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Direct Mail Marketing and the 5 R’s

In order to have a successful direct mail campaign there are several elements that come into play and in the end, need to happen correctly. Among these elements are 5 things that must occur as a direct result of a recipient reading your mail piece. I call it the 5 R’s.

  1. They need to find it Relevant
  2. They need to Read it
  3. They need to Respond to it
  4. They need to part with their money and generate Revenue
  5. You need to make sure that the program generates a high enough ROI to make the whole project profitable.

Let’s take a look at each of the 5 R’s to see what can be done to ensure each step is accomplished.

Relevant. Make sure that the mail piece you are creating is relevant to the audience you are targeting. This is best accomplished by selecting the list first and then writing and designing your mail piece to have the highest relevancy possible to your selected recipients. Many times this could require creating more than one version to truly address your prospects.

Read. Make sure you grab their attention and make them want to read. An eye-catching photo or headline message can make somebody want to read more to see “what this is about”. Make recipients keep reading by addressing their needs and giving them the potential answers to their needs. People are interested in “What is in it for ME? They do not really care about YOU. Telling them you have “been in business for 20 years” will pale compared to “Now you will look 20 years younger”.

Respond. Now that they have read your piece they need to respond. This is done by having an aggressive offer as well as an easy to understand call-to-action. Here is an example:

We are so sure you are going to love our food, we will give you a FREE DINNER! No strings attached.
Just come in any Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday night, between 5:00 and 7:00 and we will give you a FREE DINNER. No purchase necessary.

You have a great offer and you have told them exactly what they need to do to take advantage of it.

Revenue. The whole purpose of direct marketing is to generate revenue. Although you can help build or establish a brand using direct mail, it is important that the focus of your direct mail campaign is to generate revenue. Your goal is to entice the recipient to part with their cash in exchange for your product or service. By selecting the right list and combining it with a compelling offer and a clear-cut call-to-action, you can generate the responses and associate revenue.

ROI. Many advertisers gauge their ROI on the transaction that is generated directly as a result of the advertising campaign. While this may work in some specific cases such as a real estate agent or swimming pool company, you really need to look at the ROI based on the Lifetime Value (LTV) of a new customer. In other words, you are acquiring a new customer. What is that customer worth to you over the years that they do business with you? If a restaurant that was giving a two for one meal offer based their profitability off the first transaction, they would never advertise since they are losing money on the first meal. When you think that the new customer might eat a meal in the restaurant twice a month for the next five year, the value of that customer could be based on 24 meals a year for five years or 120 meals at an average price of $20 for a total of $2400! This makes it a much more profitable model.


Keith Goodman, VP Corporate Solutions, a 20-year veteran of direct mail marketing, has helped companies such as IBM, Hughes, Avery and Amway increase the profitability of their direct mail programs. He’s spoken at hundreds of seminars and conferences around the country, helping thousands of people get better results and greater ROI for their marketing dollars.

Call a Direct Marketing Specialist at 800.959.8365.

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