Added by on 2012-09-17

For many companies the most effective means of reaching a wide audience is no longer advertising in large circulation publications such as state newspapers, instead they are using direct mail to great effect.

Direct mail has the advantage in that it can be cheaper than traditional advertising, you can tailor your message and add more information and you can target your market better.

Your direct mail advertising should be personal, informal, and selectively directed.

If you word your direct mail pieces thoughtfully, you can create the impression of individualised attention to each recipient.

Be consistent – if you intend to use a number of separate items in your direct mail package, e.g. letter, brochure, etc, each item can have a different theme, however there should be a sense of continuity so that the reader is not presented with a random collection of items.

To ensure you achieve this continuity, decide how many elements you wish to include before you start writing, then start by writing the most important.

This may be the brochure or the covering letter. The small items – reply coupon, additional flyer, envelope – will be easier to write once you have established your major theme.

Obtaining mailing lists

Mailing lists can be rented from list brokers. To find a broker, look in your Yellow Pages under “Advertising – Direct Mail Services.”

Mailing lists today are ultra-sophisticated, and you can find one for just about any category you want. There is a one-time rental fee which ranges in cost depending on your market and the number of names on the list.

How do you pick a list? Use the RFM formula: R stands for recency, F for frequency, and M for money.

Because people and businesses move, and their economic status changes, recency is vital to the success of a list. Frequency refers to how many times the people on the list purchased a product or service. And money refers to how much they spent.

Because good mailing lists are essential for the success of a direct-marketing campaign, check out the list as thoroughly as possible. Buy only from established services.

Ask how many times the list has been sold in the previous six months and get the names and telephone numbers of some of the buyers. Call them and ask what their response rate was with the list, how many pieces were returned because of bad addresses, and whether they thought the list was worth the cost.

Those who establish themselves in business are often able to trade their lists with other established businesses; of course, as a newcomer, you won’t have either the names or the credibility that established businesses have.

Doing this, however, is something to aspire to because it is a no-cost way of building a list.

Benefits of direct mail compared to mass media

The use of direct mail, in certain circumstances and for many businesses, definitely has its advantages. Here we look at the benefits of direct mail, in comparison to advertising in the mass media.

Competitors are totally aware of your campaign. Only your customers know of your campaign.
Circulation is dictated by the paper, magazine, TV channel or radio station. You choose who receives your message.
Coverage usually involves relatively high production and placement costs. Targeting only those people who are likely to respond increases cost efficiency.
Others benefit from your advertising expenditure. You benefit directly from your expenditure.
Usually higher overall cost per sale. Usually lower overall cost per sale.
Reader / customer profile is dictated by the media used. You choose the customer profile.
Other messages distract the reader’s attention. Only your message is being seen – you have the reader’s complete attention.
Factors beyond your control govern who receives your message. Personally addressed letters get opened.
Leads or sales resulting from TV, radio, newspaper or magazine advertisements cannot be accurately measured. Responses can be accurately measured by using a reply paid envelope or card.
Is a monologue by the supplier to the world. Is a dialogue between you and your customer.
Is impersonal – a broad brush approach. Is a personal message from you to a targeted individual.

Australia Post services & direct mail

Australia Post has introduced new, “state-of-the-art” mail processing technology in the form of barcoding. Available to all businesses in Australia, this means lower postage prices and a more efficient delivery service.

The main component of a barcode is the Delivery Point Identifier (DPID) – a unique eight digit code that has been allocated to every delivery address in Australia. This will need to be printed in barcode format on letters as part of the address.

There will be three main steps to implementing a barcoding system into your business:

Review and modify, where necessary, your customer database to accommodate and store the DPID as a fixed part of the address file for each record you have.

Validate your customer databases against Australia Post’s Postal Address File (PAF) using address matching and correction software. This software will be available from authorised third party suppliers.

Print the barcode on your letters, as part of the customer’s address.


Your addressed advertising material can qualify for the Australia Post Ad Post Direct Mail Discounts if you complete an application form prior to lodgment and provide three complete samples of the mailing to the address shown on the form.
You must also ensure that your mailing meets the following conditions:

The total of the mailing is 300 or more standard, or 300 or more large letters, but not a combination of both.

All envelopes must bear a return address and a postage paid imprint.

All letters must comply with the conditions applying to their category of mail as well as to other relevant service conditions.

Content must be identical except for personalisation.

To be eligible for the discount, articles must contain sales, advertising material, customer newsletters or information bulletins (either solicited or unsolicited) that promote, canvass or prospect in respect of products, goods, publications, services, new memberships, charitable funds or competitions to encourage a recipient to:

Make or cause to be made a purchase, donation or contribution.

Enter a competition.

Become a new subscriber or member.

Complete a survey or questionnaire.

Support (financially or otherwise) a social or community cause.


You can choose from either regular delivery or off peak delivery. Regular delivery is the normal delivery service for letters, that is, letters are carried by air where and when it speeds delivery. Off peak delivery adds three working days to Australia Post’s regular delivery, but attracts cheaper prices.

Direct mail helpful hints

Some helpful hints to improve your direct mail campaign:

Turn features into benefits.

Try to interest established clubs, associations, etc to include your material under their name for a percentage of nett sales or a fee.

List all the needs that your product can satisfy and try to “dress up” your product to emphasise a special need.

Test, test and test – e.g. different audiences, different offers.

If you can’t read and understand a headline in 5 seconds, don’t use it.

Don’t use negative tones at all in your copy.

The PS is an important response device.

Corporations do not write letters, individuals do.

Your existing satisfied customers are the best new prospects you will ever have.

Use testimonials with photos if possible.

Attach a business card to a catalogue or any communication without a letter.

Use plain white envelopes when mailing to business people.

Simplistic response devices work well to people at all levels.

Mail the same list more than once with the same offer.

Include “Customer Service” information, brochures and catalogues with your products.

Use a promotional message on your reply paid envelope.

Give more thought to the right time to mail.

Make sure you offer the right product to the right market.

Consider collecting research data from your mailing.

Make sure everyone in the office understands what you are promoting.

Try offering an incentive for early responses.

Make sure your order coupon and a cheque will fit easily into the reply envelope.

Never use a PO Box number without also giving a full address and phone number.

If your customer moves, mail the new “occupier”.

Mail the people who haven’t responded for a long time and tell them it’s their last chance to remain on the list.

Multiple buyers will always respond better.

Keep detailed statistics of those who respond. Sample and research non-respondents to determine why.

Consider personalising the order form. Good design can achieve this without added expense.



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