Direct Mail Delivers Marketing Results
Is a direct mail marketing campaign worth the effort for a small-business owner or a solo entrepreneur? You bet. Response rates for direct mail continue to rival digital media campaigns, with an impressive 3.7% response rate (according to the 2015 DMA Response Rate Report). With most marketers conducting campaigns using a combination of direct mail, social media and e-mail marketing.
You might be thinking…”Wait…Isn’t direct mail for big business?” Well, no actually. They aren’t the only ones who can benefit from this type of marketing campaign. And your advantage starts here because not many small business owners are doing this, so you stand an even greater chance of getting noticed amongst your competitors.
The Fly In The Ointment
So what’s holding you back? Is it a misunderstanding or lack of knowledge about how to conduct your campaign? Is it not knowing where to start? Is it the fear of being successful?
For a small business owner (and solo entrepreneurs), the prospect of mounting and launching a direct mail campaign can be a daunting prospect. That’s why I’m laying it out in a series of articles over the next while. I want to remove any unsavory ideas about the complexity or potential waste of effort that may prevent you from taking on this marketing exercise.
So let’s break it down into manageable and digestible components that help make sense and provide overall context about what a direct mail campaign might look like.
Deliver Ongoing And Consistent Messages
First, let me be clear. A direct mail “campaign” is not a one-and-done kind of activity.
In fact the definition of ‘campaign’ is: an organized course of action to achieve a particular goal.
Direct mail marketing also requires organization and works best with consistent and sustained communications over a period of time, that lead you to achieve your stated goal(s).
How frequent should you contact your recipients? I suggest a monthly message. Here’s why. As an example, I subscribe to a number of marketers’ electronic newsletters, e-mails and such. Some of them send messages every day. Agh! I don’t have time to read what they send – every single day – unless it’s a particularly high-profile sender…and even then…. And more importantly, I daresay that small-business owners or solo entrepreneurs don’t have the resources or time to produce daily messages (to send by mail).
Second, frequent messaging can become annoying. Especially when those messages are sales pitches for products or services. Don’t’ make it about that until you’ve built up a relationship and have reached that point in your campaign. But do make sure you’re always present in their minds. Delivering a monthly message is sufficient to accomplish that, by mail.
Don’t be disappointed if your readers don’t respond right away. You’re establishing your presence, and building up your “know, like and trust” factor. Be aware that it usually takes 7 to 10 communications for people to really take notice and warm up to the idea of doing business with you. They will remember you, and call on you when they’re ready.
Direct Mail Builds Relationships
To put this “building a business relationship” idea into perspective, think about it like your personal relationships. You don’t expect to marry someone after you’ve just introduced yourself, do you? No…you’ve got to woo your desired target; spend some time getting to know them; share your secrets; get comfortable with each other…
Likewise, you can’t expect someone to purchase your product or service when they’ve never met you or know nothing of your business. You’ve got to nurture and grow that relationship with follow up pieces; to allow the prospect to get to know and like you; and build trust over time.
Similarly, a direct mail campaign enables you to:
✓ Establish a connection and start a conversation/relationship
✓ Create an ongoing presence in the market place for yourself (I.e. Staking your rightful claim, as it were)
✓ Build your authority in the industry you claim to be an expert in
✓ Deliver valuable and usable information or tips that continue to build on your solid reputation, and
✓ Keep your name top of mind. When your prospect decides they need a service like yours and are ready to do business, they’ll reach out.
You’re going to need a coordinated plan to accomplish this however. If you haven’t already developed a strategic plan and penciled-in a campaign, begin by creating a long-term (one year out, perhaps) strategy for your direct mail campaign. Link it to a statement along the lines of, “I want to increase my customer/client base to XXX number of new sales/clients by XXX date. And the way to do that is by conducting a direct mail marketing campaign.”
Now think about how you would map out and acquire those sales/clients over that span of time, and what campaign pieces (formats) are best suited to the stated goal and message you want to deliver each time, as you progress to the next level. Be sure to have these pieces ready to go ahead of time to avoid a gap in your mailing/message frequency.
Creating Eager Customers
Your goal is to get your audience excited about receiving your next mailing…to compel them to want to devour every word you have to say because you’re sharing valuable, actionable bits of information as you grow that relationship. Eventually it will get to the point where they will want to do business with you.
But first, get them thinking, “I can’t wait to get John’s next piece. I wonder what he’s going to share next!” Your goal is to create rabid fans that turn into long-lasting customers.
To do this, your campaign should roll out in a progression of varied formats, each with a customized message. Below are some of the pieces you might consider developing (in advance) for your direct mail campaign:
✓ A strong introductory piece for new (cold) leads / A warm re-introduction for those you’ve already done business with or have communicated with in the past – to rekindle the fire (so to speak).
✓ Sales letters (a series that progresses – creating anticipation, curiosity and intrigue)
✓Free mini-reports/white papers/case studies and information pieces to share important statistics or supporting info about your business, or a particular product or service
✓ Tips and Tricks sheets, or info-graphics with value-added, actionable messages
✓ News releases – about new and exciting things going on in your business; or advance notice for new or low-cost products, services, books or guides you may produce (to use later in the campaign)
✓*Culminate the campaign by offering a newsletter that keeps folks engaged and desiring to hear more from you again and again (eventually, you might turn that newsletter it a low-cost paid subscription – to create residual, passive income).
* Note: once you get to the Newsletter stage, we’re talking about a separate project requiring ongoing work and more planning for long-term success. And that’s a whole new long-term statement in your strategic plan. Be sure to map it out if you intend to follow this route. I won’t go into this any further though, as it’s a topic for another article. But I digress…
Planning For Success
Let’s get back to the direct mail campaign and all its beauty. To accomplish your marketing goals, it takes a coordinated plan. If you haven’t already worked it into your business strategy, think about creating a long-term (one year out, perhaps) plan for your direct mail campaign so you can create all the documents and supporting material you’d like to include.
Link it to a statement like (this is just a suggestion – to stimulate your thought process)…”I want to increase my customer/client base to XXX number of new sales/clients by XXX date. And the way to do that is by conducting a direct mail marketing campaign.”
Now think about how you might map out and develop those relationships over that span of time, and what campaign pieces (formats) are best suited to the stated goal and message you want to deliver each time, as you progress to the next level.
In addition, think about the varying types of marketing pieces you’ll have on hand (on a monthly basis) to keep things fresh and interesting as your campaign progresses/evolves, and your relationships grow with your audience. Remember that your conversations/messages will be different, depending on who you’re talking to, and the desired goals/outcome of your communication.
Please don’t do like I did.
I basically flew by the seat of my pants.
I decided to conduct a campaign, but didn’t think ahead about how to build my conversation and relationship with my readers. I didn’t think about the pieces I would use or how the message would move forward to a (hopefully) positive end result. While I had some success, it could have been better had I planned ahead to ensure consistent communications, and understood all the elements involved. Alas.
Sure, I wrote a Guide. But that was after I had conducted my campaign, having made and learned from my rookie mistakes. I want to help keep you from doing the same; to save you time, effort, frustration and money.
Having a vision for how you want to roll out your campaign – along with your marketing pieces (or at least the outline or concept for the pieces) – ahead of time allows you to maintain that sustained and consistent connection – so people don’t forget about you.
It’s no mystery that direct mail is a viable marketing option. And worthwhile relationships take time to evolve into something special…that goes for businesses too.
Next time out, I’m going to share some key elements for your campaign that you need to be aware of, to make sure your message is appropriately directed. Here’s a hint about what you can expect…not everyone wants what you’re offering…
I hope this article has opened your mind to the possibility of conducting your very own direct mail marketing campaign. I’d love to learn your thoughts and comments. Be sure to share them below. In the meantime, you’ll find a few more insights about direct mail here.