One of the most effective ways to advertise is direct mail. Unlike television or radio, you know exactly to whom you are sending your message. There is no wasted money on people in geographic areas you don’t cover or people who can’t use your services.

But you say most of it gets thrown out? That’s true; however, it’s usually not for the reasons you might think. Many times, direct mail gets tossed out because it was poorly conceived and didn’t grab the reader’s attention or you’re working with the wrong mailing list.

A colleague told me he always threw out “junk mail” and never read it. I asked him whether he read the mailings he received from CCH (a company whose products he uses). He said yes. I asked him what about mailings from other companies he was interested in. He said that he read those mailings too. So he realized that he read direct mail — it was not all not “junk mail.” However, he only read about subjects that he was interested in.

Make sure you are sending your direct mailings to the potential customer who is most likely to use what you are offering. The saying is that a poorly constructed direct mail piece sent to the person who can use your services is better than the greatest direct mail piece sent to a person who could not or would never use your services.

If you decide to use direct mail, make sure you commit to it. That means sending pieces on a regular basis. They can be letters, postcards, newsletters, etc. Just make sure you contact your customers and potential customers at least once per quarter. Here’s how a potential customer might react to your direct mailings: the first one might get thrown out, the second one they might remember and they might remember to call you after the third one.

If you are looking for ideas on how to write direct mail pieces, the book “Direct Mail Copy that Sells” by Hershel Gordon Lewis is a good reference.

Some of the most successful direct mail pieces that I’ve done over the years were targeted at inactive customers. I define an active customer as someone who has used your company’s services within the past 18 months. An inactive customer is someone you have performed a service or installed equipment for more than 18 months ago and haven’t had contact with since.

Talk to the inactive customers! You’ll probably find they know who you are and were pleased with the work you did. But they probably forgot about you since they didn’t see the need to use you again — and you haven’t contacted them.

Give them a reason to use your company’s services. A service agreement, a maintenance check, a new product that can make them more comfortable in their home or office are all reasons to contact them. Create an offer for those individuals. Since they already know who you are, they’re likely to read your message.

Next month I’ll write about some things you can do to make your direct mail pieces better.

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)