Fulfillment Direct Mail: A Different Way to Look at (and Use) Direct Mai

direct mail

For the longest time, direct mail has been used as a first-touch marketing channel – reaching out to prospects to generate sales leads, direct orders, memberships, subscriptions and donations.

The process typically involves:

  • renting or buying a mailing list,
  • developing an offer that fits the objective,
  • creating a mailer that persuades the prospect to respond to the offer,
  • building in multiple response channels,
  • pulling together all the resources to get your mailer printed, addressed and mailed,
  • and tracking response and making adjustments for the next mailing.

For many companies and non-profits, this marketing strategy continues to work very well.

But many other organizations have moved to online marketing – paid search, online advertising and organic/content marketing… so this idea is for them.


What if you moved direct mail to the second spot?

What if instead of using direct mail as a first-touch marketing piece, you moved it into the second spot of your sales process – and simply sent out the mailer after the lead comes in?

We call this fulfillment mail and it’s designed to go out on- piece-at-a-time to those who had previously responded to other promotions.

This is not a new idea.  Since long before the Internet, fulfillment mail has been used in response to leads that come through print, TV, radio, trade shows and even lead generation direct mail.

Now with so many businesses using online marketing, why not apply the same strategy?  You get a lead through your website or landing page, you ask if they would like to receive an information kit by mail and you send it out.

You’re only adding a few dollars per prospect, but think about the impact.


Once you get that lead, give them your best shot

You know the drill when it comes to online lead generation.  Someone fills out a form, they download your free guide or whitepaper, they get added to your drip email system and sometimes you follow up with a phone call.

That’s what we recommend and implement for our clients.  It’s a good, efficient system.

Problem is online and email communications, for all of its advantages, is like vapor.  It disappears as quickly as it reaches its destination.

Yes, it’s fast, cheap and very efficient, but it has no shelf-life.


How to stand apart from your competition

So try this …

After you get your lead from online marketing, send them a fulfillment direct mail piece.  Send them something informative, personally relevant and professionally designed.

Send them a mailer they won’t want to throw away – something they will actually sit down and read.

Give them your full sales pitch.

Remember these are interested prospects, demonstrated by the fact that they have already responded to your earlier marketing effort.

Now is your opportunity to stand apart from the competition, to gain more attention and to give your message some shelf-life.

Because you are only sending one mailer at a time, you can take the time to personalize and adapt your message to meet the needs of individual prospects.

Who could benefit from this strategy?

At first glance, you might think the ideal candidates for this marketing strategy would be businesses that sell large ticket items and/or have a long sales cycle.

But in fact, it doesn’t have to be that large of a ticket item or that long of a sales cycle.

This strategy works perfectly with any multi-step lead generation strategy – for B2B, B2C or even some non-profit applications.

A few examples:

  • A college or university generates student inquiries through search and online advertising, but immediately sends out a full-scale direct mail package to those who have expressed a certain level of interest.  The fulfillment direct mail package could be customized to the student’s academic interests and could provide a complete overview of the school’s academic, housing, campus activities, social life and financial aid.
  • A home improvement company could find homeowners interested in remodeling or new home construction using online marketing, but then could use direct mail to impress these new leads with a catalog of its past work and testimonials from satisfied customers.
  • A business consultant publishes a monthly email newsletter for list of prospects who have voluntarily joined his list through a variety of marketing outlets.  For those who request it, he could also send out a professionally designed introductory information kit that outlines his process, his capabilities and his documented results.
  • A non-profit organization uses online advertising and its website to build a list of supporters – and hopefully, future donors.  As a way of introduction, each new supporter could receive a direct mail information kit with an overview of its cause, specific areas of focus, stories of those who have benefited from the non-profit’s work and a donation form.


How is this different from other direct mail ?

You may wondering what is the difference between this and the direct mail you would send as a first touch marketing strategy.

Simple.  If you’re using direct mail to generate leads, your mailer should be designed to tease the reader … to introduce a problem and to offer a solution which can only be obtained if they respond.  Lead generation mailers are typically shorter in copy and should not go into a lot of detail or explanation. Its primary goal is to generate a response.

With fulfillment direct mail, you already have the lead.  Now you need to tell your story as it applies to the reader.  A fulfillment mailer would be much more expansive – possibly with multiple inserts you can mix and match to each prospect.  The mailer might include a response mechanism for the next step in the sales process, but the real goal of the fulfillment mailer is to provide the reader with a more complete picture of what you do – and to set yourself apart from competitors.


What would your fulfillment mailer look like?

You have a lot of options here because you’re not printing large quantities.  Yes, there are upfront creative development costs, but you only need to print enough to send out to your leads.

If this idea makes sense to you, let’s schedule a call.  We’ll take a few minutes to understand your company and your current lead generation process.  And then we can take a look at different ways to create your fulfillment package.

Contact Bob McCarthy at 508-473-8643 or bob@mccarthyandking.com.


About Bob McCarthy

Bob McCarthy is a direct response consultant and copywriter with a focus on direct mail, email and digital marketing. Bob works with B2B, B2C and Non-Profit clients. You can download his free ebook, "Making Snail Mail Work: 13 Lessons in Direct Mail Strategy."

2 comments to Fulfillment Direct Mail: A Different Way to Look at (and Use) Direct Mail

  • I’m try to promote my tennis consultant business. Can this work for that too?

    Great post, thanks.

  • I don’t see why not. The idea is to put a physical piece of mail into the hands of your prospect – after they respond. Health clubs used to spend a lot of money creating beautiful company brochures for prospective members. When someone came in for a tour or called for information, they would hand out (or mail) the brochure to the prospect. I don’t think many are doing that anymore because so much is done online, but imagine the impact if you were to break away from the pack and send them a fulfillment mailer. I would imagine a tennis consultant would use the same strategy.

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