In last week's More Clients, I shared some ideas about mailings and some of the do's and don'ts to be aware of. In this issue, I'll go into more detail on how to do successful mailings.
Remember, you can put a lot of time and money into a mailing and it's tricky to do them successfully. Following the four principles below will increase your chances of success.
Principle #1 - Mail to those you have an affiliation with
Mailing to a list of strangers can be a recipe for disaster. Sure, you get a lot of mailings from all kinds of companies, but if you think about it, you were familiar with most of them before you received the mailing. You need to build some affiliation or familiarity first.
One way is to mail to the members of your chamber of commerce or professional group (even if they've never met you), as long as you create a tie-in to that group. The stronger the tie, the better.
For instance, if you created an offer in conjunction with your local chamber, people will pay more attention:
"I've been working with the Kathy Dixon, director of the Midtown Chamber and she agreed that all members would gain real value from how-to information on proven management techniques. So together we've assembled a workbook that you can get for free: "The Ten Keys to High-Leverage Management." You can get your free copy at this web link: www.HLM.com."
(Of course, you get their names and emails before they get their copy and you can follow-up with more details on your services.)
That affiliation with the chamber means you're not a stranger. You have borrowed credibility. And that will lessen skepticism. You'll get a better response to your mailing and more success with your follow-up.
Action Step: Start to increase your affiliations.
Principle #2 - Make an offer that's hard to say "No" to
Your mailings try to accomplish too much: "Here's all the details about my business; call me if you'd like to work with me." These kind of mailings tend to flop dismally. Why? Because they don't need you now; they need you later. The letter gets discarded and they forget about you. So how do you get more response?
Your offer needs to be relevant, immediate, and easy to say "Yes" to. Make it relevant by showing that you know your audience and their issues, concerns and desires. Offer something that they can get now, something of real value.
In the early 90's when the Internet was getting hot, I worked with a new ISP (Internet service provider) who was getting terrible results from his mailings. So we used this approach.
The one-page letter was an invitation to receive a free 40-page booklet - "Untangling the Internet." In addition, there was an invitation to an introductory seminar. We were flooded with orders for the booklet and hundreds more showed up for the seminars.
What value do you have to share with your prospects? Now find a way to turn that value into a compelling offer that would be hard to say "No" to. It could be a report, teleclass, introductory workshop or sample service.
Action Step: Create a compelling offer.
Principle #3 - Personalize the mailing if you can
You don't need to do a mass mailing to be successful. In fact, a very small, very targeted mailing may be more appropriate for your business. After all, you may need just a few clients to fill your practice. You don't need to mail hundreds of pieces to accomplish this.
In the InfoGuru Manual, I tell the story of Geoffrey Bellman who carefully selected a list of 20 HR directors and sent them a series of 4 articles; each mailing was personalized with a handwritten note. His final mailing was a letter asking for an appointment.
In his follow-up calls he was able to get 18 appointments. That's a 90% success rate! Bellman pointed out that he wasn't trying to sell, but establish credibility and develop relationships. Several of these connections ultimately turned into clients.
Some of the keys to his success were: a) personalization - he really knew who he was making contact with; b) value - the articles were not sales pitches, but contained information useful to those who received them; c) a focus on relationship, not an immediate transaction; and d) great execution and follow-up.
Action Step: Find the personal angle.
Principle #4 - Execution and follow-up are everything
A mailing isn't one thing, it's several things. It's a concept (as in #2), it's the mailing itself, it's responding to the responses, it's written materials (such as the booklet or articles), and it's the sales follow-up. These all need to be executed flawlessly.
I once worked with an associate who did "marketing and sales optimization." He explained that one of his clients had a great product but a lousy marketing and sales process. Someone would inquire about the product, and the company took several weeks to respond, if at all! No wonder they needed help.
Just by tweaking the follow-up process my associate helped increase sales dramatically. You have to be a bit of a nut about the process. You need to turn it into a well-oiled machine, where you've carefully mapped out every single step.
Do this right and you can end up with literally dozens of appointments with qualified prospects in a very short time. Do it wrong (miss a step, for instance) and all your work will be wasted.
How I do this is by constructing a simple flow chart with each of the elements of the plan, how they connect to each other, and a timeline for implementation. I then write each of the pieces (such as the letter or email, website copy and follow-up email) and roll it out methodically one step at a time.
Action Step: Execute your plan flawlessly.
Take these four principles to heart and put them into action, and you may be amazed at the results.
Next week I'll share some of the strategies of "Keep-in-Touch-Marketing" and show why this can be your most important marketing tactic of all.
The More Clients Bottom Line - These four principles of successful mailings are more important than clever headlines, fancy graphics, and over-the-top promises. Mailings are all about communicating value and doing it in a way that makes it natural and easy to respond. Note that you can also apply all of these principles to email campaigns.
Used any of these ideas in your mailings? Share a success story in the Blog. Just click on the Comments link below.