10 Mistakes That Stop Your Direct Mail From Working

At Harvest Retail Marketing we are passionate about ensuring that the direct mail marketing which we provide delivers bicycle dealers with exceptional results that exceed expectations.

This isn't a simple task. There are an overwhelming number of variables that need to be controlled in order to make for effective communications. We need to understand the dealership, their customers, their database, their products, their vendors and more. And that is before we even set about designing the direct mail.

In the list below we list 10 common mistakes made by bike shop owners when designing a direct mail. We of course strive to eliminate all of these pitfalls.

One last thing, direct mail can be highly effective done well. It can also be a great way to spend a lot of money very quickly without great results. As small business owners with modest marketing budgets you of course want every dollar delivering exceptional return on our investment.

If you want your direct mail to have laser focus, expert design, and premium construction then I encourage you to contact Harvest as soon as possible to plan your 2011 marketing campaigns.

1. No Call To Action

This is not only a huge direct mail mistake; it is the number one sales mistake. You’ve presented the benefits, now what do you want them to do? The obvious answer is to call you and ask to do business with you. Don’t let this be their idea. Always suggest what the customer should do next.

2. Type Faces That Are Difficult To Read

With every new computer comes a plethora of fancy typefaces. However there’s a reason books and newspapers and magazines all over the world stick to just a few…It’s because they’re easy to read. Advertising is not art…it’s a commercial exercise that is aimed at growing your business. This being the case, then make it easy for people to read your direct mail.

3. Too Much Information

As business owners our businesses are effectively our babies. And just like a new parent we want to say everything to everyone about our child. However, rightly or wrongly, not everyone cares about all the detail. Identify the most important bits and keep your message streamlined. As a general rule, text is best kept short and sweet. Take the attitude that people are time poor and don’t have very long to absorb what it is you have to say…this forces you to focus on the most compelling and persuasive information.

4. Too Similar To The Competitors

It can be scary being different. It means you might stand out and get noticed. But isn’t that what you want?! Too many marketers fall in to the trap of creating advertising that their category is used to…and in doing so create what I call wallpaper. That is, advertising that gets lost in the background and that’s the same as everyone else’s.

5. Poor Design

People consume information more effectively if it’s presented in a way that makes it easy to read. Direct mails that have information presented in a way that makes it difficult to know what to read first set them self up for failure. It’s much easier for the reader to decide to move on.

6. Cutting Corners

Small business owners need to watch their pennies. This combined with the inherent risk of advertising and a general resentment against advertising expense, often leads business owners into the huge mistake of cutting corners on the quality of their marketing. If you go cheap, you look cheap. "Cheap" is the last thing you want your customers and prospects to think about you.

7. Boring Headlines

The headline you use is extremely important. If it isn't compelling enough to get the reader to actually stop and read your direct mail, then you won't be selling anything. The headline must grab their attention and interest, and pull them in. Headlines do not have to be cute, or fancy, or rhyme; but they absolutely must grab the reader's attention and stop them from moving on.

8. Big Logos Don’t Sell More

For some strange, unknown reason many shops believe that the bigger the logo, the more successful the marketing. Wrong. The logo is simply the signature of the business…say something compelling and the reader will look for your logo.

9. Graphics That Have No Relevance

Graphics should enhance and support the message so don't have a graphic just to have a graphic. Sometimes graphics can pretty much tell the whole story, and if that's the case for you, then let the graphic take center stage and have the copy support the graphic rather than the other way around.

10. Poorly Written Copy

The amount of text you include depends on the purpose and size of the direct mail. Businesses that want to advertise a sale might have a very limited amount of text accompanied by a headline and a picture of some of the items on offer. If you're writing a lot of text, it should follow on logically from the headline, build a convincing case and prompt a response from the reader. Good copy draws attention to the benefits of the product or service rather than focusing solely on the features. All the reader wants to know is "what's in it for me?"


If you've done direct mail in the past you are well aware of how difficult it can be for you to solve these challenges on your own. Make your life easier, outsource. Let Harvest Retail Marketing handle all of your direct mail needs. We are experts in the marketing of bicycle retailers and know precisely how to get the job done right, and at the best possible price.

About The Author

Ryan Atkinson

Ryan Atkinson

Ryan is a proven marketing professional who entered the cycling industry in 1994.