Direct Mail Miscues in the “Hall of Shame”

When done right, direct mail in the St. Louis area can be a highly effective resource for entrepreneurs and small businesses, especially when coordinated with an email marketing campaign. However, there are some common pitfalls that occur so regularly, they should be grouped together in a “Direct Mail Marketing Hall of Shame”:

1. Call to action is bad or nonexistent: Once you’ve got them reading your piece you’ve got to tell them what you want them to do.

2. Forgetting to test: Direct mail marketing is the art of constant testing. You’ve got to be committed to trying different approaches in everything from design and copy to packaging and offers.

3. Too much fluff and hype: If you sound too much like a used car salesman you’ll end up in the garbage faster than you can say garbage. Practice the art of generating excitement without using too much hype.

4. Bad grammar and no proofing: U R probably aware the entire universe is writing in text message-ese these days but don’t allow your direct mail copy to read like it should be contained in a thought balloon.

5. Can’t grab their attention in headline: They simply won’t read further. Period.

6. Not studying what works: Direct mail marketing has been around for many, many years and thousands of companies have made a lot of money. Before you do any direct mail marketing you should study what has worked and what has not.

6. No follow up plan: Congratulations. You’ve just sent out a direct mail marketing to your target customers. Now what?

7. Design that doesn’t work: Too much “design” can get in the way of effective communication. If your design isn’t directly relevant to your message, ditch it.

9. Bad copywriting: Arguably the most important element of the entire piece. You’ve got to know when to be clever, witty, funny, serious, etc. Know your audience.

10. Targeting not on target: Speaking of knowing your audience, do you really know them? When’s the last time you did customer research to figure out what motivates them?

11. Going cheap on the postage: Sometimes it makes more sense to pay a little more to arrive a certain time. Is it worth more to spend more if you ultimately make more? You know the answer.

14. Lost opportunity to drive traffic to Web and blog: A follow-up to the previous direct mail tip, but today it’s a natural fit to use direct mail marketing to drive people to a Web site, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, etc.

15. Contests that fail: Contests are a great way to get interaction with your customers. But if the contest doesn’t prompt someone to participate, something went wrong and it can destroy the campaign ROI.

18. Going one and done: If you’re going to just send out one direct mail marketing piece and then expect huge results, don’t waste your time. All you’ll do is create more trash for the earth. Direct mail marketing is a commitment that pays off over time.

19. A direct mail printer/consultant that doesn’t understand your business or customers: Yes, it matters. An experienced direct mail partner can make all the difference because they may be able to offer great strategy and insight where you lack experience.

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