Direct Mail: Who is Your Ideal Prospect?


In “Is Direct Mail Dead?” I outlined the primary reason that direct mail can be an effective addition to your marketing efforts. It’s important to understand, though, that simply sending out direct mail pieces doesn’t guarantee success.

I advise against “trying” direct mail. “Trying” implies throwing together a sales letter, buying a cheap mailing list, and hoping for the best. Taking that approach is only slightly more useful than going to the bank, withdrawing a few thousand dollars, and lighting your cash on fire.

Instead of “trying” direct mail, take a step back and do it correctly. Strategic planning and execution makes the difference between a successful campaign and an utterly disappointing one.

Before you write one word of your sales letter…

Think about who your ideal prospect is. The entire process of building a successful direct mail campaign revolves around your customer, not around making more sales. The more clearly you define your prospect, the better you can connect with her through sales copy.

Now, by “ideal,” I mean the person who is most likely to need your service or product. It doesn’t necessarily mean the person who you’d most like to do business with. Although this distinction is often subtle, it trips up a fair number of marketers – even ones who have been involved in advertising for years.

Is your ideal prospect male or female? Youthful, middle aged, or retired? Does he own a home and have a family? What is the prospect’s income? Does he live in an urban environment or a rural area? What are his interests?

Defining your prospect saves you a lot of headaches, disappointment, and wasted money. You can’t create a compelling marketing message that gets results if you don’t know who you’re marketing to.

Determine why your prospect needs your product or service. This gives you the advantage of putting yourself in your prospective customer’s shoes. It also forces you to think in terms of benefits instead of features. People generally don’t care about features as much as they care about how the product can help them.

One important note: If you don’t know why your ideal prospect needs your service or product, you’re not ready for a direct mail campaign. You need to back up and research that will compel prospects to buy.

Your social media pages are excellent places to start. Post questions on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. to find out about customer needs. Interact with followers to get more details about the problems they face and how those problems could be solved… ideally, through purchasing from you.

Also, invite current and past customers to complete surveys to help you understand your target market’s buying habits. Find out why they purchased from you, how they used your services or products, and what they gained from their purchases. By the way, offering a discount in exchange for completing surveys dramatically increases participation.

Next time, we’ll look at what makes a great direct sales letter. Until then… do good work and make your customer your top priority.

Categories : Marketing Strategy

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