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It pays to be direct

Contrary to popular opinion, direct mail is far from dead so make the most of it – before word gets out.

It is true that digital marketing has given it a bit of a kicking, but it’s difficult to ignore a well-targeted and executed piece of direct mail when it lands on your desk as it happens so rarely these days.

Good direct mail is personalised. It should have a mailing piece with content that is relevant for the intended recipient and contain a clear call to action with an obvious way to respond.

“The right mailing piece on the wrong desk or doormat is effectively junk mail”

Also, it should be built around good contact data and followed up to encourage action. Get any one of those things wrong and you could end up wasting valuable time and money.

So what makes for a good campaign?

Planning, planning and planning

Be clear about why you are doing it and what you want to achieve. Whatever your objectives, your direct mail campaign should be an integral part of wider marketing activities.

Set objectives and monitor progress during the campaign. A post-campaign review will help highlight what to repeat and what to avoid for future campaigns.

Be relevant

Make sure that you are targeting the right people with the offer that interests them.

Do your research. For example, a company selling solar panelling could produce the most beautifully crafted promotional mail inviting homeowners to get in contact for huge savings on their heating bills.

If the recipients all live in rented flats the company will have wasted its resources because the information is not relevant.

Good data is key

The right mailing piece on the wrong desk or doormat is effectively junk mail. Take the time to make sure your data is accurate, complete and that you have the recipients’ permission to make contact.

If you are buying data for a direct mail campaign, be very sure of your sources and test what you get. If you are using in-house data, the same rules apply. Clean your database regularly and remove those who unsubscribe for whatever reason.

Be focused

Don’t send everything to everybody just because you can; find your target audience. Direct mail is expensive in relation to some other marketing tools, so use it wisely.

Contact only those with a particular link to your products and make them a specific offer they can relate to – less is more. You’ll send out less but it will be more cost-effective and easier to track and follow up on.

Follow up

When the campaign has left the building do not just sit back and wait for the influx of orders. For the best chance of success you must follow up key contacts.

“Following up your mailings gives you the chance to start a dialogue and could be the beginning of a new relationship”

‘Build it and they will come’ probably didn’t work for Kevin Costner either. The recipients of your mail will be busy people.

They may have every intention of acting but stuff happens and that extra nudge from you could make all the difference to their decision to act.

Following up your mailings means you can check they received it and that you have the right contact. It will give you the chance to start a dialogue and could be the beginning of a new relationship.

As part of an integrated marketing campaign, direct mail can still work for your business and should not be written off yet. Rumours of its demise are premature and it can pay to be direct.

Deborah Rowe is principal consultant of Sheba Marketing and is a member of the organising committee for the Chartered Institute of Marketing Construction Industry Group (CIMCIG)

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