Updated Tuesday, July 22, 2014 as of 3:30 PM ET
Practice - Marketing
Why Direct Mail Still Works for Advisors
Friday, July 11, 2014
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You normally wouldn’t think of direct mail in the digital age, but it still works as a prospecting method, especially with seniors.

In 2013, nearly two-thirds of all consumers bought something as a result of direct mail, according to the Direct Marketing Association’s 2014 Statistical Fact Book.

Not surprisingly, people age 65 and older are prime candidates for direct mail, according to the DMA, since they tend to stay at the same address for many years and enjoy reading the mail. But young adults aged 18 to 34 are also responsive to direct mail.

Indeed, it has worked for referrals, clients and prospects, says Maelis C. Mittig, director of client relations and marketing at Francis Financial, a New York-based RIA. “Because digital marketing has become the main method of communication,” says Mittig, “we find value in standing out through snail mail.”

“We send out announcements, invitations, greeting cards, and other marketing materials through the mail and have gotten wonderful feedback.” says Mittig. “Within this business, it’s important to build rapport with our clients, and a great mailing can be much more effective than an email.”

Bob Jackson, principal of Jackson Financial Advisors in Scottsdale, Ariz., whose clientele is primarily business owners, professionals, pre-retirees and retirees, uses direct mail in a limited way.

“We find direct mail a good way to get people’s attention, especially when we handwrite the envelope,” says Jackson. “A handwritten envelope is often opened and read.”

Jackson says both he and his clients receive many invitations for various functions from advisors and others that are either mass mailed with a label or hand addressed. He says he always opens invitations that are hand addressed.

Not all forms of direct mail campaigns have succeeded. Previously, Jackson said, “We had done some mass marketing with postcards in our area with very limited results, and those were not hand addressed.”

Focus Partners, a practice management and marketing firm based in Paramus, N.J., says more advisors are turning to direct mail as a way to communicate with clients and prospects along with email.

“People have become so inundated with junk mail and spam that they’ve moved back towards getting a good old-fashioned letter in their mailbox,” said Michael Silver, senior managing director at Focus Partners.

“One of the benefits of direct mail, whether it be to clients or prospects is to stay top of mind,” says Silver, adding they can more easily do this by means of direct mail than email.

Prospecting by both methods have their advantages and disadvantages.

“Email is one click and you don’t have postal expense,” says Silver. “We recommend using a mix of both.”

Bruce W. Fraser, a New York financial writer, contributes to Financial Planning.

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(1) Comment
Direct mail marketing is still alive and well! Thank you for this article that reminds advisors that physical mail remains an excellent way to communicate with clients and prospects of all ages. While it is more of an investment that a simple e-mail blast, studies show that if you have information that has value to someone, the more effective way to ensure that it is read and acted upon is by mailing it with a (multi-format) call to action. Personalized letters/newsletters should be part of an advisor's overall marketing strategy to ensure that clients receive an exceptional customer experience.
Posted by Ellie A | Monday, July 14 2014 at 10:54AM ET
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