Recently I read a long report on how to do direct mail correctly. The author explained that bulk mailers will "do anything" to get you to open their mail piece.
As a result, he informed us that we should do the same thing. I disagreed. If everyone else is doing the same thing, how do we stick out from the crowd. Well, we don't.
If everyone is mailing "yellow letters" to pre-foreclosures in our farm area, does it makes sense to mail yet "another yellow letter" to the same prospect? Well...? If so, what sticks out here? We're just another yellow letter.
Imagine, however, getting "yet another letter" from Publishers Clearinghouse... Do we open those? Do we? My grandma does. Why...?
Because hope springs eternal, and the envelopes are gaudy, messy, urgent sounding, and unique.
Just being gaudy, or messy, or just urgent wouldn't do much in my opinion. All my other junk mail fits that description. However, "uniquely" gaudy, messy and urgent sounding is what separates the sheep from the goats, as far as I'm concerned.
Meantime, again, Publishers Clearinghouse does a fantastic job of overcoming the din among fellow junk mailers by being uniquely gaudy, messy and urgent.
So the question remains... "Why does Publishers Clearinghouse" have to go to so much effort at standing above the crowd?"
The answer is that they really are sending "junk mail" and it looks like it. So, they've got a deforming handicap, as it were. Something must be done to overcome or disguise that problem. What might this be exactly ...and why again?
Let's take a woman who needs to take attention away from her gigantic nose.
What might she do to "hide" her nostril-laden features? She might wear big glasses. If that isn't enough to do the job, she might wear huge glasses with all sorts of distracting "jewels" glued on them. Think Dame Edna. Now, of course wearing huge, jewel encrusted glasses is not to flaunt wealth... No, it distracts attention from her anteater features.
It's the same with Publishers Clearinghouse bulk-mailish appearance. They need a way to keep your mind's eye off the fact that there's NOTHING inside that doesn't require a purchase, or worse ...there's nothing we actually want.
So, how's this fit into our direct mail efforts, you might ask.
I say, don't mail what everyone else is. Stick out. Be organic. Don't mail Click2Mail for example, or use any other "bulk mailer." Why? Because we'll have to work overtime, overcoming the "bulk mail" look that cause most recipients to file our mail in the trash.
So, what actually works, you ask. I say, "whatever that is not being used by the majority of competitors. That's what works." I'll add, "Be unique. If everyone is mailing handwritten "birthday cards" to prospects, then it's time to send "checks" in the mail."
If everyone is doing "checks," then we send DVD-size mail. If everyone is sending DVD-sized mail, then maybe it's time to send Zebra-printed postcards. If the zebra thing is getting over-sent, we try pictures of ugly, run down houses with a housewife standing on the front lawn in curlers with a caption, "If you're still doing open houses ...call me."
Of course this doesn't address having high quality mailing lists in the first place, regardless of the mail piece. However, that's the other secret of successful direct response marketing; having a good list.
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