How to create a direct mail package that works
What formats work best or tend to work for direct marketing responses?
It’s a question we’re asked often by clients, marketing executives and other creative pros. Although this may come as a surprise, our answer never differs.
Put simply, there’s no magic bullet. The key lies in pairing the right format with the perfect creative concept that’s in-line with the product, brand positioning and messaging.
Granted, this isn’t a popular answer because people are on the search for a simple fix… that format that always works…a new technique that sees everyone stopping and paying attention to your brand… that personalisation method no one can ignore.
The real magic bullet
The real magic bullet comes back to that age-old notion: knowledge is power.
So, how do you create winning direct mail packages? Here are our key pointers:
- Understand everything you can about your product or service: this includes its strengths, weaknesses, how it compares to other competitive products and its unique selling proposition (USP).
- Know your target audience: who are these people? What motivates them to make a purchase? When do they typically buy? When you understand your customer, their persona and their habits, you can put yourself in their shoes and better relate to them. Of course, some products may have multiple customer personas meaning you’ll need to sell to each differently.
- Do your homework: by looking at past promotions that did and didn’t work, you can analyse the results and look at the elements that appear to be consistent. Sift out what you think worked and look analytically at the entire picture. To be honest, we always learn more from promotions that didn’t work as opposed to the winners because they help you figure out what you shouldn’t be doing.
The real key to understanding success or failure is this: understanding how the creative process either helped or hindered the direct mail package. Of course, it’s not always easy to see but it’s incredibly important to review.
In terms of the promotion’s format, ask yourself these questions:
- Did it enhance the creative concept?
- Is it part of the creative concept?
- Could the concept work with other formats?
With some concepts, selecting the format is a must while with others, it won’t matter.
Once this is all done and dusted, you’re ready to start developing winning direct mail promotions.
The funny thing about developing a concept
Just before we go, we thought it would be worthwhile to point out that sometimes, the best concepts really are staring at you right in the face so make sure you’re looking for those obvious solutions: they may be very simple or you could just be overlooking them.
Recently, the team here at iGoDirect developed a new envelope concept using existing interior components. The product was delivered in a plastic reward card that was personalised to the buyer and includes the series and registration number.
The control outer envelope also had two windows:
- A large window that pictured the product with the recipient’s name on the case so that they could see what the product looked like once purchased.
- And another window for addressing the package.
This winning concept was staring at us right in the face and was so simple it shocked us a little that we hadn’t thought of it sooner. The personalisation of the product (the buyer’s name and their personal registration number), gave the recipient a view of them owning the reward inside.
So what’s the real lesson here?
At the end of the day, it’s always about smart concepts based on knowledge.
Your next winner could be a new hot format or a golden oldie: a great faux look or an interactive format, a simple update of an existing control or a radical approach never used within your category.
Whatever the creative solution, at the end of the day, it’s really not a format or structure, a headline, a technique or even a personalised product. For any package to be successful, knowledge needs to be supplied to your creative team so that they can use all of the tools in their arsenal.
After all, knowledge is power.