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​Using Direct Mail to Increase Brand Awareness

October 27, 2015

Being a successful business in this day and age is becoming increasingly difficult as more and more competitors inevitably emerge within your marketing space. Standing out from the crowd can often seem impossible.

This, of course, is where marketing comes into play. Grasping a number one position in the public consciousness may be your ultimate goal. You want your business brand to be top-of- mind when making purchasing decisions. This calls for multitude of strategies, but it is essentially about building brand awareness.

However, there are a variety of marketing endeavors that companies can undertake to enhance the recognition of their brand and few are as effective as direct mail marketing. It really can solidify a brand's message into the mind's eye of the consumer.


Introduction

For most companies, building brand awareness is one of the primary objectives when getting a business off the ground, and it can be a cornerstone of any successful advertising campaign. It is imperative to create a favorable first impression of one's business in order to generate interest in your services or products. In order to do this, using a variety of marketing techniques is suggested.

Direct mail marketing might be one of the older methods of reaching out to consumers, but it has stuck around because of proven results. Direct mail marketing is one of the most impactful means of resonating with customers, both young and old. It is of little surprise then, that direct mail is the often the first method businesses consider when creating a marketing campaign.


Direct Mail and Brand Awareness

As brand awareness and direct mail are concerned, the chief consideration for any business needs to be consistency. A brand needs to approach consumers with a unified message within every marketing channel used. Any deviation away from the norm (particularly regarding visual elements like color palettes, logo design, or core imagery) can leave recipients unsure if the marketing is from the same company, possibly making brand-building efforts ineffective.

Using direct mail as a brand awareness tool is highly effective, but it needs to be done in consort with your other channels of marketing and advertising. The message, tone, and designs need to seem consistent across the board. The repetition and consistency of these elements is the "secret sauce" that enables dominant brands to lodge themselves in the preeminent position within consumer's minds. For example, AT&T uses direct mail campaigns alongside TV commercials to bolster the effectiveness of both. It's powerful when a consumer sees a witty commercial about an AT&T product and soon after opens their mailbox to see a direct mail piece with more information on that offer. That consumer is significantly more likely to purchase a product because AT&T was able to capture that person's attention multiple times.

Direct mail marketing and brand awareness are very closely linked because they have the same objectives in mind - to increase sales and enhance the perception consumers have about your business by empowering the business. It's essential to carefully craft the message of your brand to cultivate the awareness. Because of the ability to control the image and message, it's easy to understand why most savvy marketers know to utilize direct mail as part of their brand awareness strategy.

The ultimate objective of using direct mail marketing to achieve brand awareness is to accomplish TOMA (Top of Mind Awareness). It essentially means that when a topic relevant to your business arises, your company is the first to come to mind. Successfully utilizing direct mail, online, or other marketing techniques can create a marketing sphere that hits your target market in multiple points of contact throughout their day. TOMA is something that can be accomplished with a little time, precision and hard work.

Direct Mail and Marketing Efforts

Once TOMA has been achieved, it will typically lead to a purchase of your products/services. The objective then is to achieve brand loyalty after experiencing a positive interaction with your brand. Once a customer becomes loyal, they are one step closer to becoming brand evangelists and telling others about the merits of your company. Evangelists share opinions such as why their friends should be using your products or services. That is an ideal position since they essentially become your free salesperson!


How to Use Direct Mail to Increase Brand Awareness

When you think of brands like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Coca-cola, they are so deeply entrenched in the public psyche that it would be difficult to imagine a world without them. However, these companies haven't been around since the beginning of time. They have achieved their goals through careful, meticulous marketing to attain the global brand recognition that they enjoy today.

For most companies starting out, there are various marketing tools at your disposal that act as catalysts for brand awareness; direct mail marketing is often considered the chief amongst them.

Whatever you are using your direct mail marketing for, it is important to remain consistent. This is particularly true when using mail campaigns for brand-building exercises. There's tremendous power in generating a strong following with a small number of people before scaling your business' marketing processes to a larger audience. Here's what we mean: it's better to generate traction and TOMA by marketing to 1,000 people every 2-3 months for a period of 3-4 years. That totals 12-24 thousand direct mail postcards. Rather than, market to a group of 100,000 people once. In order to make your direct mail marketing as effective as possible for increasing brand awareness, it is a good idea to consider the following:

  • Think About Colors - Obviously, direct mail marketing is a very visual medium. When you're using it to enhance your brand awareness, you need to establish a color palette. You need to think about how different colors inherently generate different emotional responses within the recipient. For example, darker colors typically evoke the feeling of professionalism in the recipient and lighter. More vibrant colors are going to make them see you as easy going and fun. All direct mail color choices should reinforce the message you're trying to get across about your company. You can learn more about "The Psychology of Color in Logo Design" or "Playing with Color Basics - Psychology and the Technicolor Postcard" with these links. Note that although these articles specifically mention logos and postcards, the principles apply to any marketing medium.
  • Understand Your Demographic - Achieving your brand awareness goals is dependent on the understanding of your client demographics and market. Take advantage of the flexibility of the marketing piece by speaking specifically to each customer segment using personalized direct mail. It is worthwhile researching your industry to ensure that you are focusing your direct mail marketing on the demographics who are most likely to respond favorably to your message and ultimately become brand advocates for your business. Check this post out if you want to learn How to Segment Your Direct Mail Database to Achieve Better Response Rate / Engagement.
  • Make Sure You Are Consistent - We are belaboring this point for more than the mere irony of consistently touting the importance of consistency. We are hammering it home because, when it comes to brand awareness, consistency is the key to success. Without it, you will always struggle to accomplish the TOMA state with your current customers, who could become brand evangelists, and potential customers, who could bring you new money! Before you start your marketing campaigns, you should sit down and think about your tone of voice, message, and design. Once all of these elements have been decided upon, keep it consistent throughout your direct mail, online, and other marketing channels thereafter. This is pivotal to increasing your company's brand awareness amongst your key demographics.

Direct mail is just as relevant today as in the past, especially as far as brand-building is concerned. Its longevity is a testament to how effective direct mail is in achieving this vitally important objective for businesses.


Creativity in Your Campaigns

The world of direct mail is ever-evolving to embrace all manner of new technological developments such as augmented reality, QR codes, and USB sticks. Having a variety of media is a good idea to help increase one's brand awareness. Making sure you remain creative throughout all marketing campaigns will help your company spring immediately to mind in the right settings.

Most of us have been won over by some form of direct mail we've received in the past. Chances are that piece of marketing had something about it, a hook, that made it unique enough to stand out in our mind whenever you needed to make a relevant purchase. Effective direct mail pieces sow seeds to redirect recipients to find more information through another channel about their company's offerings.

A good exercise to get your creative juices flowing is to create a list of 'brand heroes' or companies you admire within or outside of your industry and would like to replicate their success. Analyze these brand's marketing imagery, content, advertising copy, and even target audience, and determine the elements you want to mimic as well as change. Through this process, you will start to craft your company's unique voice and by putting words to the company's tonality and character. You will start to see results much quicker as you strive to get your business positioned where you want it to be.

This is what you need to keep in your mind when formulating direct mail campaigns geared towards improving your brand awareness: be creative, be bold, and be memorable.


Tell Your Story

One of the best ways for companies looking to get their brand noticed at the outset is by having a genuinely interesting back-story that makes for an engaging read. Direct mail is a great way of distributing your story and company mission to potential customers.

Consumers love a great underdog story. It will invariably make your company stick out in their mind if you have a story they can quickly repeat to their friends. You can share stories like where your business has come from, why it exists, and how it hopes to change your industry by showcasing your unyielding dedication and unique capabilities. In order to produce brand awareness that resonates with your audience, dive really deep into your company's mission, history and culture to see what hurdles your business has overcome and how that has shaped where you are today. This type of vulnerability and honesty typically strikes a chord with consumers and can make your business instantly more memorable.

Of course, not every company has a compelling startup story that raises eyebrows or causes laughs. Concentrating on creating quality copy about your company and complementing it with engaging imagery will make a great first piece of direct mail marketing, which will help to increase your brand awareness right from the start.


Direct Mail Marketing is a Powerful Tool

Building a brand is something that will inevitably take time and won't happen overnight. Direct mail brand-building campaigns can be one of your greatest allies in helping your brand become front-and-center of your customer's attention.

Once you've successfully utilized direct mail to create a buzz for your brand, it can then be supplemented with other marketing channels or messages to drive sales to your company. After grabbing some sales and converting them to brand loyal customers and brand evangelists, your company's brand awareness should begin to grow exponentially as the word-of-mouth sphere of influence continues to proliferate. It's not, by any means, easy to achieve this cycle of word-of-mouth proliferation but using direct mail as a catalyst to reinforce your other marketing efforts greatly increases the chance for successfully building brand awareness .

When it comes to driving sales, few forms of advertising are more effective than direct mail and. When it's done right, it is equally effective at brand-building exercises.


Research is Crucial

To maximize the effectiveness of a direct mail awareness campaign, doing your research beforehand will make a world of difference. Needless to say, any brand will have key demographics that will form the bread and butter of their customer databases. Understanding this will be instrumental to successful brand-building projects.

You're not going to get optimal results by blindly sending out mass direct mail marketing blasts and hoping that some of it resonates with the recipients. This shotgun approach is not a cost effective use of this highly valuable form of marketing. On the other hand, if you're prepared to put in some of the legwork and carefully tailor the message by personalizing your direct mail marketing campaigns, you will find that your campaign will be significantly more efficient at building an awareness and generating a response to your brand amongst your key demographics.

A shotgun "every door direct mail" (EDDM) (Infographic) approach is rarely going to yield the best results, especially when first building your brand. If you are a company that is just starting to develop your brand awareness and you're looking for effective methods of making people aware of your presence, targeted direct mail is a great starting point. You can even create a customized mailing list for free, but you need to make sure that you are targeting the right people otherwise it won't have the desired effect in terms of growing your business.


Tying Your Campaigns Together

Building a brand from scratch can be a massively daunting prospect for any type of business. However, taking time on the front end to create a unified campaign strategy for your online and offline channels can pay major dividends in helping you achieve your brand awareness goals sooner rather than later.

Consumers are bombarded with a wide variety of marketing formats. In order to make an impression, you really have to make sure you're both a] consistent in your brand messaging and b] creative in your content approach to engage those who receive your direct mail and make yourself memorable to them for the future.

Think about some of the biggest brands in the world and how they've managed to get themselves into the mainstream. Their branding has remained the same even through logo variations. They never deviate from their core messages, and they continue to research and segment their consumers effectively. These practices are the cornerstones of their brand building endeavors. By replicating these policies and building upon any successes you have, you can really start to make inroads towards making your company a household name within your industry.


Build a Lasting Relationship

Before your company develops a brand awareness campaign, you should start by asking yourself the question "what do I (the company) hope to achieve from our marketing efforts?" Is it new customers, customer feedback, referrals, a Facebook 'like,' a phone call, or just to know you're alive? Once this question has a specific answer, putting the necessary actions in place to make sure that you achieve the desired results becomes easier.

One well-known business fact is that client retention is far less expensive than customer acquisition. Although it is also well-known that direct mail excels at gaining new clients or building brand awareness, it is often overlooked in its ability to cultivate long-lasting client relationships. In order to make the most of your customers acquired through direct mail marketing activities, you should maintain contact through utilizing automated drip direct mail campaigns. This provide customer outreach opportunities with highly personalized, frequent messages. These can include birthday messages, holiday greetings and other key calendar events for your business or customers. The automation capabilities and the personalized feel of mail is why direct mail is such a valuable medium for customer acquisition, brand awareness, and customer retention efforts.


"Out of Sight Out of Mind"

This old adage is painfully true for businesses trying to grow. Many struggling businesses will likely agree. With this in mind, it is important to set up a strict and well-thought-out schedule at the beginning of your direct mail marketing brand awareness campaign. Much like Goldilocks, you'll need to get the balance just right. You don't want to be sending too much mail to people because it can be both expensive and off-putting for the recipients. Similarly, sending them too little will run the risk of them forgetting about your brand.

The minute that your company does not spring to the mind of your customer when they need your product or service, is the minute that you really need to step up your marketing game with both online (social media, SEO, Adwords and email) and offline activities (direct mail marketing).

Unfortunately, there's no alert that goes off when customers aren't thinking about your brand. That's why you need to be incredibly proactive when marketing your brand, so it's always on the tip of the tongue for potential customers during the time when they're ready to make a purchase.


The Value of Exceeding Expectations

One of the best methods of building awareness of a startup company is to exceed expectations of consumers. Direct mail is a great method for achieving this. Sending personalized, eye-catching direct mail can leave positive lasting impressions. One good direct mail example of thinking outside the box is this Air Force FM radio campaign, which sent specific groups of people a kit to build the radio. When it was put together, it played a company advertisement. This is, of course, was not a cheap direct marketing campaign, but it certainly stood out from the market.

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Regardless of what industry you're in, establishing an awareness of your brand and your services should be your main objective. Though it's not something that is easy, there will be few accomplishments more valuable to your business's longevity as a whole.

Using a collection of marketing tools, then, is clearly necessary to effectively compete in the business world and direct mail marketing remains one of the greatest catalysts (based on response rates) for increasing brand awareness. If you're looking to ramp-up public perception and bolster the gravitas of your own company, a well-orchestrated direct mail campaign is the perfect place to start.


Conclusion

It is important to acknowledge the important role your marketing endeavors have in increasing your brand awareness. Remember, marketing tactics are most effective when paired with other forms, for example on and offline tools like social media and direct mail marketing.

As a starting point, direct mail should be considered foundational to building brand awareness. It is crucial to either use direct mail to redirect or follow-up with other online media like social media, email, and web to solidify your position in the mind of your consumers.

Using unique, captivating direct mail campaigns has been instrumental in building brands for decades now. It is clear that this trend is not about to change anytime soon. However, it's imperative to focus on generating creative messaging and content to give your customers something to think about when you have their attention.