Bring Back the Physical Dimension to Your Marketing

When electronic communications first burst on the scene in the late 1990s, everyone with access to a computer rushed to try the newest way to send messages. Many of us still remember how novel it was to send and receive email. Hearing, “You’ve Got Mail!” was as exciting as Christmas morning!

As email gained users, the popularity of once ubiquitous direct mail (junk mail) began to wane. Marketers could now send messages for free to their clients and potential clients so why would they spend money on designing, printing and mailing marketing messages? That junk mail just got tossed in the trash anyway, right?

Fast forward to 2016. Ugh, HOW many emails do I have in my inbox?

Email marketing has come a long way, and marketers are using all kinds of new tricks to get you to open their message, click on their links, and fill out their opt-in forms.

Well, for most, the novelty has worn off, and the chore of wading through mountains of emails has become as time-consuming as it used to be to sort through piles of junk mail.

There will always be store circulars, catalogs at holiday time and endless credit card offers in your mail but when you get something personal, it’s almost as exciting as that first email you opened!

OH! A party invite!

OH! A letter from my Aunt Sue in Sheboygan!

These envelopes are important and are being opened. Your marketing message could be just as important to the properly selected potential client and deserves more than a cursory glance. So we come full circle with direct mail for marketing, but with 2016 savvy that helps increase your ROI and target your customers more carefully instead of blanketing full zip codes.

What do the statistics tell us?

The CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) Council Worldwide publishes statistics and studies on marketing strategies and returns and offers the following current information—

  1. “Four-fifths (79 percent) of consumers will act on direct mail immediately compared to only 45 percent who say they deal with email straightaway. October 2013.”
  2. “Targeted directed mail boasts a 4.4% response rate, compared to email’s rate of 0.12% November 2012.”

These two statistics are important to pay attention to. In the first, the speed with which the marketing message is delivered is the key factor. Emails are frequently scanned and then abandoned or delayed then sometimes forgotten altogether.

Mail is physically present which means that it needs to be handled. While obvious junk mail is almost always tossed, mail from unknown sources that appear to be of a personal nature is almost always opened.  The key here is first to make your mail piece seem to be personal.

If possible, hire someone to hand address and stamp the envelope. Use a non-standard, unusual color, or invitation size envelope. The next hurdle is to design an intriguing piece to go inside the envelope so your potential customer will want to read it, keep it, and respond.

The second statistic is also important to your strategy and budgeting concerns. A 4.4% response rate is pretty phenomenal compared to email’s 0.12% and these figures can be used to estimate marketing campaign goals.

In years past, industry standards for direct mail response hovered in the 2% range. One of the reasons that the response rate has roughly doubled is the recent, improved access to highly targeted mailing lists.

Old school direct mail used to be able to target physical areas like zip codes or street boundaries. As data collection has exploded, so has the ability to research and create highly specific lists of people your company would love to have as a customer.

These lists can be generated for B2B, B2C, mail address and/or email. A one-two punch using both direct mail and email has the potential to have an even higher conversion rate.

What about the cost?

Direct mail can be costly. But let’s face it; marketing your message to potential buyers is costly but essential. According to Cathy Crone, SourceLink’s Corporate Marketing Director—

At the end of the day, it’s not the cost of the mailing but the return or ROI you may get. The mailing costs are irrelevant if you sell your product or service to the right number of customers because it then pays for itself and then some!”

Compared to other channels (print, telemarketing, pay-per-click, email), direct mail’s cost per lead is reasonable.

I’m ready, but I have never done direct mail before!

Here are the elements you will need to include when designing a direct mail campaign. Be sure to consult with a specialist who can help you design an effective piece and coordinate all of the steps to get it produced and sent.

  • Determine a real budget. Try to include at least two mailings to each address.
  • Determine exactly who your target market is. The demographic profile of your current clients will give you hints about who to go after.
  • Keep your numbers manageable enough to avoid bulk mail.
  • Hire a good graphic designer or advertising agency to create eye-catching and compelling visual communications.
  • Utilize VDP (variable data processing) to personalize the message to each recipient.
  • Always have a call-to-action as part of the mailer.
  • Hand address and stamp each envelope. Use an unusual envelope shape or color.
  • Follow up each mailing with a second mailing, an email, or both.

These techniques, when skillfully used to create and deploy a quality campaign, can bring good results.  For professionals in the remodeling business, getting the word out about your service and providing a lasting reminder to each potential client on your list will pay off handsomely.

Keep the Pedal to the Metal

Continuing mixed reviews in the marketplace give even more importance to keeping your sales pipeline filled with prospective clients at all stages. Keep a constant eye on the new opportunities coming your way and do your best to maintain a constant or rising level of new prospects, projects in design, and projects in construction.

I’m still seeing remodelers getting wrapped up in one or two large projects that “could” feed the company for months  — and taking their eye off of the pipeline while they narrow their focus. Then, if one of the big projects drop out, the remodeler is stuck, scrambling furiously to generate new business.

Lesson 1. Keep an eye on the pipeline.
Lesson 2. Maintain a strong marketing presence always!

So, what should you be doing now to maintain that market presence? One successful remodeler says that he’s in the strong position he is in right now due to the fact that he kept investing in marketing throughout the downturn. This should be your attitude too.

So, what should you be doing now to maintain that market presence?

  • Reach out to previous clients. One would think this is a no-brainer but I’m still talking to remodelers who aren’t doing it. Here are some ideas:
  • Monthly e-newsletters full of interesting information on home remodeling, design, new materials and more.
  •  Phone calls. Many remodelers will use the phone to touch base with past clients, sometimes, setting appointments to come and check out the workmanship from the previous project. This is a great way to reconnect face-to-face.
  • Invitations to educational seminars. Many remodelers are finding that this tactic attracts new prospects as well as previous clients who are considering another remodel.
  • Hosting dinners with a previous client and a prospective client.
  • Personalized letters including information on company updates and a request for referrals.
  • Customer appreciation event at showroom or office. There’s no better way to feel the love than to have a room full of happy clients sharing stories with one another.
  • Network, network, network. Get out into the community and start shaking hands. If you belong to the Chamber of Commerce or Rotary, go to the meetings! Look into local networking groups like BNI to see if there may be a fit for you. Reach out to architects, interior designers and K & B specialists to talk about possible working relationships.
  • Begin actively asking for referrals. Learn how to ask effectively and then do it every chance you get. Even if you don’t sell a job, the homeowner could be a source of referrals for new jobs.

These are just a few ideas that you should be using now. There are plenty more. The goal is to constantly be adding new prospects to the top of the pipeline so that you and your company never run dry!

For more ideas on keeping your pipeline filled, read The Remodelers Marketing PowerPak: How to Develop a Powerful, Cost-Effective Lead Generation Program. It’s packed with proven marketing ideas culled from top remodelers across the United States and Canada.

Interested in working with a Remodelers Advantage coach on your marketing program? Watch for information to come on a new Marketing Strategic Action Group coming soon!