Important Rules for Successful Email and Direct Mail Marketing

Question: I would like to know the top five or ten rules of thumb for email and direct mail marketing, and see some examples of a successful integrated campaign.

On a weekly basis, you may receive lists containing rules of thumb for creating effective marketing campaigns. Google it. I just did; over twelve million references came up, many telling the same secrets.

Do you really know what the point of sending an email or direct mail campaign is? How about the results you are trying to achieve? Better yet, the ‘why’ behind achieving those particular results? Is it enough to just get your name out there? Nope.

Your Marketing Mix

The Marketing Lab Strategic Marketing resized 600Should you make email part of a larger marketing mix? Yep. For example you might include a stand-alone physical promotion, followed up by a related email. You might then follow up with a second related email, then a telephone call/voicemail messages, and finally with another physical promotion, portfolio showing, etc.

All of your marketing needs to be on point with your brand. Effective marketing creates the desire to collaborate next time there is an appropriate opportunity. It will allow you to be included as one of your prospect’s choices.

Getting Your Email Noticed

Let’s start by believing – at least pretend for a moment – that the best way to get your email opened, remembered, saved, clicked-through, and forwarded is to learn the rules and do the opposite. For example:

  • If everyone else is listening to popular advice and using short, to-the-point subject lines, you should be sending long, personalized, humorous, or even challenging ones.
  • If people send mass and impersonal email blasts, you carefully target and personalize your emails.
  • If people advise you to send quarterly with only your name and content in the subject line, consider sending something with useful messages daily. I look forward to Seth Godin’s daily email that rarely contains more than a few carefully chosen sentences, filled with applicable marketing wisdom.

Email and Direct Mail Work Together

Most email is not direct mail and should not operate with the same rules and expectations. In fact, an effective marketing campaign encourages recipients to participate in some way. One example of a campaign that uses both direct and email marketing is Teri Campbell’s. Located in Cincinnati, Campbell created a campaign that has been repeated almost every Christmas season for the past five years. Teri’s URL,, is easy to remember.

Between Christmas and New Year’s Campbell’s hottest, most highly targeted prospects receive a beautifully packaged fruitcake. That’s right – a fruitcake. It is packaged in a gift box and announces Teri’s fruitcake photography contest. This year he offered an iPad to the winners in three categories – non-manipulated, manipulated and video. The entire promotion was unforgettable whether people participated or not. But, people did participate, and they did so with elaborate, funny, and imaginative solutions.

Shortly after the fruitcake was mailed, Teri contacted each prospect with a reminder email. Even people who were not on Teri’s prospect list wanted to enter. That was okay, but they needed to provide their own fruitcake. This promotion made a lot of people smile. The kicker was that Teri’s special contest made his website visitor stats soar as people told their friends about the contest. Everyone wanted to see what others had submitted.

If you can make people smile, you are more than half way to achieving your goals. It may take as many as ten touches before a prospect takes you seriously as a potential collaborator. And just in case you are curious, here’s Teri’s fruitcake website,

About Ian

Ian offers teleconferences, workshops and career coaching to a wide range of artists. He’s created a new 2-day offering called The Heartstorming Career Redirection Workshop, which is based on the concept that our passions remain more or less the same throughout our careers, however it is vital to take new actions to bring them into being. Heartstorming

Related Articles:

1. Timing is Everything: Tips on Sending Email Campaigns

2. Dialogues Podcast: What role does email marketing play in an overall integrated marketing plan?

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