In the days of electronic mail, you might be thinking that the traditional postage lead direct mail is dead. That couldn't be further from the truth, direct mail is still very much alive and kicking and carried out in the correct way – by making it personal – it can prove to be a very profitable venture. The Facts Personalised direct mail has a far higher response rate than a mass mailing campaign. So forget sending out masses of impersonal mailings as these are likely to end up in the bin – only 2% of mass mailing campaigns produce a response. Direct mail executed correctly produces a 10% response rate – which means 1 in 10 people will respond to you. You are much more likely to cover your costs sending out personal direct mail even though this will require a little more effort on your part. The Aim Used on it's own, direct mail is an excellent way to generate leads and sales at relatively low cost. The beauty of direct mail is that you have full control over what you send – and how it will be received by the customer – this could be anything from postcards to oversized envelopes to attract attention. How to make your direct mail personal You need to make the aim of your letter very clear – so don't make it too long. You need to make it clear on what you want the customer to do. One of the methods I use for Kent Electrics is to make an offer – so your offer might be a free assessment of their consumer unit. So make the offer the headline of your letter. Always tell the customer what they need to do next – how to they claim their free consumer unit assessment? Always give full contact details in your letter along with the types of payment methods and cards you accept. Draw attention to the text in your letter – highlight the important parts in red with the main text in black. Be careful not to use too much red text in your letter. Use a good quality graphic in your letter – in this instance it could be a photo of an old style consumer unit entitled “does yours look like this?” How to get your mail opened Always address it personally. Impersonal mail addressed only to the householder rarely gets opened. When I send direct mail from Kent Electrics I always keep things simple. I use plain white business size envelopes addressed to the name of the customer with a first class stamp and no return address. This way it is highly tempting to open the mail to see what it is – it looks very personal. In fact white envelopes get the highest response rates. Postcards have the highest response rate – they don't need to be opened and would work very well for the consumer unit assessment offer. When to send it January to March is the best time to send direct mail – so don't delay in acting now. March, May and June are best avoided. Measure your response rate Another key advantage with direct mail is the response rate – if you keep the right records, you will be able to measure your response rate far more accurately than other forms of advertising. My advice is to run a small test first – if you are sending to a mailing list that you have built up of potential and past clients then using a percentage of these is a safe bet. Firstly you have their permission to mail them and secondly they are likely to be interested in your services. This will give you an indicator of how well your letter has worked at minimal cost. Following the test you could then expand your list and send mail to people who have recently moved into your local area, estate agents and landlords. Keep a database of everyone you send direct mail to as this will indicate the level of response your direct mailing got. This will indicate how well put together your letter was. A low response rate indicates you need to make changes. Conclusion You may have heard negative stories about direct mail, however used correctly it will work well for you. The key is to not bombard your customers with direct mail, certainly no more often than once every 2 months. This way, your customer base will enjoy receiving mailings from you and be far more likely to respond.