Everyone is familiar with direct mail campaigns, you only have to look at your doormat to see any number of attempts at direct marketing (all that “junk mail” that you didn’t ask for) – but how do you, as a business conduct a successful direct mail campaign? How do your make your marketing standout from the background “noise” that appears everyday in mailboxes world wide?

It isn’t just about getting the look of your mailing right, although this is important, it is about understanding your potential client base. Before you even look at your artwork you need to identify your target market.

Once you have identified your target market, then you can start to look deeper, so that you only target those who are most likely to respond, this helps keep your costs down and reduce the wastage of the campaign. In most cases, the logical place to start is with your existing customer base, people that have brought from you before, are more likely to buy from you again then someone that has never heard of you.

If you are starting out and haven’t got a customer base to fall back on as yet, then perhaps it is worth buying a new mailing list of prospects that match the criteria you believe your customers will fit into – if you are doing this, it is a good idea to get a professional call centre to clean the data for you as this can be a lengthy process but will avoid you sending out mail to people who have left companies/homes since the mailing list was created, thus stopping the recipient from just throwing your hard work in the bin.

You also need to be sure that you can handle the responses you will receive – keep in mind that Direct Mail campaigns tend to give responses of between 1 and 5 %, most commonly between 1 and 3 % – depending on the size of your company, what the offer is, and how large an area you wish to cover, you may need to stagger your direct mail to ensure you can rise to the new business without any problems.

Once you have done that, you can then start on the direct mail itself, make sure that it is appealing, that it has a clear message and includes a “call to action” – many campaigns fail at this crucial stage because they forget to “ask for the sale” or give a clear means of getting in touch.

Make sure you keep note of where you have targeted, and the responses you receive from each mailing, this will help you to evaluate the response to your campaign over all, highlighting areas that you may wish to concentrate on in future direct mail campaigns, and others that you can safely ignore.

When running a direct mail campaign, cost is another important consideration – so it is important to look at which option will give you the best results at a budget you can afford. The cheapest solution would be to print your mailing yourself at home, and put it into envelopes by hand before taking them around to the post office – however, it is unlikely that you will get the needed quality to covey a professional feel.

The next logical move is to get your items professionally printed, and then put them into the envelopes (if you are sending out thousands of direct mail, it may be worth looking for a company that either rents, or sells envelope insertion machines as this will save you valuable time, and possibly consider a franking machine for the same reason) or you could opt to go with a company to take over the running of your direct mail campaign completely.