Marketers have successfully used direct mail to sell just about every product and service you can imagine, at just about every price you can imagine as well.

So if you're taking a look at direct mail to sell your own product or service, you're on the right track.

But let's back up a step. In order to sell, you need customers. Happily, there is no better medium than direct mail for finding potential customers -- and for turning them into paying ones.

Four advantages unique to direct mail make this possible:

1. Direct mail is targeted. Want to reach prospects within five miles (or more!) of your location? There's a mailing list. Want to reach people who buy sweaters? There's a list. People whose demographics and interests resemble those of customers you already have? Yes, there's a list.

This targeting ability is extremely valuable. If your product or service applies to, say, one in 100 people, using mass media to reach all 100 people wastes 99ยข of every dollar you spend. Direct mail lets you target the one, effectively multiplying the power of your advertising 100 times -- without costing you a penny extra.

2. Direct mail is interactive. It is a medium that can call people by name on first contact. Moreover, direct mail creates dialog, by letting people reply to you. That way, you can build and mine a database of customers, along with their interests, habits and purchases.

3. Direct mail cannot be ignored. There is one way for people to sort mail: by looking at it. So when your direct mail communicates a benefit and a strong brand, you're getting your message across to 100 percent of your target.

4. People like mail. At work and at home, people look forward to receiving and looking through their mail. That can't be said for all marketing mediums.

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