If you’re considering a Direct Mail marketing campaign, but would like to know a little bit more about the why’s and the wherefores,  before you dip your toe in the waters, then this handy list of pros and cons could help you make up your mind…

The Pros of Direct Mail

  • Direct mail is targeted:  When you utilise broadcast media, like TV or radio or print, a whole lot of people who might not really be interested in your message are receiving it, too. Direct Mail talks directly to the people you think might be interested in your product, which means you have a much greater chance of making a sale.
  • Direct mail is measurable:  Unlike radio or TV campaigns, when you send out a Direct Mail campaign you should be able to tell exactly who responded.  Keep your mailing list on a database, and track their purchase behaviour. By subtracting your mailing costs from the spend generated you can work out your Return on Investment.
  • Direct mail is relatively inexpensive:  When you compare the media costs and production costs involved in an above-the-line campaign on TV, radio or print, Direct Mail is very affordable.  And there are also more ways to keep your costs as low as possible, for instance, using standard postage, keeping your pack simple, utilising an outer envelope with a window rather than a label, and only using personalisation on one side of one element in your pack.

The Cons of Direct Mail

  • There are some less obvious costs to consider – While a Direct Mail campaign is still cost-effective compared to other marketing initiatives, you do need to take a careful look at all the expenses you might incur.  For instance, a successful Direct Mail campaign needs a database to run off.  If you don’t have one, you’d need to create one in order to house details of your recipients and flag results against their names.  Simple databases aren’t expensive, but costs can increase with your mail quantity.  You also need to bear in mind printing and postage costs. These can be expensive and if you intend to do anything fancy like mail a larger envelope or include a sample, costs can go up.
  • Response rates can be low – Traditionally, the best results for Direct Mail are achieved off a warm list – names that you own, and who have an affiliation of some kind with your brand already.  While many people will consider purchasing cold lists – that’s a name from a list broker, be aware that, under the new Consumer Protection Act No. 78 of 2008, you could land in hot water for contacting people who haven’t given their permission to be contacted for marketing purposes.
  • You could land up being junk mail – It’s unfortunate that the market is saturated with direct mail pieces, and as a result, your mail pack, no matter how relevant, could be ignored by your target audience. The best way to approach this is to try and stand out from the clutter, in terms of both the appearance and the content of your mail pack.  Your success will hinge on making your recipient realise at a glance that your offer/product is relevant to them.
  • You need to do research, before you send – Before you embark on any marketing effort, it’s best to do as much research as possible, and the same is true for Direct Mail. Ask some tough questions as to whether your product is right for the medium, and do your sums to come up with a budget.  Once you’ve done that, look realistically at the number of people you can afford to mail on your budget and decide whether the Return on Investment would be sufficient to justify the cost of the campaign.  And if you decide to go ahead – good luck – Direct Mail is traditionally a really successful marketing tool, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work for your brand.