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The 40/40/20 Rule of Direct Mail Marketing

In the 1960s, marketing guru Ed Mayer developed the 40/40/20 Rule for direct mail marketing. It can help marketers understand the essential elements of a successful direct mail campaign. Read on to learn more about the 40/40/20 Rule and how to apply it to your next direct mail campaign.

What is the 40/40/20 Rule?

In a nutshell, the 40/40/20 Rule guides direct mail marketers where to focus their efforts when designing, setting up, and executing a direct mail campaign. Through years of trial and error, Ed realized that certain elements were more important than others when improving response rates. The Rule is fairly simple: 40% Audience The "audience" is the list that you use to send out your direct mailers. 40% of your success (or failure) will come from the quality of your list. This means that if you're targeting the wrong audience, your campaign is doomed to fail even if you have an amazing design and offer.

40% Offer

Another 40% of your success will be determined by the offer that you present to the recipient of your direct mail piece. If you have a poor or no offer, the chances of that person responding or taking action are slim-to-none. An offer can be anything from a coupon to a rebate to free delivery. Keep in mind that having an offer isn't good enough. It needs to be the right kind of offer to trigger the recipient to take action. For example, if you own an auto mechanic shop and send out an offer for a free cup of coffee while customers wait to get their brakes changed—that's probably not going to be as effective as a 10% off coupon.

20% Creative

"Creative" refers to the design, content, and presentation of the mailer. The typography, visual elements, layout, call-to-action, and shape can significantly impact the success rate of your campaign. While 20% may not seem like a huge number, it can definitely have a significant impact on response rates. For example, consider two types of mailers:
  1. Standard size rectangular postcard printed on standard weight paper.
  2. A non-standard size postcard printed on special paper that feels unique to the touch.
Which one would perk your interest more? If you don't have the design chops, it's often best to let the professionals handle the creative aspect of your direct mail campaign. Not only are they aware of the various design elements that can positively affect response rates, but they have years or even decades of experience—and can apply that know-how to add value to your campaign.

Reach vs. Frequency

There's another direct mail strategy that works hand-in-hand with the 40/40/20 Rule. It's called "reach vs. frequency," and it's critical to your success: Reach is how many people that send your mailer out to. For example, if you send a direct mail piece to 5,000 people, your reach is 5,000. Frequency is the number of times each person receives a mailer. If you send a person two mailers, then your frequency is two. Many businesses new to direct mail think that reach is more important than frequency. Common sense indicates that you want to get as many new people to view your marketing message as possible. However, the exact opposite holds true. There is an unofficial rule called the "Rule of Seven," which states that a person must see your brand at least seven times before taking action. Therefore, try to prioritize frequency overreach. Consistency is key when it comes to a successful direct mail campaign. One of the biggest mistakes companies make is treating their direct mail campaigns like a proverbial message in a bottle thrown into the ocean. You need to track the results of your efforts and segment your lists accordingly into buckets.

 Direct Mail Help in Alexandria and Arlington

When done correctly, direct mail is a powerful marketing channel that can offer a considerable ROI. The best way to get started is to contact the direct mail experts at AlphaGraphics of Alexandria and Arlington. We have the experience and know-how to help you design, set up, execute, and track your next direct mail campaign. If you're ready to get started or would like to learn more about the direct mail services we offer, give the professionals at AlphaGraphics Alexandria and Arlington Va. a call at (703) 549-2432 or contact us via our website.

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