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How do I begin a direct mail campaign?
Answered by Sylvia Konkel, VP of Marketing, EU Services

My company is in the process of marketing and selling franchises in specific, targeted markets. Right now we are focusing on the Northeastern U.S.A. I have never used direct mail advertising before. We think we have a good idea of who our ideal franchise candidate is, eg, male 24 to 50, minimum salary of $40K, very interested in cars, living in cities X, Y, Z. While we can easily buy a list of people who fit this description, we need to have some kind of marketing strategy in place.

I don't know where to begin. I alone will follow up with leads. Too many leads will drown me if I have to personally call each one. Therefore, I need to quickly sort out the "tire kickers" from individuals truly interested in starting a company.

Where do I begin? What should my expectations be? What are the "bones" of a marketing strategy?

From a direct mail standpoint, perhaps doing a test campaign in one city might get you started. It needs to include enough names to represent the target market adequately, and could be nth selected to come up with an appropriate number. I'm estimating it would require at least 10% of your total market. So if your total market were 100M, 10M would be an okay test. Or if the market is 250M, then test 25M.

Average response rates are usually between .05 and .2%. This, of course, depends on a combination of factors including the lists used, offer, timing of both your and competitors' offers, and the package itself. But that should give you a rough evaluation of the response rates. So if 10M are mailed, you can realistically expect between 50 and 200 responses to wade through. If one in three or one in four are interested leads, then that would be the number of qualified responses you can expect.

After the first mailing, a confidence interval equation could be constructed to estimate future expected results from that list/package. This is a statistical equation that helps you project future responses, if everything about the test remains the same, based on the responses from your previous efforts.

The basic considerations of a marketing strategy would be:

  • set goals and objectives for the campaign

  • set a budget

  • identify the target audience and research what types of lists are available to reach them, and then

  • develop the campaign strategy.

The campaign strategy should include the message, offer, procedures for order fulfillment or response management, and what (if any) type of testing would be done within the campaign.

I hope this helps.

For more information about direct mail printing, mailing, and data processing, contact Sylvia Konkel, VP of Marketing, EU Services, at or 301-795-6308.

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