The owner of a mid-size business in a regional market wrote in with this question about direct mail strategy for introducing a new product:
“If you had a choice of mailing to several communities one time (possibly twice) as opposed to mailing to a few communities two (maybe three or four) times, what would you recommend?”
In all but a few situations, our answer to this type of question is going to be “go with frequency.” It’s essential that your mailer be there during the critical time frame in which the customer is interested in your product. And you don’t know when that will be.
For instance, you may have the best deal on dishwashers in the state, but your offer will barely register as people sort their mail…until the month comes when they notice their old machine is starting to leak, or they’re getting ready to sit down with their contractor and spec out the kitchen remodel. If you’ve been mailing on a steady basis, your offer will likely get their consideration. If you’ve mailed only once, they’ve probably forgotten about it.
Of course while frequency is a key, it won’t do you any good to mail frequently to the wrong lists or to the wrong list segments. That’s where mail list testing comes in.
You might consider doing an initial, broad mailing to several list segments and carefully tracking response to that initial mailing. (Make sure your employees know to ask customers who call or come in to your store how they heard about the new product.) If particular segments of the initial mailing perform better than others, and your mailing budget is limited, we’d recommend following up with a program of frequent mailings to those top-performing segments rather than only one additional mailing to the broader list.
Segmenting and testing lists is an art, and much of it is influenced by how well you — and your list broker — know the lists you are using. It’s important to have direct marketing consultants who pride themselves in helping clients tailor the right lists to find the right buyers.