Join Trish Witkowski for an in-depth discussion in this video The 40/40/20 rule, part of Learning Direct Mail Strategy.
In this video we're going to explore a classic formula of direct marketing called the 40/40/20 rule. The rule was established decades ago by marketing expert Ed Mayer, and amazingly it's still relevant today. If you're even considering sending mail, understanding this simple formula is critical to your success. When it comes to direct mail, often the first thing people focus on is the creative. What's it going to look like? How will we get their attention? But direct mail is a different beast. The approach is very different. And the 40/40/20 rule is about the order of emphasis that must be placed on three critical parts of the process, the audience, the offer and everything else.
The first order of emphasis goes to the audience. And that's weighted at 40%. Seems like a lot but here's why. No matter how amazing and creative your mail piece is, it's not going to make a difference if the content isn't relevant to the recipient. For example, if you're a vegan, would you really consider ordering steaks just because you got a glossy steak promotion in the mail? Of course not. And do you think that empty nesters would use a coupon for baby diapers if it came in a cool envelope? Probably not.
And every time you mail to someone who has no interest in your product or service, you waste valuable time, materials, and postage. As a matter of fact, sending mail to the wrong list is considered the worst mistake you can make in mail and that's because there's no way to fix irrelevance. The second order of emphasis is the offer and this is also weighted at 40%. Think of it this way, if you now have your ideal audiences attention, what are you going to offer them? Will you offer them something compelling to provoke them to act, or will you waste an opportunity? Try to think of it from the customer's perspective.
Would spend $200 and get free shipping get your blood flowing? I don't know about you, but I think I'll hold on that one. How about spend $100 and get $25 off? Now you're talking. Test your offers to determine which one is the most powerful and always present the offer on a limited time basis to create a sense of urgency. And don't put it in tiny type either. Be clear about when the promotion ends or they'll think they have plenty of time to act. And if they do come back around to it and the offer is expired, then they're just annoyed and that's never a good thing.
The third order of emphasis goes to everything else, and that's 20%. What's everything else? Everything else is important stuff. Creative, paper choice, format, timing, and frequency. Don't let the 20% emphasis deter your plans for creativity, clever engagement strategies, and quality materials. As a designer myself, the idea that creative falls into the final 20%, feels a bit insulting and wrong. But I need you to set those feelings aside and remember, that if your awesome design doesn't fall into the right hands with an offer that's attractive and relevant to them, all the great design in the world won't turn that puppy into a sale.
So once the audience and offer are in alignment, creativity becomes the powerful tool you use to get the recipients attention. Now I have a modern day update for you. Marketers these days say the 40/40/20 rule is really more like 60/30/10. The reason for this is that back in the 60s when Ed Mayer established this rule, we didn't have the ability to highly target our audience the way we do today. Because of this, the power and the emphasis on the audience skews dramatically. So as you move forward in the direct marketing process, keep the 40/40/20 rule in mind at all times.
Focus on who you're marketing to, and on building or acquiring a quality list. Then, craft and test an offer that provokes action. Finally, focus on powerful engagement strategies, format choice and timing. This simple formula will help you to consistently get results from your marketing campaigns.
- Defining the mailing list
- Keeping your mailing list up to date
- Creating the offer
- Formatting strategies
- Using special packaging like varnishes, stamps, and stickers
- Leveraging technology, such as variable data printing
- Adding an Intelligent Mail barcode
- Green mail strategies
- Tracking and measuring results from your direct mail campaign