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Does the good old-fashioned leaflet drop still work?

As a business owner I don’t need to tell you that advertising budgets are frequently constrained – there are many mediums to choose from but it’s sometimes difficult to decide the best place to allocate your budget.

Effective advertising involves more than just determining a way of reaching your customers – it also involves listening to how they want to be contacted. More consumers prefer to be contacted by letterbox drops and direct mail than all other media methods combined (61 percent). That is almost three times as much as their closest competitor, email (23 percent).*1

Australian households receive on average less than two unaddressed promotional items per week*2. This represents an unparalleled opportunity for business owners to take advantage of an uncluttered channel to ensure their message meets their target. Of the advertising material that is received a whopping 70 percent is read, kept or passed on.*2

With the limitless potential letterbox drops can provide to expand your customer base and encourage repeat business, it’s disheartening to know how frequently it is executed incorrectly. A successful letterbox drop is broken up into two crucial and equally important factors; the material and the execution of the campaign.

The Material

A crucial part of any successful letterbox drop campaign is ensuring the material, whether it be a flyer, a brochure or a postcard, is going to be effective and elicit a response from a consumer. I’ve broken this down into six equally important factors that will help boost your success rate.

1. Keep it simple
As with any advertising medium, your market’s attention will typically be divided. Before production starts on any campaign I recommend you list a main objective and up to two secondary objectives and try to stick to them; this will ensure your material remains simple, clutter-free and easy to act upon. Trying to cram too much onto a flyer or brochure is a common mistake and will generally result in the recipient skimming over the content.

2. Consistently branded

Well branded material has more benefits than simply building on any established recognition you already have with your recipients. Direct marketing tends to serve multiple purposes. Firstly, it prompts recipients to immediately act on material they have been sent. It also allows your business to build further recognition with your recipient which will allow for greater success in future campaigns.

3. Eye-catching design
With design, it’s not as important to be unique as it is to be effective. Quite frequently business owners will spend copious amounts of time trying to come up with ideas that have not been done before. While this is good in theory, there are many established design practices that are common because they work – strong colours, compelling headlines, eye-catching images and minimal clutter, to name a few.

4. Well written
What is written on your material is equally as important as any design element. The written word is powerful and is often an integral part of any campaign. Well written marketing copy keeps the reader engaged, has a logical and consistent flow and most importantly, prompts them to act.

5. Compelling offer
This is by no means an expectation to discount or devalue the products you offer and typically, the most compelling offers are the ones that focus on the benefits your product or service can provide.

6. Call to action
A call to action is an answer to the unspoken question of: “that’s interesting, now what?” It is a prompt that assists in moving your prospect to the next step. What kind of call to action should be used will of course vary depending on the primary and secondary objectives of your material. Effective calls to actions are simple, eye catching and positioned within the logical flow of information on the page.

The Campaign

Equally as important as the material being sent is the matter in which the campaign is executed. No matter how great the material sent, a poorly timed campaign sent to the wrong people may not obtain the desired result. Any successful letterbox drop requires:

A receptive market It is helpful (and somewhat scary) the amount of data that can be obtained about certain regions, right down to individual households or businesses. It’s very important that you research the market to which you’ll be advertising and take a little time ensuring they will be receptive to your product. For example, do you specifically operate business-to-business? If so, then you will therefore receive much higher response rates if you only target commercial properties, leaving out the residential.

Test, test and test! Sometimes a small variant such as a change to a colour, text or call to action can impact the results of your campaign significantly. Split testing is the process where equal quantities of different material are sent to multiple segments of your market to determine which flyer elicits the highest response rate. By testing regularly and keeping tabs on the results, future advertising campaigns will be much easier to implement.

Consistency is key When determining whether a letterbox drop is right for your business and its advertising goals it’s very, very important to think long term. For the most part, while letterbox drops can and do elicit an immediate response, sometimes this can take at least a couple of weeks, if not more. Beyond that, your response rate will dramatically increase on subsequent campaigns. It might seem counterproductive to target to same households or businesses but that is not the case. Typically some recipients might need to receive correspondence multiple times before they act. Quite often the highest response rates from a campaign come after being targeted a third or fourth time.

Frequency The frequency with which to send out consecutive campaigns will vary depending on the kind of product you sell and how frequently consumers will be purchasing. To be safe, one to two months between campaigns is normally standard.

Integrating with other marketing channels Your campaign must be integrated with your other marketing channels to help boost the response rate. While a recipient may receive your advertising piece in the mail, they may not act upon it until they walk past your store or visit your website, for example.

Realistic targets There isn’t a standard (even industry-based) as to what an appropriate response rate might be. In some cases it can be as low as 0.5% and in extreme cases over 10 percent with even the former yielding great returns for the advertiser. As a business owner, you will need to regularly scrutinise your campaign to gauge its response rate. This will help to ensure that it’s delivering a return on investment for you that makes it worthwhile.

Businesses of any size can obtain significant results with letterbox drops as long as their material is well designed and written and the campaigns are thoughtfully planned.

–Jake Thomas is director, Emroy Print & Design

*1 Source: Reaching Consumers 2008, Open Mind Research

*2 Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, March 2009

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