Direct Mail, Precision Targeting

The most cost-effective marketing dollars you can spend

There is an old saying thrown around by veterans of the sales and marketing professions. It goes something like, “The most effective sales tool in the world is the follow up.” The idea is that, for all the time we spend worry about our initial pitch, our attention-getting ad campaign, or our flashy digital blitz, what really gets attention is that second punch. Even if it’s softer than the first one, it delivers the knock-out.


I called it an old saying, and it is, but that doesn’t make it any less true. The fact is, a well-timed follow-up phone call or piece of mail is often the only part of the campaign the customer can recall seeing. It’s important. But we can’t start with the follow up. We’ll get to that. That’s advanced stuff. There’s nothing to follow up on without that initial campaign that introduces your brand, new product, service, politician, nonprofit, or business. Whatever is being marketed.


So let’s dig into how to earn that follow up with a solid direct mail campaign that gets attention. It actually doesn’t matter if you’re introducing a new thing to the market or not; the idea is the same. Earn that follow up knockout punch.


Before we get to the good part, some examples of follow-ups that work well around a direct mail campaign may include something as simple as an email, a letter, or a phone call. The timing is vital, and following up on your follow-ups is a power move that we should not even be contemplating just yet. We’re just getting started.


A Direct Mail Campaign to Earn That Killer Follow-Up

Let me just prepare you right now, The Direct Marketing Association, or DMA, is a group that you’re going to be hearing and reading a lot about as you master the arts of this style of marketing. They’re a trade organization that works on the national level in the United States and Canada. They can offer a lot of guidance and best practices when you’re just getting started or even when you’re a veteran like me.

Another way to get your feet wet and learn some of the basics is good old fashioned books. There are some classics in our field. One of my favorites is Storynomics: Story-Driven Marketing in the Post-Advertising World, by Robert McKee. Even though it’s not purely about Direct Mail, a lot of the concepts and anecdotes apply just as well.

Continuing to work backwards in the marketing process: one way to set your read up perfectly for a powerful follow-up is with time-tested techniques like simple forms that make replying easy. Having small and simple interactions, such as games with prizes can be a great way to do this.

Tying the Earlier Parts of the Campaign to the Follow-up

Anyone who knows boxing knows that the most effective follow-ups come at the end of solid combinations. So how do you “combine” multiple pieces of marketing so that they’re tied together in the audience’s mind, and recognized as a series leading up to something (you know what it’s leading up to). There are a bunch of subtle ways to do this, but one of the best ways is to design your mail pieces and other materials to use colors wisely. Just like using unique colors in your logo can differentiate you from your competitors in your advertising, unique combinations that people may not see anywhere else have been shown to get surprisingly good results. Whatever style you go for, it should match your company’s overall brand strategy, and the most important thing to remember is to keep the colors consistent across a single campaign, so that the line from introduction to follow-up is followed by the direct mail consumer.


Modern data techniques allow us to plan & execute campaigns, and then measure the results, with amazing precision.


Gone are the days of “spray and pray” blind campaigns. Results can be shown in clear, readable data.


The right campaign can get people in your community talking about your product.

Keanu Reaves Checking Mail
Keanu Reeves is impressed that the folks at IMG were able to directly target him at his cabin hideaway.

Influencers are talking about it

Marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk explains how and why direct mail still works

We've just scratched the surface

Your direct mail marketing education is just getting under way, but you know that direct mail is not just “junk.” It can include vast array of different types of marketing materials, including sales letters, catalogs, postcards, brochures, and more. And the advantages are clear. With direct mail, we get the unique opportunity to speak directly to a highly targeted audience. Much more targeted than any digital form of marketing. We have an audience that is receptive because we control the message, the timing, and we choose recipients. It takes time and expertise, but with the political seasons getting longer and longer, (as just one example of an industry that uses direct mail extensively), it’s an exciting time to be doing this kind of work!