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Smart Marketing

Become a smart marketer by learning alternatives to direct mail campaigns for your business.

Smart Alternatives to Direct Mail

by D. Cruz

Many people will agree that a decent letter could be the most effective marketing tool. If used smartly, a bunch of folded sheets will be your treasured winner for many years. It can also be very expensive.

Everyday is open season for the large companies who mail thousands or millions of sales literature by bulk. They have perfected their campaigns through the years. Furthermore, they may have even began with a proven winning strategy. It surely works for clearing houses and catalog marketers.

It is a different story, however, for the average home mailer. Not having a permanent marketing department or high caliber consultants, you have plunged into the business with sheer determination. You will not feel the pain, initially, for that occasional 100 postcard mailing or daily booklets of stamps. However, as months go by, the gloom of achieving a 0.01% response rate and seeing your growing pile of printing and postal receipts finally devours your clever plan of growing a real business. After spending $500, you net two sales, several leads, and a bruised ego. Glance into your garbage can and seeing those reverse mailings from other wannabees makes you feel like someone is pouring lemon juice into your entrepreneurial wound. Still, you wake up stronger than ever.

Testing your materials makes sense, but sticking to a loser is hopeless. Responses will not improve just by mailing out more. Don't break the laws of statistics. Not just because so many others are still doing it means that it works. Usually, they know nothing better. Everyone is into the same fantasy. Until you find success, use the other promotional media sparingly. And when one or two clicks, you could always afford to diversify. Each has its own merits and costs.

Classified ads -- The best way to sell low priced items and generate leads are the classifieds. Studies also reveal that it offers faster results. On per-inquiry advertising, Mail Order Success Secrets, by Tyler Hicks states that "the media person can often estimate within a few hundred how many inquiries you will get.

Display ads -- Space advertising ranges from the tiny 1" to full and double page spreads. Bordered ads out pull pure text, but with added costs. Watch for discounts on additional ads and insertions, free typesetting and checking copies.

Card decks -- Ad copies are usually effective in card packs when they are around 150 words. They work well for generating leads for high priced products or opportunities and can sell moderately priced items. If it produces direct order revenues 2 to 3 times the cost, your campaign can be considered a success. Cost increases as the audience becomes more targeted.

E-mail -- Use this free medium for your existing customer base, downline, or receptive prospects. Forget about spamming unless you want deep trouble.

Fax blasting -- Many years ago, this was the meaning of high-tech. It was reported to work for sometime. Now, people receive offers just because they have a fax machine or they once dialed up a fax-on-demand number. They shell out ink and paper (it adds up) and carries the cost of having their number unlisted. There are plenty of other things. What do you think?

The good old flyers on the wall -- If you have the time and enjoy it like I still do sometimes, zap some crisp copies of your favorite ad and announcements and head to the laundromats, supermarkets and any decent place where they will allow you to do your thing. Make it easy for passersby to get your info. Don't expect them all to carry pens and paper to jot your info down. They are known to rip off the whole sheet and it's all over. Cut pull tabs or insert your cards in a pocket. Pretty neat plus you will get some local guys.

F.O.D.'s and web sites -- Both require external promotions for themselves. They are like your instant portfolios where prospects can quench their desire for instant gratification. Remember, interests can subside overnight. Even airmail can not compete with the speed of info travelling through the wires.

Internet advertising -- There is too much hype about this medium. The smart spender should base his decisions on statistics, and sometimes gut feelings. People will con you into losing $40 for a year of web 'presence'. But are you just buying a roundtrip ticket to nowhere? Sites should promote traffic and get you business, not just type your text on a virtual purgatory. The web is sticky enough, who would dare venture into nothingness? Check out things like number of hits and their marketing program.

A good way to go is to research all available avenues before you blow a whole bundle. If you work with a company, you may not have to re-invent the wheel. But don't do anything big and foolish just because your sponsor said so. If he's, honest you would not be dragged into doing the tightrope just to increase his chances. Certainly not just because he said he earned $5000 last month doing the same.

At least co-op ads makes a leader put his money where his mouth is. Or is it one way of getting a free ride. Well, assuming that organizing takes a fair amount of effort and he trusts the medium, then he probably deserves the freebie.

Free enterprise. It's your world. You can be in a business for yourself. Now, you don't have to make it by yourself. Help is all around you. Just make sure that providers are really helping you get good exposure and not just helping you spend your money.

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D.Cruz leads an advertising co-op that offers "almost-free" marketing services and straightforward solutions. Serious entrepreneurs with serious business needs and visions are welcome. Exploit the savings and power in numbers by reaching D.Cruz at Box 984, Seminole, TX 79360. (915) 758-5355.