Q What is the best way to reach business-to-business customers using direct mail -- big multicolor postcards, simple but not extravagant regular postcards or first-class letters?
A With respect to marketing communication, one must think about three aspects when deciding the best way to reach your audience -- medium, message and frequency.
You have already chosen direct mail as your medium. Its benefits include target selectivity, personalization capability and flexibility. One drawback of direct mail is that, if you don't frequently change the format, layout or the overall presentation of the direct mail piece, it is not able to break through the clutter of mail received by business customers every day, therefore failing to attract their attention.
To avoid being lost, I suggest using all three formats interchangeably. You may send reminder messages using postcards or first-class letters and reserve big, multicolor postcards for important communications such as a new product introduction or price change. If possible, personalize your direct mail and send customized offers.
Also, think carefully about your message. You will want to shoot for a creative, interesting and captivating message that attracts the readers' attention and motivates them to go through the entire direct mail piece. Give a consistent message, but frequently change its presentation to maintain freshness.
Last, most direct marketers use the "recency-frequency-monetary-amount" formula to target customers. This bases the type of direct mail you send on a customer's most recent purchase, their buying frequency and the amount spent. The formula allows you to customize the type of direct mail to each customer for maximum impact.
AVINASH MALSHE ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MARKETING UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS OPUS COLLEGE OF BUSINESS