In order to fairly evaluate the results of a direct mail program you need to concentrate on setting your expectations realistically. Your first campaign may not be profitable. By following some of the tips that I have given on direct marketing before, you should be able to minimize, if not eliminate that possibility. Direct mail is both an art and a science and to expect instant results and profitability may not be realistic. It’s like anything else in life: it gets better and easier with time. By doing proper testing and tracking you can rest assured that your first campaign will be the worst. The second one will get better and so on.
Something that is easily overlooked by many people with their first efforts is the fact that a mail piece can sit for months and then at a later date generate interest or a sale. Do you have a stack of things somewhere that caught your interest and you plan to get back to them later? So does everyone else. I’m not saying that everyone does get back to it but you get the point. I had a call once from a flyer that was distributed two years earlier. It doesn’t happen a lot but it does happen.
Another key in setting realistic expectations is in fully understanding the value of a customer. What is their repeat business worth? How frequently do they buy? All of this varies according to product and industry but you should take a close look at these types of questions and apply it to your business in order to get a good formula for return on investment.
I think that a lot of businesses that have tried direct mail once with poor results and have determined that direct mail just doesn’t work are doing themselves and their business a great disservice. There are several important components to making direct mail a profitable cornerstone of building your business so don’t make the mistake of just throwing something out there and see if it sticks. As I mentioned, there is some science to it and it should be treated accordingly.
In life and in business there is a fine line between sticking with a plan and giving up too soon. There is no one that can make this determination for you. We’ve all heard the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The key difference here is that you have a plan that is fluid and allows for adjustments between mailings. I think most people have a tendency to give up on things too soon. We’ve been conditioned to expect everything now (if not yesterday). Patience seems to be less and less prevalent in society today. I would encourage you to err on the side of patience with your direct mail plan. There are no magic beans, but with good planning, some patience and realistic expectations you can make a big difference over time on your bottom line with direct mail.
by Matt Fortenbery
CEO Total Printing Solution