Direct mail’s secret sauce

November 1, 2014 -  By

MailboxMany landscape professionals have a certain attitude about good old-fashioned direct mail marketing: “I tried it once before and it didn’t work.” The keyword here is once. Do-it-yourself business owners tend to look at marketing as a one-shot exercise. Send out 5,000 direct mail pieces one time, and get 500 new clients, right? Well, I wish it were that easy, but it doesn’t work that way.

If you don’t mail your list multiple times, you can miss out on 99 percent of the potential sales. It’s all about numbers. The more you mail, the more you sell. Repetition is the secret sauce in a successful direct mail campaign.

So how many times to do you have to mail to one prospect to generate a sale? A lot. In fact, on average, less than 1 to 2 percent of sales are made on the first mailing, 3 percent on the second, 5 percent on the third, about 10 percent on the fourth and a whopping 80 percent comes from the fifth to 12th mailing. Twelve mailings? That’s crazy! Suddenly, that so-called expensive search engine optimization (SEO) program is looking like a far cheaper option.

The point is direct mail done right works. Done wrong, it’s just expensive landfill. It takes more than one touch to gain a client. Successful marketing campaigns rely on repetition to be successful. That’s why national marketing and advertising brands spend millions playing the same TV commercials repeatedly and running online campaigns similar in appearance and message. There are many examples of this strategy. How many times has the Geico gecko reminded you switching to Geico could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance? Most national brands’ TV commercials contain the same message with a little variation. Geico’s commercials contain enough repetition of the brand message to continue to stay top of mind month after month. So when you need lower car insurance rates, it’s the first company you think of.

Repetition works, but it’s not a magic pill. Repetition alone won’t salvage a bad advertisement, direct mail piece or Facebook offer. If your offer interests no one, if your marketing message doesn’t grab anyone, if your direct mail piece looks like the rest of the junk mail, you’re going to be ignored. Execution is critical, and exactly how you implement your marketing is the difference between a 1-percent response rate and an 80-pecent response rate. If your ad is a glorified business card–with just your name, address and phone number–and looks like every other piece of junk mail, expect a low response. If your offer or message is uninteresting, expect a low response. If you have an excellent direct mail piece, but it sends them to a website that makes you look like a high school kid with a push mower, expect a low response.

“Test, tweak and repeat” is our company’s geeky internal motto. It’s absolutely critical to lowering your cost per sale and goes hand in hand with the repetition of your marketing message. Also, employ multiple marketing methods because you can’t reach everyone with one type of ad. Some people will never click on a Google ad; some people will never visit your website; and some people always put direct mail directly in the trash.

Nielsen Research and Google conducted a study that shows the more marketing methods used, the more times prospects are exposed to you via different media and the more effective your marketing is. Fifty percent more people will recall your brand if they see your marketing through different channels. When you mail every three to four weeks, combine that with properly wrapped trucks, pay per click (PPC), SEO and other online marketing methods, it puts you everywhere your prospects are. You’ll generate a dramatic increase in your business.

Regular, continuous marketing programs create big, predictable results. Not only will prospects begin to recall your company, the repetition of them seeing your brand will build credibility and trust in their mind before they talk to you. That means the company showing up in the mailbox, next door with the branded trucks and everywhere they search online has the advantage over the guy who sends out 5,000 every door direct mail pieces in the spring and calls it quits. So now, even if potential customers didn’t keep one of your direct mail pieces and can’t remember your name, they go online to find a different lawn care provider. They search, see a list of 20 companies and click on you first because your name and marketing message is familiar.

Think of it like this, if you go to a cocktail party alone and there are a hundred strangers you’ve never seen in your life, but you see someone in the back you’ve met a few times, are you going to approach strangers and chat with them or push through the crowd to speak to the acquaintance? Repetition builds familiarity, familiarity builds trust and trust makes sales.

 Photo: Flickr.com user slgckgc

 

 

About the Author:

Potoschnick is founder of Lawn Care Marketing Expert, as well as a PLANET consultant, author and speaker at green industry conferences. Reach him at 786-309-7898.

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