Direct mail can be one of the most misunderstood, underestimated, and miscalculated tools in marketing. It’s not just the business owner who falls in to these traps, but many marketers are unable or unwilling to communicate the realities – mostly positive – of direct mail campaigns.
Direct mail can prove to be an extremely effective tool within your marketing tool chest – especially when combined with other marketing tools like QR codes, social media marketing, personalized URLs or just your website. Take note that successful direct mail programs result from scientific direct mail processes. We won’t evaluate every single component, but let’s look at 3 common and COSTLY mistakes many businesses make when using direct mail. Then we’ll look at the 3 tested and proven fixes that lead to an effective and successful direct mail campaign for restaurants.
Direct Mail Mistakes & Solutions
“I’ll get as large a mailing list as I can, then just “blanket” my immediate location with our campaign.”
Executing a “blanket” strategy – by simply taking a large list of addresses and sending your campaign to those addresses – is the BIGGEST waste of your money and creative energy.
The same level of thought that you put into buying food inventory for your restaurant’s menu should be reflected in acquiring you mailing list. In buying inventory, you base your acquisition decisions around the preferences and characteristics of your customers. When acquiring a mailing list, the logic should be similar – you acquire a list primarily based on the characteristics of the customers you want to reach. For example, if you’re an upscale wine bar, you are better off sourcing a mailing list with individuals that have household income levels above the median income for your region, are college educated, and those who like wine. Your ROI can be 50% -60% greater on a targeted mailing list versus one that is not targeted. In addition, your list should be sourced from extremely reputable sources, because list quality varies widely and even a good initial list will age over time and become inaccurate. The good news is that MODsocket provides tools that allow you to leverage high quality lists from Dunn and Bradstreet, EquiFax and others, and to use very precise demographics in your own targeted direct mail campaign.
“Since my last direct mail campaign did not work for me, then that proves direct mail doesn’t work!”
Basing a decision on the ultimate effectiveness of direct mail on just ONE campaign is a bad idea – even if it worked great the first time. Would you say that franchising does not work, just because the first location you opened was not a success? You most likely wouldn’t.
Test! Test! Test! With direct mail, you must test your campaign carefully and often. When testing, use a sample from your overall mailing list and send to that sample. Once you’ve picked a random sample, divide that list into two equal parts and perform a ‘split test’.
Your first ‘run’ should be considered the baseline campaign or your control. From this initial distribution, you can establish a baseline response rate that serves as a measuring stick to evaluate changes in the response-rates of follow-up campaigns. Now that you’ve laid the foundation economically and smartly, you can make changes to your campaign for improved results. However, only change ONE thing at a time.
Now, testing is essential; but don’t go crazy with it! Possibly, start by changing your offer – this is almost as important as the quality of your list. Then review the success. Next time try change your graphics. Finally, try changing the dimensions of your direct mail piece. You many find that smaller is better and more convenient for the prospect, or that larger works better for a specific reason. MODSocket makes it extremely cost effective for restaurants to test, and re-test their direct mail campaigns at a relatively very low cost.
There are many components to testing your direct mail, but these few areas will really make a positive impact on your results and bottom-line.
“Let’s focus on telling our prospects how awesome we are!”
When you solicit, nobody cares about YOU. They care about what you can DO for THEM – i.e. YOUR OFFER!
Pay special attention to your content. Your headline, opening lines and offer must speak TO the reader not AT them. Your target audience wants to know “What’s in it for me?” or “Why should I spend my time and money with you?” Depending on your target audience, certain concepts around green/eco-friendly, healthy, fun, excitement may perk their ears. No matter what your demographic looks like or responds to, there are a few words we ALL react well to:
Offer expires …
After you’ve completed these tweaks to launch a successful campaign, don’t expect to get a 40%, 50% – or even 60% response rate. Success for direct mail range ranges between 0.5% & 3%. Restaurants with well-crafted campaigns and offers can experience between 2%-3% response rate within the first few months.
If you mailed to 10,000 people and 200 – 300 people (a combination of new and existing customers) to responded within 6 months, that’s a winner! Consider you now have the opportunity to create new repeat customers who bring their friends, and it’s easier now to see the potential of your campaign.