Direct mail is one of the most powerful ways to engage with your target market — especially your current and past customers and clients — yet it’s something few business owners are successful with.
The reasons for the apparent reluctance of many business owners to test direct mail properly come down to three things:
- It’s comparatively expensive in terms of initial outlay for the design, printing, and postage.
- It’s slow and can take days and even weeks for the results to come in.
- It’s much, much less convenient (and trendy) than all the online marketing methods, from email marketing to Adwords, and Search Engine Optimisation to Social Media Marketing.
And the truth is direct mail can be a tough nut to crack, especially if you’re using it to generate new leads and business.
But it’s also a nut worth cracking because once you have cracked it you’ve essentially got your own little gold mine and you can mine it for years and years to come (historically, the best direct mail letters have often run for literally decades making money for the business owners who send them).
So here are a few simple tips, tactics and strategies you can put to work for you to give your direct mail the greatest chance of success.
Choose Your Audience Carefully
One of the reasons many business owners struggle with direct mail is they are indiscriminate in whom they send the pieces too. More often than not they’ll simply blast a geographical area with little regard to who actually lives there. And sometimes it’s not obvious you’re targeting the wrong market.
Some years ago a carpet cleaning business was struggling to make their direct mail work, even though the people in the neighbourhoods they were targeting seemed to fit the demographic profile of their current best customers. When they dug a little deeper they found the areas they were targeting had a very high proportion of rental properties — and tenants compared to home-owners very rarely have their carpets cleaned.
Reactivate Old Customers
Your best and most profitable audience is always going to be your existing customers and clients. It’s very easy to think of reasons to write to them, such as a newsletter every month, special offers, birthdays (yours and theirs), anniversaries, holidays, etc.
Something else you can do very easily and usually very profitably is to target past customers who haven’t bought from you in a while, offering them a special incentive to come into your place of business or visit your website.
The important thing to remember here is you’re not necessarily trying to get them to buy something (even though that would be nice). The main purpose of this exercise is to get them to come back to your store or website to redeem the offer and get them back in the habit of visiting you.
A very simple way to do this is with a three-step campaign of postcards and letters:
- A simple postcard. This first card is short and to the point, and is really intended to get the “low hanging fruit”, those customers and clients who have been meaning to come back but just haven’t made the time. All you need to do here is state the offer in simple terms and have a proper and specific call to action.
- A longer letter. This letter is going to sell them on the idea of doing business with you again and is intended for those customers and clients who need selling on you again with lots of benefits and reminders of how great your products and services are. Send this 10 to 14 days after the initial postcard.
- A second postcard. This final piece tells them in no uncertain terms if they don’t come in and redeem the offer by the deadline they’ll lose it forever, and you’ll be removing them from your mailing list. This last piece is going to mop up any remaining people who are on the fence and can be swayed by scarcity.
Use Your Imagination
Using long, strong, compelling copy is a given, as is sticking to sound direct response design principles, such as justified text, serif fonts, and all the other elements we’ve covered before.
But this doesn’t all mean you have to be boring (in fact, being boring is the No.1 sin in marketing and will kill any response you were hoping for stone dead).
So called “lumpy mail” is a great way to let your imagination run riot. I know direct marketers who have sent things like bags of dirt, sticks and carrots, bowling balls, mobile phones with prepaid cards, bags of peanuts, sweets, pencil sharpeners and all manner of things just to get people’s attention.
One of our Gold Members sent alarm clocks to her list and got a staggering 40% response rate (that really is out of this world).
And then of course there are the famous “shock and awe” packages where you send a prospect, customer, or client something so big, classy and awesome they are utterly overwhelmed with it and have absolutely no rational reason for doing business with anyone but you.
CHRIS CARDELL’S KEY TAKEAWAYS
Sure, these things all cost a little money upfront and you may have to tinker with them to get them truly profitable, but once you have, then you’re laughing all the way to the bank.
Please share here your thoughts on this article about Chris Cardell, share it on social media and express your views. To learn more about Chris Cardell visit his website chriscardell.com or Chris Cardell’s Media Company, Cardell Media Ltd. There is also an interesting video interview with Chris Cardell. His next life changing event is The Sovereignty Summit with Chris and Dan Kennedy on 29th – 30th of September 2015.