What is Direct Mail Marketing and Why Should I Use It to Promote My Small Business

Most small business owners have heard of direct mail marketing, but may not really know what it is. And there’s good reason to consider direct mail to promote your small business.

It’s versatile, effective and affordable. It allows you to give prospects one-to-one direct attention, and it allows you more control over growth than nearly any other type of promotion.

Direct mail marketing is one of several types of direct response copywriting. I suppose it’s somewhat confusing, but most tend to think of the two terms as interchangeable. There is however, a subtle difference.

Direct mail marketing can be defined as one-to-one communication sent by mail directly to potential clients with the goal of specific action by the recipient. Direct response copywriting is basically the same thing, but isn’t limited to snail mail delivery.

Direct Mail Marketing is Versatile

Direct response is one of the most versatile forms of small business promotion there is. You are in fact, really only limited by your imagination. Some of the more common types of direct response are:

  • Direct mail letters
  • Direct post cards
  • “Lumpy” mail
  • Business letters of introduction
  • Direct response brochures
  • Flyers
  • Direct fax
  • Direct email
  • Bulletin board letters

Of the eight different types listed above, only the last three wouldn’t be considered direct mail marketing, but would instead be considered a different type of direct response copywriting.

Most of them are self-explanatory, but you may not have heard of “lumpy” mail. Lumpy mail is simply direct mail with the addition of something related to your message in the envelope besides just a letter. It could be as simple as a stubby pencil, a sample-sized bar of soap, or even a child’s toy. It might cost a bit more, but it often leads to a surprisingly big increase in response rates.

And perhaps you haven’t heard of bulletin board letters. Technically, they’re not a form of direct response, since they’re not sent directly to a particular recipient, but rather are posted on a community bulletin board where anyone in the local area can find them.

Community bulletin board letters can be nearly as effective as a direct mail letter, but have the added advantages of lower costs and reaching a larger audience. They’re most often hand-delivered, stapled to bulletin boards in towns, in storefront windows, or anywhere else you feel they’d be seen.

Direct Mail is Affordable

Whatever the mode of delivery, dollar for dollar, direct response copywriting is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your small business. On average, a direct mail letter costs less than $1 per recipient. That’s including paper, envelopes, printing and postage stamps.

A direct postcard can cost even less because it costs less to mail–total cost is around 70 cents. However, higher paper costs could even out the cost difference.

Direct Mail is Effective

With average response rates between 1 and 3%, it’s one of the most effective ways to promote your small business as well.

Unfortunately, most amateur copywriters (and many professionals as well) don’t have response rates nearly that high. They’re soon discouraged, giving up on direct mail marketing when their first efforts show a poor, or no response.

One of the reasons might be that they’ve chosen the wrong goal. Keeping in mind that it takes an average of 5 to 7 contacts before a potential client actually buys something from you, your goal should seldom be a sale.

Most of your contacts will need to get to know you before they spend their hard-earned dollars on your product or service. Don’t expect a sale. Rather, consider any purchases from introductory direct mail a pleasant bonus.

A much better goal might be to consider direct response as lead generation instead of sales generation. For example, you might want your recipient to visit your web site, contact you for a free report, or call you for more information. Those types of requests are more likely to result in the type of response you’re looking for.

Direct Mail Allows You to Speak Directly to Your Recipient

What other form of small business promotion allows you speak directly to your recipient? Not television, radio, billboards, or your web site. Besides, with the exception of a web site, TV, radio and billboards cost way too much for most small business owners to consider.

Addressing your recipient personally, as in “Dear Joe” or “Dear Ms. Smith” rather than using “Dear Colleague” or “Dear Homeowner” increases response rates dramatically. And it improves the chances that your recipient will actually open the envelope instead of throwing it away unopened. (So does using an actual stamp instead of a postage meter by the way).

Direct Mail Gives You Control Over Your Growth Rate

Growing your small business too fast is almost as dangerous as not growing fast enough! What would you do if you suddenly grow way past your company’s capability? It’s a danger you might think you’d welcome, but there is such a thing as too much growth.

With direct mail, you control your growth as simply as controlling the number of direct mail letters you decide to send. If your goal is one new lead a month, knowing the average response rate is 1 to 3%, you can send between 33 and 100 letters for one response

No matter how you’re promoting your small business right now, I hope you’re convinced to add direct mail marketing as one of your strategies. If done well, it truly is one of the most effective marketing strategies available to small business owners.

Building Marketing Momentum For Your Small Business

The success of your business depends on your ability to build marketing momentum. Without the ability to generate new sources of leads your capacity to sell will slump and the growth of your business will stagnate or shrink.

Unfortunately, many small business owners are at a loss when tasked with coming up with new ways to market while others are frustrated into stagnation by seeing consistently ineffective results from their marketing efforts. It doesn’t matter if your business is young or established. If your business is young you must market well simply to survive. On the other hand, if you have had marketing success with a method that does not increase your opportunity to generate new business your success will be stunted by your limited ability to find new sources of business.

Building marketing momentum is like kicking a ball down a hill that keeps getting steeper. Each time the hill becomes a little steeper the ball will roll faster and pick up momentum. In marketing, any tactic you add to attract attention to what you do is like making the hill a little steeper.

The other day I was talking to Ed who runs a successful metal shining business. I asked him how he went about generating new sales. He told me that 100% of his marketing effort is networking. I couldn’t help but wonder why. I realize that he is doing well with it but if he simply placed an ad in the yellow pages that generated just one sale a year he would cover the cost of the ad and be profitable!

Even though Ed’s networking efforts are successful he is limiting his ability to grow his business by only implementing one form of marketing. By simply trying something new in addition to networking Ed can benefit from developing a new way to generate leads and build his marketing momentum.

Is your marketing effort one dimensional or stagnant? Here are five tactics you can use to build marketing momentum.

Deliver a Great Marketing Message

A great marketing message will have the effect of generating interest in what you do. It never ceases to amaze me the number of small business owners that fail to use a compelling marketing message. How many times has someone described to you their business or what they do with a label like, “I’m an accountant” or “I’m in Communications”? Such answers are not likely to start interesting conversations and marketing opportunities are missed.

If you answer the “what do you do?” question with a savvy marketing message you will find that more people associate what you do with a need of their own or that of a friend, colleague or relative and you will win more referral business. Develop and use an outstanding, compelling marketing message and you will find that more people show interest in what you do. The result will be more better sales.

Make Cold Calling a Hot Source of Sales

Many small business owners hate to make cold calls. Their derision is understandable. By making cold calls they are setting themselves up for rejection. No one likes being rejected. However, rejection is part of the game when making phone calls. Once you realize that it’s not your fault when someone says no during a cold call you can move passed your barrier and add cold calling to your marketing arsenal.

The fact is that by regularly picking up the phone and reaching out to potential clients small business owners increase their chance of finding new business. A percentage of the people you speak with will become clients when you make cold calls, especially if you are targeting your market well and are offering something they need. What’s more you can work to improve your phone skills to increase your ability to make sales. Add cold calling to your marketing strategy and you will increase your opportunity to generate new business.

Use Your Web Site as An Effective Marketing Tool

Many companies have web sites that fail as effective marketing tools. Does your web site consistently generate leads and sales? It should. And it can. The World Wide Web is a continuously open marketplace that reaches hundreds of millions of consumers every moment of every day and allows you to easily and accurately target those who buy your products or services. A company without a web site as part of its marketing team is missing a fantastic opportunity to increase its revenue stream. Deliver a web site that functions as an effective marketing tool and you will consistently add to your marketing momentum.

Develop Your Network

Another great tool to use to build marketing momentum is networking. Networking is a highly effective means of generating referral business (which is some of the easiest business to get, once you get a referral). A person who is willing to take someone else’s advice to contact you about your product or service will transfer the trust he has in his friend or colleague making the referral to you. Making it easier for clients to trust you removes one of the barriers to making a sale. By developing a robust network you will increase your ability to find new prospects and do more business.

So then, just how should you go about building your network?

Ed, from our previous example, is able to successfully operate his business with networking alone. That’s because Ed networks the right way. Many small business owners and executives don’t realize what networking truly is. Unfortunately, all too often people think they are networking by reaching out only to the people they know when what they should be doing is taking steps to continually expand their network. Ed regularly attends networking events and is involved with multiple networking groups. He ads new people to his network all the time and has a successful business to show for it (though he could be even more successful if he added another tool to his marketing toolbox).

Measure Your Results

No matter what tactics you adapt to market yourself or your business be sure to measure your results. By measuring your marketing results you will be able to move away from or correct what does not work and stick with and reinforce what does. By diligently measuring your results you will improve your ability to ad to your marketing momentum and grow your business and success.

By measuring my results and trying new things I have been able to develop an ad that enjoys a 20% response rate. The ad is so successful I only need to run it occasionally to generate enough calls to keep me very busy. Not only does this great ad do a fantastic job of generating interest in my marketing services it saves me money on my advertising costs because I can meet my goals by running fewer ads.

You too can develop highly effective ads by measuring your results.

Move Your Marketing Forward

If your marketing efforts aren’t helping you reach your goals you can improve your results by implementing any one of the tactics outlined above. Choose the one you feel most comfortable with and take small measured steps toward realistic goals and you will see a beneficial transformation in your marketing results.

Grow Your Small Business Without Advertising

As a small business owner you don’t have a lot of money to spare on advertising, yet marketing is the lifeblood of your business. Instead of wasting money on traditional ads there are many things that you can do to bring in qualified leads without spending a dime.

Here are three things that you can do right now to bring in new customers and grow your small business without wasting a penny on traditional advertising:

1. Build a referral system. Referrals are the most significant source of customers for many small business owners. With a referral system, you give your clients as many different promotion vehicles as possible, bringing in customers from many streams.

2. Use your current network. Using the people that already know, like, and trust you is a great way to generate qualified leads. If you treat your network with respect, showing your top players that you have their best interests in mind, they will return the favor.

Your network will not be built overnight. If you frequently reach out to your circle of influence, showing people that you’re still here to do business, they can’t help but refer you to others. You’ll be the only business that they think about for your particular niche.

3. Lower your attrition rate. Many small business owners forget about their customers once they start buying. we tend to focus on treating our prospects like gold, but put the paying customers on the back burner.

By putting more focus on making your current customers happy and keep treating them the way you got them to buy in the beginning, you can lower your attrition. This means that it will take far fewer new clients to grow your business, because you won’t be filling the empty spots.

18 Essential Tools For Marketing Your Small Business

Growing and maintaining a small business is not easy. It takes stamina, patience and perseverance to keep the doors open every day. It also takes money and marketing to succeed at getting your message to the right prospects. Small business owners need to pay close attention to the message they convey and how it is perceived by their target audience in order to their promotional budget.

Knowing what works and what doesn’t in the arena of promotional advertising and marketing is one of the most common problems business owners face. When you are working with limited resources it is extremely difficult to apportion time and money to every new idea that comes around. This is one reason why Internet marketing has still eluded a lot of local companies. They often don’t know what to do and where to best allocate resources.

Trying to keep up with the various trends that seem to pop up on a regular basis takes a lot of work and no small business owner has the time keep up when they must also wear 100 other hats in their industry. What I found is that the basic principles of marketing still holds true even in the digital age regardless of the type of product or service being offered there are still fundamental applications that fit even the most cutting-edge marketing model. I have distilled the processes down to a basic set of tools that any business owner can use to succeed at generating leads.

There are marketing 18 tools that are vital to the health and growth of a small business in today’s competitive world. There is no doubt that technology has made life easier for small business operation but it is also made it more frustrating. But the essence of marketing is still finding and influencing the people who have a need for what you are selling. You can use any of these 18 tools in a variety of configurations based on your budget or unique requirements.

1. A Company Website
2. A Separate Blog
3. Affiliate Or Referral Program
4. Customer Retention Program
5. Direct Mail
6. E-Mail Marketing
7. Google Maps
8. Internet Advertising
9. Monthly Articles
10. Monthly Newsletters
11. Online Videos Channel
12. Podcast Channel
13. Print Ads
14. Radio and Television Advertising
15. Regular Press Releases
16. Search Engine Marketing
17. Social Media Interaction
18. Telemarketing

These tools offer your business a fighting chance at staying ahead of the competition and can also dramatically improve your bottom line. I wouldn’t necessarily stress one particular tool over another because they all have their pluses and minuses when it comes to effectiveness based on particular markets. It isn’t necessary to utilize all the tools every month; that may be impractical for many small businesses.

If you are just starting to pay attention to marketing, choose a collection of tools that can easily be tracked to gauge their performance. For example establish a company website and a separate blog. Use e-mail marketing and direct mail to promote your company. Establish a customer retention program and affiliate or referral program using your e-mail marketing campaign and direct mail campaign to generate interest.

Craft your message and stick to it. Conduct market research and establish a series of keywords that can be used throughout your promotional campaign both on the web and off-line. Keep your message consistent with the keywords in order to generate a solid message to a target audience.

Promote your message through a variety of media sources for example articles and video or develop a podcast series dealing with the specific topics surrounding your message. Get the word out through social networks and your blog and drive traffic and search engine marketing techniques.

Sketch out your entire campaign on the calendar in order to simplify the entire process. This also allows you to identify your milestones and help in tracking your progress. Marketing should never be an afterthought in your business. Delivering your message and converting prospects to customers is essential for generating consistent profits.