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Lessons in Direct Mail Marketing: Remember the Call to Action

With my self-publishing my book, What Color Is Your Imagination, I of course am also thinking about all of the marketing and promotional activities. When is comes to a successful book, these efforts are just as or even more important than the act of writing the book. Here is an article I wrote previously about direct-mail marketing. I have to remember these lessons myself as I continue to promote my book.

When I was on the board of my local Boys & Girls Club a few years ago, we were preparing for a mailing to solicit donations for a silent & live auction fundraiser. As part of my prospect list creation, I looked through the advertisements in our local small newspaper, the Middletown Transcript.

My rationale was that if these local merchants were advertising in the Transcript, they already saw the value of marketing and advertising to the local community and there would be less of a “leap” from there to seeing the benefits of donating an item for the auction as another strategy in their marketing plan. Plus, you know, supporting the kids.

As I was looking through the ads, something stood out to me that speaks to the message of this article. Many of the ads failed to have a definitive call to action. Far too many ads had neither the address of the establishment or their phone number; a key component of any call to action.

The Call to Action

“In advertising material, [a call to action is] a piece of content intended to induce a viewer, reader, or listener to perform a specific act, typically taking the form of an instruction or directive (e.g. buy now or click here)”

The ultimate goal of any advertisement, whether it is in a newspaper, magazine, billboard or a direct mail piece, is getting people to visit your establishment (or website) or contacting you for your product or service. To make that happen, here are four things to consider:

1. What Do You Want Them to Do? …Say it!

Too many mail pieces have no call to action, competing calls to action or have a design that is too cluttered with additional information that doesn’t relate to the call to action.

If the goal is to get people to come to your store, make sure the address and how to get there is on the piece. If you want them to visit your website, make sure that is the most prominent information. Don’t have competing information that makes it confusing to your audience what you want them to do.

And oh, yeah, actually ask them to do something! I don’t know about you, but as an entrepreneur, I don’t have a lot of money to waste on just “FYI” mail pieces. Yet, this is a mistake many marketers make. They don’t make the ask.

2. Make It Easy

People like easy. If there are too many steps in a process, they are less likely to act, unless the benefits of action are high. For example, I hate rebates that require me to mail in a receipt and a form. Those merchants who make it easy, with say online processes, are more likely to get me to make a purchase. Even better, just give me the rebate instantly in the store! Don’t make me work for it!

The same is true for direct mail marketing. If prospects must take another step – literally or figuratively – to fulfill your call to action, you may miss out. I may say, “Hey, that restaurant looks interesting!” Yet, I don’t know where you are located, because it’s not on your mail piece. I must call information or look for you online. That may be one step too many for me and I decide to eat someplace else.

3. Reduce or Eliminate Fear or Buyers Remorse

You should have done your homework before you send out your mail pieces. And this research should be reflected in your mail piece design and the information you provide.

You must know your prospects well enough to know what their barriers to engagement are. Do they fear you will take their information and sell it to someone else, or you will now market to them incessantly if they give up their email address? Maybe they have a fear that if they subscribe to some service it will be difficult to cancel. Or perhaps they fear that you do not have the experience or expertise necessary to provide the services they require.

Whatever their fear or pain point, make sure you articulate something that will reduce their fear and move them toward your call to action. For example, prospects want to know that they are not the only ones who have purchased from you. Providing testimonials from other satisfied customers helps to reduce this fear and motivate them to complete the call to action.

4. Remember the “Now What?”

The call to action in your mail piece may be just the first step. You must have a plan for after they act. Nothing tarnishes a potential relationship like initiating said relationship and then not working to sustain, maintain, and deepen it. What are the steps you are going to take to move them from interest, to engagement, and ultimately to a sale?

If your call to action was to get them to visit your website, what happens after that? What will be on the landing page that will deepen the relationship?

If the call to action is to get them in your establishment, how are you or your staff going to deepen the relationship?

Direct mail marketing, can be used to start or continue a business relationship. Like any relationship, you must put in some effort and work at it.

What has been your experience with call to actions in direct mail pieces? Either as a recipient or one who is producing them? Share your experience below in the comments.

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