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Direct mail marketing is about ingenuity

A study by BtoB magazine released last month found more than half of businesses plan to increase their marketing budgets in 2011, prompting many small firms to reflect on the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of their own campaigns.

One of the most popular marketing tools still in use among startups and established firms alike is direct mail. However, with ever-increasing competition from online media, small businesses will need to embrace considerable ingenuity to reach prospects through this medium.

"While a flimsy, black-and-white postcard addressed to 'Current Resident' is probably not going to have much impact, a creative, unusual direct marketing piece could bring in business," writes Tony Case for "Slick, eye-catching mailers increasingly are a small business owner's solution for standing out from a sea of unwanted spam."

While few doubt the effectiveness of direct mail marketing, it is only when businesses are able to distinguish their brands among many others that true success is found.

With this in mind – as well as the fact that first impressions are everything when it comes to direct mail – consider creating bulky or oddly-shaped packages for your marketing materials.

Providing some sort of incentive to read or open a package is also important, but in all, be creative and stand out.

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