past?
- How much can we afford to spend on the offer based the allowables for this product or service?
- What other offers are worthy of a test?
- What offers have worked for competitors or in other industries to the target audience?

5. How does the target audience view the offered product in the competitive environment?

- Describe any notable messages/content from competitor advertising.
- If possible, give the creative team a comparison chart pitting the offered product against the competition.

6. What are the executional mandatories or "givens"?

- Includes any regulatory or legal copy requirements.
- Provide any graphic guidelines, logos and other graphic support as required for the creative execution.
- Review any verbiage or language that must not be used in the copy.

7. What is the executional budget for this creative effort?

- Provide production limits that take into account the allowable cost per lead or cost per sale.
- Provide direct mail costs limits based on the allowables for any direct mail rollouts.
- Give comparable budgets for online, DRTV, radio or print advertising at the onset of the creative effort.

What other elements would you add to this list that I omitted? How do you deal with clients who cannot provide the specifics needed for your campaign to succeed? Do you turn down the project? Do you go with what you have and cross your fingers warning the client that they need to compile more information for the future? As a client, how do you deal with pesky creative resources that never seem to have enough information?

Posted on April 27, 2008 .