7 Simple Direct Mail Ideas to Drive Local Business

To find and keep customers, local businesses have a lot of options available, with direct mail still at the top of the list. As director of Who’s Mailing What!, I’m bothered that I see a lot of solo direct mail that misses opportunities to really stand out well in the customer’s mailbox against efforts from national and big regional brands.

To find and keep customers, local businesses have a lot of options available, with direct mail still at the top of the list. According to BIA/Kelsey, a research and advisory firm, in 2016 direct mail will constitute 25.6 percent of local market ad spending (out of $146.6 billion).

For some marketers, shared or co-op direct mail programs are a good way to go, and the U.S. Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mail program has lowered costs for others.

That said, as the director of Who’s Mailing What!, I’m bothered that I see a quite a lot of solo direct mail that misses opportunities to really stand out well in the customer’s mailbox against efforts from national and big regional brands.

Based on some of the best local mail from my files, here are some good design and copy practices local companies can use to drive traffic to their doors.

1. Sell Benefits, Not Features
This is basic marketing, and it can’t be said often enough: you need to explain to customers not just what you do or what product you have, but why it should be important to them.

Shreiner_02In this example, a postcard mailed by Shreiner Tree Care describes one of its pruning services: “Proper thinning and pruning improves the safety, health and beauty of your valuable trees.”

Bonus: The mailer puts a personal face on the company by showing the names, photos and emails of two of its arborists.

2. Tell Them What You Do
Let’s face it: There are just some tasks we can’t, or won’t, do ourselves. Whether it’s housecleaning, painting or plumbing, we rely on local businesses to provide these services.

AJPerri_01To build confidence in the customer’s ability to choose from a variety of service professionals, HVAC contractor A.J. Perri mailed a postcard listing “21 Individual Operations we Perform on Your Furnace.”

3. Deliver Essential Information
Another contractor, Affordable Water Heaters & Plumbing, mailed this giant (6”x11”) yellow sticker. When applied to the front of one’s water heater, it starts doing its job.

Afford_01On the left side is a list of things to look for to avoid trouble. Most of the remaining surface area tells the prospect what to do when an emergency arises, and in California, that means earthquakes. Helpful arrows point to vital parts of the water heater and its connections. This allows the homeowner to assess any problem as well as describe it to the company, whose many local phone numbers are listed across the bottom of the sticker.

4 thoughts on “7 Simple Direct Mail Ideas to Drive Local Business”

  1. Really enjoyable article! It really got the creative juices flowing– the eight page pamphlet really sparked an idea for a small, local business I’m working with. I love the idea of informing while selling–providing something of value to prospects, something that prospects will hold on to, while basically asking them to choose me to do business with.

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