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Rumors of the Death of Direct Mail Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

I do not have the following: an alarm clock set for Friday morning/Thursday night, a map of my local stores offering Black Friday specials, a battle plan for taking advantage of said deals or ANY intention of camping out in front of a Target to get a $3.00 iPad

I do, however, have something I’ve never had before:  a whole stack of coupons from my favorite retailers – each offering at least 20% off of my purchases.  So what gives?  Have I been a very good girl this year?  (Dear Bosses, if you’re reading this: YES)  Have I spent so much money at these retailers in 2012 that I’ve reached some sort of elite status? (Dear Economy, if you’re reading this: NO. Thanks, by the way.)  Have I moved into some new age-bra demographic that indicates that I’m more prone to using coupons?  (Dear Dermatologist, if you’re reading this: we’ve got work to do.)

According to Forbes, direct mail is back.  While direct mail isn’t for every law firm, there are a number of benefits to a targeted, well-planned strategy.  Here are some tips from Kern Lewis:

“Be focused: Take the time to profile your most desired customer, and work with a list vendor to find only those people.”   Legal marketers frequently talk to lawyers about determining which contacts are the most valuable and worth pursuing – use your firm’s CRM program or client “wish list” to develop an appropriate list of targets.

“Be generous: If you are going to mail someone, make them an offer that is very hard to refuse. Assume you are going to treat them so well that they become a customer for life, and use that lifetime customer value to calculate the response you will need to make the mailing worthwhile. A well-conceived, relevant offer ups the chance that your mailer is kept and reviewed (the famous long-tail concept exists in snail mail response rates, too!”  In the legal marketing context, this may mean offering a client/prospect a loss-leader bit of advice, a complimentary CLE, or a dinner to discuss their goals/needs.  Think of ways to differentiate between your letter and the one next to it – a good starting place is adding value.

“Be smart: Start by testing, track relentlessly, and nurture each and every lead as if it were the gold that it is. Resist the urge to escalate the budget based on one great result. Expand steadily and deliberately. Mail each list multiple times before assessing its value. The cumulative response rate is the key performance “metric” to track.”  Treat a direct mail campaign like you would an e-communication.  While the same click and open rates aren’t available, there IS data to be found in direct mailings.  Work with your colleagues and attorneys to develop effective tracking mechanisms and benchmarks.  And remember, starting smaller may be better.  Never underestimate the power of data.

Even Legal Marketing Reader is jumping back on the direct mail train.  John O. Cunningham recently spoke with Rachel Hayes, senior director of communications and community engagement for Oxfam America and former vice president and principal consultant for Wellesley Hills Group, a management consulting, marketing and lead generation firm that serves professional service firms.  She says, ”Direct mail is a form of advertising that can be aimed precisely at your targets, and it can create a favorable impression even when it does not generate a response.” Here are more tips from Hayes and Cunningham on how law firms can use direct mail to generate business:

Choose your objective, whether it is raising awareness of your firm, qualifying your lawyers as experts in a field, building trust, or providing a forum for closing sales.

Design your strategy and tactics to fit your objectives. If your law firm does work mostly for individuals (such as estate planning or personal injury litigation) then you need a business to consumer strategy (rather than B to B) and/or a strategy for reaching out to likely referral sources.

Design your mailings and the content in them so that your intended messages are clear, readable and uncluttered. Make it easy for people to answer the call to action, or to find an event, and avoid three-page registrations and big data collection forms.

Integrate your direct mail campaign with other marketing tactics as part of an overall strategy toward accomplishing your goal. Direct mail works best in conjunction with your other campaign tactics — such as social media, PR, advertising or branding campaigns — calling attention to them while calling targets to specific actions.

Get the right lists and work them regularly. By reaching out periodically to your targets, you will reinforce their awareness and you will be able to refine your list so that it casts just the right size net to catch the fish you want. But don’t make the net too tight, or you will let some prizes get away.

Further Reading on Direct Mail and Legal Marketing

Holiday Marketing - BtoB Magazine

Make Mail Part of Your 2013 Integrated Marketing Plan – Chief Marketer

How To Make Direct Mail Work for Professional Services - RainToday

Direct Mail Isn’t Dead - It’s Reincarnated by Big Data - Business2Community

Is Mail Dead? – Seeking Alpha

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