Now say you are a local insurance company that needs to pitch your services to an already saturated marketplace. Could be fun, huh? Answer: the same: Yes.
When we say “fun” we don’t mean in terms of playtime. We do mean it’s a creative challenge to utilize the right list, the right messages, the right follow up, even the right paper stock, and, of course, ultimately, the right response. Essentially, we believe there is only ONE WAY, and that is: approach it scientifically.
TARGET: Business to Consumer
Start with your current LOCAL customers and send out thank you cards or letters. Call each one as a follow up. (You should be able to call them if they know you very well, but be mindful of and make sure you are complying with the Federal “do-not-call” list.) Invite them for coffee. If you have a new product or service to pitch, invite them to a formal reception or even a coordinated series of seminars (but don’t talk their ears off).
Branch out from there. Depending upon your desired reach, acquire a brand new list, and the right size, i.e. the correct zip codes or demographics (e.g. household earnings, etc). Next, postal mail them at least five consecutive extremely persuasive and creative pieces. Example: If you sell chocolates have a picture of a stylized whale spouting chocolate. If you sell insurance, have a picture of a man wearing only a barrel with suspenders, and so on. In each piece also have a response mechanism. Another idea: mimic the way a coupon stuffing mail house does it and do it for one company only: yours.
Harvest your own “pearls”. It’s called a “P.U.R.L.” – or personalized URL. If you engage in “variable printing”, each mailing can be personalized, e.g. “Hi John. If YOU are concerned about your lawn care, visit www.lawncare11211.com/johndoe…” Then when John visits his own website, there’s a special survey for a $5 Starbuck’s card, etc. Can you picture the possibilities? Setting up and running PURLS are usually costly, but they don’t have to be. (Ask us).
Track results. Set up an Excel file for each list, and each mailing if necessary. Design special follow up mechanisms that request and ultimately give you permission to telephone your audience, or direct them to a website where they can interact or even “buy” right on the spot.
Another idea: what about running a “touch-tone” survey? (Ask us.)
Rinse and repeat. Always keep your marketing engines set minimally to “all ahead one-third.” (Hint: these efforts must be built into your business plan.)
TARGET: Business to Business
Slightly different in that you should be able to buy a list, then scrub it by phone calling each contact to make sure the contact is correct. We often suggest starting small, say 1,500 names at the most. Why? Because it’s a nearly insurmountable effort to call many thousands.
Then, if you mail to only a small amount at a time, you extend your “mailing season” (if it’s appropriate), and you can follow up EACH mailing with a DIRECT PHONE CALL. (“Do-not-call” lists usually apply to residents, but still be careful not to violate any laws.) Bite off what only you can chew, i.e. mail out
250 per month and call those the next month, e.g. “Did you receive our mailing with the multi-colored giraffe…?” while at the same time the next 250 are receiving their mailings.
Rinse and repeat at least five or six times. Call after nearly each mailing as a follow up. (Warm hearts.) This may even take years, but isn’t a more conservative approach usually better in the long run?
End Result: Score!
You WILL connect with some, and likely significantly more than if you used a pedestrian approach of bland pre-fab templated mass mailings, a local graphic designer instead of a seasoned writer/agency, poor list, inadequate follow ups, etc.
Consider this: companies like e.g. GE Capital mail many times over to the same millions of people, year after year. (That’s a lot of trees.) Large firms usually acquire their lists through existing customers and new “do-not-call” lists. Also, many of these large conglomerate’s creative ideas come from “decision by committee” (yawn). These mailings are the only way they expect any sort of response. We know this. Similar companies hired us many times over, expecting the “normal” 1.5% response rate.
You don’t have to settle for this “normal” response rate, simply to pay for and justify mailings. There is a science to direct mail and it needs a highly scientific approach, although, at the least of it, you are reinforcing your company’s brand.