During the last couple months I’ve gotten a lot of email saying direct mail may not be the best to advertise.

During the last couple months that I have been writing about direct mail issues, I’ve gotten a lot of email saying direct mail may not be the best to advertise and that different media are better for the contractor. I’ve also gotten feedback that direct mail is expensive when compared to radio or television when you look at the cost for reaching 1,000 people.

There is no doubt direct mail is the most expensive way to inform and advertise when you look at the cost per 1,000 recipients. However, you also need to look at whom the radio or television ad is reaching. Can they all use your services? Or are you advertising to people in apartments and geographic areas you don’t serve? If you look at the number of people who are in your target market (the number that you actually can serve), you might find that the costs for radio and direct mail are a lot closer than you thought.

There are geographic locations where radio or television makes a lot of sense. If you have a market where a popular radio station reaches the entire market that you serve, then radio is probably a much cheaper form of advertising.

In addition, if you can get what you want to say across in 30 to 60 seconds, then you don’t need a direct mail piece. However, I’ve found that newsletters work extremely well when they are professionally produced and mailed quarterly or every six months. If the articles are well written and the graphics are appealing, your customers and potential customers will read the newsletter.

One of the best comments about newsletters that I have received came from a contractor who wrote:

“I always look forward to your newsletter. In regards to your Oct. 8 newsletter, I feel that ultimately we are trying to reach customers who are either ready to make a decision to buy or are thinking of buying soon. Direct mailings I feel are still shooting in the dark. Direct mailing to certain geographic or demographic prospects is still expensive and, when you add in the handwritten addresses makes it even more time consuming and expensive, while still shooting in the dark.”

I believe that handwritten addresses make it more personable, but so much is written on direct mailings that I feel you overlook the other media that do the same thing and can reach more people at a lower cost. In major cities, direct mailing may be the ticket; in smaller or rural communities, other advertising media work better and cost much less.

I believe that in almost all advertising, the consumer needs to see, hear, or read an undeniable offer. They need to be able to get the message, however it may be delivered, and say “Wow! That’s a deal” or “That’s what I’ve been looking for.” An undeniable offer will make active buyers out of passive thinkers who know they need something, but just haven’t done anything about it yet.

These are just my thoughts. During the next few months I’ll talk about other forms of advertising: television, radio, cable, etc…. then you decide.

Copyright 2001, Ruth King. All rights reserved.

Ruth King’s American Contractor Exchange


1650 Oakbrook Drive, Suite 405

Norcross, GA 30093


770-729-8028 (fax)