“We Tried Direct Mail and it Didn’t Work!”

April 1997
by Jeffrey Dobkin

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When any of my clients tell me they’ve tried direct mail and it didn’t work
for them, I always ask, “What exactly was that campaign?”

The kind of response I usually get? “We mailed to our top twenty-five
prospects, and none of them bought anything! Damn, they were our best
prospects too.”

I then take a left turn in the conversation and ask, “How many in-person
sales calls does it take you to make a sale to a new customer?” The answers
vary but usually the number of sales calls ranges from two to five personal
visits. Given that figure, here’s what always amazes me. Why would an
otherwise intelligent person expect that a sale will result faster or sooner
from sending their prospect a sheet of paper in the mail?A Look at the Sales Process:
In Person vs. Direct Mail

Face it. Like it or not, the easiest and most persuasive way to sell a
product or service to a customer is face to face. You can get immediate
feedback. You can shift gears and change your pitch. You can apply pressure
or back off according to their immediate response. And when you see a closing
signal, you can secure the sale right then and there with a smile and a
handshake–and, of course, a goodwill deposit.

In direct mail, you have to convince someone not only that:You have what they want.They should buy it.They should buy it from you.You are a reputable company.You will send the customer what he orders in a timely fashion.

But you have to do all this in a way that will entice them right off the bat
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