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The Hottest Old Tactic to Get New Business

Small Business Direct Mail Marketing

So far, my posts have focused almost solely on online and digital marketing strategies, but this one is going to be about an old standby that sometimes gets short-shrift: Direct mail. This form of traditional marketing works and can be an extremely effective tool (Yes, really!).

Direct mail can still be a very compelling channel to reach out to new and existing customers. But, like every other aspect of your marketing plan, it takes a strategy, a compelling message, and a willingness to apply consistent effort over time to get that message through.

Gone are the days of boring, undifferentiated, junk mail credit card offers you’ve received for years. And, forget about the generic smiling people stock photos everyone has used. You can create unique, compelling, and creative direct mail that doesn’t cost a ton of money and that can yield huge returns.

It can be argued that direct mail can work even better now because, with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and email, so much other marketing has gone completely digital. And, clear, compelling creative almost always gets opened, as opposed to some of those emails you likely send out every couple of weeks.

Direct Mail: It’s Not Old School Anymore

I recommend a couple different direct mail programs that can work especially well because they break the mold of standard, boring junk mail and cut through the clutter. The first is Small Batch Lumpy Mail (or 3D Mail) and the other is Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM).

Everyone loves to open packages. This is where Small Batch Lumpy Mail comes into play. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like – a package that you send to a select group of prospects and past clients. As an example:

You’re a kitchen remodeler who excels at making the painful process of kitchen remodeling run smoothly, and you have dozens of customer testimonials on your website that back up this claim. You want to significantly grow your business, and you know which neighborhoods you want to target so you mail out 100 colorful boxes. (Remember: Your past customers can be excellent sources for future customers. See my last post about referral marketing.) Inside each box is a bottle of aspirin or ibuprofen, or even custom M&M’s made to look like aspirin, with a personalized label featuring your logo and contact information. You’d also include a letter or card highlighting a few of your strongest testimonials and encourage your new customers to call or visit a special URL on your website so they can take advantage of a free kitchen remodeling assessment. And the headline on the box and web page? “We Take the Pain Out of Kitchen Remodeling.”

How many of these boxes do you estimate would be opened? I’m going to guess probably all of them. How many calls or visits to that web page would you get? And, don’t forget about the “sticky” factor of that bottle of aspirin sitting on the kitchen counter for a few days.

Measuring the return on this type of marketing investment would be an absolute breeze. Keep in mind, this is a very small, very targeted, very creative and compelling campaign. You’re not going to send out 10,000 pieces and break the bank; you could very easily mail 100 packages for under $1,000. Driving your customers to the custom URL on your website would make it incredibly easy to track conversions that result in sales.

Another oldie but goodie direct mail program that’s still effective but has a much broader reach is Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM). If lumpy mail seems too expensive, complex or time consuming, the USPS offers this very easy, cost-effective solution for direct mail. EDDM lets you target a neighborhood, or even a street segment, without having every name and address on that street in your mailing list.

The creative opportunities can be a bit constraining (you’re basically limited to postcards), but the affordability of this medium, combined with its ability to target the right type of consumers, makes it a strong contender for adding to your marketing arsenal. The EDDM website makes it easy to select your target area by location, income, net worth, age and other factors at an exceptionally affordable rate.

When it comes to the execution of this type of mailer, I recommend creating oversized postcards to ensure that your piece stands out. USPS provides sizing guidelines for you to follow to ensure you don’t go over-budget on postage. As you craft your message, it’s important that you include a clear call to action that compels the recipient to do something, whether that’s visiting your website for a discount offer, stopping by your restaurant for a free appetizer, or calling for a free estimate.

When it’s time to get the mail out the door, many third-party providers can manage list selections, mailer creation and printing, and postage to get your mail working for you. Pro-tip: Be sure to check the EDDM promotions web page for discounts on your postage.

Remember, regardless of which method you choose to connect with new customers, your direct mail program needs repeated touches to be effective – maybe only once per month for lumpy mail, followed by postcards or sales letters echoing the same theme. The value is in repetition, so don’t just mail once and hope the leads will pour in – they won’t. You’re trying to build a sustainable business, and that takes consistent effort over time.

Bottom line, not all marketing is digital these days. You can still take advantage of many “offline” tactics that can deliver an excellent return on investment to your business. Lumpy Mail and EDDM are just two examples.

If you’d like to discuss your options in more detail, I’d love the opportunity speak with you. Get in touch with me at or (501) 485-3048.