10 Direct Mail Mistakes to Avoid

December 2, 2010 – Article from Deliver Magazine

I often ask people when I meet with them if they’ve tried direct mail? Often I get the same response. Direct mail doesn’t work. Most of their response issues can be traced back to these mistakes. I liked this article because it highlighted the most common direct mail mistakes.

Direct mail is one of the most powerful ways to market your products and services, but it’s easy to sabotage your efforts. Here are 10 pitfalls to avoid:

1. Not identifying your audience. Mail gives you the ability to target specific individuals, so take advantage of that strength and decide which segments will most likely respond.

2. Leasing a bad mailing list. Sending mailers to people who don’t match your intended criteria is wasteful and could prove embarrassing, too. List brokers can help you find up-to-date lists that are tailored to your needs.

3. Relying on unclean data. Scrub your house list to ensure you’re not mailing pieces to inaccurate addresses, the deceased, people who have asked to be taken off your list and targets who have moved or changed jobs.

4. Not presenting a compelling offer. You’re sending a piece to motivate people to act, but your mail will do just the opposite if an offer is absent or lackluster. Tweak your offer — and the benefits of your product or service — to appeal to different segments.

5. Being impersonal. Personalizing your message can make targets feel like you value them individually and understand their needs and interests. Greeting them by name is one way; offering a personalized URL (PURL) is another.

6. Failing to indicate a call to action. Clearly spell out how people can take advantage of your offer (By phone? By e-mail?) and provide lots of choices. Create a sense of urgency so they’ll act fast.

7. Using mediocre creative. Copy and design that aren’t engaging, relevant or easy to comprehend could turn off recipients before they even get to your offer. Professional copywriters and designers can help you best communicate your message.

8. Not continuously testing. Your campaign can always improve, but you’ll never know how if you don’t conduct small tests of variables like your list, offer, format and colors.

9. Omitting tracking mechanisms. You need to trace responses back to a piece to gauge how well it performed. Options include embedding codes on coupons and creating a special toll-free number.

10. Poor follow-up. Be prepared to quickly fulfill any orders or requests generated by your piece. If you disappoint a target who has raised his or her hand, why did you go through the effort at all?


5 Most Common Mistakes Found On A Business Card

In these lean economic times, I see more people starting their own businesses. All you need is a laptop, smartphone, a business card and list of convenient coffee shops and you’re in business. The most important element in this venture often gets the least amount of thought… The business card.

I do my fair share of networking, trading cards with entrepreneurs in many different industries. When presenting yourself to prospects, you need to convey that your company is a reputable entity that can be trusted with their business. Often when people hand me their business card, I critique it on many levels. One thing I’ve noticed… Mainly that very little thought goes into setting up one business card.

Below are the top 5 most common mistakes that I see on business cards:

  1. Design – Word processing applications and online software give access to free templates for business cards. If it’s a nice design, or common theme, you could see several people handing out the same card at an event. It’s kind of like wearing the same outfit to a party. If you want to stand out, get professional help.
  2. Wasted Space – Very rarely do I hand my business card to someone that they don’t turn it over to see what’s on the back. Don’t waste the opportunity to tell someone a little more about your business. It will help remind them when they find your card in a stack days later.
  3. What’s in a Name? –  Does your company name tell people what you do? Finding a name that tells people who you are and what you do is essential to brand recognition. All Bob’s Consulting or Bob & Associates tell me is you’re looking for prospects, but whom?
  4. Email – You’ve found a great name, protected it and promoting it, but your email address is a Gmail account?? Legitimate companies have real email addresses. Spend the $25/year and look official.
  5. Website – The main purpose of a business card is to deliver your contact information in a creative format. It’s also a perfect reminder for prospects to learn more about you or your company. If you think you’re going to sell a prospect without them researching you, you’re sadly mistaken.  If you don’t have a website, you’re not in business.

Hopefully you’ll keep these tips in mind when you’re thinking about your next venture. Remember if you need help or advise… Hire a professional… Preferable Me.


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You may be asking who Firefly Creative is?  For more than forty-two years has helped its’ clients deliver – insightful strategy, smart creativity and effective solutions to advertising, marketing and corporate communication challenges. You want results. That’s what we offer.

Since 1969, companies – small to large – have benefited from Firefly’s creative communication solutions. Beginning as a graphic design studio, our business grew as clients achieved successful results and requested additional services. Today our clients benefit from a wide range of strategic marketing, advertising and corporate communication services.

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