Take the time to research and test your mailing lists. In any given mailing
the results from one mailing list to the next can vary by 100%. Even if
you primarily mail to an in-house prospect list, try some direct response
rental lists and compare results. You may be surprised.
Tip: Ask current clients what other professional literature that they
read and test these lists first.
2. Once you have found the best mailing lists, carefully
develop a strong Unique Selling Proposition (USP) to drive the positioning
and copy of your direct mail promotion. The USP answers the question of
"WHY THIS ASSOCIATION?" The USP is the big benefit that your
association can deliver compared to your competition. Tip: Ask someone
who is not familiar with your association to read your copy and define
the USP in one sentence. If they can't, go back to
the drawing board.
3. Develop a special offer to enhance your USP. If you
have a pricepoint on your direct mail piece, a price that ends with a
dollar amount of a "7" or "9" tend to drive more sales.
For example, an acquisition price of $139 will typically generate more
revenue than a price of $150.
4. Build your mailing around a metaphor.
Something that will the recipient will associate with importance and priority.
Try using an invitation, survey, certificate, or temporary membership
card format. People process information by putting it into mental boxes.
They make a split-second
decision on whether a piece of mail is important or not, so you need to
get their attention. An invitation, for example, typically requests a
response and goes in the mental box that says: "I NEED TO RSVP."
5. After you have found your lists and
selected a format, the time has finally come to write. As you write your
direct mail promotion, think of a conversation between a salesperson and
a prospective member. (Tip: Sometimes it is helpful to dictate or or "talk
through" the first rough draft of the
letter on a tape recorder.) Ask and answer the questions any prospective
member would ask. And be sure to deal directly with typical sales objections
(e.g., "IT SEEMS TOO EXPENSIVE", or "I'M NOT SURE IT WILL
BE USEFUL TO ME.") As you write, also be sure to include specific
proof. Support your USP by answering the prospect¹s question, "HOW
DO I KNOW I CAN BELIEVE YOU?" with real examples, numbers, product
data, and testimonials.
6. As you create the response piece in your package,
make it as easy as possible for your prospect who is ready to buy and
says: "I DON¹T WANT TO WAIT FOR SNAIL MAIL." This is where
today's technology comes into play. Direct mail is a powerful "push"
marketing tool. However, it is not instant or interactive. Use your mailing
piece to direct prospects to a special
section of the association's web page where they can get more information
and where they can instantly sign up and enjoy immediate access to members-only
web information. The integrated use of the web and direct mail is a powerful
7. Now it is time to produce the mailing.
Make the investment in a computer-personalized format (i.e., lasering
the name and address on the letter and reply). In membership recruitment,
personalization will out pull a "Dear Sir/ Madam" letter by
as much as 30% while the cost of producing the package will typically
increase less than 10%.
8. To offset the increased costs of personalization,
you may be able to save money on your mailing by removing one or more
components from your promotion. Believe it or not, many association have
found that including a brochure in the mailing can actually hurt response.
A brochure makes your mailing look like a sales effort instead of professional
a colleague. Test a portion of your next mailing without a brochure and
see if returns increase.
9. As you near completion of your direct
mail package, don't give in to the desire to put a "cute" phrase
or "teaser" on the envelope. With few exceptions, a teaser will
not increase response for a mailer. Instead, maintain the personal business
correspondence look of the promotion.
10. Finally, before you mail your promotion,
be sure to set up a system to accurately track responses. Accurate tracking
and analysis remains one of the most underdeveloped areas in marketing.
Yet it is the key to validating all of the work that has gone into creating
a promotion. If computer personalization is used in the mailing, then
assigning a specific key code to be added to each reply form is simple.
A separate code needs to be used for each list and for each test segment
(i.e., copy test, offer test). Then, as responses comes back, these codes
need to be recorded. The ultimate goal of tracking and analysis is to
determine what lists, copy, packages, and offers produce the best return
on investment for each marketing dollar spent.