Why and How to Make Direct Mail a Part of Your Marketing Mix
Direct mail can be a lucrative marketing method for independent insurance agents despite living in a world that’s gone virtual.
Contrary to the belief that direct mail is dead, it’s very much alive! In fact, implementing a direct mail campaign could produce significant results right now for two reasons. First, people are paying more attention to marketing because they’re spending so much time at home. Secondly, the recent massive adoption of digital marketing methods is leaving more room than ever in prospects’ mailboxes.
It’s always a good idea to incorporate a healthy marketing mix, meaning that agents are usually served best by utilizing to some extent digital media, traditional advertising, networking efforts and a robust referral program. With that end in mind, we’re hitting the pause button on articles focused on digital marketing and presenting a focused primer on direct mail because it continues to prove effective at reaching the senior market.
Different Mailer Types. Let strategy be your guide when it comes to selecting the type of mailer you want to send out. What is the goal of your campaign? Is it to build your brand within the community? Is it to make inroads with fellow insurance professionals as part of your networking efforts? Is the goal to simply generate as many leads as possible? Giving shape to the goals of your campaign quite literally lends itself to the shape (and size, cost, etc.) of your direct mail piece! Building your brand, for example, might be best served with a large, colorful postcard that provides many customization options. Whereas an enveloped letter might be optimal for sending to colleagues and a Business Reply Card (BRC) may be the best option for lead generation. If you have questions regarding which piece could work well for your campaign, give us a call – we’re happy to help!
Timing. Failing to give yourself adequate time to produce an effective direct mail campaign is a common mistake. After establishing campaign goals, following these steps can help structure the process:
Concept & Copywriting: Every direct mail piece needs an overarching concept and concise message. The concept and message for a mailer targeting the Low-Income Subsidy market, for example, will look very different than a piece designed to reach affluent prospects aging into Medicare.
Design: This step is often the most time-consuming. Even if you already have a fantastic relationship with a competent graphic designer, there’s often a lot of back-and-forth. Make sure to communicate with your designer early and thoroughly so that there’s enough time to produce a standout piece.
Printing Services: Next, you’ll have to get your mailer printed and, unfortunately, not all printers are created equally. Some produce amazing results for a reasonable fee while others charge through the roof for a subpar product. It’s well worth the upfront legwork to build a relationship with an honest, efficient, budget-friendly printer. Communicate early and often to make sure your printer’s lead time is in line with your projected drop dates.
Review & Approval: Beyond approving the designer’s artwork for your mailer, keep in mind you’ll have to approve a proof from the printer. While printers often provide a digital proof via email, consider asking for a printed proof if your schedule allows. Printed proofs provide a better sense of what your prospects will experience, from colors that pop to the look and feel of the selected card stock.
Production & Delivery: Depending on the time of year and other external factors, the time it takes to print your project, ship it to the postal carrier, and for the carrier to deliver your mailers can vary widely. We’re currently in the middle of an election cycle and a disruptive worldwide pandemic, both of which can cause significant delays in mail delivery. Bottom line: make sure you’re allowing sufficient time for your mail pieces to be delivered to prospects’ homes.
The amount of time needed for each step varies depending on the agent, target market, mail drop location, relationship with the printer, etc. However, understanding what the process looks like can significantly help with allocating the time necessary to complete a well-executed direct mail campaign. With that said, we’ve found that a solid campaign typically takes 4-6 weeks from concept to delivery.
Think Different. Direct mail doesn’t have to be boring! There are a lot of ways you can creatively make your direct mail stand out. Full service print shops offer dozens of customization options, including: glossy coating that make colors brighter and text clear and crisp; thicker card stock that can give your mailer a professional feel; font selections that mimic handwriting for a more personal touch; custom-cut options that give your mailer a unique shape; embossed lettering and/or surface designs that provide a more tactile experience; satin sheen envelopes for a luxurious feel; the list goes on and on. While these customization options invariably add to the expense of the campaign, they can significantly improve response rates. There are other tactics too that won’t cost you anything! For smaller mail campaigns you’re sending out personally, consider handwriting your signature on each piece or writing a brief note on the back of the envelope. For more tech-savvy prospects, consider including a Quick Response (QR) code that readers can scan with their smartphones and be directed to your website or other online landing page. These small touches often make the difference as to whether a prospect contacts you or not and can help differentiate you in your market.
Despite many pre-conceived notions, direct mail still proves effective at reaching the senior market, particularly in today’s stay-at-home era. With 73% of advertisers holding back new campaign launches and 37% of consumers saying they’re more excited to receive mail each day, now could be the ideal time to make the most of this tried-and-true marketing medium.
For independent agents selling Medicare, Berwick Insurance Group provides its partners a host of direct mail resources that eliminate some of the steps listed here, saving agents both time and money. Our design services are no cost to our agents, we offer scores of unique template designs to choose from, provide one-on-one marketing consultations and much more. Contact us today at https://berwickinsurance.com/ or 888-745-2320 to learn how we can help you grow your business.