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Are You Making These
Mistakes In Your Marketing Communications?

And How to Prevent Them for More
Clients and Revenues

copyright 1998-2002 by Bob and Shirley Hanson

Consultants tell us time and time again that sending out sales letters or brochures just doesn't work for them. What can you do?

This article turns for answers to an article we wrote for for the high-tech marketing section of DM News. It's called "Seven Deadly Direct Mail Sins That Are Costing You Money."

Direct mail is your powerful door-to-door and
business-to-business sales force.

It places your message into the hands of your prospects and clients. Use it properly and you can:

  • convert more prospects to clients,
  • get more bang from your marketing budget,
  • increase your client lifetime value, and
  • create a loyal client list.

You can also profit from its opportunities to upsell, resell, solicit referrals, and add value to the services you provide your clients.

If you are like many consultants, though, you are committing most or all of the 7 deadly direct mail sins with every marketing communication you write.

To add to his own experience Bob sat down with Markus Allen, publisher of the MailGram newsletter and President of Mailshop USA in Newtown Square, PA. Together they talked about solutions -- tools, techniques, and insights -- that can help you avoid or correct the errors you may be making.

Here are the problems Bob revealed in his article and their remedies:

#1 Contacting Once and Sinking or
Swimming on that One Contact

One company here in the Delaware Valley sells its educational seminars through catalogs. The company mails the catalog a grand total of three times a year. That's it! It doesn't initiate any other contacts. Admittedly, relying on these infrequent catalogs does keep the company profitable.

Yet how much money is being left on the table?

You always want to mail until it is NOT profitable. The general rule is a second mailing of the exact same piece to the exact same list two to three weeks later will generate 60 percent of the response that the original mailing did.

And you can boost response by up to 300 percent by supporting a mail campaign with a different mail piece selling the same thing. Just changing the cover of your catalog or the color of your envelope will raise your response. You can also send a fax or follow up with a phone call or e-mail.

#2 Not Systematically Testing and Tracking

Most companies [and consultants, too] fail to systematically test their direct mail and track the results. The outcome is a huge loss of opportunity to get more sales and set higher benchmarks from each mailing.

"By diligently tracking results, for example, you can discover which lists, and which portions of those lists, are most profitable for you," says Allen.

You can test different headlines, one against the other, to see which one pulls the best. Or test different packages -- perhaps a postcard versus a one page letter in a #10 envelope.

You would never know how well you can do unless you test and track.

#3 Treating All Prospects and Clients Alike

Would you write the same letter to one of your big, anchor clients -- someone who contributed 25 percent to your revenues for four years
straight -- as you would to a brand new prospect?

Of course, you wouldn't. How would this client feel? Certainly, not individually addressed and maybe even baffled, annoyed, or angry.

Acknowledge your clients in your correspondence, especially your good clients, and show them how much you care, and you are on your way to creating exceptional loyalty...and profits.

What about your prospects? Give them the same kind of attention.

#4 Relying On A Me-Centered Headline

How many times have you received a mailing with a headline similar to this? The Excel Consulting Group, Founded In 1987.

Allen states, "A typical headline will display the mailer's company or product name and possibly the price [or the year when the company was founded]. "

What gets a prospect's attention the most? Her own name, of course, not somebody else's. Next is a solution to a problem which is causing her enough pain to keep her up at night.

#5 Using A Standard Offer That Your Prospects
Can Find With Any of Your Competitors

What attracts prospects to you and also promotes loyalty among your clients? A surefire way to do this is to favor them with valuable special offers that they cannot get anywhere else.

A consultant could, for instance, offer -- in addition to your usual
consulting services -- six months free e-mail follow up to answer questions,
a guarantee, a one-year subscription to your newsletter, free access or a reduced fee to a workshop or presentation you are giving, etc.

Adding bonuses like these will not only increase your response rates but will also give your clients a reason to stay with you and only you.

Isn't that what you want?

#6 Writing to Please The Wrong Audience
And Sending Out Feature Laden Copy

A large Silicon Valley company hired an ad agency to write copy for its seminar invitations. The outcome was an invitation that emphasized the features of its products and said very little about the benefits of going to the seminar and what one would learn there.

What did the ad agency do wrong?

It wrote for the wrong audience. It wrote to win the hearts of the product developers and executives at its client's company.

We suggested writing benefit-rich copy that would speak directly to its prospects or customers. The company, we argued, would get a higher turnout to its seminars and ultimately more sales.

The company offered to test a change of only five sentences in the middle of the seminar invitation. One version talked in technical jargon about the features of the seminar. The second spoke in easy-to-understand terms and promoted benefits.

What difference did it make? The benefit-laden copy outpulled the technical features by 18 percent. In this case it meant hundreds more responses.

Remember, write for your prospects and clients...and no one else.

#7 Misunderstanding and Underutilizing
Your Client List

Many companies don't capitalize on their client list or, worse, neglect it.

Did you know that studies show it costs about five times more to sell to prospects than it does to customers or clients? Your clients already have an established relationship with you, and, if it is a good one, they are prepared to buy from you again.

"Consider contacting your customers a minimum of every six weeks. Your catalog [or brochure] repetitiously mailed is not enough," says Allen.

Try timely offers specifically for certain portions of your list -- something that helps them solve one of their toughest problems.

To Sum Up...

Think about what else your clients want. Perhaps it is more services, or it could be more information through seminars, newsletters, or training workshops.

Best of all, act on the many ways you can think of to nurture and thank your clients. That will create a bond between you that will mean faithful clients for years to come.

So there they are. The seven deadly direct mail sins and what to do about them for more profitable mailings and higher revenues.

If you have a pressing marketing problem that needs a solution now, you may find your answer here...




Hanson Marketing Group, Inc.
Certified Professional Consultant to Management
8011 Navajo Street, Philadelphia, PA 19118
Phone: 215-753-2620 Fax: 215-753-9223
bhanson@hansonmarketing.com
www.hansonmarketing.com

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