Why Direct Mail

Why Direct Mail – understand your objective before you get started

There are a number of reasons why direct mail is used by so many businesses and non-profits.  Understanding those reasons is the first step in developing your direct mail campaign.  While this may not be obvious to you at the start, eventually you will see why direct mail is very different for lead generation, order generation, retail traffic building and non-profit fundraising.

Why direct mail —————————-

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To the outside world, direct mail is direct mail.  [break][break]Whether it’s a catalog, a postcard, a letter mailer or some type of lumpy package, it’s all direct mail.[break][break]Right?  Well, sort of, but not really.[break][break]If you’re responsible for creating a direct mail campaign, you will soon learn that not all direct mail is the same.  [break][break]And the reasons you choose to use a catalog, or postcard, or letter mailer, or a lumpy package will depend, in large part, on your direct marketing application.[break][break]Having a clearcut understanding of your application – or campaign objective – is critical to your success.

Direct Marketing Applications

Here are the most common direct marketing applications

  • Lead Generation
    Lead generation is the first step in a multi-step sales process.  A free offer is used to get your target audience to raise their hands and identify themselves as interested in your business.  Responses are not sales, however.  They are simply leads that over time, with consistent follow-up, could turn into sales.
  • Direct Selling/Order Generation
    Direct selling/order generation is a one-step sales process.  When you mail to your target audience, your goal is to get people to respond with a purchase.  This is more difficult than lead generation and typically results in lower response rates.  To be successful in order generation, you need to provide more complete information which means longer copy and a larger direct mail package.
  • Traffic Building (for Retail and Trade Shows)
    Sometimes the goal of your direct mail program is to generate foot traffic.  This could be at a retail store, a public event or a trade show.  The strategy is usually to provide some incentive for attendance – a discount coupon, a free gift, a drawing or some other strong motivator. Whatever the incentive, you need to be able to track the source of your attendance.
  • Subscription Selling
    Subscription selling is a specialized form of direct mail marketing.  Developed for magazines, newsletters and other publications, subscription selling uses a combination of direct marketing strategies to generate initial trials, subscription conversions and renewals.
  • Membership Selling
    Membership selling is for professional associations, trade groups and a wide range of both public and private membership organizations.  Like subscription selling, memberships are marketed through a combination of trial, membership conversions and renewals.
  • Education Selling
    Educational organizations – colleges, universities, secondary schools, adult ed programs, seminar companies – use direct mail marketing to sell attendance or enrollments.
  • Non-Profit Fundraising
    Non-Profits use traditional direct mail marketing to acquire new donors and generate repeat donations from current donors.  This is a specialized form of direct mail.  New donors are often acquired at break even or even at a loss with the expectation that many of these new donors will give multiple times over a period.


Get started or learn more

So what’s your next step?  If you’re close to making a move, we’d love to talk.  Call Bob McCarthy at 508-473-8643 or send him an email at bob@mccarthyandking.com.

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Of course, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call.



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