Category Archives: Direct Mail Marketing

The Biggest Mistake You’re Making With Your Newsletter

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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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What’s The Future Of Direct Mail?

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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

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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.

top 10 things_ebook

Little Things, Big Impact (On Your Direct Mail)

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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.

mailing services

Drive More Traffic With Your Newsletter

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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

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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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5 Factors Of E-Newsletters You Need To Know

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As much as we complain about email, it’s one the greatest inventions of the modern age. The ability to send and receive a letter through the web is a triumph of the times. And while I hate opening my personal inbox and seeing 30-40 emails a day, I’m thankful for the technology.

If you’re not doing so already, you should email a monthly e-newsletter to your customers in addition to a print newsletter. The monthly newsletter keeps them engaged with your company while giving you ample opportunity to sell products and services to your customers. It’s also the best way for you to distribute important (and fun) information.

The E-newsletter (aptly named because you send it through an email) has a list of pros that make it a great option for distributing news and updates for your company. Let’s take a look at some.

monthly e-newsletter

The Pros of E-Newsletters

Pro #1: Cost. You can create, produce, and send with less money than a print newsletter. Apart from the cost of writing and designing the newsletter, you don’t need to pay a lot to send them. Once you design your first newsletter, you only need to plug in the new content each month. And since you’ll send an email, you don’t need to worry about the cost and time of production.

Pro #2: Speed of Delivery. Another pro of E-newsletters is that delivery is instant. Once you’ve written and designed the newsletter, load your email list and hit send. Can it get any easier than that? Also, you can set up delayed delivery and other cool features that make sending newsletters even more effective. So what’s the easiest way to start sending them? Here’s a few websites that make sending e-newsletters a breeze: Campayn, Constant Contact, and MailChimp.

Pro #3: Hyperlinks and Calls to Action. Another great benefit of E-Newsletters is the ability to embed hyperlinks and calls to action within the newsletter. Within any given month, you can link articles or calls to action within the newsletter to give your customers a deeper engagement with your company. And from well-designed software, this process has become intuitive. You give your customers an easy, direct path to a buying decision. Because of this, the odds are much higher that they act on what they’re reading, compared to having to go online if they receive something in print.

These three benefits alone might cause you to consider this option, but a monthly E-newsletter is not without their problems. Let’s look at three of them.

The Cons of E-Newsletters

Con #1: It’s mixed with other emails. There’s a common phrase called “junk mail” that refers to the type of marketing pieces we toss in the trash. Most people think of direct mail when they hear this phrase. But if you think there’s a lot of junk direct mail, consider the amount junk email. The amount of junk email we receive on a daily basis outweighs junk direct mail by 10 fold. And if customers won’t read a direct mail newsletter, what are the chances they’ll read an email newsletter?

Con #2: Little assurance of delivery. While you can have confidence your newsletter will deliver in a timely manner, the same cannot be said about the assurance of delivery. How is this possible? How can something deliver quickly but not really deliver at all? The reason? Spam. It filters emails based on a number of various factors. And while it may deliver, your customer might not open it, let alone read it. There’s already a small open chance when it goes into the inbox, and spam only decreases those chances.

In an upcoming blog, we’ll weigh the pros and cons of a print newsletter. And then we’ll compare and contrast the monthly E-newsletter with the print newsletter, to help you decide the best fit for your business.

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An Easy Guide To Choosing The Right Offer

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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

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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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