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Direct mail is back—or maybe it never went awayDirect mail is back—or maybe it never went away

Do you use direct mail?
I receive direct mail solicitations from lots of aviation companies. Some of these invite me to attend an open house at a nearby airport and oh, by the way, they’ll have a brand-new [fill in the blank] airplane available for me to check out. (Hope springs eternal, I guess.)

One of these comes once or twice a year from a shop located at Clearview Airpark (2W2) in Westminster, Maryland. It’s a three-page list of mostly aircraft parts, and the type point size gets harder to read every year—but for some reason I sit down and pore over that list. And I buy parts from that shop. He’ll never get rich off me, but apparently he’s getting some kind of return because he faithfully sends out that list.

Some research suggests that direct mail gets better results than email ads, Internet display advertisements, or paid search marketing (that’s where you advertise within the sponsored listings of a search engine; you generally pay each time someone clicks on your advertisement).

Brian Sun, writing in the Liftoff blog of the marketing company Autopilot, cites a Harvard Business Review study that found direct mail’s 1.1 to 1.4 percent response rates beat out email (0.03 percent), internet ads (0.04 percent), and paid search (0.22 percent).

Sun recommends that you try direct mail in addition to digital marketing efforts, such as your monthly email newsletter that talks about student solos, new aircraft, and special incentives to get your customers to the flight school. He emphasizes that you don’t want to be a spammy direct mailer, and suggests that the way to avoid that is by personalizing your direct mail—which can be as simple as using your customer’s name in the postcard you send out. You might take it a step further by referring to your customer’s status (student pilot? certificated pilot? instrument student? aircraft owner?).

Of course, you could just as easily personalize email newsletters, and email newsletters don’t have postage costs. But your customers have to open those newsletters, which is an ongoing challenge. Heck, I’m not even sure if you’re reading this newsletter. (I’ll share tips on how to get a higher newsletter open rate in a future column.)

For now, if you are using direct mail, I’d like to know how you use it. Email me.

Jill W. Tallman is editor of Flight School Business.

Jill W. Tallman

Jill W. Tallman

AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.

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