Direct-mail advertising is the process of sending offers or promotions by mail to current customers or other consumers. Direct-mail advertising pieces often include a sales letter, brochure, order form and prepaid envelope. Small companies will also advertise in direct-mail magazines or inserts with other companies to save on costs. A number of benefits accrue to using direct-mail advertising.
One major advantage of direct-mail advertising is that it is highly targeted. A business can purchase mailing lists of potential customers through a mailing list distributor such the Direct Marketing Association or Dun and Bradstreet. For example, a small vitamin storeowner can order lists of people who buy vitamins or health products in her market. She can then prepare a direct mailing in hopes of getting these customers to shop at her store.
Direct-mail advertising is highly measurable, according to the U.S. Postal Service. A small company can easily measure the results of one or multiple direct-mail campaigns. This can largely be accomplished by keying the coupon used in a direct-mail campaign. For example, a small hardware store may place an ad in one of the direct-mail coupon magazines that are distributed to homes. The storeowner could simply include an expiration date on a coupon used for a September mailing. If a business mails out an individual direct mailpiece, the owner could write “Department 110” as part of the address for a January 2010 mailing. Subsequently, the owner can keep track of responses to each mailing and calculate the profitability.
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Direct marketing can be highly individualized. Computer programs allow small companies to address consumers by name in direct-mail campaigns. Therefore, the message of the sales letter, for example, is directed at a particular person as if the owner is speaking directly to them. As many as 55 percent of people are eager to read their mail, according to the U.S. Postal Service. Addressing them by name can only enhance the experience and, ultimately, prompt some to buy a company’s products.
Direct-mail advertising is cost effective. Companies can easily design colorful or eye-appealing brochures with their computers and desktop software and have thousands of copies printed affordably by a print vendor. Additionally, a company can mail out smaller quantities of a direct-mail advertisement as a test. Once the company determines that the first mailing is successful, it can increase the number of mailpieces in subsequent mailings.
Direct-mail advertising is highly flexible. A small company can use postcards to market its wares to save on costs. Small manufacturers can also include free samples of products in their mailings. A business owner can generally include as much information as she desires in a direct-mail campaign, depending on how much she wants to spend.
by Rick Suttle
Article from: http://smallbusiness.chron.com