As the owner of a small business, you want to reach as many potential customers as possible. Despite the rise of email and social media marketing, regular direct mail can still play a key role in helping you achieve this goal. However, before you start planning a direct mail marketing campaign, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of this approach.
Pros of direct mail marketing
Direct mail marketing offers your small business a solid list of advantages. According to marketing expert Neil Patel, it can provide you with a good return on your investment. He cites studies showing returns for direct mail, while not as strong as they are for email, are similar to what you’d get with social media or paid search campaigns. Per Patel, direct mail also has a better response rate than email.
Depending on your needs, you can reach a broad or narrow audience with direct mail. For example, if your products or services have wide local appeal (think plumbing, groceries, or dentistry), you might consider a mass mailing campaign that hits every address in a neighborhood or ZIP code. If your business fills a smaller niche, you can target your audience much more precisely using customer information and mailing lists. Direct mail is also great for highly personalized marketing, like handwritten thank-you notes and individually customized special offers.
With direct mail marketing, it’s easier for your business to stand out and make an impression. Business News Daily writer Kiely Kuligowski points out a piece of physical mail can be much more interactive and memorable than an email or online ad. When you market using direct mail, you have an opportunity to be more creative with design, format, and the type of material you print your message or offer on. Plus, a tangible piece of mail that customers can touch, hold, keep, and share with other household members is harder to dismiss or forget. When it contains an offer or coupon, a physical mailer is also easier to save and use as needed.
Cons of direct mail marketing
A major drawback for direct mail is its high cost. Writing for the Houston Chronicle, Chris Wolski notes paying for printing, design, and accurate mailing lists isn’t likely to be cheap. As you get more creative with art, photography, mailer size, and formatting, you’ll have to make a much bigger marketing investment. And no matter how simple or elaborate your mailers are, you’ll need to take postage prices into account as well.
Unlike online marketing, direct mail has a much slower turnaround time. For example, if you have a limited-time promotion to market, you’ll need to plan ahead to make sure your mailer is printed and sent in time for customers to take advantage. If there’s a printing delay or the postal service takes longer than usual to deliver your mailer, you could lose valuable time and money.
According to Wolski, another potential hurdle for direct mail marketing is that some customers may view it as junk mail — or worse, wasteful and bad for the environment. If your mailers are contributing to a negative impression of your business, your efforts and money will go to waste. Careful planning is necessary to ensure that a direct mail campaign will contribute to your company’s goals more than it will hurt them.
While direct mail marketing isn’t the right approach for every small business, it’s definitely worth considering. As you plan your company’s marketing strategy, weigh the pros and cons of direct mail to determine whether it makes sense for your needs, goals, and budget.