business letter marketing tool

The Business Letter – A Forgotten Tool

Sure email, websites and social media provide low-cost ways to reach prospects and customers.  But with all the technology out there, many small businesses often overlook the business letter as a marketing tool.

What a shame because it’s a great way to capture new business. Think about it. Today we all operate on email and text overload – but when was the last time you heard someone complain about getting too many letters?  With less competition, your message may actually get through!

So if you are looking for a new way to market your business, give letters a try.

7 Ways To Make Your Business Letters Pay Off

  1. Write like you speak – this is a key.  Keep the letter conversational in tone and avoid business jargon.
  2. Be emotional.  Make sure your letter hits on the pain, worry or other emotional needs of YOUR target.  Be specific; don’t soften it up or be too cute.
  3. Provide concrete solutions to their emotional needs.  How are you going to be able to help them? Remember benefits, not features!
  4. Make it personal.  Mail merge programs make it easy to create a personal letter.  Avoid generics like business owner, homeowner, or resident.
  5. Create credibility by referencing neighbors, colleagues or similar businesses you’ve helped.  People respond when they believe you know and understand them.
  6. Create a reason to act or take away the risk.  Include an offer or even a guarantee to compel them to act. Include the action you want them to take or what follow-up action you will initiate.  Don’t leave it to chance or assume they will know.
  7. Use sub-headlines.  If the letter is longer, use sub-headlines to break it up.  This can be very effective for those who scan before they read.  Make your sub-heads stand out.

If you market to other businesses and want your letter opened, try this.  Instead of using labels, hand-write the envelope or use a handwriting font.  Use blue, not black ink.  It gives the letter a personal feel that gets through the gatekeeper or other staff.

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Direct Mail: 10 Tips to Attract More Customers

Direct mail can be one of the most effective tools in your marketing arsenal – even with all the emphasis on digital marketing. For many small businesses, it generates one of the highest returns on both time and money. So here’s a few tips to get more from your direct mail efforts.

10 Tips to Make Direct Mail Effective

Target Your Mailings – Very Specifically. Direct mail works when the headline, copy and offers are compelling to the people you want to reach. You can’t create compelling messages with broad targets. Small subgroups with unique needs allow you to demonstrate value and talk their language which is a key to getting the actions you want. So think smaller to get bigger results.

Don’t Limit Direct Mail to Postcards. Letters and flyers allow you to provide more information or tell a better story. So ignore the myth that short and sweet is always the way to go. Break up the copy with sub-headlines for easy scanning. And use a PS in your marketing piece. It’s  the most read copy in any direct mail.

Give People a Reason to Act. Give people a reason to act – call, visit website, stop by your location. An offer does not need to be expensive, it just needs to be compelling for your audience. Here’s a few to consider: samples, money-back guarantee, free trial, coupon, money refund, special deal or savings, a guarantee of service, unique reward or widget, or free information or help. Get creative and remember, include an expiration date to create a sense of urgency.

Include a Compelling Headline. It’s important to grab their attention. Whether you use a letter, postcard or flyer, the headline encourages them to read more. Make the headline ‘speak to them’ – another reason for a clear target! And remember, your company name is not a headline!

Don’t Gloss Over the Copy. This is one of the most important parts of your direct mail piece so make it powerful. Highlight benefits, not features. Use bullets or short segments of information. Use sub-headlines with longer copy. Use questions to identify problems, then, demonstrate how you solve them. Write like you speak, conversationally. Minimize buzz-words and jargon. Support claims and be credible.

Have a Clear Call to Action. Don’t assume your prospect knows what you want them to do. Be clear about it. If you want them to call, say so. You can also include the call to action upfront, in the middle, and at the end — or any combination.

Use a Good Mailing List. The best direct mail piece won’t attract new customers if the mailing list is not accurate or up-to-date. You can purchase a targeted mailing list, based on your criteria.  Your local library is also a good source as many of them offer free access to a database of businesses and individual consumers or households.

Make It Personal. Mailing labels, meter postage, and non-personalized envelopes reduce open rates on direct mail, especially when mailing to businesses. Always personalize it with the name, use ‘handwriting’ fonts or hand write the information and place a postage stamp on it. Include your return address but consider replacing your company name with your name for a more personal look. It may cost a little more and take more time, but is often offset by increased open rates.

Start Small. If using a new direct mail piece, try it out on a smaller sample before doing large mailings. This allows you to test the effectiveness and modify if needed. If your piece has already proven to be successful, (it generates viable leads) then systematize it and send out a pre-set quantity each week or month to create a continuous flow of new leads.

Do Track Results. The only way you will know what works and doesn’t is by tracking the results. How many pieces did you mail? How many responses did you get? There are a lot of methods for tracking results, but the easiest and most effective way is to get in the habit of always asking people how they heard of you (or what made them contact you).

Finally, remember this simple rule when it comes to direct mail and all marketing strategies. If it works, keep doing it. I am surprised at how often small business owners replace or change a marketing piece because they get bored with it. They assume their prospects and customers do too. The time to ‘change’ or re-think your marketing is when it stops working – meaning it no longer generates quality leads and a return on investment for you.

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Direct Mail: A Perfect Complement to Digital Marketing

Direct Mail - A Perfect Complement to Digital MarketingWhile digital marketing, such as email and social media, has the spotlight these days, integrating online and offline strategies is a powerful way to maximize results, attract new business and build existing customer relationships. If you are looking for ways to complement your online efforts, take a fresh look at direct mail. Here’s why.

Direct mail is a direct response medium that is designed to solicit a response or action – call, drop by location or visit your website or social media page. According to consumer data, direct mail is viewed as a trustworthy source for marketing information. In addition, printed pieces leave a deeper impression than those viewed on a computer, tablet or phone screen.

4 Tips to Make Your Direct Mail Pay Off

Targeting. To minimize waste and reach your ideal customers, direct mail allows you to segment at all levels. From simple geography to more complex demographics and lifestyle elements. You have more control over who sees your message and make it unique and compelling for them.

Timing. Your message needs to reach people when the purchase is most likely to happen. This requires a little planning so your marketing hits when decisions are top of mind. For example, a landscaper will likely achieve better response with a spring mailing than one that is done mid-summer. Give some thought to key buying triggers in your business and plan your mailings to arrive early in the process.

Trackability. When set-up properly, you can determine which targets (markets or segments), offers or designs worked best – delivered highest response rates or sales. Using this information allows you to tweak future campaigns to further improve results. Some ways to track results include coding coupons, QR codes to special landing pages, tracking deliveries, or capturing zip codes/locations on phone calls or visits to your business.

Purpose. Use it the right way. Direct mail can be costly if your purpose is to build awareness. In these situations, mass strategies like print ads, TV or radio may work best. Remember, direct mail is a direct response medium – designed to drive sales or other actions from YOUR ideal target.

For some additional direct mail do’s and don’t, check out 10 Tips to Attract More Customers.

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For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, CLICK HERE to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.