Using Direct Mail To Increase Your Sales And Leads

The direct mail business is constantly growing. In spite of the Internet people still like to receive content, offers or promotions in the mail. As far back as 2003 according to a report by the National Mail Order Association, annual mail order sales had reached $318.5 billion and growing.

Sears and Roebuck are the pioneers in mail order business. It was referred to as the “Wish Book” at one time because it gave the consumer the power to choose whatever they wanted and have that wish granted simply by sending in an order form and payment.

The Father of mail order goes to Aaron Montgomery Ward who was a savvy traveling salesman. In 1872 he decided he would give direct mail a shot and found it was a terrific way to get quality merchandise out to rural Americans who frequently suffered at the mercy of sub-standard goods. He was a young 28-year-old entrepreneur who started with a single sheet of paper with about 160 products on it. That was the corner stone of what would become Montgomery Ward catalogs.

Today mail order is still in high demand. The Direct Marketing Association estimates that each year, more than 131 million Americans order a product or service by direct mail or telephone. With direct mail, shoppers can make purchases from the comfort of their own homes. They don’t have to be worried about the commute to the mall, crowded stores, salesman who really don’t have a thorough knowledge of the products or lugging their kids along with them for a grueling day.

To be fair, mail order does have a couple of drawbacks in that the consumer or prospect can not actually feel or try on the merchandise before they actually make the purchase. Nevertheless, they’re able to return the merchandise if they’re not satisfied which can be a hassle most of the time. They also have to wait several days depending on which form of delivery they choose. Whether its overnight or regular USPS mail.

A lot of businesses fail in mail order because they don’t have the financial backup they need to run their business successfully. Catalogs can be quite expensive to produce and to pay for the mailing costs, if you’re not successful, you can lose quite a bit of money. So it’s very important to do your market research and make sure that you’re targeting the right market with your mail, which will increase the chances of you having a successful return on investment (ROI).

If you can focus your energy on what’s called the lifeblood of a successful business with a repeat customer, you’ll find that you have a better chance of a good ROI. The best way to be successful in direct mail is pretty much similar to the same strategies that you would use as an Internet marketer and that’s choosing carefully a particular niche that your product would appeal to.

So when it comes to market research you want to really make sure that you have an understanding of who your competitors are and you want to make sure you know exactly what that niche is looking for in terms of challenges and problems. Mail order can be very lucrative but it takes a lot of patience and work. You hear about these so-called overnight successes, but typically it can take 3-5 years before you start realizing a profit in mail order. Sometimes it depends on the market, the niche that you’ve carved out, how well you write your marketing material and how well you handle customer service.

I believe the Internet will help to increase the probability of your direct marketing campaigns being successful because you can test sales copy extensively on the Internet to see what works. Then you can transfer that over to your direct mail pieces. Some marketers use Google Adwords to test ad copy and their offering by spending $5-10 a day and try to get 100 people to click on their ad. Testing with Adwords will give you an indication of what kinds of marketing messages could work via direct mail.

As in all businesses online or offline, it comes down to market research. Really understanding what they call the sweet spot for your niche. You can have the best marketing material, copy writing and packaging but it all comes down to the offer. You have to make sure that you’re offering them what they really want. The best way to do that is to survey and actually ask them what they want.

In conclusion I would recommend that you do your research carefully. Make sure you know exactly what your niche market wants in terms of products or services. Start off small. Don’t make a large investment. When you find that proverbial sweet spot, you can scale things up. But never take a huge risk in the beginning. Also take advantage of the Internet and use it to sharpen your marketing message.

Remember you’re not the genius, your market is the genius. So you go directly to them and ask them, survey them and find out what they really want to purchase from you. That will definitely cut down on the risk factor when you go straight to your market. Don’t forget to test and be patient. Most times when you make assumptions, you can be very wrong.

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