40/40/20 Rule of Direct-Mail Marketing

Many print marketing pieces focus heavily on design to persuade their audience to take the next step in the purchasing process. Great layout and design alone, however, won’t propel your direct-mail marketing efforts to success status. In fact, traditional marketing dogma dictates that design is one of the last elements to consider when planning a successful direct-mail marketing promotion. Developed by marketing guru Ed Mayer, the 40/40/20 rule of direct marketing is a tried-and-true formula for success that all businesses should follow. The dictum is that 40 percent of your direct marketing success is dependent on your audience, another 40 percent is dependent on your offer, and the last 20 percent is reserved for everything else, including how the material is presented. The following is a brief breakdown of the 40/40/20 rule of direct-mail marketing.

Audience (40)

Having a highly targeted audience is crucial to direct-mail marketing success. This means that your mailers should be going to people or businesses that are likely to purchase the products and services you are selling. Dollars would be well-spent marketing mortgage refinancing to middle-aged individuals, for instance, but wasted on marketing that same promotion to college students. The key to successfully targeting your audience is through a well-defined mailing list. If you don’t have a mailing list or the time to build one, purchase a pre-qualified list from a merchant such as PsPrint, which have mailing lists that target a broad range of consumer demographics and businesses and can help you define your niche in the market place.

Offer (40)

A hot offer goes a long way toward determining your direct-mail marketing success. Even if much of your target audience knows that your business exists, they’re not likely to purchase unless you entice them to do so with a great sale, rebate or bonus. Offering value-added incentives, especially on a limited-time basis, can result in high sales conversions. When planning your promotion, try to approach your bonus or sale from your customers’ perspectives. If you really want to attract droves of new and repeat business, you’ll have to give them something so good that they truly won’t want to miss it — even if you have to take a cut yourself. Generating new business now can pay big dividends in the form of repeat business in the future.

Everything Else (20)

Once you have your target audience, and can offer them something they absolutely have to possess at a great price, you’re ready to present your message. The last 20 percent covers everything from the price of postage to which day you’ll be mailing your printed piece, but we’re going to focus primarily on presentation. Great design that serves as an extension of the offer and connects with the audience can reinforce the persuasive power of any direct-mail marketing effort. You must also decide if your message is best delivered through a brochure, postcard, greeting card or other medium. Other considerations such as paper weight and gloss add a touch of professionalism and credibility to your company and should not be ignored.

Ultimately, each element of the 40/40/20 rule of direct-mail marketing depends on the next. You can’t forget about the offer and audience when 80 percent of your campaign success depends on them. Find your audience, give them what they want, and be creative; and you’ll be on the right track for a profitable direct-mail marketing campaign.

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