Direct marketing uses techniques to get your message to your target audience, directly. The cornerstone is sending direct mail. And many of us, at this time of year will be thinking about sending Xmas cards. But it’s so easy to get it wrong. Here are the five top crimes to avoid:

  1. Using out of date mailing lists. The message should be tailored, personalised not just to the recipient but usually to other people living at the same address So consider including new members of the family – this year it’s not just Peter, it’s Peter and Jane. And perhaps their new baby. You may only be in touch once a year but show some degree of knowing what’s happening in their life. Do get it right. A card addressed to Peter and Mary some three years after an acrimonious split will not bring festive cheer to Peter or Jane. 
  1. Right people, wrong way to communicate. Communicate in the most appropriate way. And give them a way to respond. If your friends only ever communicate by email or text, don’t send a card expecting to get one back. People are not going to change their mode of communication just because it’s Xmas. Most people struggle to send birthday cards. Accept this fact. I know which of my friends would appreciate a card. The rest won’t notice.
  1. One size fits all message. Make the opening line personal. Because writing cards is often seen as one more thing on the festive season to-do-list it’s tempting to rattle off the same bland greeting. Don’t do it! If you are going to send cards at least make the recipient feel as though you were thinking of them. And personal openings can help the recipient place you – they may know several Jennys but you are the only one they met on holiday in Portugal in 1976. Remind them of that wonderful holiday and they may even pick up the phone to reminisce. Or in the business world, pick up the phone and ask for a brochure.
  1. No idea who sent the card. Following on from above.Write your name and preferably contact details clearly. Signing your first name in a scrawl only your closest can read, when the recipient knows more than one Jenny isn’t helpful. And basic DM, make it easy for them to respond. Save them having to look your address up.
  1. Be different. Your target audience will be bombarded with messages. Think of your card as one part of a campaign. You want the impact to last beyond the few seconds of opening the envelope. You want your card displayed prominently for days to come and for visitors to comment on it. Your choice of card should reflect who you are – in business this is branding. Make it distinctive, make it different. And remember, it’s only once a year so be bold.