3 Direct Mail Flubs Costing You Big Bucks

direct mail mistakes

marketing plan templateSave marketing dollars and maximize your results by avoiding these direct mail marketing mistakes

You’re probably pretty adept at risk management. I mean, if you’re still in business – at any level – you’ve made choices that either increased or decreased your risk of failure. Some of them panned out. Others probably didn’t. Point is: As a business owner, you know your way around a pro/con list.

So, what criteria do you use to evaluate your marketing? My guess is that it is some mixture of the number of leads you get and how you feel the marketing is performing. But that’s a dangerous path to take. Here’s what you should do: Evaluate marketing based on what it costs you vs. how much money it makes for you. Period.

My specialty is direct mail marketing, particularly with postcards. And there are 3 direct mail flubs that I see over and over again from hundreds of the different industries I work with. And these flubs directly impact how much money a campaign can generate. So they are costing you money in a very real sense.

Here are 3 direct mail flubs you need to avoid like the plague…



1. Using the wrong size postcard

This is a mistake I see often. Most people tend to think, “How much of a difference can the postcard size really make?” Unfortunately, the answer to that question is, “a lot.” So while you are trying to save some pennies with a smaller card, it’s actually costing you dollars in terms of response. There are two reasons size matters in direct mail:

  1. Attention – Larger cards get more of it. That’s just a fact. And the more attention you get, you more opportunities you have to convert a sale.
  2. Reputation – An organization that consistently mails out a larger postcard gains a reputation as a stable (and profitable) business. And when people see you are succeeding and here to stay, they are more likely to trust you with their business.

Your direct mail provider should offer size options like this: Small (4×6), Medium (6×8), and Large (6×11). And while I have laid out the reasons that larger cards work better, not everyone needs to go that route. To find out what size is best for you, answer these questions:

How much do other companies in your industry market?

  • Not at all/I’m the only one (You can lean towards a smaller card)
  • Light to Moderate Amount (Lean toward a larger card)
  • Moderate to Heavy Amount (You need a large card)

Do your competitors also mail postcards, specifically?

  • No (You can lean towards a smaller card)
  • Yes (You need a large card)

How much explaining does your offer require?

  • Not that much/Easy to grasp (Smaller card is fine)
  • A little background info (Medium should do the trick)
  • A lot/Details are important (Go big or go home)

After answering those questions (truthfully!), you should be able to discern a good starting size for your postcard campaign.

2. Settling for a Mediocre Design

Ok, so you’ve got a postcard with sufficient size to catch prospects’ eyes. Now you need to turn that attention into legitimate interest. To accomplish this, your postcard must be designed in a very intentional way. In my experience, there are 10 strategic design elements that a postcard needs to succeed:

  1. Clear Headline
  2. Supporting Graphic
  3. Color that Pops
  4. Intriguing Sub-Headings on the back that lead into benefits
  5. Benefits!
  6. Enticing Offer
  7. Your Name and Logo
  8. Call to Action and/or expiration date for the offer
  9. Contact Information – website, map, phone number
  10. Return Address

Elements 1-3 are the keys to your first transition. They turn attention into genuine interest in your offer. If these elements are unclear or non-compelling, the prospect will jump ship at this point. Be clear. Be compelling.

Elements 4-6 make up the second transition – from “interested” to “sold.” Subheadings lead readers into your marketing benefits where they learn all the ways your product/service improves their life. Then, you swoop in with a special offer that makes it an opportunity too good to pass up.

Elements 7-10 close the deal by giving your prospects all the info they need to respond. Don’t be the guy that leaves these important elements out of the design!

3. Mailing to the Wrong List

Pop quiz! What’s the best way to ruin a direct mail campaign? You guessed it. Use the wrong list!

You can have the right-sized postcard. You can be a design whiz. But if you send your mailing to the wrong group of people – everything else is useless! You absolutely NEED a high quality list of prospects that are predisposed to say yes to your offer. If the need is already there, your message is planted in fertile marketing soil. If the need is not there, your message is irrelevant and your money is gone – with nothing to show for it.

Luckily, getting a mailing list that targets the right audience isn’t all that difficult. The targeting options are basically limitless. Want to target women, aged 50-65, living within ten miles of your business? You can do that. Want to target every 21-year-old single mother of two that makes more than $50,000 per year in the entire country? You can do that too. But what if you simply want to target everyone living close to your location? Yeah, that’s not a problem. Your direct mail provider should be able to guide you through the process effortlessly. (And if they’re not, look elsewhere!)

The task, then, is to find out what audience you need to target. You will probably have a good idea of who your ideal customer is, but just to be sure, go back through your records. Who actually buys from you? Male/Female? How much money do they make? Where do they live? Do they have kids? Any and all of this data can help you – and of course you can tweak your list as you go!

In case you need a little help, my team has compiled a full detailed report on how to choose the right mailing list. It’s totally free to download, print and use as you like!

Well, there you have it — avoiding these 3 flubs has helped me create postcard marketing success for over 64,347 small businesses like yours. Keep them in mind when you are creating your next postcard marketing campaign – or live to regret it!




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Joy Gendusa

Founder and CEO at PostcardMania
Joy Gendusa is the Founder and CEO of PostcardMania, a fully-integrated marketing firm specializing in direct mail. She used postcards to grow PostcardMania from just a phone and computer to a $22million enterprise in less than a decade.