With all the activity and attention digital marketing gets, who thinks about “snail mail?” Newsflash: Direct mail still works. In fact, you might be surprised how many Fortune 500, Fortune 100 and Fortune 50 companies rely on direct mail for their marketing.
Direct mail still gets the best response when it comes to earning attention from clients and prospects. Although email marketing is popular, the strongest open rate typically hovers around 20% for business and finance according to MailChimp’s statistics (https://mailchimp.com/resources/research/email-marketing-benchmarks/).
If you’re not using direct mail to reach out to your clients and prospects, then hopefully this chapter will encourage you to do so.
For instance, not all your prospects are sitting in front of a computer all day. Using email marketing is important but put yourself in your client or prospect’s shoes. Are they checking email constantly throughout the day? Or putting out fires? Or perhaps they’re busy dealing with their own customers and clients? At any rate, their attention is selective and limited. Often, the one sure-fire way to get through to them is with a good old-fashioned sales letter.
To further illustrate this, I recently spoke to an accountant who wanted more contractors, electricians, and plumbers as clients. I immediately asked him if he was using direct mail to reach out to these prospects. He admitted he was not. I told him such jobs aren’t “desk jobs” and because of that, his best chance to reach them would be with a postcard or sales letter. There are more details to this strategy, which I’ll explain next.
Use Postcards for the Quick Win
Postcards are a wonderful way to get your message across to busy people. First, it’s hard to ignore the message of a postcard. It’s right there… out in the open! Immediately your recipient can see the marketing message.
Second, it’s more economical to send a postcard. At the time of this writing, a postcard costs 35 cents to mail versus 50 cents to mail a First-Class letter. If your postcard is not larger than 4¼″ x 6″ (but at least 3½″ x 5″) you can mail them at the 35 cents rate.
Here are a few “Dos” and “Don’ts” when using a postcard to get new clients:
- Do use a powerful headline to grab attention
- Do make an offer very clearly
- Do give your prospect a reason to respond right now
- Do make sure you have a good tracking system in place, so you know a prospect came from your postcard campaign
- Do feature strong copy on the postcard
- Don’t use large images that take up too much space (the space should be filled with great copy, instead!)
- Do use several ways to contact you (phone number, website address)
- If you are sending your prospect to an online website address, do use a URL link shortener like bit.ly. Make your URL link short and easy to remember.
- Do include your return address
Remember to also send more than one postcard if you choose this method. Sending just one postcard won’t get the same response as sending it to the same people two more times. Again, people are busy, and it takes several attempts to reach them before gaining their attention.
Use Sales Letters for Telling a Bigger Story
Because a sales letter has more space than a postcard, it allows you more room to make your offer. Your sales letter could be just one sheet of paper or several. If you do create more than two pages, though, you might want to consider having the sales letter printed on a 11”x17” piece of paper and then folded to fit inside the envelope. The entire sales letter will then be kept together.
There are more comprehensive guides out there that will tell you exactly what you should include in a sales letter. I highly recommend the book, The Ultimate Sales Letter: Attract New Customers. Boost your Sales, by Dan S. Kennedy. In it he gives examples of a successful sales letter.
The purpose of a sales letter is to sell your services to someone. Nothing less. Follow the same “Dos” and “Don’ts” I listed before for postcards (except for space limitations). Make sure you use a headline, though, for your sales letter. Headlines are vital to capture attention quickly and prepare your reader for the rest of your letter’s content.
Whatever your offer might be, realize there will be objections. Imagine your client or prospect reading your letter while saying, “So what?” The statement, “so what,” is an objection to overcome. Remember that for each claim you make, you must back it up with proof.
The proof could be statistics, results one business or client received, current trends, industry news—any credible information you can pull in to prove your claim. A good sales letter sets up the reason for the letter (presenting the PAS formula explained in Chapter Five, which is Problem, Agitate, Solve).
Begin by addressing the pain your reader is experiencing or asking a question that assumes the pain. Identify the problem clearly within the headline and the beginning of the letter.
Next, “agitate” the pain by further “dimensionalizing” it. Dimensionalizing is when you paint a picture of how frustrating/challenging/scary, etc. it is to have the problem. Once you establish the pain, then you can present the solution—but not before.
The biggest mistake most business owners make with their sales letters is they don’t take enough time to demonstrate to their reader that they understand them. Your reader is smart. He isn’t going to pay attention to a pure sales pitch. Instead, you need to carefully bring him onboard by proving you know how tough things are for him.
This is the part of a sales letter where you are establishing trust. Once a client or prospect knows you “get them,” they will be much more agreeable to hearing your offer.
For an even better response, add a reply card with a stamp on it. These can be quite simple. On one side, have your address (for even better tracking, use a code at the bottom of the card to let you know the reply card came from a specific direct mail campaign).
On the other side, feature an area for qualifying questions, such as the example below:
Smith & Johnson Advisors: (Choose the most appropriate option below)
[ ] Please contact me to schedule a free consultation call with you.
[ ] Give me a call ASAP. I have an immediate financial advisory need in mind.
[ ] Not interested right now. Try us again in _______________________________
Name ____________________________ Title _____________________________
Company _______________________________ Phone ______________________
City ________________________ State ______ Zip _______________
My business is: ______________________________________________________
Type of financial help I need: __________________________________________________
[ ] Taxes and Financial Planning [ ] Long Term Healthcare and Insurance
[ ] Retirement Planning [ ] Estate Planning [ ] Investments
[ ] Debt Management [ ] Budgeting [ ] Saving for College [ ] Other _________
Sales letters can be one of the most effective ways to grow your business. It is said the formula for success goes like this:
- 40% of your efforts should focus on the offer
- 40% of your efforts should focus on the right mailing list
- 20% for everything else (copy and design)
I’ve seen some great sales letters fail because they weren’t mailed to the right list. Or it failed because it had a weak offer.
Just like postcards, you need to mail more than once. Plan on mailing at least three sales letters to the same group of people over the course of 30—45 days. After sending the first letter, the second letter should be sent 8—10 days later. The third sales letter should then be mailed within 8—10 days. This is designed to get the fastest response.
Another approach is to mail three sales letters over the course of two months (or 60 days). After mailing the first letter, you’d mail the second letter around three weeks later. The third sales letter would then be mailed after another three weeks.
The power of sequence cannot be overestimated. Your clients and prospects usually will need to hear from you consistently before acting.
“Shock and Awe” Packages
If you really want to impress someone, consider sending a “shock and awe” package. They are larger in size and contain several items, so they will be more expensive to put together. However, it is an excellent way to gain attention. No one can resist opening a large package or bulky mailer. They are curious about its content. This is especially true if your package feels heavy.
What goes into a “shock and awe” package? You can include a variety of items depending on whether your package is for lead generation or part of a new client welcome package. If you’re trying to sell your services to a new prospect, you’ll need marketing assets such as sales brochures and testimonials.
If it’s to welcome a new client, you’ll need items that further support your expertise and credibility like a book and on-boarding material. It’s also a nice touch to add branded marketing items such as coffee cups with your logo, a calendar, pens, or a USB flash drive. Check out promotional marketing companies for ideas.
By the way, branded promotional items are a great way to support your marketing efforts. You want your clients and prospects to think of you every time they use your cup, a calendar, pen, or anything else you send.
Include as many items and diverse items as you can. You want your recipient to feel as though they’re opening a gift, with enjoyable surprises added into the mix. Also break up material into different, smaller pieces. For instance, instead of putting a checklist within a printed workbook, consider making the checklist into a laminated bookmark.
Although you want the items to be business-oriented, it’s a nice touch to throw in fun surprises like the branded items (a key-chain, a mini-journal, a nice checkbook cover) and even some edible treats like fancy chocolates or gourmet coffee. You want the person receiving the package to feel like there’s a lot going on with the contents.
As an example of a “Shock and Awe” package that would go to financial advisor prospects may include items like this:
- Screenshots of tables, charts, etc. that show how much money was saved during the year or quarter (with private information blurred out)
- DVD with video testimonials from happy clients
- A book or article that describes “Best Places to Retire”
- A booklet explaining ways to get the biggest deductions during tax season
- A booklet(s) on new services and options from new retirement account laws, especially if the law specifically targets clients you serve
- A checkbook cover, monthly expenditure log, calculator
- A coffee mug with your business logo and inside, individual packets of gourmet coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, or an edible treat
- A coaster branded with the logo and tagline of the business
- A book authored by the owner or a series of leadership articles by him or her
- All packed into a reusable money box
Does this sound like a lot of stuff? Yes, it does! And that’s the point. Think of how you’d feel if you received a small package with a promotional pen and a sales letter from a business. It’s nice but doesn’t really leave much of an impression.
An example of a smaller Shock and Awe package that serves as a welcome package to new accounting clients might include these items:
- Any educational materials broken into manuals, CDs, DVDs, etc.
- A notepad to take notes while watching the DVDs
- Classy promotional pens
- A coaster to hold a cup of coffee while watching the DVDs
- Other relevant goodies (for example, include a calculator with courses on investing, or a pedometer with a diet/exercise program)
As you have probably figured out by now, many of the gifts are cleverly designed promotional materials. Compare receiving just a letter with a few inserts to receiving a medium-sized box that has been carefully packaged and you open it to reveal around 7—9 items. It makes a MUCH bigger impression, and the person can’t help but feel special from such preferential treatment.
The person realizes you probably don’t send such a package lightly, but they were someone who ranked high enough on your list to get one. There are many psychological triggers with this marketing tactic. The goal is to get the recipient to respond, and the “Shock and Awe” packages practically guarantee your business will get noticed and receive a response.
Partial excerpts taken from the book, The Maverick Advisor: The New Rules of Marketing for Financial Advisors and Consultants – Get Great Clients, More Respect, and the Fees You Deserve, by Mary Rose Maguire.