Connected in the Midlands

in - July 2017


Birmingham has a long-standing reputation for being a true hub of manufacturing; often referred to as ‘the workshop of the world’. However, it’s not just things we make in the Midlands, it’s the ‘connections’ we make too.

Birmingham is responsible for two of the tools most used for connecting people. The production of steel pen nibs by the millions meant that at one point in time, 75 per cent of everything written in the world was written using a pen from Birmingham. And due to unrivalled advances in technology during the Industrial Revolution, Birmingham also became the epicentre of European print. Believe it or not, Britain is the world’s fifth largest producer of printed products, and Birmingham is still Britain’s printing heartland.

Technology may have moved on, but the written word is still as vital today as it ever has been. In a world where connectivity is constant, we can sometimes feel overburdened by it. We’re forever filing through junk emails and rejecting unknown calls. Marketers are always looking for new ways to connect with an impact, or perhaps more traditional methods they can revive.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of questions I’m often asked about direct mail, a medium currently experiencing something of a revival.

Is direct mail dead?

Definitely not. In the advent of digital, direct mail may have fallen out of fashion for some who favour the excitement of email or social media advertising, but in recent years, direct mail has experienced a resurgence in popularity as audiences have become turned off by digital.

In a recent study by Royal Mail, 57 per cent of people said that receiving mail makes them feel ‘more valued’, but only 17 per cent said that of email. As a result, recipients of direct mail are over 30 times more likely to respond to direct mail than they are to an email.

What results can I realistically expect from direct mail?

If you use a search engine to try and find out ‘average direct mail response rates’, you’ll get a range of answers from two per cent upwards. The truth is, response rates are influenced by many factors: design, timing, brand reputation, the cleanliness of your data and the offer you’re making. However, what is known is that, done well, direct mail’s ROI is better than you probably think. The Royal Mail’s research tells us that ‘direct mail delivers an average £3.22 return on investment for every £1 spent, compared with online’s £3.12’.

Is direct mail more effective for B2B or B2C?

The simple answer is that direct mail will work for businesses targeting both consumers and other businesses, but there are several key ingredients that must be considered, whether it’s a B2B or B2C campaign.

  1. Targeted contact data
  2. The personal touch
  3. Creative design and copy
  4. A clear ‘call to action’
  5. Integration with other marketing channels
  6. Tracking and analysis

Which is more important, what to send or who to send it to?

They’re both important, but a basic mailer sent to a well-defined audience, at the perfect time and from a squeaky-clean database will always yield more results than a beautiful design to the wrong audience.

A female friend of mine regularly receives a very well designed brochure for prostate health supplements. I don’t think the impressive design has managed to convince her to purchase anything yet!

How much does a mailshot cost?

As with anything, costs vary but start at around 25p for a complete mailing. Of course, this increases should you wish to send a more elaborate mailer.

What is the best piece of direct mail you’ve ever seen?

Direct mail is a medium that offers incredible creativity, and I’ve worked with some great examples. Cardboard record players, a fold out helmet, KitKat’s “It’s too chunky” and a cat food postcard sprayed with catnip (type ‘direct mail targets your kitty’ into YouTube. It’s brilliant) have all had massive commercial success across a range of industries. But so have mailings consisting of little more than a well-written letter.

I think the main commonality across all great direct mail is some level of interaction; it has the simple advantage over email of being tactile – humans love to touch. The Royal Mail’s research found that ‘In psychological experiments, people value something they can see and touch 24 per cent more highly than something they can only see. Send an offer by mail and recipients will perceive it as worth more than the same offer on screen’.

Who should I send my mailshots to?

A really targeted audience! That may sound daunting, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. And if your own data is lacking, that needn’t be a barrier. Your DM partner can help.


PUBLISHED IN: Birmingham Chamber of Commerce July magazine


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