Tiffany & Co. began mailing out their catalogs in the mid-1800s, and Sears followed with their own mail-order catalog business a few decades later.
Advertising mediums have proliferated in the years since—from television to billboards, and eventually to online platforms like Google and Facebook. Our internet usage seems to leave a trail of what interests us, and almost immediately, we see ads popping up on websites based on our last Google search.
The problem is that trying to catch the attention of the target audience isn’t always easy. It can be overwhelming to retail shoppers and exasperating for advertisers. The good news is that the internet sales platforms have given consumers options. The downside is that Shoppers have more choices and are inundated with the sheer volume of advertisements on their computers, tablets, and smartphones. For retailers, competing with dozens or hundreds of other sellers makes it more challenging to stand out. With the costs of online advertising becoming more expensive, retailers are looking for better options. Interestingly, what was old is becoming new again.
Advertising by US Mail has been widely adopted by nearly every industry over the years and is where the term junk mail was first coined. Now we have junk emails—better known as spam.
There is one significant difference between email advertisements and mail delivered by the postal service: There is no spam filter for a physical mailbox. The advertiser pays for delivery, and every piece ends up in the recipient’s hands, at least for a brief moment while they decide whether the mail piece looks interesting enough not to toss in the recycle bin.
There are several crucial components to a successful direct mail advertisement.
First, whether you are mailing a postcard or envelope, the postal service must place each in the mailbox with the mailing label facing up—this is where you catch the audience’s attention. Intrigue them and make them curious enough to open the envelope or look at the other side of the postcard. You’ve got about 2 seconds to catch their interest.
Second, don’t waste your advertising dollars by addressing the mail piece to the “current occupant.” Work with a reputable list provider to target the advertisement to the target market. Many associations and special interest groups will “rent” their mailing lists to you with the names and mailing addresses of those who have opted-in.
Lastly, your advertising mail piece needs a call to action, a reason for the receiver to call, email, or send in a reply card. Don’t just show the recipient what you have for sale. Give them a reason to make the purchase. Professional graphics are important, but making the sale is what keeps the lights on.
Remember, there is no spam filter for your target audience’s mailbox.