Nobody is really new to Direct Mail marketing. When you were a kid you probably had a roadside lemonade stand a few days each summer. If you ever mowed a neighbor’s lawn, then you most likely left flyers advertising your business on every front door on your block. In some way, shape, or form, we have all done our share of direct marketing. The principals that we used then were no different from the ones we follow when setting up a successful direct mail campaign. The one difference is that our competition isn’t an 8 year-old friend from the next street over, but is an intelligent, sophisticated businessperson that sees you as the enemy. The following is a step-by-step guide to developing a Direct Mail marketing strategy using what you already know… but this time it is Battlefield Style.
STEP 1: THE TARGET
Every person with an entrepreneurial spirit has one thing in common – MAKING MONEY! This is what motivates you. And, as an entrepreneur, you are intelligent and driven and realize that the best way to make money is by getting a product or service to the market that will want it the most. This is your Target Audience.
When you were a kid, you were just as smart… maybe you just didn’t realize it. You offered lemonade on hot days in July, not on cold days in the middle of January. You sat outside and showed off your irresistible kid smile, you didn’t send out Grandma to sell for you. The same principals are true as an adult. You want to find a demographic that both needs your product and will be motivated to act when presented with a great direct marketing mail piece.
Examine who you’re already doing business with and you will understand who you want target. If you are in the life insurance business, you most likely don’t want 19 year-old college students. You want people who are over 25 or 30, people who are married, people who have kids, people who own homes, people who own businesses, and so on. You also don’t want people over 80 who can’t qualify.
You want to develop a Target profile that will allow you to maximize your Return-on-Investment (ROI) before you spend money on a direct mail campaign. If you are that same life insurance brokerage and you need to make one more sales but can only send out three more mailers, who would you choose to send it to? (You’re life depends on it)
House 1: A single 20 year-old male, no children, renter, part-time college student
House 2: An 86 year-old widow with only grown children, no mortgage, and retired
House 3: A couple in their mid-40s with 3 teenage kids, a home with a mortgage, and they own their own business
House 1 isn’t thinking about financial responsibilities after he passes on. House 2 has (a) already made those arrangements and (b) wouldn’t qualify anyway. House 3, however, has a need for life insurance and motivation to obtain that insurance immediately. This is the way to approach each sale, as if you’re life depended on it. In this case, you could save your life by finding the right Targets.
STEP 2: HITTING THE TARGET
Okay, so you know whom you want to Target. But how do you hit that target? There are two common complaints, I hear from clients who object to spending money on direct mail marketing. Number one on the list is that they tried mailing before and nobody responded. Number two on the list is that the people who called are not the people who have a need for the product or service offered.
Both of these issues are caused by the same problem. And both of these issues can also be resolved with the same solution. You need to use GREAT DATA. You worked hard to identify your Target, so make sure you are shooting at that target.
What weapon you prefer to use when attacking your target? What if I offered you a bow and a bag full of arrows and said shoot to your left, there are targets in that direction? Would you be happy? What if I handed you controls to a dozen laser guided missiles that had GPS locks on your targets? Would you be happier then? What if you learned that you just paid the same thing to my competitor for the bow and arrows as you could have paid me for the missiles? How happy would you be then?
Data is the same way. You can use filters and Data Analytics to choose data records that are within a statistical certainty to closely resemble your Target Audience Members. This will ensure that your response rates are higher and you are communicating with the people who you are most likely to sell. Finding data that matches your Target’s profile is crucial.
STEP 3: CREATIVE AND PERSUASIVE WEAPONS (MAILERS)
When sending out a mailer, it is important to know what motivates your client the most. If your client wants security, tell them how many people you have helped. If you client wants money, show them how much they can make. If your client is worried about caring for his or her family, let them know that your life Insurance policy will do just that if something should happen.
Pay attention to colors and graphics. If you are selling Life Insurance, people are afraid of death. A picture of a coffin with large red print will turn away the recipient. A bright sky and large Sun with blue print will make the recipient feel relaxed and comfortable.
Also, the mail won’t do you any good if it never gets opened. The face or the envelope is the first step in building trust and credibility. A plain white envelope will only get your mail piece thrown in the trash. Make sure that you motivate your audience to open that letter. Furthermore, ask your mail house what type of mailer is most effective for your industry. For some industries this is a letter and envelope while others it may be an over-sized post card.
STEP 4: SCHEDULING YOUR ATTACKS (CAMPAIGNS)
There are huge differences in pricing for sending out standard postage mail and first class postage mail. Sometimes the extra cost is worth it if you need to get your marketing out quickly. But other times the mail had to be sent out quickly because of bad planning. I’ve seen too many companies throwing away good money due to poor scheduling. You need to know what geographical areas you are mailing to and how long it takes for a mail drop to reach that area.
You do not want to be in situation where you realize that you wont have any marketing for 12 days and are forced to send out an additional mail drop to a close (but less desirable geographic location) at first class prices. You also don’t want two drops to hit at once and have your sales department dropping calls all day. Make sure to work with your mail house to develop a mail drop schedule based on estimated time of arrivals. If you spend money on faster shipping or for phone calls that never get answered, you probably wasted that money.
STEP 5: STAFFING YOUR “ARMY”
You’ve identified your target, you know who and where the target is, you chose your weapon, and you’ve decided when to attack. You now need to have an elite army of sales people ready to take the calls. The largest and most frustrating waste of marketing dollars come from poorly serviced calls. This might mean that the sales people were all on the phone and the caller decided not to hold any longer. This might mean that the sales people are so busy that they “blow off” a caller. This might mean that the sales people are not able to properly follow-up with their leads. The one certainty is that this definitely will mean that you are not maximizing the ROI on your marketing expenditures.
If you have ten sales agents and each of them has one “fumble” a day, how much does that hurt the bottom line? That one “fumble” translates to 220 fumbles a month. If you have a 30% close ratio, you just lost 66 deals. How much revenue do you generate off of each deal? And how much off of 66 deals?
The problem isn’t necessarily the fault of the sales agents. What if you expect a 30% close ration and you actually have a 35% close ratio? The sales agents are certainly doing their jobs. It is just impossible to handle that type of volume. At the same time, does this mean that you don’t need those 66 dropped deals? That you don’t want those 66 dropped deals?
It’s important to know your response rates and estimate how many calls you will be receiving each day. This will allow you to determine how to grow your sales department. If you are over-staffed, you are likely to lose some of your best people. If you are under-staffed, you are likely to lose some of your best leads.
This is also where scheduling comes into play. Agents that can’t put the phone down for two weeks cannot make follow-up calls or do paperwork. If those same agents then have two weeks of phone silence, they won’t have any paperwork to do. On the other hand, if most calls hit each Monday and Tuesday but taper off as the week continues, your sales people will not be bored, overwhelmed, or unable to follow-up on their leads. Successful marketing campaigns are judged by response rates, revenue generated and consistency. All three areas will benefit from having great sales people.
Direct Mail Marketing is one of the most effective forms of direct response advertising. It is also one of the most costly. As a result, each mail drop should be treated like a battlefield mission. And each call should be treated like a life or death hand-to-hand combat situation. This intelligent, aggressive approach to marketing will not only lead to your survival, but will lead to your dominance.
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