Creating Direct Mail That Makes a Personal Connection

By: Kelly Olsen

When it comes to automotive direct mail marketing, there’s one thing that has always remained constant: your mail pieces need to be attention grabbing and engaging! After all, bills, letters, magazines and direct mail pieces from competitors are all competing for your customer’s attention. Now, another thing that holds true with direct mail (or advertising, in general) is that customers like to feel as though they’re being individually acknowledged.


When customers feel they’re understood, they’re more likely to respond to a mail piece because they assume you know what’s best for them! Tailoring your direct mail pieces to specific audiences can really make all the difference. Here are some ideal tips for creating that personal connection:

Make Sure You Target the Right Audience

Unless you’re a department store that sells a wide variety of products and services, your primary customers consist of specific ages, genders, interests and income brackets. Some businesses have more diverse archetypes than others, but variations are often slim.


If you’re going to utilize direct mail for your next event sale or promotion, you need to have a thorough understanding of your audience.

If you’re going to utilize direct mail for your next event sale or promotion, you need to have a thorough understanding of your audience. Since they’re likely the people who are going to purchase your product or service, you want to make sure your messaging “speaks to them.”


By the way, one should never forget design. Certain fonts, colors and images will get varying reactions from different people. For example (and this is completely hypothetical, by the way): bright, neon colors have a tendency draw millennials in, but someone in the 30-40 age bracket might not want to read something quite that loud.


Make an Attractive Offer

Now that you’ve chosen the appropriate font type, colors and template, it’s time to work on your messaging. Grabbing a person’s attention is definitely important, but it won’t keep them from throwing away a mail piece. Knowing what you do about your target market, what sort of offer do you think will sound more appealing to them?


 Audiences want to be “spoken to” as if they were conversing with someone one-on-one.

As previously mentioned, audiences want to be “spoken to” as if they were conversing with someone one-on-one. This is your time to dig deep and really determine what it is this person wants!


Once you’ve gathered your leads, start looking for trends. Are there groups of customers currently “in the market” to purchase a product or service? If so, they’re likely the first people you want to target since they’ve already indicated they want to purchase eventually. So, now what?


The next thing you’ll want to do is offer a perk or incentive that draws a customer in to seek more information. Here’s a good example: One of our recent clients was a hearing aid company. The target audience for said company were individuals 55 years and older with an average annual income of $15,000. By offering a “free hearing test,” you’re drawing “in-the-market” customers to your store before anyone else can.


Call to Action

This is an absolute MUST. If you don’t have some call-to-action, you’re missing out on a crucial step in the process. It’s the last and only component of your mail piece that truly garners a reaction. Question is, what does your call-to-action actually look like?


Let’s go back to the hearing aid company example, shall we? In the mail piece, we offered prospective customers a “free hearing test.” That’s cool and all, but it doesn’t exactly get people pumped.


After you’ve explained (in the mail piece) what the offer is, you have to encourage your customers to take action – whether it’s calling up the facility to schedule an appointment or, better yet, indicating a sense of urgency. For example: “Offer ends September 1st! Call now!”


Follow Up Post Event

Okay, now is your chance to actually personalize a prospective customer’s experience! Once the event sale or promotion is done, it’s time to follow-up with prospects to see what you can do for them. Because many of the people you’ll be following up with haven’t made a substantial purchase yet, you can still persuade them to come to your store again. Ask them if they enjoyed the event, if they have any questions about the product or service and then provide them with a new offering based on the information they gave you.


Personalizing your mail pieces takes a bit of time given the amount of research that needs to be done, but it’s totally worth it. Try to take as much time as humanly possible to craft the right message. It won’t be perfect (nothing in life ever is), but it’ll be damn close.


How have you personalized your direct mail in the past? Tell us in the comments!