Compiling a Mail Shot or Mailshot

Last Updated
August 22, 2009

Introduction to Mailshot

You may have woken up today to some mail that is trying to get your interest of a particular product or service. This is a result of mail shot (or direct mail) from the company in question. If you are interested, you may follow up on the mail (or plan to).

If not, then it’s probably lying in your bin: we have to appreciate that it is not always of interest to everyone that receives the mail.

Mail shot is a form of advertising and has become one of the most successful ways of selling a product or service.

It targets potential customers, recognized by the company, by sending an advert/form/letter/etc to their address via the postal system.

The main aim of a mailshot, just like any other advertising scheme, is to raise awareness and interest of the product/service that is being sold. At this point, you probably have a million questions, but all will be explained of how to develop and integrate a successful mail shot into your business.

Where do I Start with a Mailshot?

First, consider exactly what it is that you are selling (product/service). Then, specify what you want to achieve from the mail shot but keep your objectives realistic…

…for example, do you want a previous customer to buy from you again, keep existing customers buying your product, gain new customers, or maybe to generally increase sales?

Also, keep it approachable for those targeted…

…for example, if you are selling books, stationery, hardware, etc, then you could expect sales straight from the mail shot (possibly by sending an order form or stating an ordering telephone number). If your product/service is more complicated and has further details, such as vehicle hire, computers, line rental, etc, then it would be best to provide a link for the customers. This may be through a telephone call, personal visit or perhaps directing them to their nearest store/office/web site.

Who Should I Target?

Recognize your target audience by specifying which sector(s) of the market you are aiming your product/service at. For example, those people who have internet access, have children, own a car, travel frequently, businesses that require accounting, etc.

The next step is to find out where to send your mail shot. If you have a data base of your customers (past and/or present), then this can be used to get their addresses.

Addresses can also be obtained by using a rented list. Building your own in-house list should be an automatic choice for all marketing and research needs as they have, at least, an interest in your produce.

There are many services at present that offer these lists (both offline and online). Yellow Pages is a typical example. This method is perhaps the most expensive and will be covered in more detail in the ‘costs’ section.

Another way of retrieving addresses is done simply by looking through a phone directory. Although it can be time consuming (if done offline), it can offer a large number of potential customers.

Make sure that when you mail your advert/letter/form you address it directly to the person you are wanting to reach. If it is a manager in, for example, an office block, address it to the right department/office/door so that it gets to him/her personally.

When Should I Use a Mail Shot?

Your product/service may be something that is used all year, but quite often a customers’ interest for it may go up and down at different times of the year. For example, stationary may have a sudden increase in demand at the beginning of a school term or the need for rain coats in winter.

If demand is steady for your product/service all year, then mail shot could be just as effective at any time. But if you recognize that the market sector your product/ service is in does have its fluctuations in demand, then send out your mail when demand is on the increase.

The timing of your mail shot may also depend on your objectives. You may want to use it to increase awareness of your product during times that normally bring low sales numbers.

Your mail shot could be used at a time when you know that it will have an impact straight away. Sometimes, you may feel unsure of the timing of your mail shot but there is a solution: allow the customer to acknowledge your mail by asking them to return a form or a phone call if they will have interest at a later date. You can then follow it up at the given time. This can then be added to your records for future reference (if you use mail shot again).

Dealing with Response

It is a good idea to estimate a figure that you expect to get a response from. This is so you can prepare to cope with the likely numbers as quickly and effectively as possible. This may include the number of people you have to make follow up calls, personal visits, dispatch further information, or anything that you have promised to the interested customer.

It is important that you do respond as soon as possible to avoid keeping customers waiting.

Page 1. Compiling a Mail Shot

Page 2. The Costs of Sending a Mail Shot

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