7 Steps to a Two-Tiered Direct Mail Strategy

Is your direct mail strategy designed to reach your best prospects?

Which direct mail strategy is better? Frequent mailings to the same audience or fewer mailings (maybe just one) to a broader audience?

This is a common problem for many business owners and marketers who look at their market size and then look at their budget – and realize they can’t do both.

Well, they can – sort of – but only with this strategy.

It’s a direct mail strategy designed to reach your best prospects with frequent mailings and your lesser prospects with less frequent mailings.

Step 1 – Start by identifying your total market universe

How many prospects do you have? Take into account every business or individual who could be a likely prospect for you. If you’re targeting businesses, you might have more than one contact per business.

Let’s say your market universe is 5,000 prospects.

Step 2 – Segment your list

Within those 5,000 prospects, who are your best prospects? Not every one has equal value. Some have higher potential – and deserve a greater amount of your attention (meaning time and money).

Most marketers would base their selection on the sales potential (dollar value) of the segment, but you can also base it on ease of sale (low hanging fruit), or convenience (local customers only), or another factor that is important to you.

There’s no magic number here. It’s totally up to you and your budget – so pick a percentage – say 10%.

This would give you 500 of your best prospects. The remaining 4,500 are still prospects. They’re just not on the same level – not yet anyway.

Step 3 – Create a large postcard (or a series of postcards) for this top group

You want to develop a direct mail piece that builds awareness (branding) and generates leads (response).  An oversized postcard is a good option here.  Most importantly, you want to mail it multiple times over the course of the year.    Should it be one postcard or a series?  The copywriter in me wants to create a series of postcards, but one postcard is sufficient – at least to get started.

Step 4 – Develop a mailing schedule for this top group

I think a monthly mailer makes the most sense. Don’t worry, that’s not too frequent. You will barely be on the radar, but over time, it will have an impact. Once a month will keep your name in front of these top prospects. Every other month is okay, but it that’s not possible, your top group may be too large for your budget.

Step 5 – Create a lead generation letter mailer for the larger list

Now we are back to the original 5,000 prospects (or at least the remaining 4,500). We want to use direct mail here for lead generation to identify the most interested or willing prospects from this universe.

We understand we can’t stay in touch with these people with any regularity so we will reach out them once or twice a year to find those who want to move to our top group.

Step 6 – Develop a mailing schedule to reach the larger list

This is likely to be once or twice a year depending on your budget.

Step 7 – Add names to your top group

As you generate leads from this larger mailing, you will want to add those responses to your top group because they will have indicated an interest in hearing from you. So your 500 list will grow every month depending on your response rate (not shown on the chart).

Over time, your top group will grow, while your larger group will reduce in size.

Here is the direct mail strategy in chart form:


Your quantities obviously will vary depending on the size of your universe, the size of your top group and your budget.

This strategy is not unlike what we do with direct mail and email – where we generate the lead with direct mail, but stay in touch with email. Clearly, email is cheaper but direct mail has a greater impact.

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