Take Back Control of Your Marketing by Tom Krug

by 25 Nov 2009


The Case (once again) For Direct Mail
Searching for your next prospect in this market can be challenging.  With so many Lead Providers popping up and offering everything from exclusive to semi-exclusive leads it’s difficult to figure out what’s really a good lead and what’s not.  Are they originating the lead themselves or are they more of the same over-sold leads from aggregators?  Perhaps you have gone through a few Lead Providers in your search for a quality lead (maybe even a dozen or more)?  You are tired of competing with 27 other companies over the same prospect.  Quantity is no longer a viable option, quality is more important than ever.  You need a lead that zeros in on the exact prospect that will fit your program guidelines.
You can choose to take control of your marketing by creating your own Lead flow.  If you’re thinking this is about search engine optimization or pay-per-click advertising for leads, think again.  What’s old is new.  Direct mail is once again helping companies locate their ideal prospects.  Direct mail is not for the faint of heart, but done correctly and consistently, you can eliminate the middleman and take back control of your marketing.

The Case for Direct Mail
Look at your own mail, have you noticed fewer mortgage solicitations; fewer financial offers all around?  Times have changed and fewer companies are promoting through the mail, that is good news!  It’s true, and that means there is less competition for your Mailer in the mailbox.  If you are using Direct Mail to get your message out, then this is the time to reap big rewards. Less competition for your Mailer means higher response rates for you.  And isn’t that what you really want?  The quality of a Mailer lead is special and arguably the best lead next to a referral.  Consider for a moment the mind-set of a Direct Mailer call-in client.  They have found you from your Mailer.  They have picked up the phone, taken that first step of calling a stranger.  No one twisted their arm.  They are calling you.  This type of consumer typically is not a shopper as much as someone surfing the web.  They are looking for confidential answers/solutions to their existing challenges/problems.  They’re ready now.  We all know that call-ins are some of the best leads, but not all mailers will produce the same results.  Here are some key areas to review as you plan out your Direct Mail campaign.
The Mailer
When you sort your own mail, you probably create two stacks: the important stack, and the junk stack – and so does your prospect.  So, the first goal is to have the prospect put your mailer in that important stack of mail.  Size, shape, color, copy, these are all factors that will impact which stack your Mailer lands in.  How do you do this?  If you understand the mind-set of your prospect, you can create an eye-catching mailer that will help influence and increase your odds that your Mailer lands in the right pile of mail.  For example, if you are sending a mailer to prospects in financial distress you may decide on an official looking Letter or Snap-Pack (the ones with the perforated edges). Testing a variety of strong copy on the outside of the envelope can work out as well.  Just be careful here, not everyone will appreciate this type of Mailer and too much trickery without real solutions on the inside may lead to some irritable call-ins. Consider the theme of your mailer in selecting a Letter or Snap-Pack.  Is your theme going to be personal as in “feel, felt, found?” Then you’ll want to stick with a letter and envelope.  Need to look more official?  Selecting a Snap-Pack will help convey an important and urgent message.  Developing the look of your Mailer with your client in mind is the first step.  Once they open your Mailer, you have got about 2.6 seconds to convince them to keep reading.
The Content
You made it to the right pile of mail and your Mailer has been opened.  Here is your chance to get the reader to act.  Think Google Adwords.  Those are the ads that pop up on the right side of your web searches.  There are only three lines to convince you to “read on” and click through to a website.  Your headline and introduction on your Mailer needs to be just as relevant and solutions based.  Avoid excessively wordy copy.  Ernest Hemingway was famous for writing in a terse minimalist style.  He got straight to the point.  Challenged to tell a story in only 6 words he wrote: For sale: baby shoes, never used. We can learn a lot from Ernest.  Use short sentences.  Get to the point.
If you’ve done your job in the opening, now you have their attention and have sparked their interest enough to move them to the benefits of your program.  This area is where you can showcase the features and benefits of your program.  Using bullets and charts work well.  Again, remember to keep it simple and straight to the point.  Depending on the style of your Mailer you may want to ad testimonials to ad confidence and credibility to your claims.  Pay careful attention here to the claims of your offer.  Consumers are smart.  If your claims appear to be too unrealistic (while still being true) you’ll lose the reader quickly.
How should the consumer contact you?  Why should they contact you, and why right now?  Your copy should lead the prospect to eventually act and pick up the phone to dial your toll-free number.  To accomplish this, your Mailer needs to flush out their needs and offer up a great solution.  Fear of loss, hope for gain is a powerful motivator.  Strong multiple call-to-actions should be strategically placed throughout the copy.  If the prospect “gets it” in the opening paragraph, by all means, offer him a way to contact you.  It’s not necessary to make the prospect wait till they reach the signature line.  And speaking of signature lines, your PS should restate the benefits of your offer.  Do not forget this. Studies have proven that the PS line is almost always read.
Share your new Mailer with a few friends and colleagues and get their opinions.  Feedback is important and often reveals areas that need change or improvement.  Watch them as they read your Mailer.  Is it easy for them to read through, or do they get hung up on certain parts?  Do not try to get it right on the first try.  Writing copy is a skill and will take several edits.
It’s all In the List
You can have the best looking Mailer, but if you are not mailing to the right list then you’ll burn through more postage money than you can imagine.  Do not skimp on the list! A quality list is a big part of the success of your direct mail campaign.  Dealing with a reputable list broker is key and being able to zero in on the right prospect is critical.  If you can refine your list and mail only to those prospects that have a burning need for your program you will save on postage (the biggest cost of direct mail) and ensure that those call-ins are best qualified.  Work with your list broker to help you select your ideal prospect.
Tracking your Campaign
The Mailer is out the door, now you need to track the results.  Complete tracking is more than your receptionist telling you how many calls came in on a particular day.  With todays technology it’s easy to get very granular on the details of your campaign.  One of the best methods is through call-tracking.  With call-tracking software you should be able to record all the calls that come in and also capture any hang-ups.  This can be easily added to your campaign and at a minimal cost.  Managed effectively, you’ll understand and know all the key metrics important in measuring the results of your direct mail.
Direct mail is a solution that is working in today’s market.  With proper planning and execution, you can create your own lead flow and by-pass the Lead Vender middlemen.  Creating your own Lead through direct mail will help you take back control of your marketing and improve your ROI.
Tom Krug is the founder and President of MindRiverMarketing.com, a full service marketing company specializing in the financial services industry providing targeted data lists, and turn-key marketing programs. Krug has spent the past 20 years building successful businesses in residential finance and has been recognized on the Inc 500 Fastest Growing Company list. Krug may be contacted by email at tom@MindRiverMarketing.com or by calling 858-720-4760



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