Patience and Testing – Keys to Direct Mail Success

Don Alan Schlitz, Jr., is the inspiration for this article. The platinum-selling singer/songwriter and the story behind his most famous song tells you all you need to know about my most favorite subject: testing.  You’ve likely never heard of Don Schlitz (no relation to the beer), but I can almost guarantee you’ve heard his most famous song.

Before we get to know Don, let me remind you that the key to a successful and prosperous Direct Mail postcard campaign is making sure that all of the stars align and that you’re able to reach the right audience with the right message at the right time.  It is unlikely, although not impossible, that your first campaign is going to be a home run resulting in retirement-level sales. Direct Marketing takes work, it takes consistent effort, and all of that is wrapped up in planning and testing.  For our part, there are Four Main Pressure Points of Testing that make all the difference:

1.) The Mailing List – Gone are the days of mailing postcards to a random selection of names out of the phone book. Sophisticated methods of list construction, specifically taking factors like location, annual sales (or income), demographics tied to the product or services, etc., combine to ensure you’re reaching out to the best selection of potential buyers to promote the best chance of success.

2.) The Price – You’d be surprised at what people are willing to pay for things they think are critical for their own success (personal or business), what they think is a ‘value’ to them, and what they might even think is reasonable if they’ve never bought or researched the product. Some prospects, however, are savvy, and have a command of price and the associated value.

3.) The Offer – Is what you’re proposing, whether it is a give-away of merchandise, or an offer to send the prospect additional educational information remotely worth it to them? If you’re paying for something to turn around and supply for free, is it cost-beneficial for you, or cost-prohibitive? And how will you ultimately determine success? Could you get the same response rate from the less expensive offer? Or are the leads/sales from the more expensive offer of a better quality and potentially repeatable?

4.) The Copy – Does what you’re saying in the language of the postcard make sense? Is it connecting with the reader, the audience, the potential buyer? Does changing the approach by words or by pictures or the overall design of the postcard make a difference in replies or sales or leads?

There is an assortment of data points, in addition to the ones above, that are used in constructing a Direct Mail postcard to help mine success:

• Products

• Premiums

• Personalization

• Landing page

• Background design

• QR Codes

• Postcard size

• And more!

I say that you should test your message until it can be reasonably found to be successful, meaning you’re seeing responses/results at or above your expectations where the ROI (remember that?) is concerned.

But don’t go crazy – or broke – trying to test. Small-batch tests are ‘where it’s at’, and they can be the most beneficial as you get your feet under you. Once you’ve found a combination that works for you, run that for a while (called the Control), and at some point in the near future, you can run a small test changing a data point to see if you can find an ever-increasing level of engagement with your potential buyers. The hit is out there. You have to be patient.

Back to Don Schlitz. At 23 years old, he wrote The Gambler. Four singers, including Johnny Cash (!), recorded the song, but never found success. It took two years, and the talents of many before the last test (voice and delivery were two pivotal data points) proved the most successful. Kenny Rogers recorded the song for his 1978 album of the same name. And the rest is history.

Give Opportunity Knocks a call. We’ve got Success Coaches standing by. They can’t carry a tune in a bucket and won’t earn a Grammy, but they know exactly when to hold ’em, how to write amazing Direct Mail campaigns, and when to help you walk away (and test some more)!