Beauty of the direct approach

The main objective underlying any marketing campaign is to communicate effectively with the target audience. In a market as crowded as the mortgage industry, it is particularly important to maintain a high profile in the audience’s mind. Direct mail can be a powerful marketing tool, whether used as a campaign in itself or as part of a wider integrated marketing campaign.

Unlike media such as press advertising, direct mail allows you to address your audience in a personal way and tell a story. It enables you to target a specific audience with a specific message – whether in a discreet manner without the entire marketplace knowing about it or as part of an integrated campaign that includes a wider audience. It is also accountable and measurable, allowing you to fine-tune your ideas and approach as you progress campaigns.

Once you have a brief outlining your target audience, the campaign message and the objectives, you can begin work on the creative itself. Flashy mechanisms are not always necessary. Depending on factors such as your budget and intended print run, a simple but sophisticated design can be just as effective.

Remember that the content of your direct mail is crucial. It must express the main proposition – for example: ‘We can save you money’. You may also include an offer or incentive – such as ‘fees free until September’.

Consider the practicalities. Choose your response method – phone, email or otherwise – and ensure you can service the demand you may receive. Consider how you will deliver your mail. Depending on quantity, it might be worth looking at Royal Mail’s Mailsort service, which could save you time and money. In designing your direct mail piece, consider the effect size will have on the delivery costs – for example, postage costs for a DL mailshot are much lower than for an A4-sized one.

The most seemingly obvious factors can make or break a campaign. Timing is crucial. Christmas is not the right time to remind your intermediary clients about their re-mortgage. January, however, might be a better time as people wake up to the cost of Christmas. Equally important is your data – the best campaign in the world will go to waste if it is sent to wrong addresses.

And remember, whatever your direct mail campaign, keep it clear, fair and not misleading. Treating customers fairly remains vital for all communications. If you are specifically mentioning rates and products then you need to tell the full story. Make sure your regulatory statements are appropriate and correct.

As always, underlying any campaign is the issue of measurement. You must be able to justify the cost of your direct mail campaign with the genuine results it generates, not just the response. When targeting brokers, consider the level of responses you expect, how many of these will become applications and how many will finally become completions. Direct mail is about constant testing, from the data you use, the timing, the content, through to the creative. See what works well and build on it.

Matt Smith is managing director of WPB Creative