Make the most of direct mail

This morning I opened a 8 1/2 by 11 envelope received in the mail.

The address and return address were hand written in pen and I recognized the town as one about 45 minutes away.

Naturally my curiosity was working from the beginning, as junk mail normally does not come hand addressed.  I thought maybe it was an  invitation to a show.

Upon opening I found a single sheet, ink jet photo and nicely printed, showing some concrete castings.  On the bottom of the sheet was an address, phone number, website and minimum order declaration.  Nothing else was in the envelope.

My first thought was, what a waste.  Someone spent the time to find our address, address the envelope, take nice photos and print a nice catalog sheet but they did not find the time to include anything else.

Normal I would expect a letter of introduction; Hi, were the Foghorns and we make these really nice sculptures right here close to you.  Here are our hours, here is a photo of our studio, this is how long we have been making these and so on.

Direct mail costs is expensive so it makes sense to maximize the impact.  Here are a few ways to do just that.

1.  As stated above, include a letter of introduction including the names of the principals, the nature of the business, and any other interesting details.  If you participate in retail or wholesale shows include a list of the shows you will be attending, and include the booth number if you have it.

2.  Nicely done catalog sheets showing your wares, well printed.  These need to be of the highest quality.  Poorly shot photos using your telephone will not do.  If you have trouble get some help here.  It is of the utmost importance that your goods look good.  If you use a crappy photo your items will look crappy and you might as well forget about making any sales.  Make the photos large enough to high lite any details.  Do not use cluttered photos showing too many items in one shot.

3. Include a business card.  Some customers keep these in a file for future reference.  There are differing opinions on whether to include a Rolodex card.  I still use the Rolodex for speed and efficiency.  It seems much quicker than fumbling with the computer to get an important phone number.

4.  Photo of the artist(s).  If you can not be there in person at least you can be there in photo.  Make it a nice one.  If you can you might have a photo taken while you are working or in your studio with your work visible.

5.  Complete prices and terms of sale.  This would include payment options, return policy, shipping details and so forth.

6.  Call to action.  A special item, specially priced to go along with the mailing campaign.  Or maybe an invitation to visit the web site for a special deal.

7.  References or recombination from other customers.  Not customer feedback that can not be verified but bona fide  customers who agree to have their names listed.

8.  Hand addressed envelopes and real stamps get attention.  Use them to keep the envelope from ending up in the trash before it is even opened.  Try to find big interesting stamps that match the theme of the mailing.  Also use a tasteful colored envelope or envelope with interesting printing to get the recipients attention.

9.  Return addressed post card to rate your product and marketing.   At the time of this writing a small post card costs 32 cents for a 4 by 6 card. A bulk mailing permit might lower that cost.  Check with your post office.  Merchandise return service allows the post office to charge you only for the items returned to you so you do not need to pay for a stamp that is going to end up in someones trash.  You need a bulk mailing permit to utilize this option.

10.  If the mailing is not too large, and you can afford the time, you might follow up with a phone call or an email.  Don’t spam or annoy potential customers.  Just make a friendly call to remind them of the special and to see if they have any questions.  Don’t push it.  If they do not want to talk or they are busy, thank them for the time and hang up.  You do not want to spoil a future opportunity by alienating a potential customer.

Good luck and keep plugging.


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