Consumer direct mail - Marketing Management

The uses of consumer-targeted direct mail are only limited by the scope of imagination. Some of the more common uses are:

  • Selling direct – Direct mail is a good medium for selling to customers without the need for middlemen. Product offerings can be described fully and orders can be sent straight back to the advertising company.
  • Sales lead generation – If a product requires a meeting between the customer and a specialized salesperson (e.g. fitted kitchens, central heating and insurance) direct mail is a useful method of acquiring potentially useful, qualified leads for the company’s salespeople. Sales calls are expensive, so anything that improves success rates is welcome. A well planned mail shot can act as a sieve, pinpointing the best prospects and ranking others in terms of sales potential. The ‘warmer’ the lead, the more effective will be the sales discussion with fewer wasted calls.

Responses, indicating potential interest can be followed up by direct mail, a telephone call or a personal visit by a salesperson. Potential customers can be placed in a personal selling situation by issuing an invitation to view the product in a retail outlet, showroom or exhibition. This is useful for products that salespeople cannot take to prospects for demonstration because of their size or function. Direct mail creates a receptive atmosphere for the company’s salespeople through ‘cordial contact’ mailings that build on the reputation of the company and through the impression created. Well executed mailing places the company in a favourable light to prospects, setting up goodwill or creating a latent desire that might be triggered into action by a later mailing.

  • Sales promotion – Direct mail can send promotional messages e.g. money-off vouchers and special offers to selected targets. This is a useful way of encouraging people to visit a shop or exhibition.
  • Clubs – Book clubs are an example of the use of direct mail as a medium of communication and transaction between a club and its members. Other items can be marketed by the club system particularly ‘collectibles’ e.g. records, porcelain and miniatures.
  • Mail order – Mail order companies use direct mail to recruit new customers and local agents as well as direct selling.
  • Fundraising – An advantage of direct mail is its ability to communicate personally with an individual. This makes it a powerful method of raising money. It can carry the ‘long copy’ often needed to convince recipients of the worthiness of the charity, and make it more likely that the reader might respond with a donation.
  • Dealer mailings – If a product is sold through dealers/agents, direct mail can be used to reach prospective customers in their area just as a producer might do.
  • Follow-up mailings – The company’s name can be promoted to customers by following any kind of sales activity with a mailing e.g. checking that the customer is satisfied with their purchase or informing them that perhaps a car they bought last year is coming up for its annual service.

Most of the major car brands do this including, for example, Mercedes-Benz who contact every customer shortly after purchasing a new car, asking them to complete a customer satisfaction survey. Customers are kept informed of new developments, latest products and improved services. They regularly and systematically use their customer database to contact customers about new models and launch evenings. ‘Exclusive offers’ are made and invitations issued. Using direct mail in this way helps maintain contact quickly, personally and effectively and this can increase repeat sales.


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