Marketing Help: Direct Marketing Do’s and Don’ts


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute

I hear from small business owners who say they’ve tried direct marketing and it doesn’t work. That may be true in your case, but I have an idea why it didn’t work. It’s not the medium as this medium works very well when used correctly. Instead, the execution is likely to blame for your failed campaign. Here are the most common reasons I see why direct marketing doesn’t work for small business owners and how to improve your return on investment.

1) It’s canned.

When you take a design from materials a supplier provides or if you’re a franchisee from your corporate headquarters, it’s probably unimaginative. Corporate branding departments are notorious for producing vanilla work that connects with no one. It’s impersonal. And it lands in my trash quickly.

2) It’s boring.

Think about it. You have a stack of mail that comes each day. If you’re like me, you
look first at things that come in unusual shapes. Boxes and packages get my
attention. Something like that may not be in your marketing budget. No problem! Then, I move on to things that are hand
addressed, especially things the size of Hallmark cards. I open these
as I assume they are from someone who knows me. Next, I move on to the
magazines I subscribe to and any catalogs that look interesting. Depending on how much time I have right then, I may flip through them or I may save for later. I put
bills in a separate pile to deal with when I need to. That leaves
sales letters, credit card applications, marketing postcards, etc. Most I tear up
and throw away immediately. There’s nothing there that grabs my attention, but if something catches my eye and looks
interesting I’ll open and engage.

3) The design doesn’t look professional.

You were on a budget so you pulled something together yourself. It looks like something any other photographer, real estate agent, car dealer, plastic surgeon or retail store would send out. It doesn’t wow me so I throw it in the trash. Invest money to work with a professional graphic designer. Then send fewer, mind-blowing pieces to a smaller, targeted audience.

4) Your list stunk.

It’s hard to get a good list. That’s why it’s best to work with a local lettershop who can verify the validity of the list and guarantee a certain delivery rate. There are lots of online list brokers, but try to work with someone local. They know your market better.

There are so many good resources out there to help you develop a killer direct marketing piece that will make people pay attention. We even offer a few very creative direct marketing templates at Photography Business Institute that will make an impression. What has your experience been with direct marketing?

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