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To deliver a positive, memorable impression of your brand, it pays to approach prospects across multiple channels. For many brands, particularly local brands, direct mail is a channel that can pack a powerful punch.

Related: 11 best direct mail pieces to inspire your next campaign

However, the key is creating a direct mail campaign that is targeted, well-planned, and out of the ordinary. How do you get there? Here are a few tips for creating a lovable brand with direct mail.

Start with a plan

While many people argue that direct mail is dead, it actually has a higher response rate than email, social media and paid search. Considering how often we're bombarded by emails and texts, direct mail is retro in a good way: receiving a physical letter or package is an anomaly.

But still, a lot of direct mail campaigns fail, simply for lack of planning. It's imperative that you first decide what you're trying to accomplish with your campaign, as well as who (specifically) you want to reach. If you have a sales plan, you should already have some good data about your target demographic.

Set specific goals for this campaign. Are you looking to drive brand awareness or boost sales of a particular product? If you're aiming for brand awareness, how will you measure that success? If you want to increase sales, what's your target revenue for this campaign?

Specific goals will give you a benchmark to measure (and brag about) the campaign's success, and it will help you drive improvement based on the results.

Tie goals to actions

Establishing goals is only part of the planning process. You also need a way to measure them. If you're trying to sell products, how will you know which sales were attributed to the direct mail campaign? If you're aiming for brand awareness, how will you know if you get it?

You could create a custom URL to include in your direct mailer, so that you can track visits and sales from it. This tells you that anyone who visits that site did so because they received the direct mail, so you can calculate your conversion and ROI. You could also instruct sales people to ask customers where they heard about you or a particular promotion.

Look at your own mail

Rather than recreating the wheel, get inspiration from what's in your own mailbox. Set aside flyers and mailers that stand out to you. When you're ready to design your own, use them to make a list of elements and features that you like.

It can also be helpful to look at what you don't like. Maybe a flyer uses big red letters, and you think the color is overkill and off-brand. So instead, pick a color that pops out but doesn't make your brand look garish.

You don't need to be a graphic designer or advertising expert to know what works. Let your intuition and observation guide you in identifying what you like and what you don't.

Think outside the (mail)box

Slick printed flyers are a-dime-a-dozen, and most people don't even blink when seeing them in their mailboxes. How can you really catch people's attention?

Get creative.

Incorporate the senses. With direct mail, you could easily find ways to hit on sight, touch or smell.

If you're sending a mailer, simply switching to a matte paper or a heavy cardstock—or changing the shape to something unexpected—could be enough to get people to read your flyer. You could also make your mailer bigger; an oversized postcard has a 37% ROI.

Including a scent in your direct mail can get people's attention. For example, if you sell cookies, adding a vanilla scent to your catalog will put people in the right frame of mind to order your confections.

Focus on an appealing design for your direct mail. If you're sending a catalog, consider breaking the typical catalog design and come up with something innovative. For example, maybe your catalog looks more like a fancy coffee table book!

Get personal

The more you personalize your direct mail, the better your results will be. People like to feel like one-of-a-kind, not one-in-a-million. That may mean that you create smaller batches of direct mail based on customer demographics and preferences. Let's say you're announcing your new line of essential oils, and you have several customer segments:

  • Young eco-minded women
  • Mothers of small children
  • Baby boomers

Each of these groups responds to different messaging. Sending them the same direct mail won't result in as high a conversion rate as sending three separately targeted campaigns.

Make it engaging

Your goal with direct mail should be to lead people from the mailer to your website or location. Find innovative ways to get them there.

You could include a QR code with intriguing instructions: "Scan this code to find out your spirit animal."

Once they've scanned, you can introduce them to your products in a fun, interactive way.

And while it's on the pricey side, a video mailer could be a great attention-getter—especially if you have a high-priced product and know you have to invest more in marketing to make a sale.

Make it easy to opt out

With privacy becoming a bigger issue in the marketing world, it's important to only send direct mail to people who want to get it. Not only does this save the trees, it also saves you from spending money on the wrong people.

Make it easy to find a webpage or phone number recipients can use to opt out of future mailings, then respect your database's wishes.

Key takeaway

Direct mail can be incredibly effective if you're willing to invest thought into making it stand out from the crowd. These tips should point you in the right direction and give you the confidence to design and deliver direct mail that delights your audience.

Ready to create your own direct mail designs in minutes? Check out our direct mail postcard templates.

Free direct mail templates

Author Bio

Maggie Aland is a staff writer and marketing expert at Fit Small Business, where she writes how-to guides and articles on marketing for small business owners.