Make Direct Marketing Your BFF. Part I – Find Your Audience

In today’s world where data is king, direct marketing is invaluable because not only can you market directly to the consumer, but you can customize just who exactly you want that consumer to be.     

Mailing houses and list brokers have long existed, but coupled with Internet analytics, we know more about consumers than ever before. Some call it creepy, but I call it smart. When you have a service that’s only applicable to a portion of the population, like say families with school age children, knowing as much as possible that population is a great thing. 

Select your prospects.

For example, in educational marketing, there’s often a need for a select set of prospects. In higher ed it might be out-of-state students or ethnic minorities.  At independent schools, it might be a certain grade level or full pay families. Need more sixth and seventh grade full pay families? By working with a consumer data corporation, or even the United States Postal Service, you can find a mailing list that helps ensure your most coveted prospects receive your message. It’s not free, but you’ll find the price per lead (and ultimately conversion) is much more palatable than traditional mass advertising.  

You’ll want to start with zip code radius, say within X miles of your school. Next you can continue to filter for things like presence of children in the home, ages of children in the home, education level, adjusted gross income, home value, etc. These filters will allow you to target families that meet your enrollment needs. Will all those families be a perfect fit? Of course not, but this process gets you a lot closer to the bull’s-eye. 

Postal mail, email, or both? 

When you’re paying per name you want to make sure that the contact information is as accurate as possible. Physical mailing addresses are far less likely to change and you avoid the challenges of email spam filters. You can even run it through a suppression list of current parents and prospects to make sure you’re not buying names you already have.

Two more things. Always seed yourself on the mailing list so that you can ensure that your piece did indeed get mailed. It’s also imperative to see how the mailer held up during its journey. Sometimes a cheaper card stock isn’t worth it if your postcard ends up dogeared and smudged by the time it hits households. 

Consider mailing first class. Yes, it’s more expensive, but you’ll get free forwarding and returns. It ensures that your prospects will get your message and it also helps you assess the health of your mailing list. Too many returned pieces lets you know that you may need a new data list. 

Next, design your postcard or mail piece and mail away!

Coming Soon - Part II – How to know it’s really working

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