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You’ve spent weeks carefully crafting your mailer – it represents a great deal of time, effort, and money. So the worst possible scenario is that it goes directly from the mailbox to the trashcan without even a second glance. There is no avoiding this for some portion of any direct mail campaign. But if you want ensure such a disaster, just follow these four simple steps:
- Address to “occupant” – or some other generic term, like our personal favorite, “valued customer.” You are absolutely not making anyone feel valued by using that term instead of their name. There is simply no excuse for this: you should already be using a good direct mail list, whether rented, compiled or purchased from reliable sources, so you should be able to at the very least guess at a name.
- Use bad demographic targeting. Some products have a very wide appeal, such as a new restaurant opening in the area. Occasionally, however, poor demographic marketing can waste your money, or even offend your customer! For example, I received an invitation to join AARP just days before my 24th birthday. Every detail on the mailer was correct – my name, address, etc. – but I was more than 40 years away from retirement. Make sure you can utilize data like age, so you don’t waste your money like that.
- Don’t have a clear call to action. Managing to get past the first glance is an important step. Perhaps you’ve even intrigued a customer. There are still ample opportunities to end up in the trash can: particularly when the customer doesn’t understand what they’re supposed to do with the information provided. Do they need to call? Send an email? Visit a website? What’s their next step? Whether it’s hard to find or understand on the mailer, or simply not very good, mishandling the call to action changes someone interested in your mailer into someone who considers it clutter.
- Don’t bother following up. Sending one piece of direct mail is only part of the process. It is crucial to follow up with a phone call or another mail piece. It’s been proven time and time again, great marketing takes multiple touches before you make an impression in the mind of your customer. Even if your first card winds up in the dreaded dustbin, your second is more likely to be looked at and considered. It takes time and patience.
We are seasoned pros at avoiding these traps! Contact us today to get started enhancing your marketing strategies.
Often, people think marketing is all about the eye-catching shine and sly language: about trying to conceal the truth and only showing your best foot, no matter how wobbly the other one might be. While that might describe some marketing, it absolutely does not describe good marketing. In fact, the most important ingredient in marketing is honesty.
First and foremost, be honest with yourself. Ask:
- What is the goal of this marketing? How will I know if it is successful?
- Do I have a plan for both wild success and complete failure?
- How will this help me get customers? Are those customers the ones I’m targeting?
- Does this marketing serve potential customers? What is it offering them?
- If I didn’t work for my company, what would I think about this mailing?
While the questions may seem obvious or silly at first glance, you would be surprised how often some can get caught up in their marketing without thinking externally, in terms of who their customers are and what they really want. If you don’t think from the customers’ perspective, your marketing will fail – and ultimately, the business is likely to fail as well.
Profit is not the point of a good, long-term business, it is a byproduct. The actual goal of a business is to create a customer – one who has a real problem or need – and offer a solution that will solve that problem or meet that need. Getting that right will lead to profits. Lose sight of that customer-centric attitude, even in something that seems as company-focused as your marketing, and real returns dry up, both dollars and cents and satisfied customers.
Prime Advantage Marketing understands the importance of honesty and customer-oriented thinking in every part of a marketing campaign. Contact us today and we can get started putting these principles to work for your company!
In our previous post we addressed the first questions you should ask prior to sending out your direct mail pieces. There are a few more things to consider…
Question 3: Do You Have a Call to Action?
Of course the first step is to get your customer to read your mailer. However, the mailer’s ultimate job isn’t to provide reading material to a prospect – it needs to inspire them to do something. They need a reason to react to what they’ve just read. In order to bring your customer further into the sales cycle, create a clear call to action. The best calls to action offer your customer something in return for acting; perhaps a discount or free audit just for contacting you. Be creative and think about what incentives might speak to your target demographics.
Question 4: Are You Tracking Responses?
You are just flushing money down the toilet if you aren’t tracking your direct mail campaign. It’s critical to know whether customers are contacting you as a result of your mailing. Set up systems to gather this data, such as a phone number that is different from your main line. That way, if a prospect calls that number you instantly know it was a direct result of the mailer. If most calls are still coming to the main line, perhaps the mailer isn’t working as well as you hoped. Knowing what doesn’t work can be as valuable as knowing what does. The information you collect from the current campaign will help make the next one better.
Question 5: Are You Ready to Follow Up?
Without a plan to follow up with the leads pouring in from your killer direct mail campaign, you’re wasting your time. Whether it’s a follow-up phone call, email or additional literature, make sure you have a system in place to handle all the new potential customers. In addition, prime your employees with information about the campaign. Get ahead of the game and make sure your salespeople understand your calls to action and anticipate potential common questions the prospects might have.
Look at every direct mail piece you send as an opportunity to make a sale. It is a process that works when you create a personalized offer with a catchy headline, a clear call to action that can be tracked and then followed-up on by a waiting sales team. Don’t send your first piece until you’ve answered all five questions. Contact us today and we can help you find the answers!
Tossing some copy onto a postcard and dropping it in the mail does not constitute a successful direct mail. Truly effective direct mail campaigns are part art and part science. Time and care must go in to your piece; several facets need to be considered in order to maximize its visibility and effectiveness. Most importantly, it has to get your target to act.
Question 1: Is It Personalized?
Personalization makes your customer feel special. It makes them feel like you really understand who they are and the problems they face. Taking the time to research your customer and gaining an understanding of who they are and what they want greatly increases your chance of marketing success. Analyze your current customer base: look at the kinds of items or services they’ve purchased in the past, and reference those in your mailer. Offer specific services that relate directly to them, their lives and their concerns. One size does not fit all when it comes to your marketing.
Question 2: Does Your Headline Grab Attention?
Most decisions about a direct mail piece occur in the first five seconds that a prospective customer views it. In those five seconds, they need a reason to keep reading – you have to give them that reason. This can be done by answering one simple question: what’s in it for me? They need to know the payoff for reading all the way down to your offer. Your direct mail piece’s success starts – and frequently ends – with your headline. Some headline techniques include asking a question, offering a gripping statistic, or riffing with some well-placed humor.
There are a few more questions to ask before sending out your mailing – coming up in our next post! In the meantime, contact us and we can help you create a successful campaign whether it’s from scratch or building upon your other marketing strategies.
One of the big advantages of direct mail is that the conversation you can have with a prospective customer can be much more detailed and nuanced than other marketing media. There are some key words and phrases that are proven effective in getting the attention of your prospects and customers. These categories are definitely things to consider for your copy:
- Words and phrases about money. Free, reduced, sale, 50% off, buy one get one free, etc. Depending on your brand, you may not want to use this tactic sparingly rather than tie your entire sales strategy to offering the lowest price. When used properly, though, this is a surefire way to get immediate attention.
- Urgency terms. Last chance, for a limited time only, expiring soon, etc. It’s always important to counter your recipients’ urge to put a direct mail piece down and deal with it later. These phrases help get your prospective customers to act by creating a strong sense of urgency
- Emphasis on scarcity. Limited quantity, special edition, supplies limited, tickets going fast, etc. Like the urgency terms, these are intended to get your prospects to act now. When something is scarce, people want it more and will pay more for it.
- The customer’s name. As simple as this sounds, no one wants to be referred to as “occupant” or “current resident.” If at all possible, personalize your mailings by using the customer’s name. Keeping your lists up to date is important here, to maximize the likelihood of having the correct name.
While these tactics won’t cause people to immediately dump money into your hands, they are designed to make your prospects pay attention and act. The key is to employ these words in a way that speaks to your customers, telling them you understand their concerns and can help them solve their problems.
Put these strategies to work for your company – contact us today and we’ll get started together!
Most potential customers will not pay attention to your company until they have been repeatedly exposed to your product or service. In fact, it typically takes between seven and ten impressions before an individual decides to buy a product or service, becoming a customer. A multi-touch marketing approach uses this principle to breed familiarity, making sales more likely.
As more and more information becomes easily available to everyone, prospective customers are becoming more comfortable with researching prior to a purchase. In fact, by the time they actually pick up the phone, they are probably ready to buy. In order to become a part of their buying cycle, you need to stay in front of them with regular impressions. Depending on a single direct mail piece to cause a prospect to purchase rarely works. After they put down the envelope, your company becomes essentially invisible.
The multi-touch approach has several benefits:
- You can better define who you are as a company.
- You can better elucidate what problems you solve for your customers.
- You can better communicate reasons they ought to reach out to you.
Multiple impressions doesn’t mean just a bunch more direct mail pieces. In fact, it’s a good idea to vary your message, combining email or phone call follow-up with the mailings. For example:
- Spread out several direct mailing pieces over time. This will allow your target customer to get to know your company. Modify each mailing to keep the campaign interesting – add something new about your company each time.
- Follow your direct mail piece with a call to action via email or telephone. Make the response “worth it” – give them something like a free consultation or a discount on services.
- Continue following up with existing customers to keep them close. Send postcard reminders or updates after a sale or appointment.
- Consider using direct mail pieces as a follow-up to a sales call.
Need a hand implementing multi-touch marketing? We know how to utilize the planning and consistency to make it succeed. Contact us today!
Building a cohesive campaign, rather than “one-and-done” marketing, is one of direct mail’s biggest strengths. The best direct mail campaigns contain multiple pieces that build on one another. Remember our three phases of a direct mail campaign? For example: a postcard for introduction (education), a brochure to provide more information about the product and why it helps the customer (persuasion), and finally a sales letter in a very official envelope (selling). That makes three strong impressions following a comprehensive strategy – a prospect will remember you and eventually make the transition from lead to loyal customer.
Timing, though, is crucial. You don’t want to send too close together, potentially overwhelming or annoying your prospect – but the pieces need to be close enough together that they are remembered and can build upon the previous impression.
Unfortunately, there is no perfect interval – the ideal timing will vary for each campaign. If you’re selling product or service that is seasonal or has a deadline, such as tax services, your timetable is more condensed. Consider sending one piece per week leading up to the deadline, and then two pieces the week of April 15 to ramp up the sense of urgency. Since you already laid a strong foundation with the lead-up mailings, the last “act now!” reminder will push many over the edge.
On-going products or services are harder to gauge right away. The best way to figure out your ideal frequency is to test. Try two different mailing intervals – perhaps one every two weeks vs. one per month – for each half of your list. The direct mail pieces themselves don’t change, only the timing. Gauging the results is easy, since you just need to see which got better responses or yielded more qualified leads. After a few rounds of testing, the interval that works for you and your business will be clear.
Need assistance determining your ideal interval? Want some tips about testing? Contact us today and we’ll get you up and running in no time!
At last, the final phase! Your potential customers are now educated about your service offerings and they are persuaded that you can solve their problem. Now for the best part: selling.
The term is a little misleading, however. It’s possible to make a sale based on the strength of your direct mail piece, but only if you have some way to purchase directly from the piece. Or, of course, a storefront. Most of the time, though, you are encouraging the potential customer to take the next step, whether it’s picking up the phone, sending the reply mailer, or visiting your website. So rather than direct sales, what selling really means is creating a compelling call to action that transforms a potential customer into an actual one.
“What’s in it for me?” The potential customer needs the answer to that question before they even ask it. They must understand what will happen if they follow through, as well as how it will benefit them. Will they simply receive more information? Will they get help talking through their options on the phone? Can they go to a website for a quote? Leave no uncertainty as to what they are getting themselves into when they take that next step.
Second, the call to action should reflect the habits or proclivities of your target customer. If you’re selling Medicare supplements to seniors, QR codes and website links are not likely the best option. Instead, consider a return mailer or a phone number.
Finally, you must have a plan for dealing with the leads. Returning sales calls, sending out additional materials, web form submissions, etc. – everything needs a plan and procedure for handling. Make sure to have all of these items in place even before the first direct mail piece is sent. Even a perfect direct mail campaign is nothing if the generated leads get flushed down the toilet via poor organization.
Education, persuasion, selling – the three steps to direct mail marketing success. Contact us today and we can help apply these principles to grow your business!
In the previous post, we discussed how important it is to educate prospects. Establishing your identity, product offerings, and general industry information is crucial. We discussed how your direct mail campaign can be instrumental in providing this information and therefore establishing a level of trust with them that leads to their being receptive to hearing more about your company.
Once you have reached that trust level, you can begin the persuasion phase of the campaign. Note that persuasion is not sales! Persuasion is a process of building a case for why YOU are the best choice. You have to demonstrate to your customers, not simply tell them, how you can help assist them with saving money, more easily manage their lives, or whatever their problem is. Persuasion is getting customers to understand why they need your service, rather than closing the sale.
So what are the steps for persuasion?
- Identify the problem. The whole reason anyone buys a good or service is that they have an issue that needs to be solved. Mortgage or car payments too high? Frustrated with the bank? What is the actual problem your potential customer faces? There can’t be a solution without a problem first.
- Offer your solution. After identifying the problem, you can go about solving it. “You can lower your payment AND pay off your car faster with auto re-financing.” In one sentence you’ve both identified the problem as well as mentioning your solution.
- Demonstrate why they should choose YOUR solution. Every potential customer has options. Regardless of the problem, there are multiple ways to solve it – or they could choose to do nothing at all. You must demonstrate why solving this problem would improve the prospect’s life, and then proceed to explain why you are their best bet to solve that problem.
That’s it! After educating your customer about your products and creating real demand for them by demonstrating your potential customer’s problem and how you can solve it, you’re ready to move on to the final phase: selling.
We can help you persuade those customers that you are the only one who can help them! Contact us and we will assist you in creating a successful marketing campaign.
The marketer’s instinct can be to skip directly to a sales pitch, but it’s very important to structure your direct mail campaign into three parts. This series will describe the phases of a successful strategy: education, persuasion, and then selling.
Educating customers is a series of introductions:
- Introduce yourself. Are you a new company? Existing company expanding business areas? Or an established company that may simply be new to a specific individual? The customer’s awareness of you can be crucial to develop a frame of reference: the next time they see any of your marketing – whether a piece of direct mail or anything else – you are already familiar to them.
- Introduce a new-to-you product. Most products aren’t completely new to the world, but your business could be starting to offer something you’ve never offered before. For example, an exciting new app allowing your credit union to offer more convenient services to your customers. Of course many such apps exist, but the new service is a dual opportunity: first to inform potential customers about the new service, but also to reach out to existing customers via direct mail to ensure their awareness that a company they already know and trust is providing this new service. They are then less likely to go looking for someone new to meet their needs.
- Introduce a new product. Customers occasionally have problems and they don’t even realize the solutions are out there – e.g. auto re-financing. New products may simply not be on their radar, and you want to be the helpful company that puts it there. Your marketing should be a resource of thorough and fair information about new services that may be tremendously helpful to them.
One of direct mail’s biggest strengths is that people read it in their own space and at their own pace. This enables copy that includes a lot more information that is valuable to your customer, which they can read more slowly and carefully. In addition to building trust, it leaves your customer with the sense that you will continue to give them important, valuable information fairly and without being obnoxious or pushy. Establishing trust with your customers is crucial before moving on to the persuasion and selling phases.
If you feel like the process is too drawn-out, you can combine all three phases in a single direct mail piece. This is particularly true if you plan to use a longer mailer or a sales letter: you have ample space to guide your prospects through education and trust building, persuasion, and finally closing the sale. You can also use repeated impressions to build brand awareness alongside your case – it all depends on the needs of your business.
Want to learn more? Contact us and we’ll help you create a direct mail campaign that turns your prospects into customers via education.