Time for a one to one marketing switch. Replace sales emails with sales letters sent by post for important messages and lead generation.
Guest article - May 2007
Is Direct Mail the answer to your sales lead generation prayers?
Email marketing is currently all the rage, isn't it? However, as more and more companies join the e-marketing bandwagon, response rates are falling as we become inundated with e-newsletters and e-shots.
Another way of generating awareness and response is good old fashioned direct mail. Yes, this is a relatively expensive way of getting your message across. However, the more important point is: will it deliver the goods? The brief answer to this question is “Yes”, as long as you have the component parts working in harmony.
Begin with segmentation
To start with, have you segmented your market? A market segment is 'a group of people with shared needs'. Segmentation is easy to talk about, but difficult to deliver, as it takes deep thought. Once you have cracked it, your direct response marketing will begin to lift off the runway.
The best list
Clear thinking on segmentation makes it easier to create your mailing list. The best list will always be your own list, grown and nurtured over time. However, if you need to start afresh, then you may need to talk to a list broker. Their job it is to source the right contact names, with the right details and deliver them to you in the right format. As well as list broking companies, there is an increasing number of on-line list brokers.
The psychology of repetition
In order to get your message into long term memory, it must be repeated seven times. However, direct mail (and most other forms of marketing) only 'gets through' a third of the time. Therefore, we must try 21 times (i.e. 3 x 7), in order to get our message across.
Consider for a moment those companies which mail you on a regular basis. If they continue to do it – it must work for them, mustn't it? The chances are that you have bought from them in the past. This means that you are likely to buy from them once again, at some point in the future. The point is that they don't send a few mailers and then give up. They are investing for the long term.
With regard to the envelope, I recommend that you keep it plain. Don't overprint it with a sales message. Don't use a franking machine message (i.e. your logo). As long as it has the recipient's name on it, they've got to open it, haven't they? After all, it might be from the Lottery, announcing that their years of toil are finally at an end!
The AIDCA model
'AIDCA' stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Conviction and Action. It is the perfect model for a direct mail letter. Here is the sequence:
Attention = The headline
Interest = The product or service
Desire = A compelling offer
Conviction = Proof
Action = A call to action!
I have used this model countless times in direct response campaigns, with great results.
The importance of headlines
The single most important item is the headline. The headline is the gateway to the rest of the letter. A weak headline will torpedo your letter. The headline should be benefit loaded and hold out the proposition of a better future. If you are writing the copy (i.e. words) for the letter, I suggest that you write between six and twelve different headlines. Show these to other people and get their feedback. Sleep on it and take a fresh look the following day. Believe me, it's worth doing this.
Completing the AIDCA model
Don't annoy the reader with a rambling introduction. They want to know what you are promoting and whether it's relevant to them. Therefore, your opening paragraph should get their Interest by describing the product or service.
In order to create Desire, describe a compelling offer. By the way, this doesn't have to be a discount (perish the thought!). Can you create a bundled offer perhaps – which includes something of value?
The next step is to create the Conviction within the reader's mind that they should respond. You can do this by offering Proof, in the form of testimonials, facts and figures and case studies.
End with a strong call to Action! Don't forget to include at least two different forms of contact. Remember that some people like to call and some people like to write. Therefore, you could end with something like this: 'If you would like to find out more, send an email to email@example.com or call me on 01628 773128.'
An alternative to writing the letter yourself is to hire a professional copywriter. They come in two flavours. The first type of copywriter has a good command of English and can write clearly. This approach is fine for secondary web pages, leaflets and brochures. Then there are direct response copywriters. They write compelling copy which generates a river of response. (Guess which category the writer of this article belongs to?)
Don't forget to include a PS, in your direct mail letter. For some strange reason, people will scan the headline – and take a peek at the PS. This is a great place to restate your offer.
Direct mail has always been there. It continues to get response. It's just a question of getting all of the components working together in harmony.
Nigel Temple is an independent marketing consultant, trainer, speaker and author. Visit www.nigeltemple.com for your free marketing toolkit. If you would like to discuss direct response marketing, by all means email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Nigel on 01628 773128.
If you need to improve sales letters, sales emails, one to one marketing, or sales lead generation, we can help. Telephone +44 (0)118 983 3887. We will be pleased to learn about your needs or talk through some options. Send email to email@example.com for a prompt reply or use the contact form here.