Building Retail Traffic with Direct Mail

What can you do to profitably build retail in your market area? Here are eight tips for using print mailings to drive retail traffic:

  1. Use matchbacks to define your profitable retail market area. Find out by zip code or SCF how far out geographically you can profitably prospect and where your prospecting falls below breakeven. Don’t waste dollars by prospecting beyond where you can profitably pull in customers to your store.
  2. Mail your buyer file. It’s by far your most important business asset.
  3. Use a cover wrap on your catalogs to promote the retail locations. Cover wraps needs a strong promotion (“25% off your first order during June!”) and a big map showing the store locations.
  4. Catalogs are usually more cost-effective than postcards or other smaller direct mail pieces because the cost of a postcard mailing is almost as expensive as mailing a catalog.
  5. Test catalogs and postcards vs. newspaper inserts. Inserts are so inexpensive that saturation through the newspaper can often drive traffic as cost-effectively as direct mail. Make sure you can measure the response from inserts with a promotion code.
  6. Build your retail list with a sign-up sheet in the store and capture every retail buyer’s name and address as part of the checkout process.
  7. Measure the life of promotions. How strong is the pull of your promotions at the end of a promotion compared to the initial sales?
  8. Get vendor support to pay for your mailings. If the vendors pay for your marketing cost, the promotions are profitable the day you put them in the mail.

Jim Coogan is president of Santa Fe, NM-based Catalog Marketing Economics.