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Seven Tips for More-Profitable Direct Mail in Today's Economy

by Dean Rieck  |  
August 1, 2011
  |  10,468 views

In this article, you'll learn...

  • Seven timeless direct marketing principles to use
  • How classic direct marketing can boost sales today

The following article is based on an excerpt from the e-book titled "Getting Response in a Down Economy: 4 Key Principles to Boost Your Direct Mail Profits in Today's Difficult Market."

If you create or manage direct mail programs, the current economy probably has you pulling your hair out. Over the last couple of years, it's been crazy out there.

Budgets have shrunk. Response has been unpredictable. Costs have risen. And yet you need to make sales. What can you do?

First, take a deep breath, because the economy is beginning to improve. Second, don't do anything rash. Though closing down your direct mail programs would be an overreaction, taking huge risks wouldn't be the answer either.

Now is the perfect time to get back to basics and remind yourself of the following seven core principles of direct marketing.


1. Sell things people want

In general, direct marketing is not about creating markets, but about locating existing markets. It is a business-to-buyer avenue of selling that is streamlined, efficient, and profitable—but only when a market wants what you are offering.

For example, a few decades ago, only hardcore geeks would buy a computer via mail. Computers were neither understood nor wanted by the general public, but such purchases are now common because a wide market exists.


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Dean Rieck is a direct-mail copywriter and consultant, and publishes the popular Direct Creative Blog and ProCopyTips blog.

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  • by Bryn Adler Mon Aug 1, 2011 via web

    Great post! It's interesting to see the balance you need to strike between offers/facts/straightforward content and appealing to people's emotions when it comes to creating a direct mail piece.

    Many of our clients still prefer direct mailers to email campaigns or Internet marketing in general, so although the glory days are gone, there are still dedicated followers.

  • by Math Teacher Mon Aug 1, 2011 via web

    Can someone explain:

    "A negative-option offer usually outpulls a positive-option offer"

    What is a negation-option offer and what is a positive-option offer?

  • by Karen Marchetti Tue Aug 2, 2011 via web

    Negative Option = a marketing program where the customer is advised of an upcoming product shipment and must negatively reply to stop the shipment, Book clubs and the old "records and tapes" clubs used to work like this.

    Positive Option = the customer is advised of the next product offering but must positively reply to receive the shipment.

    So typically, direct marketers have relied on inertia -- requiring the consumer to reply to stop a shipment tends to result in more consumers accepting the shipment as compared to requiring the consumer to say "Yes" before the product is shipped.

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