1. Realistic Expectations
I'm beginning to sound like a broken record with this one. There are no magic solutions. Direct Mail and other lead generation methods as stand-alone tactics in a vacuum are basically useless. Direct mail, whether personalized direct mail or one to one communication, is a great component of a complete direct marketing program. Stick to the basics...tell your prospect why your product/service is unique, why they should buy from you and why they should buy from you now. And then remember, unless you catch lightning in a bottle or miraculous timing (which can happen) people don't typically make a buying decision right on the spot. They need time to further educate themselves and let it "stew" a bit before they take any action.
2. "Program" vs. "Project"
Seldom do "one and done" direct mail projects work. The trick is to think of it as a business development "program". A well-thought-out, multiple touch program over the course of an extended period of time (minimum of 6 months) with the intent of getting prospects to raise their hands. We're looking for "leads" here folks...not sales.
3. List, List, List
While this is an easy one to point out, it is, to me, the most difficult aspect of the process. The part you can probably guess is if your list is bad, the program will be bad. But how do you build an effective list? That's probably a bigger question for a different time, but, suffice it to say that you need to understand your buyer. Who are they, what do they look like, how do they buy, what's important to them? Knowing these things will help you craft a list that will be more effective.
4. An Offer
If anyone is going to "act now", this is the reason why. It has to be compelling and it has to be something of value. And the value has to be recognized by your audience. Offers like a "free estimate" are no longer of value because no one would pay for an estimate...so there is no value!
5. Save Your Time and Money
If you cannot commit to 1-4, save your money AND your time. Your direct marketing postcards won't work! Make a donation to a charity or put some cash under your mattress for a rainy day.