||Last Updated: Dec 21st, 2004 - 22:04:52
With all the recent fascination with the electronic communications technologies – Internet, cell phones, broadcast fax – many small businesses have neglected an old marketing tool – direct mail marketing.
There are several good reasons why you should consider direct mail marketing. These are:
1. It can be done from anywhere. Business owners in small communities in Canada and the United States can continue to enjoy the quality of life there, and yet market around the world. As long as reasonable postal and courier services are available, it does not matter where you live anymore. You can sell and ship products anywhere.
2. It is accountable. Make an offer with a cut-off date, and you will know if you have been successful or not.
3. It is economical. Direct marketing can be as big or as small as your can afford. It is still a lot cheaper than making sales calls, but more expensive than some of the electronic marketing tools.
4. It is a convenient method of ordering merchandise. The catalogue business is booming because more and more people are too busy to go shopping in stores.
5. Direct marketing can be very targeted. You can choose the people to whom you will market directly based on their sex, age, occupation, education, special interests, geographical location, and past buying behaviour.
6. You can personalize the marketing vehicle to deeply involve each prospective customer and prove that you recognize his or her special nature.
7. You can test direct marketing vehicles and offers at a relatively low cost. Once you find the ones that work, you can roll them out.
8. Unsolicited direct mailings seem to upset people far less than other marketing methods such as telephone selling, fax broadcasting and e-mail marketing (also known as spam).
A classic direct marketing package contains the following:
response device (coupon, phone number)
When using direct mail, you always have three goals:
get your letter opened
get it read
get the order.
Obviously, you can’t succeed at the second two goals if you don’t succeed at the first.
In a direct marketing campaign, the list is the most important ingredient for success. Select the wrong list, and you are wasting your money. However, sometimes finding the right list can be quite a challenge.
The best mailing list is your own active customer list. This is why it is absolutely critical that you develop and maintain a database of your customers. When compiling your customer list for a direct marketing campaign, keep these factors in mind:
1. The names and addresses should come from current files as you want up-to-date information.
2. The information should relate to customers who have done business with your company within the last two years, since they’re the most likely to respond favourably.
3. Include only customers with good credit standing.
Writing your copy
Here some things to keep in mind when writing your direct mail copy:
Use simple words
Use short sentences
Use short paragraphs
Use “you” not “I’
Write to a person
Clearly state your offer and price
Stress reader benefits
Outline benefits in descending order of importance
Keep the copy moving
Use action words
Make it interesting
Ask for the order
Tell the reader what to do
Read the copy aloud.
Some research findings
Here is some important research related to direct marketing:
1. The best months for direct marketing are January, February, September and October. The worst months are July and August. As a rule, the worse the weather, the better the climate for direct marketing.
2. Think creatively about stamps. Multiple stamps or a stamp from a foreign land gets attention.
3. Avoid the use of cheap envelope paper, flimsy letter paper, or anything else that looks like “junk mail.”
4. White or off-whites, standard business-sized envelopes are the most likely to be opened. Avoid coloured envelopes, as research shows they do not work.
5. Indent your paragraphs to give your letter a more personal feeling.
6. Use your own letterhead when mailing to your own customers. They will be happy to hear from you and will place priority on your envelope and its contents.
7. Saying “Personal and Confidential” will increase the number of people who open the envelope. But the contents had better be confidential or you have just alienated a prospect.
8. Never right-justify your letter. It appears too impersonal.
9. Many tests show that letters with photographs showing your product in use often perform better than letters without photos. Letters with a photo of a free gift perform the best of all.
10. The best colour combination to attain a healthy response is: white paper, black type, and blue signature, underlines, and/or marginal notes.
11. In a brochure, use drawings if you must, but photographs improve response rates. Photos are more believable, more intriguing, and grab a reader’s attention more than a drawing. A useful tip is to include a caption under any photos. Captions get extremely high readership. Research also shows pictures of babies tend to get the most attention, especially among women.
12. Toll-free numbers increase direct-marketing response rates, especially mailings to individuals. (However, if you have a toll-free number other than 800, be sure to indicate it is a free call; most people don’t know that 866 is the same as 800).
13. Print copy against white, never against black. Test after test shows reversing type (white type on black) does not work.
14. Use postcard mailings whenever possible because postcards don’t have to be opened. Also, many other people may see the card (and its message) on its way to the addressee.
15. Present your mailing package in the form of a survey. Include a questionnaire along with the rest of the package.
16. ALWAYS include a PS. Research shows that people read the headline, then the PS and then the body. Restate your offer in the PS.
17. Consider staggering your mailings as budget and time permit. Also, you can hand address or type in the addresses for a more personalized look.
18. In a number of research studies that we have conducted, we found that in business to business dealings, direct mail to place of work is by far the most preferred method of receiving information about a company, its products and services. For consumer products, mailings to the home address will work better.
Don’t neglect this traditional marketing tool. It works! Direct mail should continue to be an important part of your overall marketing plans and strategies.
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