A small business owner asked me a question at a seminar this week; “ If I mail out 10,000 postcards, what response should I expect?”
There is no “one size fits all “answer. Let me start with a statement: Snail Mail is still a part of my marketing tool kit. Now let’s take a look at the variables in a direct mail campaign I will use my own experience in presenting this topic.
- To whom are you mailing to? One of my direct mail campaigns is to a group of 400 people who, over the course of the next 5 years, may need my services. The need was determined through research which found that approximately 80% of the recipients will use a service such as the one I am offering over a 5 year period. According to my research, an average of 64 people will need my services per year.
- What is the purpose of the mailing? To become the firm they hire when the need for services such as mine arises.
- What is the frequency of my mailings? I send out a mailing to this group on the same day each month.
- What does my monthly mailing cost? I use first class mail, currently 49 cent postage. My printing and processing is another 31 cents for a total monthly expense of $.80. Thus, my monthly investment is $320.00 and $3,840 over the course of a year.
- What is the content of the mailing? I send out a four page newsletter printed on 17” by 11” colored paper. We create the content which is not only specific to our service, but also provides other valuable information that will benefit our target market. If we can make the content valuable enough, the newsletter will not be discarded and has a good chance of having a shelf life of 2 to 3 months.
- What are the selling expectations? If 64 people will purchase a service like mine every year, we expect to get a minimum of 5 % of the market, approximately 3 sales per year. Our profit per sale averages $10,000 for an anticipated income of $30,000. (On an approximately $4,000 investment, a $30,000 return is worth the effort)
- What are the risks? There is no “sure bet” marketing program.
- If the content in our mailing is not found valuable and informative by our target market, we won’t meet our projections.
- If we get too impatient and expect instant gratification and give up, we lose. Our research says that I will be noticed only after I have delivered 6 contacts. The first year requires patience.
Mass mailings to a market that does not know who you are or what benefits you provide, may yield a few results. The chances of a high rate of return are about the same as if you shot a bullet into the sky and a duck happened to fly over and was shot down. There is an “art” to direct mailing and each target market has to be approached according to its needs in order to get a worthwhile return.
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