Busted Myth: Direct Mail Never Works

If you ask Zach Graves of Carino’s Italian Restaurant in Meridian, Idaho about direct mail, he’ll tell you that this marketing strategy CAN indeed work. Over the last few months he has used two different direct mail strategies with mixed results. What the losing mailer lacked, the profitable one had.

In fact, it wasn’t even close! The end results showed a 32% overall response rate for the winning campaign! (32% is not a typo). Keep in mind that a 1-2% response rate for a direct mail piece is often considered successful and profitable… let alone 32%!

Some may argue, that more often than not, restaurants will see better response rates than just about any other industry. I consent, this may be true. But whether you are a restaurant or not, getting nearly 1/3 of recipients to respond to a mailer is awesome by any standards.

And no, this mailer was not sent to an internal or warm list. It was mailed to an average sized COLD list, which makes it an even more remarkable success. The recipients were not expecting anything from Carino’s nor did they opt-in to receive anything from the restaurant.

Here’s why the direct mail campaign worked so well:

  1. We made sure their mailing list was extremely targeted. I’m talking about a specific radius around their restaurant and a well-defined income and age range. We even planned the mailer to hit the mailboxes at precisely the right time, based around an event that was about to happen in the recipient’s life.
  2. A personalized letter was sent out and included a real, hand-placed stamp. Just a note… the losing mailer was one of those direct mail coupon books full of competing offers and ads.
  3. The offer was personalized and very generous, but not so much that it “ate up” the profits. In the end, the mailer still has to be profitable, right?

Think about it. Would you rather get a generic postcard addressed to you or the “CURRENT RESIDENT”, or a personalized letter and envelope in the mail arriving at just the right time? Of course, the letter, which in turn makes you more likely to respond to the offer inside.

Maybe you’ve tried direct mail a time or two and found that it just wasn’t profitable. That’s okay. But don’t make up your mind quite yet. Instead, maybe follow the lead of Carino’s and make your next direct mail campaign worth doing.