The U.S. postal service is dying. And it’s the Internet’s fault. Just like CDs killed the cassette tape and electricity killed the kerosene lantern, the Internet (e-mail, SMS, Twitter, et. al.) is killing snail mail.
Watch this interview with the U.S. postmaster general.
In other words, what he’s saying is the U.S. postal service is dying a slow death. It’s not a fast one. It’s a slow one. But there are some stark implications here for businesses.
If you’re used to sending out direct mail literature, your costs are going to continue to climb. Not only that, but eventually the mail will be delivered less often. That means your ROI is going to plummet. That’s the good news.
The bad news? Uh, well, let’s see … I guess there isn’t any. Unless you work for the post office, in which case you might lose your job.
This truly is good news for any business because the truth is you can get more effective marketing for less investment online. If you didn’t already know that, it’s been that way for at least five years. For many businesses, it’s been true for ten or fifteen years. Guess what? The benefits to marketing online are going to get better.
I’m not saying you should shift your entire direct mail budget to online marketing right now, but you should be considering an online marketing plan today. Get yourself set up for the inevitable decline of snail mail and U.S. postal service direct mail marketing. Online is where it’s at.
In today’s high technology world where the Internet rules, one can quickly get the impression that the old ways of doing business are no longer necessary. Some people might even say that direct mail and off line advertising are obsolete. Nothing could be further from the truth.
While I’m a big advocate of search engine marketing, social media marketing and online marketing of various sorts, I still believe off line marketing, and direct mail in particular, are still a necessary part of taking your message to your audience. Direct mail can be very effective as a supplement to your Internet marketing efforts, or vice-versa.
The principles of direct mail haven’t changed, though the methods may be slightly different for the 21st century. In your direct mail marketing you should include your e-mail address and website address. Try to drive traffic to your website using direct mail and capture e-mail addresses for further marketing. The more touch points you can create, the better you’ll do in all your marketing efforts.
Small business marketing isnâ€™t as tough as you think if you use the Rule of Seven to help promote your business and as a gauge for what works and what doesnâ€™t.
The basic premise of the Rule of Seven is derived from sales and advertising circles and is based on the principle that it will take at least five to seven exposures before someone may act on your ad and even begin to consider your product or services.
Why? The Rule of Seven Works on two principles: trust and validation.
Consumers are hit with so many ads, so many pressured sales call that has left them jaded and skeptical.
They also want what I call the â€œme tooâ€ factor.
How many times have you watched a fad product pick up momentum because of word of mouth? In your own office someone might have tried a new gym up the street. Within a month, four more of your employees have tried it out and two have signed on. Thatâ€™s the â€œme tooâ€ factor. Yes, itâ€™s word of mouth advertising, but itâ€™s also that momentum effect that someone else validated it firstâ€”so it must be a good thing, right?
In group dynamics, psychologists have found that a newcomer isnâ€™t accepted as â€œone of the gangâ€ until theyâ€™ve attended seven timesâ€”in a row.
Consistency goes hand-in-hand with validity.
Does this mean that just because your ad ran in the hometown magazine for seven straight months that youâ€™re going to be inundated with calls? Not necessarily.
How to Make the Rule of Seven Work for You:
â€¢ Consider your audience and how best to reach them. If you have a â€œyoungâ€ product, then social networking, e-newsletters, and video ads are smart choices. If your product or services leans toward a slightly older demographic, then incorporate mailers, phone call follow-ups, and senior discountsâ€”but donâ€™t forego emails and e-newsletters since many 50+ clients utilize the Internet. Donâ€™t waste those valuable ad dollars when it doesnâ€™t match your market.
â€¢ Keep track of your efforts. How will you know whatâ€™s working or not working if you donâ€™t have it all laid out where you can view and consider your efforts? Consider offering a 10% discount for filling out a short questionnaire on how your customer found you and what they like about your services.
â€¢ Know when to mix it up and when to stay focused. If youâ€™ve run a local ad four times, bite the bullet and run it four or six more times. Momentum takes time. Let your audience see you everywhere. Try that approach for at least seven if not ten, twelve times, and then switch tacticsâ€”blitz one area where you saw a blip of results.
The Rule of Seven is just a catchy name for consistency.
Small business marketing is about proving to your customers that youâ€™re worth checking out.
This is an area where many business owners are divided. There are pros and cons to both types of marketing, but really, there`s no reason not to do both if you are already considering direct mail. Since email marketing costs virtually nothing, it doesn`t add much to the marketing costs and even if you end up with just a few people who take you up on the offers you send out, it will be worth it.
Direct mail is still used by many because of the effectiveness of actually putting information in paper form into the hands of the consumer. However, it is fairly expensive and you will find that you need to have a pretty decent budget if you decide to go with this technique.
Marketing is something that every business needs to do. Whether you are going with email marketing or direct mail, it`s a good idea to consider the possibility of doing both. After all, you can never have too much publicity.
Direct mail may be expensive, but there is a good reason companies continue to use it.
Loren McDonald of Email Insider wrote a great post on the difference between direct mail and e-mail marketing. The gist of the post hinged on the following points:
With e-mail marketing the consumer runs the show
E-mail is more complicated
Performance, ROI, and overall success are measured differently
E-mail can appear differently to the recipient than it does to the creator
I concur with all of these points. One thing I’ve noticed about companies attempting to do e-mail marketing for the first time: They always think it will be easier than it is. Because e-mail is inexpensive (re: free), the thinking is that it will be easier to perform an e-mail marketing campaign. But honestly, there’s a lot more to think about.
CAN-SPAM laws are one very important thing you must consider. With direct mail marketing, you won’t be penalized for sending unwanted and unsolicited mail as long as what you are sending it legal. With e-mail marketing, you can be banned from your ISP and lose your e-mail account if you get too many spam complaints. That changes everything.
Another thing you have to think about is how often you send out e-mails. Too often and you’ll get blocked by recipients. Not often enough and they’ll forget about you. With direct mail, too often just costs you a lot of money.
When it comes to e-mail marketing the ease and low cost of it can be deceiving. Many companies do not accurately track their costs because many aspects of it are seemingly free. For instance, how much time does it take you to put together an e-mail that you send out? That’s a cost that many business owners do not consider. It does affect your ROI.
One more thing to consider is your audience. E-mail marketing and direct mail marketing work differently for different demographics. People who might respond to e-mail would just throw you mailer in the trash before even looking at it. On the other hand, some people who might read your direct mail brochure would hit the delete key on e-mail without reading even if they’ve opted in to your list.
There is no sure way to know whether direct mail or e-mail marketing is best for you. Chances are, you can benefit from both types of marketing depending on your goals and the individual campaign. For a consultation on your marketing needs, contact Small Business Mavericks.
Email marketing is something that many businesses are getting into these days. While direct mail definitely has itÃ‚Â´s place in the world of marketing, some small businesses prefer to start with email marketing, since it requires virtually no investment. Direct mail can be quite costly, even if you are taking the budget option, so itÃ‚Â´s usually a relief for small businesses when they discover that they can go with email marketing for next to nothing.
Personally, I donÃ‚Â´t feel that direct mail will never become completely obsolete, after all, the more people that ignore it in favor of email marketing, the more effective it will become. Email marketing is something that has become increasingly popular and is a great way to communicate with your customers and potential clients . . . but with so much spam, you really have to work harder to stand out from the crowd.
Email marketing can definitely be something that works very well to promote your products and services and it will probably continue to grow and mostly take over direct mail. The important thing is to make sure you keep learning the latest methods and techniques to keep your emails from being caught in spam filters or deleted. In fact, itÃ‚Â´s the best way to about promotion if you are a small business and simply donÃ‚Â´t have the resources for a big direct mail campaign.
Email marketing and direct marketing donÃ‚Â´t have to go against each other, in fact they can work very well together. Your online subscribers may enjoy receiving an offline newsletter or vice versa. Experiment with mixing both mediums and see how it works for you and your business.
The most obvious benefit of email marketing over direct mail is the cost. Direct mail marketing campaigns can cost upwards of $10,000, a fee that is simply not doable for small businesses. However, email marketing offers far better results for far less money.
Every small business should have a list of clients or potential clients to email, but if your list is still too small, you can always rent one. These rented email marketing lists often have a lower response rate, but are still more effective than direct marketing and more cost effective. List rental is an excellent method of growing your client base and creating further reaching email marketing campaigns.
The general response rate for direct mail is around 1%, while email marketing response rates are between 2-5%, up to 500 times better than direct mail! And for a fraction of the cost. Even with rented lists, your total should come in well under $10,000. Email marketing is the logical way to go if you own a small business.
As a small business owner, it’s easy to get caught up with online marketing and to forget “the basics” of traditional direct mail. There are a lot of reasons for that – cost being one of the largest! The ease with which you can reach people online, coupled with the reduction in cost (compared to traditional mail), makes online marketing very attractive.
But according to a survey by Vertis Communications recently:
- 72% of adults surveyed said they have replied to direct mail with a ‘buy one, get one free’ offer in 2006
- An additional 63% said they have responded to direct mail that offered a percentage discount, up from 54% in 2005.
What this proves is that you can’t depend on solely one or the other – online or traditional marketing. A good solid marketing plan includes a variety of approaches to appeal to different types of your potential customers. Don’t forget “the basics” of traditional direct mail when you are putting your marketing plans together, along with all the great online campaigns you are planning!