Direct Mail best practices

November 13, 2015
Best Practices for Every Door

Starting as a direct marketing agency in 1981, BKV has stuck to our roots and philosophy of no-nonsense hard-numbers accountability. So what happens when you ask our executives to share their top direct response “best practice?” They share 3 or 4. Each of our direct marketing services relies on the best practices below. As you read our list, think about how your brand could benefit from our advice. (You can thank us later!)

direct response marketing & advertising best practice

1. Tell the customer/prospect what you want them to do.

EVP, Director of Client Services

Guide your customers to that next step, tell them what to expect when they make it. Hand-holding will help them get over any resistance to move forward. For example, “Call this number, where a customer rep will tell you what packages are available, ” or, “It’s easy with steps 1, 2, 3, ” or “Click here to watch it in action!”

2. Don’t just make a sale, acquire a customer.


We want to have a long-term relationship with the customer. So assume that your product is good and reliable and the value proposition is correct. Then the CRM part of the direct marketer’s brain should kick in. “Always be selling” is one of the mantras in this phase. Sell additional products. Sell related products. Sell your best customers on selling some of their friends. Sell the best customers on writing reviews. Sell the best customers on engaging with you and giving you advice and their opinions.

3. Test everything. Then test it again.

EVP, Director of Marketing

Our mantra is: Test, Test Test! Creative, offer and media are the primary elements of every direct marketing and digital campaign and all should be tested continuously to determine the best performing combination of the three. A good testing discipline enables optimization across all elements of the campaign and is the surest path to success!

4. Incrementalism Isn't Innovation.

Alan Blose EVP, Chief Creative Officer

Direct Marketing is a data-driven discipline and we often lead the discussions with spreadsheets and analysis. That's expected. That's what we do. And it's one vital part of our skill set. However, in the rush to mine the data better than the rest of the data miners, let's not forget the need for real marketing innovation — based on research and informed by insights drawn from our experience as direct marketers. Make room in the test plan not just for the nuance of the control, or the list, or the media buy, but also to test a completely new idea. That's where we can find some of the biggest wins for our clients and keep them coming back for more. Return On INNOVATION can be as important to a CMO as Return On Investment.

5. Never run a campaign without a strong offer.

Stacy Pierce EVP, Chief Media Officer

An offer is what entices the consumer to invest in your brand. Make sure you are spending time creating an offer that is strong enough to make your audience act. An offer doesn’t have to discount the product, though saving money is a powerful enticement. You can create greater value for your consumers by bundling multiple products to create a unique package, including free shipping, touting the guarantee, offering free returns. And don’t forget to add an end date for even greater motivation to “act now”.
Can’t decide which of your great offers to test? Test them all! You can and probably will get hugely varying (and surprising) results.

6. Good creative is creative that gets people to respond.

Brent Kuhn Vice Chairman

Creative is the area where the general (brand) agencies and digital agencies are guilty of their greatest buffoonery. They just don't get the fact that good creative is creative that gets people to respond! Creative that gets results should be the primary goal of all good direct and digital campaigns. Basic rules that have worked in direct mail for years, continue to work across all media...get the offer in the headline, use headlines and subheads to tell the story, don't forget that the second most read part of a letter is the P.S., don't have pictures without captions (people love captions). 20% of the success of a campaign is attributed to creative, and this can be the difference between success and failure. Developing responsive creative is a key best practice that sets true direct agencies apart from pretenders who may be very good with the analytical and list part of the equation, but don’t understand how to make the consumer stop and act!

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