So you’re planning on using direct mail for marketing your business, but you’ve heard the horror stories. You’ve heard about businesses dunking hundreds even thousands of dollars into direct mail campaigns, only to break even or, in some cases, lose money. So maybe it takes practice to get past this breakeven point, but not everyone has the money to learn direct mail marketing by trial and error.
Makes you want to stick with email marketing doesn’t it?
Relax. Direct mail is still one of the most powerful ways to get new customers, but there are three things you should know if you want to avoid losing money…
#1: Start With a Narrow, Well Qualified List
The #1 reason people lose money with their first direct mail campaign is lack of market focus. Instead of starting with a small list of highly qualified customers, they start with a big broad list. The assumption is that if you buy more leads, you’ll pay a lower rate per lead and have a better chance at earning back your investment.
But starting with a broad list almost always hurts your conversion rate.
This is because a wide broad market makes it harder to tailor your offer, your design and your copywriting to match a specific type of customer. After all, if you have a list of working mothers who live in one general zip code, are the same age range and earn an above average income, you can tailor your offer to meet their specific needs. Everyone is more likely to buy a product that they feel was specifically created to serve their needs.
That’s the power of having a small, targeted list. A broader list makes this nearly impossible. If you purchase all the names and addresses in a specific city, you’ve got men, women, middle aged adults, married adults, single adults, lower income class, upper income class…all on one list.
Makes it hard to create a well-targeted offer and maximize your conversions doesn’t it? So start small and narrow, working with your best qualified customers first. You can always expand into other target markets later.
#2: Mail More Than Once
Mailing to your list more than once definitely looks more expensive, but not when you add up the final numbers.
This is because some customers will buy on your first mailing, but many of them won’t buy until the second or third mailing. So how many sales will you miss by trying to “save money” and mail only once? Your first mailing often does a lot more than you think it does. It gets your offer in front of your prospects and gets them thinking about saying yes.
Many of these customers who merely thought about it the first time around will buy the second or the third, but not if you never send a second or third mail. So don’t let the “seeds” you’ve planted in your first mailing go to waste. Create a multi-step campaign and mail to your targeted list at least three times.
#3: Use a Limited Time Offer
The world is crammed with procrastinators, and we’re all guilty at times. We see something we’re interested in, but we decide to “look into it later…“ and of course we never do. Instead, the flyer or the brochure sits on our kitchen table or our desk for weeks until we decide to file it in the “circular file.”
You can keep this from happening to your direct mailers by giving your customers a reason to respond right away. This is where the good old “limited time offer” will be your best friend. Offer a 10% discount or a free bonus when you send your mail, but give it an expiration date.
Make sure the customers KNOW that if they don’t respond by the expiration date that the offer will expire for good. An expiring offer also gives you a good reason to mail to your target market more than once.
The first mailing can be the primary offer, the second mailing can be the warning that the offer will expire soon, and the third can be sent out as a final notice which arrives on the last day of the offer. Do this with a small, well-qualified list and you’ll escape the direct mail marketing pitfalls which discourage most beginners.