Email vs. Direct mail; Interrupt vs. Permission

Andrew Neitlich
Andrew Neitlich

In the last post, worchyld asked if sending mail to prospects without permission should be considered spam, not to mention whether visiting them is also an intrusion.

Great question.

It is somewhat strange that for well over 75 years, the direct marketing world has had success sending unsolicited mail (junk mail) to consumers — and receiving responses. While laws are in place about SPAM and telemarketing calls (to residences), no laws are in place forbidding us from sending mail to a list.

Having said that, it is essential that your direct mail piece works. In the case of selling professional services, this means NOT making a pitch about who you are and what you do.

Instead, it means providing offers for free, valuable information and education to your audience. For instance, one of my clients is investing in direct mail to their target market, offering a specialized, informative white paper about the challenges the industry faces and how to address them (partly by implementing his type of solution). Then he follows up to get advice about that paper — improving it, helping recipients understand where they stand.

Similarly, another client is sending out a series of 4-5 educational letters to his target market (while also following up with in person visits and calls). Each letter informs the market about one key issue, and how to address it. For instance, one letter introduces the recipient to new ways to make project tracking easier for them. Another talks about how technology can help grow their specific business, in the language that people in that industry use. Another describes 5 fatal flaws that people in the industry are making with their technology. Etc.

In both cases, direct mail is not enough. It is also important to follow up, build rapport, and generally stay on the top of the prospect’s mind.

Again, many of you will hate this approach, and that’s fine. It’s not for everyone. It does use interrupt tactics — although by educating prospects and gradually demonstrating value and building credibility/trust. Then, over time, prospects will be more likely to give permission and be receptive to receiving more information and education.