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Marketing Best Practice – Part Three: Direct Mail

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Too often communities dismiss direct mail as ineffective after just one or two failed attempts.
While it is true that seniors (as well as the rest of us) receive an overwhelming amount of unsolicited mail, direct mail is still a key lead generator and can be a cost-effective way to communicate to a large audience.

However, there are several best practices that must be followed for direct mail to be successful:

  • Always have a clear call to action – In most cases, a direct mail invitation to an event will have a clear and simple method of response, either via phone or email. Your call to action should NOT simply ask the prospect to call for more information or call for a personal appointment.
  • Use authentic photos that represent your target audience – If you are a high-end community, your photos should represent the same; the opposite is true. Don’t show pets if pets are not allowed. Try not to use the same stock photos everyone else is using. If possible, conduct a professional photo shoot to develop a portfolio of photos you can use in a variety of ways, from direct mail to your website. Be cognizant of equal housing opportunity rules concerning minority representation based on your geographic market area.
  • Use a variety of formats and folds – Do not stick to one size postcard or format. Switch up between sizes and folds and use envelops on occasion. At Solution Advisors we’ve experimented with sizes, envelopes and even fonts to find formats that get opened. Variety is the most crucial factor.
  • Don’t mail everything to everyone – Avoid direct mail fatigue that occurs when you mail to the same list repeatedly. Revisit the desired outcome of the event and select your mailing list accordingly. Want to advance prospects to the next step? Select those who have already attended an event or toured your community. If new lead generation is the goal, review your primary market area and look for new zip codes or areas that have not been penetrated before.
  • Segment the mailing lists/All messaging is not the same for all people – the target market and call to action for the direct mail should be determined based on the ultimate intent of the piece. For example:
    • If your inventory has an abundance of one-bedroom styles, the content should speak to that smaller unit footprint. Additionally, the mailing list should be segmented based on those most likely to buy that style unit. In this example, messaging can be directed toward single individuals, older individuals or those with more modest incomes.
    • Append a large mailing list for square footages of existing homes. For example, the mailing list could be segmented to identify those people with existing homes with square footages under 1,500 square feet to market available inventory that is 1,000 square feet or under, or vice versa for larger inventory. Mail a downsizing event direct mail to only those prospects who have larger square footages and have resided in their existing residence for 10 years or longer who would benefit from this type of mailing.
  • Personalization and Variable Data – direct mail is a mass marketing tool. However, direct mail can be personalized to include the prospect’s name in the piece so they are more likely to open and respond. Varying data fields do not have to only include letters. Variable data can be on other types of mailers, including self-mailers. Personalization allows for a more person-centered approach to marketing efforts.