A Small Business Owners Guide on How to Not Waste Money on Direct Mail Advertising

‐ October 6, 2014

How Not To Waste Money On Direct Mail Advertising

Have you ever ran an advertisement or mailed a postcard that generated ZERO response? We all have!

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Every week there are millions and millions of dollars wasted by small businesses on ineffective advertising, and not just direct mail advertising. The small business owner buys a postcard or direct mailer for his business. He is expecting 2% to 5% returns on his direct mailer. He mails it and gets no phone calls or calls from people who really are not prospects for his service. Has this ever happen to you?

I’m sure you see examples everyday of bad advertising, or rather you ignore examples of it. Bad advertising is just bad. Nobody reads it and nobody buys from it. It is a waste of money.

The following is a list of seven common mistakes made in Direct Mail Marketing. They also apply for other forms of advertising as well. This list is really pretty simple and you can use the principles whether you are creating a postcard mailer, a flyer, an ad in your local newspaper or even running a commercial on radio or television.

Advertising Results Killer #1: Assuming Your Media Sales Persons Knows Your Business

The media sales person’s main purpose is to sell you ads. Some of them have marketing degrees but do not understand marketing. One of the biggest errors I see is the advertiser with the “do me!” attitude. Here is my money, “do me” a good ad!

Your job as the advertiser is to provide the media the necessary information about your prospects and what they need and want so that the respective media’s creative department can create the ad for you. The better armed you are with information, the more effective you can be working with your media sales person to create an effective ad for your business. The following points all pertain to the content and structure of your ad. It is your business and your money, so the more you know the better your results will be.

Advertising Results Killer #2: Putting Your Business Name or Category as Your Headline

Do you want your advertising to generate sales? To do that you first have to get attention by presenting information that is of interest to the prospect. Usually this involves some benefit or solution to a problem that is needed and wanted by the prospect. Your potential customers aren’t interested in your name or even in what you do, at first. They want a solution to a problem they are having or something that makes their life easier.

Create a headline that is centered on the solution to a problem or a benefit and readers will be interested in your advertising.

Advertising Results Killer #3: Listing Products and Services Instead of Presenting Problems and Selling Your Solutions to the Problems.

Do I want to buy a ¼ inch drill bit? No I want a ¼ inch hole. I want to buy the solution to the problem I have of needing a ¼ inch hole. Although your advertising content should include features, each feature should be attached to a clear, customer-oriented, benefit that addresses the solution to a problem, hassle or pain. Demonstrate and show how those benefits prevent or solve problems for your potential customer.

Think about all the problems, both real and potential, that could stem from not using your product or service. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Talk to them. Listen to them. Discover what problems your customers are trying to solve. Then show how your product or service makes a difference in relieving or overcoming these problems.

Advertising Results Killer #4: Advertising Too Many Products and Services in One Ad

This is called shotgun marketing. The mistaken idea is that the more different stuff I put in my ads the more likely I am to sell something! WRONG. It never works. Your ad ends up being cluttered and confusing. There is nothing wrong with having blank space in the postcard ad. In fact having blank space will make the advertising easier to read and more effective. You do not have to fill every inch of the postcard or brochure with information. Sell one thing at a time and sell the heck out of it.

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Advertising Results Killer #5: Weak Closing

Advertising is the same as one-on-one selling you have to ask for the order. The average advertising close goes something like this: “For More Information, Call 888-000-0000.” That is not asking for the order. Sure you want to tell them how to respond but the how is not the same as the why they should respond NOW.

One of the most important parts of an ad is what is called the Buy Now. The Buy Now is the urgent reason, or reasons, why they should call you now. It is the offer and in some cases an additional valued added offer. You see examples of this every day in infomercials.

Buy Before (DATE), and Receive $XX Off. This closer is effective at getting immediate action, and works especially well for businesses offering products and services that are essentially one-time purchases. If your business depends on repeat customers, this closer may bring you price-shoppers who will not buy from you again without further discounting. The following are some examples of closing offers you can make:

  • Come In Before (DATE), and Get a Coupon Good For 10% Off Your Next Purchase! This closer only rewards a customer when they return, which helps you build a regular clientele. You can even delay the reward, but the longer it’s put off, the bigger it must be.
  • Act before (DATE), and Get (VALUE-ADDED PRODUCT/SERVICE), FREE with Your Purchase! FREE still works to pull prospect in.This closer doesn’t diminish the value of your basic product or service, but it still offers an incentive for fast action. It also works that word “free” into your advertisement.
  • Book Before (DATE) to Take Advantage of Our Slow-Season Schedule and Prices! This closer flips the offer around, and essentially attaches a negative consequence to any delay or hesitation.       Similar closers can include limits on availability or quantity (“Offer limited to the first 50 people, so call now!”). Keep in mind that the more believable the reason for your limited offer, the more effective this closer becomes.

Advertising Results Killer #6: Trying It to See if It Works

One-time advertising efforts seldom are effective. When you run a direct mailer or advertisement one time basically you are trying to time the market. Market timing does not work. The reason is, you do not know at any one given time how many people are going to be in the market for what you are selling. But over the course of 2, 3 4 or 6 months more people are going to be in the market. The rule of thumb is the bigger the ticket the longer people think about making the purchase. The more often you need to be in front of them. The smaller the ticket item the faster people move on making the purchase, which means you need to be in front of them.

The basic marketing law that is at work here is, people tend to buy from businesses they are familiar with. And the more familiar they are with your business, the closer to time of purchase determines whether they call you or not.

If you want results from your marketing, realize that it may take consistent and repetitious effort to realize the returns you want from the direct mailer.

Advertising Results Killer #7: Wrong Target

Wrong target can be summed up in two words: Not-Know. Most targeting errors are made because the advertiser has not taken the time to find out; they think they know but usually are off in one or more crucial areas. Know your market. Know where they live. Know what they need. Know what problem they are trying to solve. Know why they would buy from you.

The only way to know is to survey your current customers to find out. From there you can put together a list of common characteristics. When you have this data it is easy to get a targeted mailing list or buy the right radio station or section in the newspaper.

Wilson Printing USA can help you create effective postcard and direct mailer that will generate the sales you need. Call us for a free consultation and for help in finding the right direct mail program for your business.

Mark Hale © 2014

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