Big Direct Mail Mistakes!

Next to cold calling, I’d have to say that direct mail is one of the most misrepresented marketing tools around. (When it comes to offline strategies anyhow.) Why do I say this? Just take a look at some of the mailers you get! Most direct mail advertisements are an exercise in “how to waste the most money possible in 3 back-breaking steps!” Ugh… I get worn out just thinking about it!

I cut my teeth on direct mail in the mortgage industry. When the industry average was 1/2 of 1% response to a mailer, my campaigns were consistently drawing 1.5 – 2% for large mailings, and 4 – 5% for smaller more targeted campaigns.

What made the difference? Here’s a few of my secrets:

1. The art of the hook

Most of my co-workers were using copycat marketing strategies. They’d take a look at what everyone else was doing, and just copy it. No real thought was put into the message. Instead of taking the time to craft a mailer that spoke to its audience, these people seemed to think it was all a numbers game, and if they just threw enough mail into the market, they’d get enough back to make it worth the time and expense…. WRONGO!

Step #1 for me was to look at what everyone else was doing, take notes, and then NOT DO IT! If 90% of my own office sent the same darn mailers and message, chances were good the same ratio existed in the market. This translates into a soggy, wet, played out mailer that will disappoint every time.

After I saw what I needed to avoid, I then played the role of the recipient. How can I get my mailer opened? Aha! A unique mailing vehicle: I sent my mailers in greeting card envelopes! Sounds expensive right? Actually, compared to a wasted mail drop it was downright thrifty! I shopped online and bought my greeting card mailers at a nice discount, and sent 100 cards per drop to a targeted list.

My “hook” was to speak to the fears and concerns of my market. Instead of the usual cliche’ opening statements “You can save 136.44 on your mortgage” I decided to put myself back into the shoes of my audience: “What do I fear? What motivates me? Why am I ignoring these mailers?”

Boom! I got it! They’re ignoring me because they don’t trust me anymore! They are suffering from information overload as they are assaulted with “refinance now” messages on the radio, on television, in their emails…. I need to stop the madness! RESET their mindset!

How did I do this?

I accomplished this task by changing my approach to one that was unexpected. Instead of starting off with a sales pitch, I first empathized with their annoyance at getting so much junk mail: “I bet you’re sick and tired of getting all these letters from mortgage companies aren’t you? Before you tear this into tiny pieces, can I get you to take a look at the box I prepared below?”

As the readers eyes are drawn to the content box just 2 spaces down, I had a great hook ready for them. I’ve already accomplished objective #1 at this point. I got their attention, and demonstrated that if nothing else, I at least understand them and their frustrations better than the average mortgage company.

Why not try shifting your approach as well? You might be surprised at how well this works!

Ideas For Marketing Your Service

Marketing a service is different from marketing a product. The decision to use a service tends to be more emotional. The customer needs to feel (FEEL) comfortable with the person providing the service. This is not the case when the customer is buying a product. Most of the time the customer doesn’t even know the person who created the product. The main concern when buying a product is, will it give me the benefits I want.

Most services are marketed more effectively with a main personality behind them. Even if that personality isn’t the person actually performing the service. The customer wants to see and feel comfortable with the “person” behind the service. Personality marketing is very effective when used to sell a service.

Face it
When promoting your service make sure you use a professional photograph. Craigslist has thousands of professional photographers on the cheap. Check references and check out their samples. Your face is your ticket to making the customer feel like they know you. If you are selling a professional service wear a business suit or dress (look professional). If you are selling a landscaping business look like a landscaper (jeans etc.).

Tag line
Make sure you have a good tag line to go with your logo. It should state the main benefit to using your service. The simpler the better, don’t try to be too creative with the tag line. No one will sit down for 5 minutes, to try to understand what you are trying to say in your tag line.

Business cards
Have your business cards printed on both sides. Put the main benefit of using you on the front and lots of testimonials on the back. And pass them out by the thousands. is the best and cheapest place I found for business cards.

Power of the word
I believe direct response marketing is the most consistently effective way to market services. But nothing beats word of mouth advertising, when one person takes the time to tell a friend about your service its very powerful. It just not predictable, so you have to ask for referrals and reward your current customers for recommending you. I love promotional items for this reason, it helps create and reward word of mouth advertising.

Think about what you could give your current customers for recommending your services. Make sure the gift has your name and number on it.

The product
With services you are the product, market your personality. Let the market know your background and philosophy of doing business.

What Brands Should Know About Social Media Marketing

Social media websites are an emerging tool in the digital marketer’s arsenal. They can be utilized to build brand loyalty on networking sites which already command a large following of highly-engaged, digitally active consumers. One of the top social networking sites, Facebook, actually receives more traffic on some days than even Google does. However, it is important for a brand’s image in the digital space to create and maintain a reciprocal social media experience if they want to see results from this technique.

Your socially-based marketing strategy needs to provide a benefit to users to keep them engaged. This does not necessarily mean you need to offer tangible items, such as coupons or other complimentary items; instead, the perceived ‘benefit’ for your followers and fans can simply be the chance to “interact” with your brand. Enabling two-way communication between a brand and its supporters can often be the most successful form of marketing within social media.

Engaged social media followers can be difficult for a brand to attract and maintain. Advertisers need to be aware that they cannot simply update their status messages with marketing materials in order to successfully capture their audience; instead, they need to provide an experience outside of the traditional direct response formula.

Offering the target audience an experience unique to your social media strategy is key to overall success. For example, your Twitter account should reply to users’ comments and questions, post links to stories, videos, or websites outside of what would be considered direct response marketing, and re-tweet (or, forward along) posts that you think would be interesting to other followers of yours.

Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace offer unique opportunities for advertisers as well. Both sites provide for a brand to create or sponsor applications, games, and other forms of interaction. These engagement techniques are great examples of social network-based tools that a brand can utilize to market themselves in a less direct, yet highly visible manner.