Done right, direct mail can be a powerful promotion that builds booth traffic, generates sales leads and creates awareness. Here are seven proven tips for improving your response with pre-show direct mail.
1. Don't underestimate the importance of the list. Even the most brilliant pre-show mailer will flop if sent to the wrong list. Often, the best source for names is your own internal database. Send your pre-show mailer to prospects and customers within a 100-mile radius of the exhibit hall, since most shows have a strong regional draw. Another source for names might be a list of people who have responded to ads for your products within the last six months but haven't made a purchase yet.
2. Make sure to include a call to action. Enclose a response card in your mailer. Instruct recipients to bring the card to your booth to receive a small gift. (Remember to print your booth number on the card in case they don't bring the whole mailer to the show.)
3. Get personal. The more personal the mailer, the greater response you'll receive. Always use an individual's name on the envelope and enclosed letter. Another technique is for salespeople to add a brief handwritten note at the bottom of the letter. This adds a personal touch to the communication.
4. Create a sense of urgency. A short "teaser" message on the outer envelope can prompt the recipient to open the mailer right away (for example, "Urgent: Open by Nov. 15"). If you're asking the recipient to RSVP, you may add a note at the close of the invitation that reads, "Hurry. Attendance is limited. Make your reservation today."
5. Give them a choice. Some of the people you invite to your booth will be unable to attend the show, but they still may have a genuine interest in your products. Offer to send them a brochure or a newsletter, or call them in person to tell them what they missed. One exhibitor even offered to send a videotape of his exhibit to no-shows. Always include a postage-paid business-reply postcard or envelope so recipients can respond to your offer.
6. Emphasize exclusivity. If you're introducing a new product or service at the show, play this up in your mailing. Highlight the importance of the new offering and the fact that the reader is having the exclusive opportunity to see it first.
7. Include a VIP pass. It's a good idea to include an official show pass or registration form in your mailer. Having a show pass gives the prospect the comfort of knowing that he has the necessary paperwork to get into the exhibit hall. Print your company name and booth number on the show pass, so the recipient will know which booth to visit and thank for the "perk."