Debunking the Myths About Direct Mail Marketing
Mark Hale ‐ November 12, 2013
There are many myths about direct mail; I can’t afford direct mail, postage is too high, I should get a 2% return or the mailing is a flop or it’s difficult to measure results to determine a return on my investment. Or, my personal favorite, “what if they all call, I won’t be able to handle the traffic!”
Myth #1: I can’t afford direct mail marketing. Determining your budget is the first step. There are a couple of ways to do that. I would refer you to an earlier article on how to calculate your advertising budget. Once you have determined what you are able to spend for your direct mail budget, next figure out the number of leads you can create for the campaign to be a success. The final step is to set up a tracking system and to groove in everyone who answers the phone or waits on a customer in your company about your direct mail program.
Myth #2: “We aren’t a big company. How could we send out 3,000 postcards all at once?” “What if they all call, we could not handle the traffic and customers would get mad at us! ” This seems like a valid concern, but in reality, it isn’t.
The unfortunate truth is they won’t all call. Some will go to your web site for more information, others will walk in. Realistically speaking, there is no sure way to tell how many people will call if you haven’t done this type of marketing before. Think of it this way: What would happen if they did all call? You may not be able to handle all of them, but you would handle as many as you possibly could, right? And your sales numbers (as a result) would be up, right?
The basic purpose of marketing and promotion is to drive in more business than your business can possibly handle. So much business that people are lined up around the block and down the street. What happens when business is booming? You figure out how to deliver to the influx of customers. You cope for a while then you hire more help and organize your delivery to better be able to handle the influx of public. You take a percentage of the extra money you are making as a result of the increased sales and you buy more advertising to drive in more customers and the cycle starts over. Somewhere along the line you wake up the CEO of a fortune 500 company reminiscing about the good old days when you built this business by rolling up your sleeves and taking care of the customer! You look at every large successful company in history and none of the founders ever stopped marketing and promotion because they were afraid they could not handle the business. Their attitude was we will make it go right, more customers wanting to buy than we can handle is a good thing. As you probably know from your experience, too few customers buying is the real problem.
Let’s say you held back and didn’t send as much direct mail as you could in the beginning? Say you could afford to send 6,000 direct mail pieces every two weeks, but you think you will get too many calls to handle them all. So instead, you send 3,000 and the response is decent. However, you still have some down time and have to “create” sales from somewhere.
You saved $500 in marketing money but had enough down time where you could have closed quite a few more sales than you did. The question now is, “Which gives me more money in my pocket – saving $500 on marketing or closing more sales?” More than likely the answer is to send more direct mail and close more sales.
A Good Tracking Program Will Help You Sleep at Night
If you do not install some sort of tracking system for your marketing, you will become disillusioned and be easily pulled off course, not to mention be worried that you are wasting advertising money.
Hopefully you have more than one way to market for new customers. So how do you know which marketing campaigns are working and which aren’t? Set up a system to track the results.
The answer: ask them, “How did you hear about our company?” The hard part is making sure all employees who answer the phone remember to ask the question every time. The fewer prospects who are asked and answer this question, the less accurate your information will be when making future marketing decisions. Your front line people need to know what you are doing.
For example, say you start a direct mail campaign. The first week you send out 3,000 postcards and get 30 calls. Did all of these leads come from the postcards? Probably not – because the week before you got 8 calls and hadn’t sent any postcards yet.
Most people use the Internet to check out companies and products before they buy. Do you have a Google Analytics account set up? If so you can see how many people did direct searches for you business. A direct search is where prospects typed your name or web address in directly. When doing a post card campaign you will usually see direct searches number jump. And if you are tracking and you hear a lot of people say they are coming from the internet you might think you should spend more on the internet until you look at your direct searches and see that 45% of your web traffic came from people who typed your business name directly in. So tell me how did these people come up with your business name, out of the blue? They didn’t. They were exposed to one of your advertising pieces and decided to check you out on the internet.
Now, let’s assume that you have been direct mailing for a while and you have a good number of calls coming in. If you ask the question, “So how did you hear about our company?” they may respond, “I got your postcard in the mail.” But, by now you have sent direct mail to four different lists, three times each. How do you tell which list and mailing this customer was from?
The answer: Put a marketing code on your direct mail that tells you which postcard they received and when it mailed.
Give each list a name and work the date into your marketing code as well. And the only thing your employees have to ask is, “Would you mind reading me the marketing code above your address?” This code gives you all the info you need and helps keep your direct mail results tracking as accurate as possible.
Try not to operate off of assumptions about “how to market” if you haven’t educated yourself about direct mail. And make sure you collect all the data and make your future marketing decisions based on facts.
Direct mail is not complicated. It is the only advertising medium that 99.999% of all people receive. There is less competition in the mailbox for the customers attention. There are only three things that cause a direct mail program to fail, so it is easily fixed. Direct mail allows you to target EXACTLY who you want to reach without waste. And direct mail is easily tracked.
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