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Direct mail marketing tips for small businesses

Whether you have a new line to promote, or just want to raise awareness of your business, direct mail can be a cost-effective way of reaching new customers and keeping existing customers up to date with your latest products and offers. Read on to find out what direct mail marketing is and how it could help your business to grow.

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Whether you have a new line to promote, or just want to raise awareness of your business, direct mail can be a cost-effective way of reaching new customers and keeping existing customers up to date with your latest products and offers. Read on to find out what direct mail marketing is and how it could help your business to grow. What is direct mail marketing? With direct mail marketing your business contacts the customer directly via a letter or other printed material sent by post. This is the opposite of advertising, where you're relying on a third party such as a newspaper or website, to get your message to the customer. Unlike advertising, it also allows you to have greater control over the people that will see your message, which often gives it a higher return on investment, making it an attractive option to small business owners. Benefits of direct mail Can be highly targeted to customers based on age, gender, geographical area, past purchases and much more. Although online marketing methods are becoming more popular, a printed letter still has more authority and trust attached to it than an email – especially as people are cautious of spam and email scams. The promotional material you send will be far more focused than an advert or article in a publication where your offer is competing with lots of other messages. The mail you send can be in a variety of formats including letter, postcard, flyer, brochure, survey and DVD … the creative possibilities are endless. Direct mail can easily be used in conjunction with all other types of marketing and promotions, such as telemarketing and email, to form successful marketing campaigns. Pitfalls to be aware of You must stay on the right side of the data protection laws when sending out direct mail. If you hold and process information about customers, you are legally obliged to keep that information secure and up to date. Out of date data can also mean that you waste money sending information to people who have since moved on. If a person or organisation you're targeting asks to be taken off your mailing list, you must comply with their request. There are no exceptions to this rule, and if you fail to comply, they can apply to the courts for an order against you under section 11 of the Data Protection Act. You should remove any recipients who are registered with the Mailing Preference Service (MPS) to stop receiving 'junk mail', or, if you buy data in from a third party, ensure that they have done this for you. How to make get the most out of direct mail marketing Refine your data for a more targeted campaign. The benefit of this is that you only pay for sending out your mail shot to the people you want to receive it, rather than paying to send out hundreds of thousands of letters to a broader range of people. Plus, the more targeted your campaign is, the more relevant it will be to the reader and the better return you will have on your investment. Personalise. Addressing someone by their name in a mailing, rather than calling them Sir or Madam, can mean the difference between someone reading it and throwing it away as junk. Use all the data that you have on your list to tailor the message to your audience. The more relevant it is, the more likely it will result in a sale. Keep your message short and snappy. Focus on the benefits to the customer of your products, rather than the features. Plus, include a clear call to action, such as a phone number, email address, website or special offer, so the reader knows what you want them to do. Get your timing right. Send your mailing when customers are most likely to buy from you. For example, is your product seasonal? Will they be renewing a subscription or thinking about buying a new product at a certain time of year? Plan your mailings around these dates for optimum success. Assess your results. Direct marketing is very easy to track, meaning that you can easily measure your success rate and whether you've made enough money to cover the cost of the mailing. Use this information to find out what works – and what doesn't – and then use this to plan and improve your next mailing. To find out how the Forum can help you get started with marketing, call us on 0845 130 1722.

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