Friday, June 26, 2009

We Wrote the Chapter on Direct Mail

Here is an excerpt from the new book Think Big Marketing For Small Business. Check it out and look for the book coming out in the next month or so!

Direct mail is an important part of many successful small business marketing plans. But I have also seen so many small businesses waste thousands of dollars by doing it inefficiently…or just plain wrong! And let’s face it, as postage and shipping costs continue to go up and up, screwing up here can cost your business a lot!

Targeting the List
As you can imagine (since we have been harping on targeting your marketing so far) we believe in making sure whatever list you have is a targeted one. Even if you are working from a very large list, do your very best to make sure this is a list with people who might want or need your product or service.

So much advertising and marketing is wasted on those who have no interest whatsoever in the product in front of them. Hence the term “junk mail.” Don’t waste your money to create junk mail! If you work to make sure the group of people is pre-disposed to having a need for your company and its product or service, then your likelihood for some direct mail success increases exponentially!

Make the Letter Count
I must admit, I am not a fan of just sending a letter in an envelope. To me that is WAY too easy to dispose of. But I also understand that cost is often an issue and you will sometimes want to reach a great deal of folks with a small budget. So let’s take a look at a couple of quick thoughts on your basic direct mail letter.
Colored Envelopes Get Attention: I know that white envelope is cheaper. But when you consider the cost of the letter based on the return, the extra couple of cents might be worth it if the percentage return increases. Think of ways to get the recipients attention…and colored envelopes might help!
Handwrite the Name and Address: This might be the oldest trick in the book…but it works. People are much more likely to open a hand addressed envelope. And of course if you can get them to open it, you are way ahead of those neatly printed ones that end up in the circular file. As a side note, if you don’t have time to handwrite thousands of letters (I know I don’t) then there are services out there that will address them for you.
Keep it concise: There are several schools of thought on this, but I am always in favor of the Keep It Simple Stupid (K.I.S.S.) method. If it takes me a long time to wade through a message, it is more likely to be tossed. Catch my attention early and you might get me to stay around!
Use a Postcard: Reconsider whether you need an actual letter to tell the story. Often you can tell your story faster on a postcard and you get attention right away. The potential client is less likely to throw the message away before he/she sees it if she HAS to see it in order to throw it away! Full color has come way down on things like this so you can produce a nice, eye-catching piece for not too much money.
Consider your offer carefully: Most direct mail offers something. At worst, it’s information that perhaps your prospect didn’t have; at best, it’s something none of your prospects can afford to ignore. If your offer is a free car for responding, your response rate will go through the roof, but your cost will be too much. If you offer a packet of salt from a diner…it may not cause anyone to respond. Offer something beyond information to cause your recipient to take action! What that is depends on your audience and your business; it doesn’t have to be much. Which segues nicely to…

Use BuMpY Mail!
If a letter is the only way to communicate your message, or if you want to include several things in the mailing, you will have to use an envelope. What I recommend in these cases is to use what I call BUMPY Mail! Put simply, this is when you get a letter in the mail that has “something” inside of it. It could be a pen, or a keychain, or a damn koala bear for all we know. But there is something in that envelope that makes in bumpy…and we HAVE to know what!

Of course there are going to be additional postage charges for something like this. But as we know, we need to judge the cost on response rate. If you want to get your letters opened…make the envelope bumpy!

Don’t Forget Packaging
So let’s combine the bumpy mail concept with the post card concept (or even the colored envelopes) and take it to the next level. We spend SO much time in business worrying about the grammar, spelling, the message, the font, the logos, and the offers on the inside of the package, that we often forget about the package! So I would encourage you, as a small business owner, to spend just as much time on the outside of the package. Done correctly, this will help get the attention of the recipient and lead them to the “secrets on the inside” of the envelope.

What do I mean? Well of course we have mentioned that you could use colored envelopes. Okay. And don’t forget about making the package bumpy…got it. What else can you do to make it stand out? Can you print “Free OFFER inside” on the envelope to make it more interesting? Yep. What about telling people, “Don’t Open Unless You LOVE Money?” Okay…you’ve got my attention. The fact is, spend more time thinking about what would move your trigger as a consumer on the outside of the package or box!

Find Your Watermelon!
One of my favorite examples of this comes from a trade show I attended years ago. I was at a class and it changed the way I viewed packaging in marketing. The presenter was talking about the importance of utilizing packaging. In doing so, he told us the story of a colleague that HAD to get a message to just 6 people. She could not take the chance of her recipients missing it in the mail or simply thinking it was “junk mail.” What to do?

So the ingenious woman took a Sharpie and wrote the message on 6 watermelons! She played hell with the post office, but after a LOT of conversation, she got them mailed overnight to the 6 destinations. At this point the presenter stopped from pacing to look at the group and said, “So I ask you. You come to work Monday morning and there is a Watermelon sitting on your desk…do you read it?!” The class erupted in laughter and applause!

The moral of the story is: Stand Out if you want to be noticed in direct mail. Do something wild and out of the ordinary if you are looking to land that big fish. One of my favorite mailers that a sales person I know does is a large Rubber Duck. It’s about 12 inches tall…and it’s a real Rubber Ducky! He includes a funny letter and the response rate is phenomenal!

So find your Watermelon…and watch your response rate go through the roof on direct mail!

Follow Up Is Key!
As is the case with all business, follow up is so important. You can have the best direct mail campaign, but if there is no follow up, there will always be a ceiling to your success. If you can better target your market so that you can better follow up on your mailers, then you will find that direct mail can become an enormous part of your Think Big Marketing Success!

Check out the new book for more information like this with great Case Studies to boot!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A New Study on Targeted Marketing

New Study on Advertising MediaA new study by the PPAI conclusively finds that adding promotional products to your advertising mix can substantially increase your advertising effectiveness.

Though we all knew that's nice to see it in the form of new research. In the study, adding a promotional product to the mix increased the favorable attitude toward the ad in all cases (up to 44%). Want to read the entire 55 page document for details? Check out the link!

Customer Appreciation Event Announced!

Soaring For Success Customer Appreciation Event Date Set!

We are excited to announce the date of the annual Hasseman Marketing & Communications Customer Appreciation Event! Please join us on October 1st for food, fun, and great promotional ideas! The event will be held at a new and improved location--The National Guard Readiness Center! It's a bigger venue that will allow for more suppliers, more ideas and more fun. The theme this year is Soaring For Success and we hope that you will join us as we look to help you end the year strong!

So once again, mark your calendar for October 1st from Noon to 6pm for Soaring For Success, the Annual Hasseman Marketing Customer Appreciation Show! Please join us!