All posts by Ryan Neufeld

The Biggest Mistake You’re Making With Your Newsletter

By | Direct Mail Marketing | No Comments

By now, if you’ve read any of our other blogs or content you know that we are huge proponents of newsletters. Besides our opinion, there are many testimonials, statistics, and evidence that supports the notion that newsletters are an effective avenue of marketing for your business. Granted, there are a variety of newsletters like print or online, monthly, quarterly, or even biannually. Regardless your stance on the timing or type of newsletter you do, the bottom line is this: doing a newsletter is better than not doing one.

Read the 6 things to consider before sending a print newsletter.

So if you’re doing one, how do you make it better? To arrive at that point, we’re actually going to look at common mistake that so many people make. In fact, you may be doing this now and it’s damaging your newsletter efforts.

Here’s the biggest mistake that I see most people make with their newsletter: they don’t provide any value to the reader.

your newsletter

Define Your Reader

But, who is your reader? This is something you need to define before you start your newsletter. Or if you’ve already established one, it’s a good idea to step back and make sure you’re staying true to your mission. The reader is the most important aspect of your newsletter because they’re the reason you created one in the first place! Are they your customer? A hot  prospect? A mixture of both? You need to define that from the get-go so that the content you put in your newsletter is appropriately directed toward them.

Once you define your reader, think about their interests and needs. What would they enjoy reading or find beneficial? Why should they take time out of their busy day to sit down and read your newsletter? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you’re going to have an awfully hard time hitting the mark with content they want to read.

Learn about the 5 factors of an e-newsletter you need to know

If you’re having a hard time deciding on what type of content to put in your newsletter, think about the goal of your newsletter. Are you trying to entertain? Inform? Sell? This should be the grounds by which you decide what’s going in the newsletter. Understanding your reader and goal of the newsletter is the guideline for how you should create content. If your goal is to entertain and delight your customers, then it’s fine to slide in a couple jokes or a funny story. But, if the goal of your newsletter is to educate the reader and sell your consulting services, it’s probably not best to add in a summer recipe for your mom’s potato salad. Always keep in mind the goal of your newsletter when writing and adding in content.

Does Your Content Add Value To Your Newsletter?

This is the golden question you should be asking yourself throughout the newsletter creation process.

Does this __________ (fill in the blank) add value to my newsletter?

Is my reader going to appreciate this comic strip or funny joke? Will my reader care if I put in a recipe or pictures from an event? Can my reader benefit from reading this article or quick tip? These are questions you need to be asking yourself. Because in the end, if your newsletter doesn’t provide value to your reader, they’re not going to read it!

As a fellow newsletter creator I get it though, it can be HARD to fill up a newsletter with GOOD content. Often I’m tempted to throw in an extra graphic, or cover up a blank section with a joke. Resist the temptation, don’t do it! Use some self accountability and do your best to think of a better alternative. The easiest way I have found to overcome this obstacle is planning out the content for the month before diving into it. Ask some of your co-workers to help you out. They’re more than willing to provide a short article or a snippet of useful information if you give them the topic and a little bit of time.

You don’t have to do everything yourself. Give yourself some help by delegating some of the content to others. This will help keep things fresh and relieve some of the pressure you deal with to fill every newsletter with value.

Quality Over Quantity

As you’ve heard this statement a million times before, it still rings true. Quality over quantity. If you’re struggling to fill up your newsletter on a month basis, it’s time to take a step back and analyze your quality. Don’t do a four page newsletter with a bunch of filler content when you could be doing a much more effective two page one. Or if you’re having trouble keeping up with a monthly newsletter, consider doing it every other month. You’re hurting yourself by throwing some junk out there because you feel like you have to.

Focus on creating a beneficial newsletter that will actually provide value. And if you need to pull back on the amount or timing, then do it. There’s no shame if you need to take a couple months off of the four page, and just go with two pages. In the end, it’s going to be more beneficial if you send a shorter one with great content, than a longer one with shallow content.

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3 Quick Tips To Jazz Up Your Sales Letter

By | Creative Services | No Comments

A sales letter is a piece of direct mail designed to persuade the reader to purchase a particular product or service in the absence of a salesman. It has been defined as “A form of direct mail in which an advertiser sends a letter to a potential customer. This definition from Wikipedia really hits the nail on the head.

For you, a sales letter could be many things. Maybe it’s your bread and butter marketing piece, or your “ace in the hole.” Maybe it’s what puts food on the table week in and week out. Regardless your situation, there’s no denying the power and effect that a sales letter has for any business, organization, or person. It’s the most foundational pillar of direct mail. But, as the years go on, there’s a good chance that your sales letter has become less effective than it was in its heyday. Times have changed and so have the ways customers perceive sales letters.

rocket-ship- boost

It’s time to give your sales letter a boost with these three quick tips.

  1. Headings and Subheads
  2. Use of Copy Doodles and Graphics
  3. Testing Different Materials

Headings and Subheads

Did you know they say the average human attention span is down to around eight seconds now? In fact, some studies even suggest that goldfish may have longer attention span than humans. But wait a minute, you’re expecting a prospect to read your sales letter that can be anywhere from a couples pages to even 20? Let’s be real about this. It’s hard to sit down and read something uninterrupted and undistracted in today’s world. So put yourself in the shoes of your prospects. Are they going to be able to make it to the end of your letter?

A big way to keep them on track is headings and subheads. These are the sentences or phrases that stand out in your letter with a bigger font size, different style, or different color. These guide the reader along and helps them stay on the path to the end. If your letter is longer than a page or two, you need to be utilizing these. Without guideline markers, there’s a good chance your reader could get lost or distracted. Use these headings to continue moving them through. Use them to highlight important problems, thoughts, solutions, or benefits. This will keep them enthralled and helps break up the paragraphs into easier reading sections. Depending on the type, style, or length of your letter, a good rule of thumb is a headline every 3-4 paragraphs. This can vary with what type of sales letter you’re writing. Usually though, it’s best to insert them when you’re transitioning from one idea to the next.

Use of Copy Doodles and Graphics

A lot of text on a page can get pretty boring to about 99% of the human population. (if you’re in that 1%, I’m sorry) So find ways to spice it up and point your reader to the things that are most important. These are the ideas and points that you absolutely don’t want them to miss. One great way to do this is use of Copy Doodles. These are hand drawn doodles, graphics, symbols, and fonts that you can insert into your sales letter. They help draw attention to what matters most in your letter.

CopyDoodles are used by some of the most successful direct mail experts out there including Dan Kennedy himself. It grabs the reader’s eyes and directs them to an important idea. Sometimes we’ve seen them used at the bottom of the page and say “Turn Over” or “Flip Page.”

Or you can insert them as arrows pointing to an offer you have at the bottom of the page.

Don’t feel like you’re limited to using just CopyDoodles. You can incorporate your own handwriting,  scribbles, or arrows. It’s easier than you think. All you have to do is print out your sales letter, make the marks you want, then scan it back onto your computer. Now you have your sales letter with your actual handwriting to add to the authenticity of your letter.

Here’s a letter we sent out where we used some stars and circles to highlight something important. We wanted to make sure the reader didn’t miss the opportunity of a great offer.

Material Variations

The third aspect I want to talk about is material variations. The most common form of sales letter we typically see is an 8.5×11 letter on standard 60# text in black and white. You know you don’t have to do that, right? Test out different ideas like making your sales letter into a 11×17 newsletter half folded to 8.5×11. Or cut it down to 7.5×11 so something is different about it.

Another big variable you can change is the paper type. If you’re going for a more professional look, print it on a nice linen paper or even off-white linen. Looking for something more personal? Print it on lined yellow paper or the super thin newspaper. You may be missing out on a major improvement if you aren’t trying different types of paper. Make minor adjustments with each letter you send out to find out what works best. Once you have the secret formula nailed down, ride that puppy until you need to make more adjustments.

So which of these tips have worked best for your sales letter? We would love to hear about the successes you have had with these improvements.

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4 Reasons Why Direct Mail Is Essential For Small Businesses

By | Direct Mail Marketing | No Comments

Small businesses are the pillars upon which the world’s economy sits on. They hold the globe up like Atlas, bearing long hours and even longer days. So crucial to the business world that civilizations would crumble without them. Upon losing them, the earth would spin out of orbit losing its gravitational pull….

Alright, alright, I may be exaggerating a bit. But there’s no denying the importance of small businesses in this world. And since I work at one, I have as much pride in our company as the next person. Because of that, I want every small business out there to succeed. So let me share four reasons why direct mail is essential for the success of small businesses.

small-business-store-front

 1. Existing Customers Are Important

I know what you’re thinking about hearing that, “Well, gee wiz Ryan, I had no clue…” Existing customers are important in every size of business. But I would argue, they increase in importance even more with a small business. We can’t magnetize new customers like massive corporations like Amazon or Apple can. No, gaining new customers takes lots of resources and effort when your marketing is on a much smaller scale. That means retaining and delighting your existing customer base is critical in keeping your business successful. Here’s where direct mail comes in.

Tell me which of these two cards is more effective to your customers? A mass emailed eCard from Jacquie Lawson that never gets opened in their inbox? Or a personally crafted paper and envelope Christmas card wishing them a wonderful holiday season? Direct mail carries a huge impact especially when mailed to your existing customers. It gives them a personal touch from you. It shows that you care about them and they’re not just another dollar sign walking through the door. Direct mail is essential to giving your existing customers the attention they deserve.

 2. Consistency Is Key

Statistics show that it can take somewhere from seven to 13 different touches for a prospect to recognize your company. That doesn’t even account for how many touches it takes to move them to a sale. The takeaway from this statistic is that consistency is key. You can’t keep customers or attract new ones by only sending out a quarterly newsletter or a blog post a year. It takes consistency to maintain those existing relationships and develop new ones. Direct mail is essential for developing this consistency. There’s no better avenue than sending a monthly newsletter. I would definitely recommend sending a print one. And at the very least, send a monthly e-newsletter. This gives your customers something to look forward to each month. You can use this newsletter to entertain, educate, inform, and delight.

Show your customers that you’re here to stay and you want to them to stick around too. You need to be reaching out often to stay at the top of their mind when they make their next buying decision. They may not be ready to buy in January, but when they pull the trigger in July, you can bet that reading your monthly newsletter will get them in your store.

 3. Direct Mail Develops A Relationship

One of my favorite supporting arguments for why direct mail is essential is the scientific effect it has on the brain. Check out this article about the impact direct mail has neurologically. The UK’s Royal Mail, came to the conclusion that tangible materials leave a deeper footprint on the brain. That means with each piece you send to your customer, they are having an “emotional experience” with you. For a few seconds, they have some sort of relationship to your brand and product without any distractions. Digital media and email just don’t have the same type of impact.

So when talking about the importance of maintaining and keeping existing customers, it seems like direct mail is a no brainer. (pun intended). Sending them mail continues to build and strengthen your relationship with each piece they receive. Other media channels simply don’t have the same impact.

 4. Stand Out Against Your Competition

We know better than anyone that competition can be a challenge in the way of your marketing efforts. It definitely shouldn’t be your focus at all times, but it’s always a good thing to be aware of what they’re doing. And lucky for you, they’re probably not sending out direct mail. Use that to your advantage and stand out from the rest. While prospects are dealing with pushy door to door salesmen, send them a no-pressure postcard with a killer design. Or reach out with a creative lumpy mailer. This will capture their undivided attention, giving you the advantage. Combined with an enticing offer, this can be effective in increasing sales conversions.

And you never know, you may even steal a few customers from your competitors with a jaw-dropping mail piece delivered at the right time. It’s much easier to separate your company from the rest with a mail piece, than a digital ad. Because think about it, most people skim over the ads on Facebook anyway. Be creative and find what works best for your small business.

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Resident VS Consumer: Which List Do You Need?

By | Data Processing | No Comments

With any direct mail campaign, one of the most critical components is the list. If you’re not mailing to your customer data base, then that means you need to purchase a mailing list. But how do you know which one is right for you? And what are the different types? In this blog, we’re gonna look at two different ones. Before diving into the specifics of both a consumer and resident list, let’s first lay the groundwork by defining what the difference is between the two.

Consumer and Resident Lists

A resident list is a compilation of records based on housing addresses. So this list would give you the house address, city, state and zip code. And if you would like, you can also buy the name of the resident associated with the address. When selecting a resident list you can filter categories of the type of residency. These are: single family dwelling, city routes, multiple family dwelling, rural routes, trailers, businesses and PO boxes. Something important to remember is this: it does’t provide any further information about the residents living at these addresses. It only provides information about the type of residency.

 

type of list

If you want to choose a list about the specifics of the people living at the address, then you’d look into a consumer list. This type of list can select records based on the qualifications and requirements you set. You can filter these selections by hundreds of different demographics. Some of the more general categories are: age, gender, home value, household status, income, marital status and housing characteristics. But if diving into something more specific like “individual” for example, you could filter it by: date of birth, education level, number of children, occupation, and voter party preferences.

Pros of a Resident List

Moving on to the positives of each list, there are distinguishable benefits of both types. With a resident list, the most glaring benefit is the cost. Often times, this can be considerably cheaper. And in some cases, even 10x cheaper! With the low cost, it allows you to buy more records than you would be able to with a consumer list. Let’s say you buy 10,000 records at $12/m. That list would only cost you $120. If that was a consumer list with several specifications, it could cost $25/m, which comes out to $250. So in this scenario, you’re getting the same amount of records for only half the cost.

Pros of a Consumer List

On the flip side, how can a consumer list prove to be more beneficial? The most beneficial aspect is the detailed targeting characteristics you can select. Say you’re opening up a new chiropractic clinic in the south side of town. You can select 3,000 people between the ages of 45-70, within a five mile radius of your clinic, who suffer from back pain, and have an income higher than $65k. That’s going to be a pretty effective list! And because it’s so targeted, you don’t have to purchase as many records to reach the goal amount of qualified prospects. In this scenario, you could only mail 3,000 people at $25/m instead of 10,000 people at $12, and still reach the same goal.

Cons of a Resident List

But, what are the downsides to each type of list? To start, the biggest disadvantage of the resident list is that you can’t select specific types of people. You have to just ”blanket” neighborhoods instead of selecting individuals. You can’t narrow it down to the characteristics you need. So if you own a pediatric dentistry and mail 5,000 houses, there’s a good chance that half of those people either don’t have kids living with them, or don’t have kids in the correct age range. You’re wasting a lot of money on people who will never buy your service because it’s not even practical for them. You could save that money and invest it elsewhere.

Cons of a Consumer List

With a consumer list, the biggest negative is the cost. As illustrated earlier, a very specific list with lots of requirements can be up to 10x more expensive! And in some cases, it can be hundreds of dollars for a couple thousand names. The more specific you go, the more expensive it becomes. This can be cost prohibitive if the type of list you need is very specific. The other downside is the selections you make are not always 100% accurate. For example, you could select someone who was in a car accident less than three months ago. Well by the time, their record is updated in a list company’s database, it could be six months past and they’ve already received the help they were looking for. So there is a slight chance you’re paying more for information that isn’t completely up to date.

When Should You Use Each Type of List?

So if you’ve read this far in this blog, you’re probably thinking to yourself, Ryan, just tell me whether I should use a consumer or resident list for my  ____________ (insert mailer description). Okay, okay, here are my recommendations for when each list is appropriate.

I would suggest to use a resident list when the product or service you’re selling or advertising, applies to everybody. For example, a postcard with $15 off your next oil change is great to send to 5,000 residents surrounding your shop. Because pretty much everybody needs to get an oil change for their cars at some point. But if you’re advertising your pool services in an neighborhood where 90% of people don’t have a pool, then that’s not going to be very effective.

A consumer list is great for sales letters, or creative mailers targeting specific types of people. I recommend using a consumer list for most mailings because you can be sure that the right people will always be receiving your piece. This can be especially effective when it is a targeted list. For example, sending a weight loss supplement check mailer to people who have bought similar supplements in the past six months. You can be confident that you’re targeting the right audience.

Regardless of which type of list you choose, spend time weighing the pros and cons. Keep your target recipient in mind and you can make the right choice to make your mailer as successful as possible.

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Best Practices: Planning A Direct Mail Campaign

By | Direct Mail Marketing | No Comments

I want to take you to the first step, ground floor, phase 1, level zero. This is before you launch into the creation of your direct mail piece or start selecting a list. Let’s rewind to the beginning. You’re leaning back in your chair, tapping your pencil, and staring at the blank piece of paper. How do you plan a direct mail campaign?

And what does the most efficient process look like?

Before you dive into the deliverables, you need to take care of the ground work first. This can be summed up to four main aspects.

  1. Decide what the goal of the campaign is
  2. Define your expectations for the mailing
  3. Develop a timeline
  4. Detail an outline

Now remember, taking care of these tasks should be the first thing you do. Before even thinking about writing your sales letter or firing up Adobe Illustrator. So let’s explore these critical first steps of your campaign.

foundation

What’s the goal?

First thing first, what’s the goal of your mailing? Is your goal to sell? Inform? Entertain? Before deciding, this will probably be answered by who you’re trying to reach. Are you mailing your customer list to let them know you’re throwing a customer appreciation BBQ? Or, you’re having a two day tent sale and are giving them a 20% off coupon. Or, you’re wanting to let your customers know about the latest and greatest product you released last month. Understanding your target recipient is going to help you zero in on the goal of your mailing. Know that the type of mail piece you decide on will be affected by this. If your goal is only to inform your customers, the piece would look way different than if you’re trying to make a sale. Realize the type of mail piece you send out will also affect the cost. Which is why you need a thorough grasp of what your aim is, in order to deliver a clear and effective message. This is a great place to start.

What are your expectations?

Time to move onto second aspect: determining your expectations for your direct mail campaign. Take the time to write down what you’re wanting to achieve from this campaign. This could be a financial expectation, such as a certain sales point. Or, this could be a benchmark number for participation or attendance. Make the result you’re wanting clear and specific. For example, if you’re hosting a two day seminar, write down how many people you’d like in attendance. Then, using this number, determine how many mail pieces you’d need to send out to accomplish this. And after the event is over, you can use that information for the next seminar to determine if any adjustments need to be made.

If you skip this step, how are you going to know how much you should spend or how many pieces to send out? Plus, after it’s over, how are you going to conclude whether it was successful or not? Doing this ahead of time can be a valuable tool in analyzing the outcome of your campaign. It can also be helpful and motivating when you’re starting to launch future campaigns.

Develop A Timeline

Third, develop a timeline for each part of your campaign. This sets the foundation for how and when you’re going to tackle the many tasks. Without deadlines and checkpoints, it can feel almost impossible to consistently make progress. Especially on a multi-step process like a direct mail campaign. You know as well as I do, it’s easy to get side tracked and distracted when you don’t have a plan to stick to. Do your best to stay disciplined and cross off your task list one at a time. If you can do this on a daily basis, there’s a great chance you’ll be able to get your mailing out on time. One of the most common mistakes I see in direct mail is someone who doesn’t take the time to flush out all the details of their mailing beforehand. And often, this comes back to cause some unnecessary complications right at the deadline that could’ve easily been prevented.

Detail An Outline

Fourth, detail an outline. This is the skeleton of your direct mail campaign and essential for keeping you aligned to the mission of your mailing. By creating this ahead of time, it gives you a compass to work toward the right direction. Detail out every task and what needs to be done. Often, planning a direct mail campaign will require the help of others. Creating this outline at the beginning can be an invaluable resource for keeping track of responsibilities. Assigning tasks and roles eliminates confusion and ambiguity that can derail a campaign from the start.

Once you’ve worked out these four aspects, you’re ready to launch into your direct mail campaign. Since you rolled up your sleeves in the early stages, you’ll reap the benefits as your campaign stays on the track to success throughout the process.

If you find yourself in the beginning phases of a direct mail campaign at the moment, be sure to download our free report, The Five Secrets of Every Success Direct Mail Campaign. You can apply these strategies to boost your next mailing!

 

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How To Instantly Improve Your Postcard

By | Mailing Services | No Comments

Junk, junk… no, Capital One, I’m not interested in opening a credit card… jeez Bed, Bath & Beyond, leave me alone… no, I don’t want to donate more money… wait what’s this? As you dump the rest of the pieces into the trash, you take a closer look at this attractive, sexy, eye-catching, eyebrow raising postcard…

Alright, alright, so I took it a little too far. But isn’t that how we feel sometimes when sorting through the mail? You have your usual suspects that you plan to see once a week that you pay attention to for half a second. But man, when you come across a nice looking postcard, it stops you in your tracks as you examine the contents.

Everybody wants their postcard to be the one that catches attention but too often they end up in the trash with the rest of the junk mail. So how do you get your piece to be the one that survives the purge and even more, prompts the recipient to respond?

Let me share with you three tips to help instantly improve your postcard.
  1. Catchy Headline
  2. Color Scheme
  3. Clear Offer

Catchy Headline

When looking at a postcard, the first place your eyes go to is the headline. Usually, it’s the biggest piece of text because that’s the first thing you want your recipient to read. Concerning placement, I would suggest having it toward the top of the piece because that’s how the eyes read. Left to right and top to bottom. You want it to be super easy for the reader to locate your headline because this is the starting point for selling your postcard. Your headline is the way to get your foot in the door and keep the recipient reading.

Now, regarding the content of your headline, you could go a million and one different ways. So I’ll try to offer a little direction for you. Make it attention grabbing. This is your hook so it must entice the reader to keep reading. It needs to be obvious they will benefit from what you’re offering. Here are a couple good examples: “Make your neighbors jealous with a luscious, green lawn in only 60 days!” or “Enjoy 50% off your next oil change with us!” From the get go, the reader understands what you’re selling and how they can take advantage of this opportunity.

Color Scheme

One of the most common mistakes that I see made with postcards are poor color schemes. It’s critical that your postcard needs to stand out from the rest with eye catching and aesthetically pleasing colors. According to Kissmetrics, visual appearance is responsible for 93% of a buying purchase. And consumers say color is 85% of their decision for why they buy a particular product.

colors

When designing your postcard, the first guideline you need to stick to is brand unity. You want to make sure everything a consumer sees or receives from you emanates a common theme or appearance. This will help with your brand recognition and association in the long run. Second, make your color decisions a priority. Don’t allow this to be an afterthought or picked by random. Analyze the different elements in your piece and find ways to incorporate a consistent color scheme that works. If you aren’t sure how to do that, google color palettes, and pick one. Then stick to those 3-5 colors throughout the whole piece. You don’t want your postcard to look like Joseph’s technicolor dream coat or the outside of a circus tent. By sticking to some basic guidelines, I am confident you can create something that will have an positive impact on the reader.

Clear Offer

At the end of the day, the whole purpose of your postcard boils down to this: prompting action. Regardless of if you’re driving prospects to your website or advertising a big sale, you want to motivate the recipient to act. The primary way to do this is with your offer. You’ve led them on a short journey from awareness to consideration so now you need conversion. Providing a strong offer that is easy to understand is the way you can do this.

First, make it easy to locate. This thing needs to be “large and in charge.” The reader should never have to search or squint their eyes for what you’re offering them. The easier they can find it, the better chance they will act on it. You can achieve this by creating a burst graphic, or a “clip out rectangle” or a strong contrast in color. You need to lead their eyes toward it so do whatever you need to for that to happen. Second, make it easy to understand. Nothing is worse than seeing an offer that you can’t quite understand what is being offered. Let them know how you want them to respond. If you want them to go to your website provide the URL nice and big. Or, if you want them to bring the postcard into the store, write that in big bold letters. If your reader has to work hard to find out how to respond, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Make it simple and obvious for them to respond.

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An Easy Guide To Choosing The Right Offer

By | Direct Mail Marketing | No Comments

You’ve finished writing out your sales letter or just finished the design on your latest postcard. Everything’s looking good but you realized you haven’t decided on what the right offer is going to be. You have a couple ideas but you need to finalize what you want to do. It’s time to set the hook to reel in the big fish with your mail piece. But first, what type of offer should you use?

Well, let’s explore a couple different types of offers that you could try out.

  1. Percentage and dollar off discounts
  2. Low or no risk experiences

choosing the right offer

Percentage And Dollar Off Discounts

As they say, “there’s nothing new under the sun,” and that definitely includes discount offers. But why are they so effective? We all know and understand that receiving 10% off or $5 off your first purchase might not save you that much. But it got you into the store, didn’t it? And you ended up buying more than expected didn’t you?

There’s something about a good sale or discount that makes it near impossible for our minds to reject. So when going about setting the right offer, how do you land on one that is effective for the customer, but also for you? If you’re going with the route of a monetary discount, always rely on this principle, “whichever one sounds like more.”

You want your offer to be irresistible so you need to choose the one that gives the highest perceived value. Consumers want to feel like they are getting the best deal and a large part of that is based on their initial impression of the offers. So, if your dollar amount is $50 off compared to a 15% discount, there’s a good chance that the $50 dollars off would outperform the percentage. Because a lot of people aren’t going to be doing that calculation of 15% in their head. The $50 off just sounds like a better deal. Studies have shown that even though two different offers give the same discount, whichever sounds like a better deal will outperform the other. And in some cases, as illogical as it sounds, a discount offering less, can still perform better because of the perceived value.

So how do you pick which one? The answer is to test them. Send out an A/B split on your next mailing. Make Offer A percentage off and Offer B dollars off. Compare how they perform and make adjustments with each mailing. The best way to find out which offer you should use is by testing.

Low Or No Risk Experience

But what if offering a monetary discount isn’t the best option for your business? Then, consider giving them a low or no risk experience. This could look like a “30 Day Free Trial” or a “60 Day Money Back Guarantee.” You have the greatest chance of making a sale when the consumer feels like it is a very low risk or no risk purchase. Ease their mind and concerns, by giving them the chance to try out your product without risking anything. And if your product and services perform as they should, you already have the sale made. You give them the opportunity to take it for a test drive. At that point, the odds are in your favor that they’ll convert into a sale.

Above all though, keep in mind who your target recipient is and what you’re trying to sell. If they’re spending several thousand dollars, they’re going to have more concerns thus needing less risk. Go with the free trial for them. But, if you’re selling a service that normally costs $75, use a monetary discount to get them in. Keeping these factors in mind will help you decide on the right offer.

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How To Create Deadlines That Drive Response

By | Direct Mail Marketing | No Comments

To this day, I still remember reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet in my English Composition class my senior year of high school. After we had finished working our way through the book, we had to write a comprehensive six-page report. We had to detail every nuance and writing strategy we absorbed from the book. Let me tell you something, the only thing that made me write that paper was the deadline given by my teacher. Because if it wasn’t for that, I probably still wouldn’t have written that paper to this day…

Deadlines are motivating factors to take action on things. They give us a sense of urgency to make an immediate movement toward a decision. Deadlines in offers do the same thing. They motivate people toward a decision or commitment, regardless if it involves a sale or not.

your deadline

So how do you choose the best deadline for your offer?

There are generally two different types of deadlines:

  1. Limited period of time
  2. Limited spots or opportunities

Limited Period of Time

Limited period of time is the one you’re most familiar with because it’s used more often. This could be an actual expiration date such as “expires 4/15/18.” Or, “order product Y in the next 48 hours to claim your special pricing.” A specific time where your offer ends gives a definite stopping point to your customer. This can motivate them to act quickly because they may have a fear of missing out on this good deal.

A factor to consider with a timing deadline is exactly that. How much time should you give in your deadline? Well, the answer depends on what you’re offering and how you want the recipient to respond to your offer. If you’re simply driving them online to your website to claim a limited time printable coupon, the deadline could be as short as a week. Because you know that it won’t take very long for the customer to perform that action.

But, if your offer requires your customer to walk into your store, then it’s a good idea to give them a couple weeks so they have ample opportunities. You don’t want to set the deadline too short for fear of not giving your customer enough time to redeem your offer. But, if your deadline is too long, there’s a good chance your customer will put your offer on the side of the fridge and forget about it until a couple months after it expires.

Limited Spots or Opportunities

The second type of deadline you can use is limited spots or opportunities. Here are a few examples of what that can look like. “We can only schedule appointments with the next five people who call this number.” Or, “Our inventory is running low and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Don’t wait and place your order before we run out!” Or, “Limited seating available: only 12 seats left. Claim yours before it’s too late!”

As you can tell, these give the customer a great deal of urgency because they’re informed there’s a chance they can miss out on this opportunity. By limiting the number of people who can redeem this, you provide a more competitive feel for the recipients of this offer. Plus, it allows you to control how much you’re giving away with your offer. You gain control from both a financial perspective as well as a timing perspective. Especially if you can only handle a certain number of appointments in a certain amount of time.

Your Deadline

Lastly, when making the decision of your deadline, the important question to answer is this. What is the goal of your deadline? As we talked about, with both types of deadlines, there are different factors that come in to play. Understand how you’re wanting recipients to respond to your offer and pick the deadline accordingly. As always, be sure to test. Try out a two-week deadline and see how it compares to only allowing 10 spots. You can always switch up the type of deadline with each offer you send out. Find what works best for you to drive more traffic to where you want it.

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The Great Debate: Postcard or Letter?

By | Mailing Services | No Comments

Chocolate ice cream or strawberry ice cream? Red vines or Twizzlers? Milk chocolate or dark chocolate? Coffee or tea? And lastly…. postcard or letter?

Everyday we have to make decisions where we pair two things side-by-side, and then decide which one we’re going to choose. Now granted, it’s a little easier to make a decision when you’re deciding between two chocolates. But how do you make a decision when you’re planning a direct mail campaign that costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars?

Let’s take a look at the age-old question: should I send a postcard or letter?

postcard or letter

Before we dive into this discussion, I want to bring your attention to three different questions. It would be wise for you to answer these, before making the grand decision.

  1. Who is your target audience?
  2. What is your goal for the mailing?
  3. How do you want your recipient to respond?

Who Is Your Target Audience?

Before starting any mailing, regardless if it’s a postcard, sales letter, newsletter or something else, you should always finalize who your target recipient is. This is critical for developing an effective and pointed mail piece.

The first place to start with, is this mail piece going to be B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer)? This is an incredibly important factor. If it’s B2B, then that probably means you’re trying to persuade a business owner, or higher-up executive. So, will you have a better chance with a multiple page sales letter or a 6×11 postcard? There’s no doubt that the sales letter will be more effective. Especially if you’re trying to sell someone on your services, there’s little chance you’ll be able to do it on a postcard. Because, you don’t have enough time or space on the postcard to give your entire spiel.

One other thing to think about is the delivery of your piece to the recipient. If it’s a postcard, will it even reach the desk of your target? Remember, nearly everpostcard or lettery business has a “gatekeeper” that determines if your mail piece is worth the time to read it. However, if you’re mailing to a consumer who doesn’t have someone screening their mail, it’ll be a lot easier for them to receive your message with a postcard.

What Is Your Goal For The Mailing?

Second, what’s your goal for the mailing? Are you just letting your customers know about the new location you opened up or are you running a special on one of your services? In these cases, a postcard is definitely more than suitable for the job. However, if you’re trying to sell a monthly service they sign up for and have to commit to for six months, it will probably prove beneficial to write them a sales letter. Determining the goal of the piece can provide great insight on how you want to send your message.

How Do You Want Your Recipient To Respond?

Lastly, how do you want your recipient to respond to your mail piece? Are you wanting them to bring the coupon into your store to redeem? Postcards would be an easy and cost effective solution. Maybe you’re trying to drive them to your website to order something, a postcard is the way to go. However, if you’re trying to capture more referrals, this is when a letter could be most beneficial.

As you can tell, there are a hundred factors to consider when deciding between a postcard or letter. But a general rule of thumb is this: if you’re mailing B2B, go with a letter, but if you’re mailing B2C, go with a postcard. And just remember, you can always test with a smaller quantity, before going big. Keep on testing until you find something that works, then stick with that for as long as you can.

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What Is NCOA?

By | Data Processing | No Comments

Last summer, my wife and I bought our first house here in Wichita. We bought it from a sweet, old lady named Karen. We love it and have done so much already to improve it and shape it into our home. However, fast forward about eight months to now, and we are still receiving mail in our mailbox with Karen’s name. Why the heck are we still receiving her mail?!

That is where our little friend called National Change of Address or more commonly known as, NCOA, comes into play. Let’s unpack exactly what is NCOA, and why it is important.

What Is NCOA?

It would probably be best to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth:

Every year, approximately forty million Americans move their place of residence and/or business, but their old addresses often remain in mailer’s databases. As a result, mailings continue to go to old addresses and not the new ones.”

The National Change of Address is a secure database containing approximately 160 million permanent change-of-address records. This is maintained by the United States Postal Service who track the records of names and addresses of individuals, families and businesses who have filed a change-of-address with the USPS.

How Does It Work?

With every job, our data processing department performs a series of steps to prepare and clean up your list. Obviously, one of these steps is submitting your list to the NCOA database. Using our exclusive mailing software, we submit all of the records in your list including these fields for each record: “Name,” “Company,” “Address,” and “Zip code” (+ 4 digits if possible). Then the NCOA data base compares and contrasts these records against what it has on file, and makes the necessary changes and returns the list to us with the updated records.

As well as updating the address, it also makes any corrections or address resolutions needed. Depending on the state of the list being submitted, there could be anywhere from 4-5 records changed to 1,000 records changed if it’s in poor shape.

Here is an example of the results of a list after being run through NCOA.

what is ncoa

Why Is It Important?

Let’s look at the importance of running your lists through NCOA with a few simple math problems. “Rob” owns an auto shop, and is mailing a newsletter to his customer list of 3,500. Well, Rob doesn’t NCOA his list and there are 42 undeliverable addresses, 78 people who have moved to a different address in town, and 24 that have moved out of state. So there are now 144 newsletters that he will be paying for, that will not be delivered to the intended recipients. First, from a financial standpoint, he is spending .84 cents per piece, which comes out to a total of $120.96 that he is pretty much throwing in the trash. Secondly, from a marketing standpoint, that is 144 people who aren’t receiving the offer he has in his newsletter. With each potential conversion netting him $45, that’s a lot of revenue he’s missing out on.

As you can see, it is extremely important to have the most current addresses for each and every record. Besides saving you money, the USPS actually requires your list to be NCOA certified if you’re going to be mailing at a discounted rate, i.e. Presort Standard, First Class Presort, etc…

So flashing back to my story about Karen, there could be two causes for why we’re still receiving her mail.

  1. She hasn’t submitted her new address to the USPS database.
  2. These various mailing companies, have not run their lists through NCOA.

If you’ve moved recently and realize that you haven’t submitted your new address to the USPS, here is the link for you to do it.

Just remember,  you don’t want to become a Karen for the person who moves into your old house!

If you’re still scratching your head with the question, “what is NCOA?”, please reach out to us and we would love to teach you more about it.

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