The King of Direct Mail Marketing – All Hail the Takeaway Menu in 2020

The Humble Takeaway Menu

The takeaway menu is probably the best example of how successful direct mail marketing can be.

It delivers on just about every positive aspect of the perfect direct marketing strategy:

  • It can be used multiple times
  • It sends a strong and consistent brand message
  • It presents product’s images, descriptions and prices
  • Displays clear and concise contact details
  • Offers sale incentives (free delivery, free starters with 2 mains etc.)
  • High potential for quick return on investment (ROI)
  • Immediate and long-term impact
  • Identifies with a strong local community with little financial outlay needed in identifying the target market
  • Multiple product offerings, price points and options
  • Doesn’t require a personalised message
  • Increases average order value and repeat business
  • Can be hand-delivered to reduce postage costs

What is Direct Mail Marketing?

Direct mail is marketing or promotional material sent directly to the postal address of residential consumers or business customers.

It is primarily thought of as a B2C marketing method but is also a popular B2B tactic, too.

The psychology of selling will always be a widely debated issue. The chart below, from research commissioned by Royal Mail, suggest that mail provokes a strong behavioural response.

brain response to different kinds of direct marketing

DM can take the form of menus, leaflets, postcards, catalogues, letters, voucher booklets and even samples. There’s no real limit to the possibilities.

A direct mail campaign will often feature stand-alone material, but it can also be linked to a digital campaign. This multi-channel approach is more popular and prevalent these days.

An example would be a postcard with a voucher code that was valid for use on a company’s website.

The Potential of Direct Mail Marketing:

Although the revenue numbers for direct-mail advertising have been declining steadily since 2013, the numbers are still massive – 1.43 billion in revenue is plenty to whet your appetite!

It’s a tried and tested offline channel to experiment with marketing strategies.

direct mail advertising in the UK stats

Digital marketing continues to be an increasingly competitive and expensive place to be.

This is especially true for small businesses with a limited budget and a more immediate need for a return-on-marketing spend investment.

Spam v Junk Mail

Inboxes are busy places. Email marketing is a viable and profitable way to reach customers but is an extremely competitive environment. It can be difficult to be the one email amongst many that gets opened and digested.

Spam is seen as the online version of junk mail: unsolicited email bombarding us from every direction can be a frustrating and never-ending distraction.

Direct mail itself has had a chequered past. It’s often been labelled as ‘Junk Mail’, but this negative perception seems to have slowed over the last few years.

This increased acceptance could be due to various reasons:

  • Increased personalisation means that direct mail is more well received
  • Local community marketing is often more accepted than blanket ‘big brand’ promotional literature
  • The saturation of the digital market has led to this ‘offline leak’

Email is Temporary, Direct Mail is Permanent:

Even if a potential customer opens and absorbs the content of an email, unless they then make an immediate purchase (or take an action that allows for future re-marketing), the message can be quickly lost.

Direct mail has a much more permanent potential: further research from Royal Mail confirms how ‘sticky’ direct mail can be:

what happens to direct mail when it is delivered

The friendly takeaway menu is again the perfect exhibit to prove this statistic!

Advantages of Direct Mail:

advantages of direct mail

Royal Mail backed research continues to point out the positives of direct mail (*I wonder who’ll make a few quid delivering all that mail?)

The data exists to prove that offline mail can drive an online action. With that in mind, promotional marketing that drives visitors to a conversion-specific landing page (*blog link) on your website could be a very successful strategy. Find out more about how to improve your conversion rate optimisation.

Further positives include:

  • Reach out to non-tech-savvy demographics
  • Quickly target a localised market
  • Creative mailings can have a big impact, lead to immediate engagements and actions and deliver quick results

The Negatives of Direct Mail:

  • It can be seen to have a negative environmental impact, especially if delivered in poly bags
  • Can be time consuming and expensive to identify untested target markets
  • Limited reach with smaller budgets
  • Not always easy to measure or track success

Do your homework:

“The key to failure is trying to please everyone.” – Seth Godin

Try to narrow down your potential customer-base audience as much as possible. Marketing lists (ensure these are opt-in) are a potential avenue to explore but can quickly become outdated and inaccurate.

Every item you post is an investment for each address you deliver to.

Figures from the Data and Marketing Association show that the relatively simple process of addressing direct mail makes a massive difference to engagement (the takeaway menu manages to rise above this trend!).

direct mail addressed mail statistics

Compare this to mail that you would class as a ‘door drop’ (essentially a blank, unaddressed mailing) and the ‘threw it away’ number rises dramatically!

direct mail unaddressed engagement stats

Keeping Track:

Direct mail is more difficult to track than an online marketing campaign, but it isn’t impossible.

Here are some quick ways to measure success:

  • Track your mailing with specific discount or promotional codes that can be quoted or entered when ordering online
  • Set up separate email addresses to receive responses or enquiries
  • Simply ask: ‘How did you find us?’ at checkout and when taking incoming calls
  • Is your ‘unique’ promotional idea shared on social media? Look out for brand mentions

Direct mail won’t work for every business. It is perhaps more suited to certain industries more than others.

As more online markets get increasingly competitive and saturated, it can be a viable method of reaching your customers. Just make sure you know who your customers are!

Remember, as with every direct marketing campaign you launch, always have an aim, a purpose and a means of measuring its success.

Be sure to follow these top tips to help improve your chances of success:

Top Direct Marketing Tips:

  • Identify a purpose for your campaign – link to other promotional activity
  • Make it accessible to everyone – lever omnichannel marketing
  • If you’re producing a leaflet, treat your direct mail like an online landing page 
  • Don’t be too text heavy
  • Focus on features and benefits – identify and solve problems – use bullet points
  • Be different and disruptive (within reason!) – KitKat are a great example of a global brand utilising the power of local marketing.

Kit Kat Chunky Direct Mail Example

When planned and executed well, direct mail marketing can produce a really healthy return on investment. If you can get it to work in complete harmony with your online promotional efforts, you’ll have the ideal recipe for business success.