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 Keys To Writing A Good Sales Letter

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Last weekend, my wife and I sat down with our computers and notepads and begin researching a new cell phone company. We started with the websites of three major carriers – Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T. But as we scrolled the web pages of the first company, we got this feeling they weren’t telling the whole truth. As we went to the next two companies, the trend only increased.

What was going on here? Why did the websites not give us the exact details we were looking for? We only acquired about 80% of what we needed. And we weren’t going to choose any carrier until we had ALL the information.

After scouring their websites, we called a salesperson from each company for more details. Sure enough, she filled in some of the gaps, especially about the pricing. But then one call took a strange turn: a sales rep. of one of the major carriers (I won’t say which one) admitted that it’s always best to call in to buy services or phones because the website will never have all of the information. Why is that? Why conceal information, making it more difficult for people to find? But then, even with the sales person, I had to probe for further clarification. I knew they knew. But why was I – the customer – having the pull the information out of them. At the end of our research, we did choose one major carrier after all, but we never felt 100% confident. We felt icky about the whole thing and had to choose the least of the three evils.

woman-writing-good-sales-letter

Have you ever spoken to someone and knew they were hiding – intentionally – something from you?

In today’s world, marketers dress their marketing with vague phrases, fuzzy nouns, trite sentences, or just plain general nonsense. They don’t say what they mean, or worse, they hide what they mean because they’re afraid of what people think.

But writing is about communication. It’s about getting a message from one party to the next.

Remember this story when you write your sales copy, create offers, and form calls to action. Let’s go into each of them to make a good sales letter.

Crystal Clear Copy

Tell your audience exactly what you sell. Don’t hide it under a bushel basket. Just say it — in concise, clear language. Don’t use fuzzy jargon, vague concepts, and empty generalities. Use specific, common words so that your readers will understand you. Choose shorter sentences over longer ones. Opt for smaller words over bigger ones. Or better, choose the right word for the right context. There’s over a million words in the English language, so you have a lot of options. People often assume the more pretentious they make their writing the smarter they are. It’s the opposite. Simplicity is a sign of a sharp, clear intellect. It’s extremely arduous to make something simple, while it’s easy to write in a verbose manner. If your reader has trouble grasping the idea, rewrite your sales pitch until it’s 100% clear. And remember, clear writing is clear thinking. So, do your readers a favor and make it simple, and you’ll begin to create a good sales letter.

What idea or ideas are you trying to give to your audience? Is there something you want them to learn from reading your copy? What are you trying to sell? How much? What are the benefits? What’s in it for them?

There’s an adage in writing that says to “write like you speak.” That’s only a half-truth. It should be “write like you speak, when you speak well.” Most people (me included) don’t write it right the first time around. The first thing they say is fuzzy, pompous, illogical, verbose, or misleading. And that’s OK. That’s how writing works. Think of writing, instead, like a sculpture. The first draft is a stone block. Each tap of the hammer and chisel is the editing. The more you edit, the clearer the writing becomes. Word by word by word — the writing falls into place. And many times, the revisions to the writing will become something altogether different from the rough draft. That’s OK!

So, when you set out to write a good sales letter, know that it’s OK to rewrite it over and over and over. That’s where the magic is. Thank goodness for word processors; they take out much the work of editing, making it super easy.

My coworker Ryan reads much my writing, and he points out areas where I can improve. I accept these corrections because he can see a lot that I can’t see. Try to do the same in your writing. There’s no harm in having others read your writing.

Only Obvious Offers

In forming your good sales letter, there’s no place that requires more clarity than your offers. Is it 50% off or 50 dollars off? Is it buy one, get one? Decide and stick with the same offer throughout the sales copy. Use the same language for the offer, too, so that your readers know what you’re referring to. Sprinkle it multiple times throughout your sales letter or postcard. The more you say it, the better. Remember, repetition is the mother of all memory.

Be VERY clear about terms and conditions. There’s the temptation to either hide or not mention the terms and conditions attached to the offer. Often a company will think something like this: “See, if I just hide the terms of this offer, or because of legal reasons, conceal the terms very small so they can’t read it, then I’m more likely to make the sale. Don’t do this. People aren’t dumb. And if you intentionally hide something from them, and later they find out that you hid something from them, they will not trust you. So, be honest, upfront, and clear – and people will naturally develop trust in you. If you’re looking for a good example of how to do this with elegance, check out how Apple does it.

apple-screen-shot

Finally, price. I get it – your pricing is complex, right? So you don’t mention the pricing upfront or you wait until the end to reveal the pricing. You fear that if you say the pricing, the potential customer will balk and walk away from the sale. But there’s something to be said about upfront pricing. A lot of people just want to know how much it’ll cost. And with the internet and smartphones, most people don’t have the same patience they once did. Google and other search engines have made us used to getting results instantly. We also want prices instantly, and we’re not patient enough to read through miles of copy to get to price.

Absolute Automatic Action

Finally, how do you want your prospects to respond to your sales copy? Do you want them to call, email, text, go to a website, or mail in a form? What is the best way for them to reach you? I’ve seen many marketing pieces with clear, amazing offers. But when I go to order, I wasn’t sure what to do next. I couldn’t find the button anywhere. Or worse, they created confusion by placing two or three small buttons side by side, buried at the end of the email. Please, don’t do this. Make it simple. Hold your prospect’s hand through the entire ordering process. Go through each over and over, and like your sales copy, make sure you 100% crystal clear on EVERY step. Sometimes, it can be something as simple as this that separates an average and a good sales letter with conversions.

Multiple offers. Sometimes, too, you might want to include different offers they can choose from in your sales copy. That’s fine. But be aware – the more you add, the more risk you run of them not buying. My favorite hardware supplies, Ace Hardware, does an exceptional job at this. Each month, they send a flyer in the mail that with two offers. On the left side they have a card that saves “Save Now.” And on the right it says “Save Later.” This text is the biggest sized text of the whole mail piece, it’s at the top, and it’s easy to understand. I know I just need to unstick the card from the flyer, take it to Ace, and they will reward me with my 5 dollars off. There’s no confusion about what to do next.  

Resources For a Good Sales Letter

ultimate-sales-letter

So, when you begin composing your next sales copy, remember – clarity is king. It’s the simple message that people understand. If you’re looking for a great book on writing a good sales letter, creating offers, and forming calls to action check out these two resources: 

  1. The Ultimate Sales Letter, Dan Kennedy 
  2. Hubspot-contains thousands of resources with marketing tips and strategies to form your next marketing campaign.

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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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What’s The Future Of Direct Mail?

By | Direct Mail Marketing | No Comments

It took only one device in 2007 to change the world. I’m talking about the Apple iPhone. This one phone has changed the entire landscape of how we interact with one another and the world. The iPhone isn’t the only smartphone, but it was the first, and all smartphones emerged from its breakthrough technology. Released over ten years ago, this device has continued to innovate and inspire other companies. It’s taken on new technology like the ability to unlock your phone with your face or finger. It’s connected us to even more services in social media and has made texting and calling easier.

Yet, despite these changes, the iPhone has changed little. Sure, it’s better and faster and the software can do more. But the phone itself — its essence — remains the same. iPhone is still iPhone. Anyone who saw the first iPhone, released in 2007, would recognize even the newest models.

original-iphone

I mention the iPhone here because I notice a similarity between it and direct mail. Yes, you read that right. Direct mail may be as old as Ben Franklin himself, but it, like the iPhone, keeps what is fundamental.

Still, some aspects of direct mail have changed, and a lot more will continue to change in the future. Let’s look at three ways that technology will impact the future of direct mail.

  1.    Opportunities for Mail Pieces
  2.    Accessibility of Data
  3.    Integration of Marketing Channels

What Can I Mail?

If you’ve been out of the direct mail scene for a while or have never used direct mail for marketing, you’d be amazed at what you can now mail. We have clients mailing anything  from a box filled with a sales letter and candy to customers having us produce 600,000 postcards in less than three days. You can mail bank bags or stuffed plastic trash cans. If your brain can come up with it, you can probably mail it. You’re no longer restricted to boring envelopes stuffed with sales letters or simple postcards. In fact, if you need a good place to start, or if you’re looking for something crazy, check out this blog here. The future of direct mail is ripe for the plucking.

But that’s not all. Advances in software have enabled us to integrate more complex variable data into our direct mail. In the past, software has limited us to a person’s name and address in sales letters. No longer! If you’ve got the data in a spreadsheet, you can sprinkle that data in your postcard or sales letter. You can make it about as personal as you wish. After all, you’ll convert more leads if you’ll make your marketing more personal. Because the more personal it becomes, the warmer the piece feels. You can say something like this: Hey, {John} – I noticed it’s been {three months} since you last came and saw us at {our store on West Street}. Just thought I’d say hello and that if you come visit us within the next couple weeks, I’ll give you {30 dollars} off your next order. All right, thanks, {John}. In the previous sentence, all those phrases outlined in brackets are variable data you can use in your next direct mail campaign. And the more you can do, the better.

Ample, Accessible Data

A belief 10 years ago was that as computers and technology advance we’ll have little need for printers. We can eliminate printers and paper altogether by turning to our smart devices. In some sense, this is true. I don’t use my home printer; I have my smartphone for all the essential information to get through the day, like bills I need to pay and news I read. And even though I work for a direct mail company, I’ve opted to receive all invoices through email.

But the prophets who predicted the downfall of printers and paper could not have predicted the growth in the future of direct mail. Direct mail is up. Companies now send millions of direct mail pieces each year. Why is this? Printers can now produce more and more with higher quality in smaller windows of time. All with fewer resources. This allows companies to print and mail much faster than in the past. Soon, the possibilities will become endless and the costs will go down, leading to a brighter future of direct mail.

With companies like Google and Facebook, we now have ample data about people. And it’s not limited to their location. It reveals their likes and dislikes, where they spend their time and with whom. This, like the speed and power of technology, will only increase as Google and Facebook grow bigger and their tools become more insightful.

consumer-data

With this data, you can compile lists of your customers and prospects. Let’s say you own an organic dog food company. That’s a niche company. And because organic food costs more to produce, to make any profit, you’ll have to raise your food price. Now, you won’t be able to compete against Pedigree, a global giant in this market. Since Pedigree is so big, they can produce bags at a much cheaper rate than you.

What’s important is this, you need to sell your food to people who only want fresh, organic dog food. With data collection in the future, they’re might be a time when you can mail a list of people who only want this exact type of dog food. You’ll know when they last purchased, what type of organic food, their breed of dog, and much more. Some of this information might be out there already from list brokers. You’d have to poke around to find it. But in the future, it will probably be much more accessible. See how this works though. You don’t need to compete against Pedigree at all. With better lists, you can offer customers products that really suit their needs, and since every person is different, the possibilities are limitless here. With good data you can create and maintain a thriving business.

Better Integration

Finally, you can integrate direct mail even more with other marketing channels. Right now, many companies use every marketing channel to sell their products and services. They might lean more on one than others, but to cover their bases, they use them all.

Oftentimes, you can use Facebook to capture a lead. A typical lead will become aware of your company through Facebook and develop an interest in your service. He or she then decides to fill out a form by entering their name and email information. With that information, you can email, offering a discount or free service to the person. The person only needs to fill in their mailing address to redeem. Then, with that same mailing address, you can send your lead a direct mail piece, again offering a discount. If the person responds to the offer on the direct mail piece, you can track that they responded to your direct mail. See how this works – it’s all connected. All marketing channels collaborate to capture leads and sales conversions.

So what does integration look like in the future of direct mail? Future technology will enable companies to integrate these channels even better. Many companies have been using QR barcodes on their postcards. And while the QR buzz has died down, it goes to show what’s possible. I recently read of a company that considered hiding an NFC chip in their postcards, which would track the exact time the recipient held the postcard and whether they turned it over, as long as the person had a smartphone near them. Further, when the person picked up the mail piece, it would send an alert to the company. Imagine the possibilities (and legal ramifications) if this became commonplace.

Whatever happens in the future of direct mail, its essence will not change. I believe it will remain a relevant and effective form of marketing.

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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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Little Things, Big Impact (On Your Direct Mail)

By | Direct Mail Marketing | No Comments

A famous person once said, “Don’t sweat the little things.” WRONG! In direct mail, you need to sweat the little things. Don’t glaze over minor details. It’s easy to get swept up by writing your copy and sending it ASAP that you fail to take care of the small things. Believe me, nothing will go to the trash quicker than a piece that looks like it was produced with minimal effort and zero thoughtfulness. Spend time hashing out ALL these aspects of the sales piece: the envelope, the font, the spacing, the graphic design, grammar etc… Remember you build a brick wall one brick at a time. These little things are the bricks that form the impenetrable brick wall of your sales piece.

The Delivery

Perhaps the most important “little thing” of the sales piece is delivery. I’ve seen it countless times. A marketing team spends days, weeks, even months working on a sales piece. And then, because they were so absorbed by the sales piece, they failed to consider the package in which it was delivering. And when they received a terrible response they wondered why. Please analyze every bit of the delivery. Take it just as seriously as any other aspect.

man adjusting his tie

The Envelope

Is your prospect wary of direct mail? Can he or she sniff out a mass produced marketing piece? Do you know what other marketing promotions your target is receiving? Does the prospect have a secretary (“Gate Keeper”) who sorts through the mail, filtering out each piece. Or does the piece go straight to the customer’s mailbox?

You must ask, answer, and solve all these questions — and many more — before EVER sending your mail piece. It doesn’t matter how good your sales pitch is if your customers never read it! Try sending your sales letter in Fedex or UPS packages. Yes, you’ll spend more (sometimes considerably) but it increases the chance your customer will receive it. As an example, we once created and sent a mailing to dentists via FedEx. We followed up in the next few days and EVERY dentist received the package. Fedex and UPS package scream important. They always get past the gatekeeper because legal and financial documents arrive in a similar manner. Use these to your advantage.

The Font

Many copywriters — even very talented ones — fail to consider the importance of the font. But it matters. A quick Google search reveals there are over 32,000 different typefaces. Needless to say, you have A LOT of options. Choose one that most accurately reflects the tone of your sales piece. Times New Roman, Calibri, and Arial are safe options; they are well known and readable. That being said, they may not be the best option. Often, sending envelopes with handwritten looking (or handwritten itself) works best because it looks personal. Realize this: the font you choose for the exterior of your sales piece sets the tone for what’s inside. Ensure the font is consistent with the sales piece enclosed and conveys an unified message.

Spacing and Formatting

Hire a competent graphic designer who has a background in laying out text and sales pieces. Or, if you must do it yourself, research the best ways to improve the readability of your sales piece. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen a slightly misaligned paragraph or unevenly spaced title immediately deteriorate the effectiveness. Even slightly blurry images or fuzzy logos can be a wrecking ball to the rest of your piece. Take care of the individual details that matter! These are just a fraction of the things you can do to improve the quality of your marketing. They are small, sure, but added up they create a tremendous impact.

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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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Drive More Traffic With Your Newsletter

By | Direct Mail Marketing | No Comments

Life’s a bundle of paradoxes. You think something should be the case, and then the opposite turns out to be true. Here’s one: the more you give the more you receive. How does that work?! By the rules of logic – if I give away 500 dollars, I have 500 dollars less. While on the immediate level, this makes sense, at a deeper level, you might gain far beyond and something more important than 500 dollars. Think of charitable giving. But the same rules apply to business.

Most people know the importance of creating compelling, persistent offers. It’s how you gather leads into your marketing funnels and convert them into sales. This in turn creates more profit. You may run a Facebook ad that offers 25% off any product for the next three days. Or you choose a buy one, get one free. Whatever the ad, it’s important to have a lot of them. So, let’s expand on this idea by talking about how to drive more traffic with your newsletter.

Drive More Traffic With Your Newsletter

The newsletter is more than a conduit of information between you and your customer. It’s a superb sales tool. If you have a newsletter today and want to drive more traffic, then create more offers. And to create more offers, follow these steps.drive traffic

 

Figure Out Your Audience

Who’s receiving your newsletter? Open your customer list and place the people on that list into categories. Here are a few examples to get started:

  1. What is their age?
  2. Are they male or female?
  3. What do they like? What do they dislike?
  4. What are their past purchases?
  5. What is their average income?

The more you can answer these questions, the better data you’ll have to create offers. If people fall into multiple categories, consider creating multiple offers. You can create an array of offers and then place those offers next to the name in your list. Then, when you do the mail merge, you’ll be able to use a specific offer for a specific person. You can even include different pictures to correspond with your offers.

Once you’ve pigeon-holed the people on your list, ask yourself what products or services would your customers like to receive?

Let’s say you own an orthodontics treatment center. Your average patient is 15 years old. What does a typical teenager want. What would get them most excited? Maybe a pair of speaker, shoes, a concert ticket? An iPhone? A smartwatch? The first few don’t cost much, so you can give them away. But an iPhone or smartwatch?!

You might think it’s not worth it. The iPhone X alone costs more than 1000 dollars after taxes. You might think that there’s no way you’ll make any profit if you give away something of that caliber. But try not to think of it that way. Think rather of the potential referral.

If Sally Jones goes to school the next day after hearing of this referral contest and tells her friends, who then tell their parents (who I presume are footing the bill), how many potential clients could you bring in? And if you only get two patients (probably even one) that will outweigh the cost of the iPhone. If you can do more, you’ll drive more traffic with your newsletter.

Weigh Risks vs. Rewards

Of course, use prudence when choosing the item. Before buying anything, weigh the cost vs potential sales. Ask how many leads does this item need to convert before it makes profit? And how much profit do want to make? Buying a cheaper item for your referral contest might seem wise (less you’ll deduct from the overall profit) but be aware that a cheaper item might drive fewer leads than a more expensive one.

Either way, affordable or expensive, it’s still an expense. And it’s only natural to feel hesitant, knowing that nothing could come from it. If the referral flops, you might be a big cost and have nothing to show for it.

But don’t let that scare you into throwing the referral out altogether. Any item will drive more traffic with your newsletter rather than no item. And the more valuable the item, the more potential profit you could make.

Newsletter Engagement

Let’s say your company offers cloud-based storage to people for a monthly subscription. Customers pay 15 dollars a month and receive secure, unlimited cloud storage. You’ve had a hard time in the past driving traffic to your business. You’ve used Facebook ads and Google pay per click. But you’ve had little success.

You email a monthly newsletter containing valuable information about data breaches, hard drive failure, and the importance of cloud security. You put a lot of work into it. Your company is small, and can’t afford a marketing director, so you must write all the content. Since it’s an e newsletter, you’ve installed some analytics to track engagement. Some are reading it. But most open it, scroll down half way on the first page, and then delete the email. That’s not the type of engagement you want.

So, here’s what you can do. Try including a fun game to drive more traffic with your newsletter, like a cross word, a word search. (Take a look at how we incorporate a crossword in ours) And most importantly, tie the game to the content. If you’re doing word search, create questions based on answers found within the various articles.

Now, that’s fun and creative, but it will still only attract a small number of people. You must do more. If a person completes your word search, give them a prize. Offer them five dollars off their next month of cloud storage or send them an Amazon gift card.

You might think that giving away five dollars here and an Amazon gift card there doesn’t amount to much, but it does. When you’re generous, people respond to you more. And the more generous you can be to your customers, the more profit you can potentially make.

But what if people are still not responding? Then like the referral contest, ratchet up the stakes. Consider giving away even more. Maybe a full month of free of cloud storage or a 30 dollar Amazon gift card. The trick is to get them to read the newsletter. You know your service is good and should be generating more profit. If it takes them reading your whole newsletter to believe it, then so be it. Hold a carrot before them and help them get through it.

Test Everything

If something doesn’t work the first time, then try something else. Don’t give up. Sometimes it takes many tries before something clicks. So, test, test, and test some more. You’ll never know how good an offer or referral is until you try it. Remember, your aim is to drive more traffic with your newsletter.

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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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3 Convincing Reasons To Send An EDDM Postcard

By | Every Door Direct Mail | No Comments

The other day I bought a cheap fitness tracker from Amazon. I wasn’t willing to spend the extra cash on a Garmin or Fitbit, as good as those are. They’re too expensive for my needs, and I’m not a runner (barely a walker). But I wanted to track and increase my daily steps as an effort to live a healthier lifestyle. Without doing much research, and only looking at a few reviews, I took the plunge and purchased a cheap fitness tracker.

I waited a few days, knowing this tracker would probably be junk, and that right after I opened it, I’d have to return it. The day came and I finally received the tracker. My skepticism turned to relief which turned to joy as I realized the watch was not only good, but that it packed extra features not advertised on Amazon.

My recent Amazon gamble shares some similarity with the way you might feel when you send an EDDM postcard. EDDM postcards are cheaper to send, but since you don’t use a targeted name list, you’re not always sure what you’ll receive on the other end of the line.

But don’t let that scare you. There is tremendous value in EDDM postcards, and it might be just what your company needs to market your product or service. So here are three reasons to send an EDDM postcard.

A note – for technical details about EDDM postcards, check out these two links:

https://www.usps.com/business/every-door-direct-mail.htm

http://handymailing.com/what-is-every-door-direct-mail/

suburbs neighborhood

Saves on Costs

The most important factor of EDDM postcards is that they can save you money, and in some cases thousands of dollars. They’re the cheapest postcards you can send. This is primarily for two reasons. First, the postage rate per piece can be under 17 cents.  Second, you’re not required to buy a name list from a mail house or list broker. That can sometimes cost hundreds of dollars, depending on the factors of your list.

This translates to getting more by spending less. There is, however, something to consider. Since the postcard won’t include a name, you might hurt your response rate. Personalized mailings typically have higher response rates. But it might not matter. Here’s why.

Let’s say you’re the owner of Pip’s Crab Shack, and you’re new to the area of Baltimore. No one knows you. You don’t know them. But you want to get the word out that you’re new to the area and would like them to come eat at your new restaurant.

So you scratch your head, thinking … I could send a newsletter, but that might be a bit much. I haven’t met these people, so all that information might not resonate with them. Or I could try a personal letter, but then again, we’re not friends. If I could just send something simple but impacting, like a poster or something.

This is where EDDM postcards shine.

You can send a postcard to everyone in the area, saying you’d like to meet them. Include some high-quality photos on the postcard and some endearing copy about how much you’d like to meet them. To seal the deal, create compelling offers they can’t resist. In this case, a name list doesn’t add anything to the mail piece. They don’t even know you, so there’s no need to send an addressed envelope.

More Bang for Your Buck

You can also send jumbo postcards to increase the effect of the EDDM. With jumbo postcards you can fit more onto a single card. That means more images, more text, more OFFERS. The possibilities are endless.

Direct mail leaves a deeper impression on people than email and social media. It’s sort of like reading a book – it feels better to feel, smell, and see a real book rather than a computer screen. EDDM postcards extend this idea. And you can write more copy to explain your product or service. Since we are visual creatures, we respond better to high-quality pictures. Place as many as you can on your postcard, and the better they’ll respond.

And because of its size, it will stand out from the rest of the mail your customers receive, which leads to higher conversion rates. Not only that, but it’ll get their immediate attention because it’ll be way bigger than anything else in their mailbox. Did you know you can send a postcard as big as 12” by 15”? And in some cases, the mail carrier will actually use it as a “taco shell” for the rest of the mail pieces when it’s stuffed into your mailbox.

Another feature of these postcards is that you don’t need much room for an address, barcode, and stamp. If fact, the Post Office requires only a small box with a permit and one line of text.

Super Easy

The final reason to consider to send an EDDM postcard is because they’re easy to mail. The tools needed are online from the USPS. It also doesn’t require any extensive knowledge about how mail works or the different levels of postage.

There are only three steps to follow when setting up an EDDM mailing campaign.

First, select your routes from the United States Postal Service EDDM mapping tool.

Second, design a mail piece or have someone design it for you.

Third, print and mail. It’s that simple.

For more details, again check out the EDDM page on our website.

 

every door direct mail