Top 5 Secrets of Successful Direct Mailers

Savvy marketers know that direct mail offers a cost-effective and potentially profitable marketing method — but in order to work, it must be done right! In fact, some of today’s most innovative and creative advertising is sent through the mail, according to Entrepreneur magazine.

An effective direct-mail campaign can accomplish several goals, including:

            • Generating leads
            • Attracting new customers
            • Engaging with current customers
            • Expanding the reach of your brand
            • Producing profits

Here are the top five secrets of successful direct mailers.

1. Focus, Focus, and More Focus

The success of any direct-mail campaign depends in large part on your audience, so you need to target the right people. A direct-marketing rule known as the 60-30-10 states that 60% of success depends on the list, 30% depends on the offer you present, and 10% lies in creative elements. This highlights the importance of choosing the right list for your mailing.

If you’re building your own list, start with your past and current customers. After all, they’re a known factor — they’ve purchased your product or service before, and you probably already have all of their info. (If you don’t, now’s the time to start collecting it!)

If you’re purchasing or creating a list, consider your target audience’s characteristics carefully. Who’s your “ideal” customer? Look at demographics such as age, gender, locale, interests, buying patterns, climate, and leisure activities when compiling your mailing list. The more specifically targeted you can get, the better.

2. Keep it Updated

If it’s been a while since you updated your customer data, a direct mailing is a good place to start. People change addresses more than you might think! Simply add a request for address corrections onto the label; the post office will send undeliverable mail back with the recipient’s new address. It costs a bit more, but doing this at least once per year keeps your database updated.

3. Determine Your Goal

What do you want this particular campaign to achieve? Do you want to generate orders, build your brand, or produce leads? Setting a clear, measurable objective will help you drive the creative portion of your campaign. If your goals are too broad, your message is likely to be vague — and less effective — as well.

4. Grab their Attention

You only have a few seconds to grab their attention — and if you don’t, they won’t even open the envelope. Take a look at your own mail; what are you most likely to open? Are you enticed by offers of “FREE MONEY!” or “AMAZING PRIZES!”? Probably not, and your audience is similarly jaded to cheesy, gimmicky headlines. Instead, pique their interest with a creative headline, interesting use of color, a hand-addressed envelope, or a bit of humor. In other words, go for elements that stereotypical “junk mail” doesn’t have.

5. Develop a Relevant Offer

Now that you’ve gotten your customer to open the mail, present them with an offer that appeals to them. Here’s where knowing your audience is key. Be brief, but include the information they need to make an on-the-spot decision. Why do they need your product? How will your service benefit them? Testimonials from satisfied customers can be powerful in this capacity.

Above all else, make it easy for them to respond. Provide multiple contact channels, including a website, email address, and phone number, but don’t leave it at that. Always (ALWAYS) include a call to action. Tell them to call, email, or visit your website. Remember, if you don’t tell them what you want them to do, they simply won’t do it.

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Oh, The Places You’ll Go (In Business)

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.


And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening, too.

OH!
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

The opening lines of Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! have been read by graduating students, entrepreneurs, and business professionals alike. The words are inspirational, calling upon each of us to contemplate what we’re capable of accomplishing. Even the most monotonous worker will find that the language can stir something deep inside them, propelling them to try to accomplish great things. Beyond just the immediate emotions the words stir within the reader, however, Dr. Seuss’s wisdom about success and inspiration also rings true at a much deeper level.

You’re on your own. And you know what you know. /

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

Business leaders need to have confidence in their own knowledge and direction. When you’re at the helm of a company, you cannot rely on others to tell you what you can accomplish or what direction your should take. It doesn’t do your business any good to copy another company, no matter how successful that company may be. Instead, use the knowledge and experience you have about your industry to plot your own course. Find a specific industry niche that you can uniquely fill and work to build a company with that specialty in mind.

With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, /

you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

Like anything else, there are plenty of ways to cheat in business. There are ways to take advantage of people, to steal, to doctor books. While taking these shortcuts might pay off in the short term, such actions can come back to haunt you in the long run. Major corporations have been brought down by uncovered cheating scandals. On a small scale, burning bridges with possible connections only makes it harder to build a business, not easier. You might find you need to change course, relocate and establish yourself elsewhere, or take some unbeaten paths to success, but that’s ok. Don’t be afraid to set off on your own path, even if it takes you ‘straight out of town.’

And when things start to happen, / don’t worry. Don’t stew. /

Just go right along. / You’ll start happening, too.

It can be difficult to see everyone around you start to become successful. This doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that you won’t succeed. If you’re pulling in clients and slowly growing your business, you’re on the path to success, and you will ‘start happening.’ Sometimes, it just takes a little time to see fantastic results. Be realistic about your goals and the progress of your company, but don’t begin to despair over what others are accomplishing.

Dr. Seuss’s words of wisdom can apply to everyone, from students to successful business leaders. Taking the time to listen to the entertaining rhymes can help inspire you and encourage you to accomplish your dreams. If you’re looking for more advice or help with growing your business through marketing, reach out to us. We would be happy to help you get started on the right path.

Keeping in Touch with Your Customers — Without Annoying Them

When you’re trying to build your business, it’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of the hunt — for new customers, that is. However, as studies from the Harvard Business School show, focusing attention on existing customers and increasing retention rates by just 5% will increase your profits by 25% to 95%!

Of course, savvy business owners know there’s a fine line between keeping in touch and being a bit… well… annoying, or even worse, stalky.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes: How many e-mails do you want to receive every day? How many phone calls do you want to take? Sure, persistence is important in cultivating your customer base, but overdoing it can prove counterproductive by annoying the very customers you’re trying to reach. Here’s how to find the right balance.

Make it Personal

Who doesn’t like to receive a personalized card or handwritten note in the mail? There’s a world of difference between sending out an impersonal flyer or form letter and a customized note printed on attractive cardstock. Which would you be more likely to open and read?

Send personalized updates on the “regular” occasions — clients’ birthdays, anniversaries, major holidays, and the like — but also consider spicing it up a bit by sending a note or card when they don’t expect it. After all, most businesses send appreciation cards and letters during the winter holidays, so that’s just par for the course. Stand out by also picking a random date to surprise them.

Loyalty Programs

And speaking of dates, choose a day with significance for your customer — like their birthday or the anniversary of their first major purchase from your business — and use that occasion to automatically enroll them in a loyalty program. All you have to do is send an email letting them know you’ve enrolled them into your “VIP” program, or whatever you choose to call it.

Why automatically? Because a key to successful loyalty programs lies in making it as effortless for your customers as possible, without requiring them to take any extra steps or actions.

Artificial Advancement

The other key to successful loyalty programs lies in creating what’s known as “artificial advancement” toward a goal or milestone. A 2006 study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that customers who received punch cards as part of a loyalty program were more likely to become repeat customers if they were given a head start toward reaching a goal. For instance, many coffee shops offer loyalty cards that give a customer a stamp for each coffee drink they buy, then reward them with a free drink once they’ve accrued 10 stamps.

Researchers found that customers were almost three times more likely to use their punch cards — and spend money at a business — if at least two stamps were already present on the card when they first received it. Apparently, customers like to feel that they’re already well on their way to receiving awards!

Make Contacts Worth Their While

Whether it’s in an e-mail, through a printed newsletter, or on a sales call, providing customers with information they can use adds value to your communications and eliminates the annoyance factor. Offering industry news, community updates, or other data that’s relevant and useful to your customers goes a long way toward transforming the way they perceive your marketing efforts. A professionally written and well-designed direct mail piece sent a few times a year that’s packed with info they can use is always welcome.

If you keep your communications relevant, concise, respectful, useful, and personalized, you’ll never have to worry about being too persistent.

Building the Main Street of the Past Into Your Modern Business

For many of us, the idea of the small town is iconic. For some, it embodies the place where they grew up or currently live. For others, it represents more of an ideal than anything based on personal experience. In any case, quintessential small town life presents a business model we all can learn from.

Main Street

Every small town, it seems, has a Main Street — a place dotted with mom-and-pop shops, each with its own inviting display, encouraging people to stop in and check out their wares. The bakery or candy shop often has samples out front for people to stop by and taste as they walk down the street. The neighborhood grocer knows the patrons by name and has a variety of appealing fruits and vegetables right out front. The local cafe offers places for people to sit outside and engage with others as they pass by.

The ‘Main Street’ of the Internet

For many people, this real life type of Main Street is just a figment of their imagination or a distant memory of days gone by. Their reality is comprised more of national brands and busy shopping malls. What marketers have increasingly found, however, is that customers find it more appealing to shop on websites that contain many of the popular features of these once commonplace Main Streets than websites that don’t. Even though the world has become more interconnected and people are increasingly more accustomed to the hustle of city life, the desire to feel welcomed into a place of business and valued as a customer never goes away.

What businesses can learn from the mom-and-pop shops of the past

The secrets to success for the shops of Main Street continue to work today. The stores of Main Street made every customer feel welcome to stop and check out their place of business right from the street. These welcoming shops would also offer a variety of samples customers could try in order to see if a particular product would work for them.

As you think about your own company, take a close look at your website, physical place of business, and advertising materials. Are each of these designed to encourage customers to see what you have to offer? Do you offer customers incentives such as discounts, free samples, or rewards for using your business?

One of biggest lessons that modern companies can learn from the past, however, is personalization. Main Street business owners took the time to learn the names of their customers and greet them personally when they entered the shop. You should strive to accomplish a similar effect online and off.

Start by keeping careful records of how customers use your website. Responsive sites that can remember what a customer looked at the last time they visited or what they bought in the past tend to encourage more repeat business than those that don’t.

Train your in-store representatives to remember what customers say when they enter the shop to provide them with an individualized experience.

Such personalization can even extend to your marketing materials. For example, consider using variable data to personalize your direct mail campaigns and targeted mailings to reach niche buyers who may be interested in the products or services you sell.

While the ultimate Main Street might no longer exist for many people, the desire for finding welcoming shops that remember our names has not gone away. Incorporating as many of these values as possible into your marketing efforts can impress customers and help build relationships around trust and loyalty.

We can help you find ways to express these values in your marketing materials, so reach out to us today!

Picking Teams for Sports or Business: The Same Strategies Apply

Pickup games are the basis of many fond childhood memories — or nightmares, depending on who you ask. Whether the neighborhood children preferred to play games of basketball, baseball, or hockey, standing in line while waiting for the ‘captains’ to select you could be pure torture. Those with a bit of athletic prowess would eagerly wait to see if they were going to be on the same team as their friends. Those with a bit less skill crossed their fingers that they wouldn’t be picked last.

What made picking those teams so stressful

Children understand that the team you choose matters. The team will decide whether you’ll emerge victorious or go home to dinner with your tail between your legs. Growing up, being picked first was an honor. It meant the other kids respected your abilities. Bing picked last was something to be avoided.

Team captains would fight to fill out their teams with people who could successfully fill each position on the court or field. Even a casual game, like a snowball fight, needed players who had certain skills. No captain worth their salt would pick just anyone.

While those picked at the end might rather repress these memories, they do have to admit that the captains tended to know what they were doing. Those of us in business can learn something from them.

Why the team matters

Whatever the sport, the teams would work together to devise some kind of strategy under the leadership of their captain. Yet, no matter how talented that captain was or how genius their game strategies were, they couldn’t win on their own. They still needed the talents and help of everyone else on the team. The same goes for business.

Countless startups get so wrapped into their vision and dreams for the future that they neglect building their own team to help them get there. However, just like a childhood sports team, a business won’t succeed if it relies solely on the grand plans or talents of one person. As important as developing the ideas and plan for the company may be, carefully picking the team to get you there is just as (if not more) important.

Picking your team

Captains of sports teams pick players based on where they can play on the field. They work to get a variety of skills on the team. In baseball, it doesn’t do much good to have a team of hitters if no one can field. Similarly, in business, it’s important to pick members with various talents and strengths to create a complete picture.

Begin by outlining who is needed to help the business grow. Find people who share your vision and can help fill in your own gaps, so you can work on building your company’s future. Different people will bring different ideas to the table, which will challenge you to develop and grow as a team.

Success for startups (and even more established companies) often depends heavily on the types of people the company founders surround themselves with. Fresh people bring fresh ideas, and no person can fill every role.

Rather than trying to be everything for your company, focus instead on building a strong team that can work together to take your company to the top. Just like the kids from childhood sports games understood, strategy and big plans will only get you so far. Sometimes who you pick will make the most difference.

When you’re ready to build your marketing team, we can help you make smart decisions about your strategy and how your team will work to reach your customers.