Author Archive | Alan

5 Ways to Direct Market Big with a Small Budget

5waysWe’re currently in an Age of Entrepreneurship where long-time business people are leaving their cubicles and corner offices to create their own companies from the ground, up. We’re also seeing the resurgence of the “maker” mentality; more and more consumers are opting for small shops over Big Boxes and homegrown over mass produced. And although a local approach to business is great for a city’s economy, it typically doesn’t come with the same marketing budget that the corporate world offered. So what is the small business owner to do with limited resources?

Market big by marketing smart. And one way to market smart is to market locally with direct mail.

Discover 5 ways to direct market big with a small budget:

1. Do Your Mailbox Research

What kind of mail do you actually read? What do you automatically consider “junk” and toss? Make a note of the aspects of a mailer that catch your eye or pique your interest. If you’re a member of your own target audience, use yourself as a focus group of one. Collect a few different pieces and keep them on hand to reference elements that work for you.

2. Don’t Insult Your Customers’ Intelligence

More often than not, your customers know when they’re being advertised to. It’s no longer a question of “is this advertising,” but rather a question of, “is this good advertising?” Outdated tactics like baiting and switching, claiming “FREE” everything, superfluous use of exclamation points and being visually shouted at are an immediate request for placement in the recycling bin. Keep it simple and talk to people like they’re people.

3. Get to the Point

As the saying goes, “don’t bury your lead.” Put your unique selling proposition within the first few sentences of your copy so potential customers will immediately know if you’re offering a product or service they can use. Keeping your target audience in mind, use a tone that resonates with them (writing to Millennials is much different than writing to Baby Boomers) — in any instance, keep it conversational. Even if you’re selling a specific medical device or law service, use jargon-free terminology. Think of someone you know well who fits into your demographic and write to them.

4. Think Outside (Or Inside) the Envelope

Consider your product, service and target audience before deciding on a marketing medium; different forms of direct marketing work for different segments. Some offerings are better as a postcard. Some require longer copy in the form of a letter to include more details and personal benefits. You’ll also want to align your color scheme and materials with the branding of your item. Think about every detail down to the paper weight and finish. You may also want to consider including something unique in your mailer: a branded pen inside the envelope to entice the recipient to discover what’s inside; a scratch-off section with a prize or discount; a useful element such as a built-in To-Do List or branded sticky notes. If you have the budget, experiment with A/B testing to see which type of message lengths, writing tones, design elements and extras work best for your business.

5. Inspire Action

Even if you’ve created a direct mail piece that’s beautifully designed, well written, useful and locked within the attention span of your potential customer, you’ll never convert him or her into a client without a call to action. You don’t have to close the deal immediately, you just have to motivate your customers to travel further down your sales funnel. Encourage them to take the next step by asking them to sign up for your newsletter or call for a free consultation. Create a sense of urgency and give them a reason to act.

Smart marketing isn’t necessarily about budget — it’s about strategy. Money doesn’t turn prospects into clients, but messaging does. Make sure you’re taking the time to plan out every detail of your direct marketing piece so your hard work doesn’t become just another piece of junk mail for the recycling bin.

Contact us today to find out how Direct Mail Systems can help you turn mail recipients into marketing responders.

Give it a Chance.

chess-1Marketing is sometimes like playing chess, not checkers. It’s a long game with the Return On Investment (ROI) cycle varying.

In our world of instant gratification and streaming the entire season of a show over one weekend (House of Cards anyone?), we need to remember that marketing results are not instant. Even in the extremely low attention span targeted social media marketing – it can takes time up to 6 months to see leads and new customers come in the door.  We must have patience for results that last and the same can be said for direct mail.
A direct mail piece may take several weeks to pull in some leads and up to a month to get that customer walking into the door. This also varies depending on your business. The smaller the purchase, the faster the cycle. Consumers will make a faster decision for that slice of pizza than for an extension on their house.  You must give it the time it needs to run it’s course.
More is better. Is one mailing enough? As with most marketing, more usually results in faster and more consistent growth. But once you get that engine running, you’ll see a steady stream of leads and new customers. You just need to give that engine time to get going.
How long should I give it? A good guide to give your marketing the best chance for success:

  • Direct Mail: 12 months – you may see results in a month but the best guide is to run a longer cycle and adjust it along the way.
  • Newspaper: the smaller the ad, the longer you need to run it to make a difference. Sometimes up to 40 weeks for a small ad.
  • Inbound Marketing (social media, blogging, emails) 6 months to build a relationship.

Be sure to track your efforts and make adjustments as you go to improve. Listen to the advice of your marketing professionals – they watch these cycles day in and day out and can give you insight on what you can expect.


Experience Counts.

Paul and Jennifer

Meet Paul Seigel
Director, Non-Profit Services

Paul joined the DMS team following assignments as the chief fundraiser for several $100 million-plus international children and animal protection-focused charities, including Operation Smile and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.  Since the late 1970s, Paul’s diversified experience in management, fundraising, decision making, strategic planning and problem solving at the local, state, national and international levels has yielded fresh and long-lasting results for the organization’s he has served and counseled.

He has implemented direct-mail fundraising campaigns credited with raising nearly $800 million in the United States, Canada, and throughout Europe and Asia.  Paul attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and earned a Master of Arts degree from Western Michigan University.  Outside of work, he and his wife, Marylou, share their home with two dogs, Romy (a rescue from Romania) and Marky, a golden retriever chew-aholic.  Paul competes on the international darts circuit and for 20 years has self-syndicated a column on the sport.

Direct Mail Systems, Inc. (DMS) is a recognized national leader in non-profit direct mail fundraising.  For more than three decades we have been proving that passion for a better world, in-the-trench experience and an unwavering commitment to fundraising ethics are the keys to attracting donors and raising dollars for our clients from every corner of the country and world.

Contact us today to learn how Paul can help your nonprofit and get a free no pressure consultation!

The “Call to Action”


In all marketing efforts from a direct mail postcard to a social media post, the heart of all your pieces should be  a “call to action”  Simply said, “what do you want the reader to do?” This may seem like a no-brainer, but so many marketing promotions forget this crucial step.

Ask yourself what is the desired next step? Obviously you want the reader to become a customer, but you need to help them down the sales funnel. A call to action can be any of the follow:

  • Visit your website
  • Ask for a free consultation
  • Download a free gift
  • Contact you in an easy way

Remember, the attention span of today’s users are slim to none, so make this action an easy, and the only, choice. Don’t bombard them with options – give one. Pop that one choice in a different color. Perhaps a red box with your phone number inside on print or a “click here” box online.

You goal is to gain a customer and have them spend money with you right? So always keep that “call to action” in mind. It’s fine to entertain and to boost popularity but that call to action will turn that popularity into profitability! 

Click below for a free consultation today and learn more about how we can help you make the most of your marketing dollars! (see?)


Hardwork & Dedication

largeAs we approach the end of this year’s health insurance open enrollment season (which is large part of our print and direct mail business) I want to take a moment to acknowledge a group of some of hardest working folks I have ever met, our in-house production team.

I know, I know, every company says they are hardworking, honest, the best and all that good stuff, so I want to preface this by saying that not only did I grow up on a grape farm, but I was also in the Marine Corps Infantry (and deployed to Iraq in 2005).  I say that because I know a thing or two about hard work and dedication.

Now having said that let me try to summarize what I have observed over the past 5 months.

25 people printing and producing over 15,000,000 pieces of mail, unquestionably working 60-70 hours per week, fewer days off than you can count on one hand (including Thanksgiving and Christmas).

No, direct mail production is not a glamorous job and unfortunately it doesn’t pay as well as some other factory jobs, but I look out on the floor and see what those folks do and the pride they take in their work – and I am reassured that the America of hard work and land of opportunity our parents and grandparents once knew is still alive.

Business is and should always be about your people first, then your product. We believe our customers are buying piece of mind knowing the dedicated women and men of our company have their best interests at heart!

God Bless America and Happy New Year!

What can IP Targeting do for your business?

Highway Sign "Results - Straight Ahead"If you have been following us on social media and reading our blog posts, you’ve probably noticed us talking about iMail – our revolutionary digital targeting tool that focus online advertising to households based on their Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.

If not, click here to read about it in our post Introducing the Future of Direct Mail.

Until now we’ve only been talking about what iMail is and how it works, so I think it’s time to start telling everyone about what it has done for other clients and what it can do for you!

Let’s talk real world results. 

One client, a regional home furnishing company, had a large list of past customers and they were looking for a more cost effective way reach them.  After completing an initial discovery session, the client decided to launch an iMail campaign to compliment their other ongoing advertising efforts, which included direct mail.

Together we built a one month campaign to target past customers at just one of their retail locations.  The campaign was centered on providing a printable limited-time coupon offer and both iMail and Google analytics were used to track campaign performance.

At the completion of the month we provided the clients sales figures and performed a match-back analysis, which compares results (sales generated) between the households we targeted with iMail and the households that were targeted with other mediums.

In this campaign, past customers that we targeted with iMail were 14% more likely to purchase and on average spent 4% more on their purchases.  This 30 day campaign produced over $30,000 in incremental revenue for just one of their retail locations.

Stay tuned to future blog posts as we will be sharing other case studies.  Better yet, if you’re ready to learn more about iMail now, contact us for a no pressure consultation!

5 Tips for a Killer Postcard Design

DMSpost-01A postcard can be a powerful direct mail piece. Short and sweet. No envelope to open. It gets right to the point. We have put together 5 ways to really make the most of this marketing staple and make sure yours breaks through the clutter and gets your business noticed!

  1. Know your audience – it helps to do research before you begin. Are you targeting 20 year olds or 60 year olds? That question right there tells you a lot regarding colors and fonts before you even get into copywriting. Step one should be identifying your dream client, only then can you start on a plan of how best to talk to THEM.
  2. Quality Photography – can make or break any marketing piece. While a stunning high quality photo can really make your piece sing, a bad, blurry or cheesy photo can kill it in its tracks. Don’t be cheap here. There are plenty of affordable royalty free photo services to choose from. And no, you can’t just grab something off of the internet for free.
  3. Puns vs Substance – never let a funny or punny headline lead your message. Yes you might have a really great photo of a dolphin but “Electricians with a Porpoise!” is not going to get you business but rather groans as your postcard heads for the trash. Be sure your headlines are eye catching for the right reasons.
  4. Space – ah the final frontier, but use it wisely. Value the white space. You want to make the most of the 5×7, or so that you have, but cram it so full of text and starbursts and you might as well say nothing at all.
  5. The attention span of today’s reader is shorter than ever, so keep your message short and use bold and bullet points to help with people who scan and decide in a few seconds if it’s worth the read or the trashcan. Notice we kept this to 5? Did you make it all the way through them? Success!

5 Must-Have Online Tools for the New Year

A new year and another new chance at working smarter not harder, right? While many online tools promise themselves to be time savers they often leave us disappointed with price or unmet expectations. Good news – we have found the following really increase productivity in marketing and project management and would love to share our favorites with you:

Easy Automatic Scheduling for Twitter Marketing.

1. TweetDeck

This free online service is great to scheduling out your tweets far in advance. Get the whole week done in an hour and walk away. TweetDeck will take it from there to schedule your Twitter marketing out on the days and times you select. Now Hootsuite is also very popular but it has a limit of three channels on the free plan where Tweet Deck does not, so if your company have several channels or if you are a social media professional with many clients, that can be a life saver and a budget saver!

Easy Client Management and Invoicing System.

There are a lot of Client Relationship Management  (CRM) systems out there to track contents and leads but we love 17 Hats as it adds a powerhouse quoting/invoicing/contract system that allows easy templates to get your clients to accept and easily pay you online! This service comes with a monthly fee but is worth the investment come invoicing time!

Project Mananagement

A very popular service that keeps all the conversations, files, schedules and designs all in one place. The best part is it’s not just for your internal team but great for communicating with clients. Show them only what you want to and keep all the edits and conversations in one place. A project never went smoother! There is a monthly fee but I think you’ll find it’s worth it. Did I mention it’s so user friendly that even your computer challenged clients will find it a breeze.
4.  Trello
Another great free tool, Trello is a simple task card system that you can use alone or share with a large team. Get all your needs down in one place and drag them from list to list with ease! It’s a simple idea with endless possibilities.

Marriage of Online Marketing and Direct Mail Marketing!

Combining the hyper-targeting options of direct mail with the cost effectiveness of digital display and banner ads, iMail is a true multi-channel lead generation powerhouse for 2016.
Imagine an easy way to reach your customers and ideal target audience online, without keywords, content, search phrases or cookies. iMail proactively targets prospects in their home and on their mobile device, much like direct mail. It’s a new year and this is the hottest new marketing tool that gets results.
Want to accelerate your direct marketing lead generation with iMail?Contact DMS today for a no pressure consult!


Holiday Mail

junk-mail-catalog-choice-pile-photoIt’s that time of year again, when we are overwhelmed with holiday catalogs.

Catalogs are:

  • Costly
  • Wasteful
  • Offer to many choices for consumers

While you are doing your yearly budgets for 2016, keep in mind that Showcase Direct Mailers allow marketers to:

  • Spotlight their most sought after and profitable merchandise while making it easy for prospects to retain/recall the items.
  • Provide a more cost-effective path for off-line traffic to a companies ultimate digital catalog, their website.
  • Deliver the highest quality collateral without breaking the bank.

Need help developing your 2016 budget? Contact us today for a free consultation!


Introducing the Future of Direct Mail

DMS_imail-01Meet iMail. Combining the hyper-targeting options of direct mail with the cost effectiveness of digital display and banner ads, iMail is a true multi-channel lead generation powerhouse! 

Imagine an easy way to reach your customers and ideal target audience online, without keywords, content, search phrases or cookies. Unlike traditional display advertising, we don’t wait for prospects to search you online, iMail proactively targets prospects in their home and on their mobile device, much like direct mail.

iMail starts with a mailing list (your current customer list or we can help you find your dream prospect list), then we use a patented software to match those individuals to their household (or business) IP address. Next we isolate those IP addresses and show your display or video ads when the targeted prospects are browsing the web.

Sound great? It is. In fact, a campaign that utilizes both iMail and direct mail has been proven time-and-time again to see greater returns than just one or the other.

Here’s how it works: Typically we’ll target prospects for 3-5 days via iMail prior to the direct mail piece arriving in-home (to start creating brand recognition). Then your direct mail piece hits homes with a specific call to action seeing above average response rates. We will also generally run the iMail component for 3-5 days after the direct mail piece arrives in-home to increase the number of touch points and ultimately improve response and ROI (return on investment).

We watch and learn. At the conclusion of each campaign or month we identify which of your new customers/leads were a result of the IP Targeting. We match your list of new customers/leads with the original prospect list, indicate them as “converted” households and remove them from the list so future campaigns don’t show them your ad. Each month your campaign gets smarter.

iMail is priced comparably to traditional efforts with the ROI of online marketing. It truly is the best of both worlds.

Want to learn more about iMail? Contact DMS today for a free consultation!