In my 16 years of experience as a special finance director and general manager, I have found that direct mail can be very rewarding when done correctly. Unlike TV, radio and newspaper advertising, you can target a specific audience — no guessing and hoping for results. Direct mail receives a response of 1 percent or more nationally, so when you send out 10,000 pieces of mail you can expect at least 100 opportunities to do business. For each of those 100 opportunities with whom you schedule appointments, about 50 will show and you can expect to sell at least half of that, for about 25 car sales. With 25 sales at an average profit of $3,000 per car sold, you’ll make a $75,000 profit. Again, this is rewarding — if done correctly.
Maximizing your advertising dollar is important to every business, but so many businesses fall victim to common mistakes, throwing money into different campaigns and hoping for the best. There are few things more damaging to your business than spending a lot of money and not getting results. So how do you avoid mistakes and get the most out of each direct mail campaign? Start by following these steps:
1. Design a campaign that plays to your strengths — Analyze your strengths and weaknesses with help from your mail company and focus on what you do best. If you have a strong BDC or sales staff who is great on the phone, go with a lead-generation type of mailer. If you want to create excitement and showroom traffic, then an event piece with a giveaway often works best.
2. Target the right customers — Use data to ensure that you are targeting the exact customers you want to reach. Let’s say you are doing a sub-prime mailer. You may want to target consumers with credit scores of 500 to 619, no repossessions in the last 12 months, bankruptcies discharged and $2,000 per month minimum income. Get the right data and be specific.
3. Select the right mail piece and envelope — Choosing the best envelope for your campaign is crucial. If the customer never opens the letter, no matter how good the offer contained inside is, you won’t get results. There are many different types of envelopes; work with your mail company to decide on one that works well in your market and sets you apart from your competition.
4. Prepare your staff — This step is critical, but often overlooked. Have your mail company provide copies of the piece in advance so you can complete necessary training with your staff. Make sure everybody is on the same page and ready to create a great first impression when the campaign begins. Add some “seeds” to your mailing list — addresses of people you know so you can be sure when mail is being delivered. Set up call tracking so you can listen to calls and better track your results.
Direct mail is a powerful tool for driving business, but only if used correctly. Follow these four simple steps every time and you are guaranteed to have a successful campaign.