Is there anything direct mail can’t do?

Walking through the library of the direct mail advertisements we’ve created over the decades, we’ve collected enough messages to demonstrate firsthand, that direct mail can do just about anything. The only requirement is to know what that “anything” is.

Reflecting back, I look at the worksheets we complete with our clients that guide the development of our messages; we call these creative briefs.

It starts with a question that we find some of our clients never thought to answer specifically.

“Why are we advertising?”

To sell stuff is not the answer. Nor is to sell more stuff.

Once we spend a few minutes digging in, we discover answers like these, which certainly are not all of them.

  • Increase the frequency of use of our product.
  • Increase the variety of use of our product.
  • Add new products to our product line.
  • Reinforce the credibility of an important claim.
  • Deny a lie – dispel a misconception.
  • Launch a promotion.
  • Turn a disadvantage into an advantage.
  • Enhance the image of our company.
  • Get support for a cause we support.
  • Keep customers from leaving us.
  • Get people to want more information.
  • Get people to sign up.
  • Generate foot traffic.
  • Make people aware of a problem they will face.
  • And believe it or not, sometimes just so the boss’s friends see his/her advertisements.

A follow-up question becomes:

  • What do people currently know about you or about your product?
  • What do people think about you now?
  • What will it take for them to believe something else?
  • Will they believe what you say?
  • How can you say it so they will believe it?
  • Why should they care?
  • Do they even know they need what you offer?
  • If we succeed, what do you want them to do?

Answers to these and many other questions are what shape the development of the creative messages that make or break the success of a direct mail campaign. Remember that in direct mail marketing, we talk directly to a human – a person that thinks, has needs, has pre-conceived ideas, or has no ideas, has a life of experience (some call it baggage), and so when we craft a message, the more we know the better we can talk with the individual standing between a mailbox and a garbage can.

Our message is simply an effort to communicate how we provide what they want. We have long asserted that if we can clearly answer the following question, we will have success.

“What does who need to know, that will motivate them to do what you want them to do?”

With this answered, I can learn who I am talking to, know what they think or feel now, what they need or want, and with that understanding of them, I know the obstacles standing in my way, how you, my client thinks you can make their life better and what they need to do to receive the benefit you are promising. That’s a long sentence so let me show you the rest of the questions on my creative brief.

All of these questions follow a background paragraph we’ve written about my client and their product/service. Granted, with many of our current clients we know each other so well, the brief becomes very brief.

1. Why are we advertising?

2. What are we advertising?

3. Who are we talking to?

4. What do they think about the product/service?

5. What do they think about you?

6. What should they think after receiving your message?

7. What is it you are saying – your proposition.

8. How do you substantiate that proposition.

9. What kind of tone can we or should we take?

10. What do you want them to do?

11. How can/should they do what you want them to do?

12. What are some other mandatory inclusions.

11. Other campaign requirements.

Then on later pages of the brief, we cover the tangibles like timing, budget, format restrictions, legal disclaimers, and the non-creative related restrictions that seem to always get in the way of true creative anyway.

This is why our direct mail has continued to be so forceful a marketing tool. But it only works when we, who are creating the message understand our clients’ expectations and we tie them to the needs or wants of the individual who is pulling the message out of the mailbox.

At TargetLeads, we certainly have a slew of perfected (well perfected might be a strong term maybe ‘proven’ is better) messages that inform your prospective customer that a need they have can be met by you, one of our clients, whether it’s yard care, foundation repair, healthcare, entertainment, education, or countless other business segments. Our clients come to us to meet specific unique communication needs, our experience knowing people’s needs, helps us refine old messages, and craft new ones.

All of this is relevant to you only so far as you want to develop a pure direct mailing plan that will mature into a reliable marketing program that will consistently meet your advertising objectives. Helping you create a reliable direct mail marketing platform is what TargetLeads has built our thirty-eight-year reputation on. And yes, we realize that phrase ended with a preposition. So let me rephrase it. For thirty-eight years our team at TargetLeads has become experts in direct mail lists, both consumer lists and business lists, direct mail production and fulfillment, and creative message development. Is that better?