One of the most common questions I get as a Direct Mail expert is… How do I make sure they will open my mailing piece?
The answer to that is surprisingly simple. There is one thing you can do to get your mailing noticed, opened, and an ROI you’ll love.
And it’s not even a terribly difficult thing. Or outrageously expensive. It’s certainly not something your competitors are doing.
Yet it can easily dramatically increase your response rates.
I’m not kidding!
This technique has been proven to be the most effective way to get your target audience’s attention… and to become instantly memorable to them.
And we’ve saved the best… or the most important… for last.
KEY ELEMENT #10: Track Your Results!
Failure to track results is THE biggest mistake most marketers make.
They will spend thousands of dollars on campaigns, but fail to put the systems in place to know who responded to those campaigns. Without those tracking mechanisms, they have no idea what worked and what didn’t, what the ROI on their marketing efforts are, and where to pull their dollars from and which channels to spend more marketing dollars on.
Is this you? Keep reading…
There are various ways to track campaigns. If your offer is a phone call, the simplest way is to have the person answering the phone ask them where they heard about your product or service. The problem with this method is people often forget to do that and they don’t write it down, and before you know it, you don’t have the proper information.
Another way to do that is to get a tracking phone number. There are systems that allow you to buy phone numbers and use a specific phone number for a specific mail piece so you know the call that came in on that line would have only been from that mail piece. This is a good system but doing this for every mail piece individual can be challenging. It is a little easier to break up your mailings into groups or campaigns, then assign an individual phone number to a campaign.
Another method is to send people to a specific landing page on your website (or a hosted landing page service like unbounce.com or leadpages.com). This is an EXCELLENT way to track, but it does involve creating different landing pages for each mail piece. Again, if you have an easy system to do this, it can be challenging. What often happens is people get in a hurry and they skip this step.
Perhaps the easiest method is to have a specific response device in the mail pieces that gets mailed or faxed back to you. Some people consider this to be old-fashioned marketing, but it is very effective for tracking and some people still prefer to do business this way.
The optimal solution is to have a system that involves several of these tracking mechanisms (because you need to give prospects a few options for responding), and takes very little time to set up for each mailing.
If you want more information about how to set up a tracking system that takes very little time, give us a call and we can help you out.
We’ve been working on our series on the 10 Key Elements of Your Marketing. I hope you feel like you’re becoming more and more of the expert you need to be to create effective marketing campaigns.
(If you didn’t get our other emails, look in your SPAM folder, and if you still can’t find it – let me know and I’ll get them out to you.)
Today’s I want to focus on: calls-to-action, guarantees, follow-up systems, and repetition. But it turned out to be too long to fit into an email, so I put it up on the blog and you can read it there. Here’s what we’re going to go over:
KEY ELEMENT #6: Include a Call to Action
A call to action tells them exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. It spells it out very clearly what the next action you want them to take is. “Pick up the phone and call our office today” is a very simple call to action. You might say, “Go to our website and fill out the form to claim your free ____”
Sometimes a numbered list of the steps in your call to action can be especially effective because it stands out from the other text and breaks it down into easy steps like:
#1: Decide which _____ you are choosing
#2: Fill out the form in this letter
#3: Return it in the included postage paid envelope
#4: Wait for us to contact you
Working in the call to action with the sense of urgency is a powerful duo. If your prospect is feeling urgent, worried about the scarcity, they want to know what they should do next.
KEY ELEMENT #7: Include a Guarantee
If you are objecting to this element because you don’t want to offer a guarantee, you’d better find a different business.
Having a guarantee takes the risk away from the prospect. Most people do not like take any risk, especially when it comes to receiving solicitation in the mail. This is also true of online solicitations. We all have an inherent distrust of people trying to get our money, so guarantees go a long way to help relieve that distrust. The stronger your guarantee can be, the stronger the response rates will be. The strongest guarantee is always a 100% money back guarantee. Of course, this isn’t always possible – if you are a realtor, you can guarantee money-back for buyers you sell a home to.
What you can do is guarantee various elements of the transaction. Here are some ideas:
- I guarantee I will call you back within 24 hours.
- I guarantee I’ll fix anything that goes wrong for the first year.
- I guarantee I’ll show up with money on your doorstep at the time I make the offer.
- I guarantee I’ll call you back with a smile on my face.
- I guarantee you will have no hassles and the transaction will closely quickly.
- I guarantee you won’t wait more than 10 minutes for your appointment with me.
There are all kinds of things you can do with guarantees to strengthen your offer.
KEY ELEMENT #8: Have a Follow-Up System in Place
All the previous elements dealt with the mail piece itself. But it’s just as critical to have an effective follow-up system in place. Getting a bunch of responses to a mail piece is an complete and utter waste of money if you don’t have a system to follow-up with those leads. This means that when you first get a response, you need to have a way to do something that really gets the attention of the prospect. You might send them a “shock-and-awe” kit. This is a kit is a box or packet of goodies the prospect would never expect to get from anyone in the situation. You might make a personal appearance. A phone call from the president. Anything you can do to tell the prospect you care is a good thing to do.
Beyond the initial contact, you also need to have an ongoing follow-up system in place. An email auto-responder would be effective in this case. But you can also do it with additional Direct Mail pieces. Maybe a quarterly newsletter. Maybe periodic phone calls. Whatever works for your market to ensure that people remember is good.
KEY ELEMENTS #9: Repetition is Everything
Repetition is everything. Repetition is everything. Repetition is everything.
If you think you can do one mail piece or one email campaign and set profit records, you’re dreaming. IN the case of real estate, it’s a fact that about 7% of the population moves every year. There’s probably another 7% thinking about moving in any given time. That’s only about 14% of the people who probably have any interest at all in hearing about selling their home. 14% means 14 out of 100, which means 86 out of 100 are not interested at all right now.
Next year another 7% of people are going to move and probably another 7% will be thinking about it. Just because a prospect isn’t interested this year, does not mean they won’t be interested next year, or next month. Your goal as a marketer is to put your name in front of people often enough so that when it finally comes time for them to act on your offer, they think of you first before they think of your competition.
Here’s a good rule of thumb… Whatever response you get from one mailer, you can at least double the response by doing two additional mail pieces. In other words, if you send the same thing three times to the same list, you’ll typically get double the response you would get over just one mailing.
Another rule of thumb… Direct Mail that works should be mailed again and again until it stops working. It is not uncommon to mail the same offer up to 10 times before it finally gets to the point where it’s no longer profitable to mail.
By hitting your prospects several times during their decision making process, ideally with pieces a little different than your competition, you’ll begin to build a brand with the recipient and they’ll begin to know, like, and trust you. And guess who they want to buy from when they’re ready to buy? Someone they know, like, and trust
So remember: mail, mail, mail, and then mail some more!
Now here’s your homework, because if you don’t use the information I’m giving you, it’s useless. Dedicate yourself to this task just like you did before.
Create calls-to-action for any of your existing marketing pieces that don’t have them and put a plan in place for having them added as soon as possible
Write and implement a guarantee if you don’t already have one, make sure the one you have is effective if you do
Write out a few ways you can create repetition in your marketing – including at least one multi-step campaign you can use in the next three months
We introduced you to the 4-part series we’re doing on the 10 Key Elements of Your Marketing. Because we want to help you become expert in creating effective marketing campaigns. (If you didn’t get that email, look in your SPAM folder, and if you still can’t find it – let me know and I’ll get another copy out to you.)
Today’s email is going to focus on four elements: targeting, offers, copy, and urgency.
KEY ELEMENT #2: Identify Your Target Market or Client
Perhaps the greatest thing about Direct Mail Marketing is that it is very easy to target specific demographic groups. You can rent or buy lists that contain just about any criteria you can imagine about a market.
For B2C you could look for a specific ZIP code, type of family, size of family, owners or rents, and a myriad of other demographic factors.
For B2B, you could look for SIC codes, size of the business, gross sales, number of employees, location, competitors, etc.
Who should you target?
Choosing the right list is vital to the success of a direct marketing campaign. You can mail the greatest offer in the world to the wrong list and get zero response. You can also mail a mediocre offer to a good list and still get a good response.
There are three main types of targets that every business should approach
- Your in-house customer list
- Your in-house prospect list
- Your targeted cold prospect list
The in-house customer list is obvious. It is simply a list of your customers. So many marketers take this list for granted and don’t do anything with their customers. Never forget your in-house customer list. It is just as important as any other list you may use. In fact, it may be more important than any other list – these are the customers that are easiest to make a sale with, and since you’ve already spent the cost-of-acquisition to get them, the sales you do make are much more profitable. This list is red hot and a gold mine.
The in-house prospect list are prospects who haven’t purchased yet. They’ve contacted you, and expressed some level of interest in your product or service, but they haven’t made the purchase yet. The fact that they already took a step to contact you puts you closer to the sale. Just because they haven’t bought yet doesn’t mean they won’t.
Maybe they still don’t know, like, and trust you. Maybe you didn’t do a good enough job of showing them the value proposition, and can do a better job the second time around. Maybe they never really saw your materials even though they asked for them. Maybe you just did a louse job the first time around. No matter the reason they haven’t bought yet, this is a very valuable list because it’s already warm.
The third list is a targeted cold prospect list.
This one is a little more difficult to obtain, and you have to put on your thinking cap to figure out who exactly should be on this list. In order to do this, you have to identify who your ideal target customer is, AND what are some of the demographics associated with them. Then you’ll need to go to the sources where you can find people with those demographics. There are mailing list companies, magazines, associations, clubs, trade groups, social media groups, and all sorts of sources for people with similar demographics.
Back to our real estate example… If you are looking for high equity properties and you don’t target your list properly, most of your mailing could end up going to people with very little equity in their property. To make money as a real estate investor, you have to purchase houses at wholesale value, often 50 cents on the dollar or less. If you offer a person who owes $100,000 on their home $50,000 there is almost no chance they are going to say yes. You may even get a 10% response rate to the mailer because you have a compelling offer. But if none of those people are the right prospects, you will not get any deals. You are wasting your money even soliciting those types of people.
But targeting the right prospects isn’t enough…
KEY ELEMENT #3: Have an irresistible Offer
An irresistible offer is the lifeblood of any marketing campaign. So many people make a mistake of sending out a mail piece, email, or website that has no offer at all. Typically people will say, “We’re in the _______ business and here’s our phone number”.
That is NOT an offer.
It is critical to determine what your objective is, and then craft an offer to help you achieve that objective.
If your goal is to generate a lead, use an offer of a free report on maximizing profits, a DIY on staining decks, or other free content relevant to your industry.
So many marketers make the mistake of only listing features and benefits, but they are missing the very critical compelling offer that spurs prospects into taking action.
Remember “We clean carpets” with a phone number listed is NOT an offer.
KEY ELEMENT #4: Always Talk About Benefits and Experience to Prospects
Any time you write anything on any sort of marketing piece, you need to ask yourself the question, “Who cares?” Look at it from the prospect’s point of view. If the prospect doesn’t care about what you just said, don’t say it. Instead, focus on telling them the benefits and experiences they’ll get from your products and services. Because let’s face it, buyers are about the “What’s in it for me?”
Let’s look at the real estate business again. What is a typical problem someone might have? They may have a vacant house that is costing them money, and they don’t know what to do. Think about that problem when you craft your message. You might say, “We will remove all the worry and hassle of fixing up and getting your vacant house ready for sale, so you can move on and enjoy your family”.
That statement solves their key problem AND talks about a benefit for them. If you want to take it one step further, you’d add in the experience of the benefit. “We’ll remove all the worry and hassle of fixing up your vacant house and getting it ready for sale, so you can sit back on your beach chair, dig your toes into the sand, and watch your children romp in the waves on that family vacation you’ve never had time for.”
Another example is what I used to get people interested in a direct mail book I wrote. I know that most small business owners are interested in more sales and profits. So all my marketing copy talked about the benefits of increased profits – not about direct mail specifically. They don’t care about doing Direct Mail without knowing what Direct Mail is going to do for them. Connecting the fact that Direct Mail can result in increased profits makes sense to most business owners.
KEY ELEMENT #5: Create a Sense of Urgency
Sense of urgency is very important in any marketing piece, but especially in a Direct Mail piece. Create a sense of urgency by setting a specific time or a specific deadline they must respond by, or your offer is good for. You can use scarcity to create a sense of urgency with, “This offer is limited to the first 10 people who respond within 24 hours!” or “We are only buying one house in your neighborhood”. Sense of urgency motivates the reader to act. It is human nature to not want to miss out. The more you can make it feel like the reader will be missing out the stronger your message will be.
Your next assignment is going to be similar to the last. You’re going to take the information you learned in this email and actually do something with it. Sensing a pattern here yet?
Schedule another half an hour at some point in the next 24 hours, and shut everything out just like last time. Then I want you to brainstorm:
Who your ideal market and/or client is
What irresistible offer is will compel your ideal market and/or client to take action
Which ways you can create a sense of urgency
It’s probably a good bet that you understand the importance of educating yourself on marketing. But are you the marketing expert you need to be in order for your marketing to be effective?
Don’t let the word “expert” intimidate you, we’re just saying you need to be an expert in creating marketing campaigns. But we’re NOT saying you need to have lots of experience in creating marketing campaigns. We’re saying you need to understand and know how to implement the key elements for any marketing campaign.
This 3-part series is going to help you with just that – understanding the 10 key elements you need for success in your marketing.
KEY ELEMENT #1: Have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Dan Kennedy is one of the greatest marketing geniuses of the last 30 years, and I will quote him when it comes to defining a USP. Dan says, “What is it that you do that would make the customer choose you over anyone else, including doing nothing? And you CAN’T use ‘price’, ‘quality’, or ‘service’”
You have to ZIG when everyone else ZAGS. What is your ZIG?
Everybody claims to offer the lowest prices, the best quality, and the best service. Consumers have come to expect that from everyone. It is NOT unique. What is it that you do that sets you apart from your competition?
Dan uses the example of Domino’s pizza. Dominoes never talk about how good their pizza is, the quality of their ingredients, or anything else about the pizza. All they said was, “Hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Good pizza was not guaranteed. They built an empire on the promise to deliver pizza within 30 minutes. The customers cared more about the speed than they did about anything else.
Finding your unique selling proposition is perhaps the most difficult thing for any business to do. And beyond a doubt the most important thing you can do for your business.
Let’s say you’re a real estate investor, you buy houses for cash, just like everyone else does. Almost all of your competitors offer the same thing. Does this sound familiar?
We will buy your house for cash… No real estate commissions… No repairs… We will close fast…
Everyone is saying the same thing. What can you do that makes you stand out from the hundreds of other people all saying the same thing?
A more compelling USP might be “We Buy Ugly Houses”, “We’ll Rent Your Moving Trucks”, or “We’ll Clean Your New House For You”. It uniquely differentiates the offer from all the others in the industry.
Maybe you come up with a unique guarantee. Maybe you give your service a name that stands out. Maybe you have a slightly different approach than your competitors. Think about what you do and how you do it and find a way to differentiate yourself.
One example in the real estate space again is the headline, “I will sell your house in 90 days or less or I’ll buy it myself.” That truly is a unique, compelling message for anyone interested in sell their house. Because it’s a guaranteed sale, you know your house will be sold.
Once you’ve decided how you are unique, you need to build your marketing message around that USP.
HERE’S A CHECKLIST FOR BRAINSTORMING YOUR USP
- Unique name
- Competitive positioning
- Exclusive niche
- Hidden benefit
- Method of marketing and distribution
- Service difference
- Added value
- Premium/gift with purchase
- Packaging difference
- Payment terms
Now I want you to sit down right now and schedule half an hour of your time to brainstorm with this checklist at some point in the next 24 hours. And do it with your door closed, phone turned off, and computer in sleep mode. All your attention focused on this task.
Because the second part of this Key Elements series is coming soon…
If you thought direct mail was a thing of the past, you aren’t the only one. Plenty of people still believe that direct mail is no longer an effective way to market, focusing instead on email and online marketing. But they are all wrong.
Almost every major online retailer spends millions of dollars on all types of media, including direct mail. They’re doing it because it works. And because they know a mixed approach of both online and offline marketing is more effective than using one approach by itself.
There is no question that there was a period of time when companies could make more money by focusing solely on their online marketing. But direct mail has made a tremendous come-back.
What happened to make direct mail appealing again?
You can probably relate to getting hundreds, if not thousands, of daily emails – most of which are unsolicited. You have spam filters, but they don’t catch it all. Half the time your spam filter catches a few emails that you want so, so you end up having to search through the spam filter to find the good emails, which frustrates you even more.
It seems like every time you buy something online, you end up with emails from at least 1- different companies. You start deleting as fast as you can. Often, legitimate emails you actually want to get, and legitimate offers you might actually be interested in, get deleted.
Do you honestly look at everything in your inbox? Chances are you don’t even look at 1% of them. How many times have you gone on a deleting and unsubscribing sprees simply because you were too overwhelmed by email? Chances are you do this pretty often. This is what your prospects are going through, so getting your prospect to even see, not to mention open, your email is a challenging task. And before you can even get your email into someone’s inbox, you have to make sure you are complying with email laws if you don’t want to find yourself in an expensive legal battle just because you wanted to promote your business.
What makes direct mail effective again?
First, there are no laws against sending unsolicited mail to someone’s physical mailbox, so it’s easier to get into physical mailboxes.
Secondly, even the busiest person eventually has to go to the mailbox, pick up the mail, and shuffle through it to decide what to keep and what to throw away. Okay, some of the busiest people don’t look at their mail; they have someone else do it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get their attention using direct mail. You have at least a second or two to get their attention. It is very easy to delete an email without ever seeing a single word in the email. It is not so easy to get rid of a direct mail piece without at least taking a quick glance at it. Third, most of us spend a good part of our day staring at a computer screen. There is still a large part of society that enjoys reading the printed word on paper. How often do you read any sort of long document on the internet? You probably print it out like the rest of us and take it to read in your easy chair.
Here are a few facts to chew on:
The Direct Marketing Association found that average direct mail response rates among existing customers is 3.4% vs. .12% for email.
The Direct Marketing Association says that 73% of people prefer to receive a direct mail solicitation vs. an email solicitation An Epsilon Preference Study in 2011 showed that 50% of consumers say they pay more attention to postal mail than email That same study showed that 60% of consumers say they enjoy checking their mailbox and receiving mail
The Epsilon Study also found that preferences for direct mail even extents to the 18 to 34 age group Alliance Research found that a fast-growing percentage of people exp4ress frustration and resentment with email marketing even from sources with which they have a good relationship
USPS data in 2011 showed that 98% of consumers retrieve and sort through their mail from the mailbox the same day it is delivered
A study by Bangor University and Millward Brown showed “Tangible materials such as direct mail trigger a much deeper level of emotional process than any other media”. DMNews reports that marketers have increased their spending on direct mail by nearly 3%.
These statistics prove that direct mail is not dead!
Not only is it not dead, it is arguably more effective at creating an emotional connection with potential clients. The emotional connection they need to make in order to make the decision to buy from you.
Let’s go back to why consumers prefer “snail mail”.
(For you younger folks who never heard of “snail mail”, let me explain. When email first came out, traditional postal mail was given the nickname “snail mail”, mainly because it was not instantaneous like email.)
There are several reasons consumers prefer “snail mail”. First, it is simply easier to read something printed on paper than on the computer screen. Second, you can do things with paper and ink, such as adding scents, using special papers, including incredibly rich photos, and other things that create an emotional response, that you can’t do on a computer screen. And because it’s nice to get a break from that all-consuming computer screen. Most of us spend all day in front of a screen, fighting through information overload with constant news streams, social media updates and notifications, and overflowing email inboxes… those five pieces of mail in our physical mailbox at the end of the day is surprisingly refreshing.