When’s the last time you were genuinely interested in a piece of direct mail? Something unsolicited from a company that wants your business and made you think, “Gee! I hadn’t thought about them before, but I really want to check them out!” Chances are you can’t remember. Or if you can remember, it’s because it was an event so rare it’s like asking if you remember where you were when your first child was born. Or maybe not quite like that. The thing is, direct mail isn’t inherently ineffective. We’ve made it ineffective, all of us together (“teamwork” on three!). By continuing to produce direct mail that doesn’t stand out from the competition, that uses overdone gimmicks and that doesn’t really speak to the target audience, we’ve made direct mail into something people throw right into the garbage. But it doesn’t have to go right into the garbage. Direct mail can be compelling. Interesting. Effective. So how do you know if your direct mail is filling its role or if it’s just filling up recycling bins? Here are a few signs that you need to up your direct mail game and stop feeding trash cans.

  1. TMI. You’ve got [VARIABLE_DATA], and you’re not afraid to use it. It’s nice to personalize the mail a little bit, but too much and it just feels creepy. You wouldn’t like it if a salesperson walked up to you in a store and started listing off your birthday, the gender of your children, the names of your pets, the last purchase you made on your Visa card, etc. Don’t scare off potential customers by stalking their personal information.
  2. Out of touch. You haven’t updated your mailing list in a few years, but that’s ok. Because even if your mail accidentally goes to someone who’s moved, the new occupant is bound to see it anyway, right? Well, a) stealing someone else’s mail is a felony, so lets not encourage that. B) If it was a business address, who knows what’s there now. The attorney’s office may have appreciated getting your frequent flyers about liquor sales, but now it’s a daycare center and they’ve been told alcohol isn’t an appropriate sleep aid for the toddlers.
  3. Locked out. If it looks like junk mail, it might as well be a chastity belt because no one is getting in. It’s flimsy, it’s gimmicky and it doesn’t stand out. You could be offering a free car to anyone who bothers to read the fine print, and it still wouldn’t keep it out of the trash if it looks like junk. You work hard to set your company apart from the competition. Work hard to set your marketing apart, too.
  4. Total waste. Those gimmicks that we keep mentioning can be the kiss of death for direct mail leads. The car dealer gimmick where everyone gets a key that MIGHT (definitely won’t) start up your own BRAND NEW CAR! A scratch off mailer where you MIGHT (definitely won’t) win FREE STUFF from the store. A CAN’T MISS deal with fine print that excludes any normal person with any normal spending habits from being able to take advantage of it. They’re not only ineffective (let’s face it – modern consumers are wary of anything that sounds too good to be true), they’re annoying and turning potential customers into your competition’s customers.
  5. Everyone, everywhere. Everyone gets your mailer. Everyone! Taking the time to identify your target audience and customizing your mailing to them is too much work when you can just blast every man, woman and child within a 60 mile radius with your mailing. Maybe they haven’t developed a keen interest in horseback riding because they didn’t know your specialty store existed. Or maybe you should target your mailer to actual potential customers.

Don’t waste your time and scare away future business by sending direct mail that ends up in the garbage. Call TQS for help. We create custom mail that people actually open. And read. And respond to. And maybe even take action because of. And don’t just throw away.

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