Do you use direct mail marketing in your marketing approach? Do you send out mailer after mailer without getting great results? Would you like to have a better way to engage your customer? Just how do we cut through the clutter and make our marketing and advertising dollars work? In past articles, we’ve discussed direct mail marketing and how to focus on the list. Now, I would like to explore the method.

How many of you use the oversized postcard to try to get your customers to read your advertising materials? Unfortunately, what usually happens to those things is they wind up in the trash without getting a second glance. I am very good at scanning a big post card and if I have no interest, it doesn’t even hit the desk. Straight in the trash it goes.

Have you ever watched people pick up their mail from a post office box? They take their mail out of the box and walk immediately to the trashcan and they sort through it. The junk mail automatically hits the can and they don’t give it more than about one second consideration as to whether it stays or comes home with them. It’s sad to think you spend all that money putting a nice mailer together and then potential customers throw it away. It winds up in the trash after all your hard work. There has to be a more effective way to reach potential customers.

We have already discussed that targeted direct mail is the most cost effective way to reach your potential customers because if we know the demographics and the psychographics of your best customers, it’s safe to think that people with similar characteristics will also have interest in your products or services. The shotgun approach to broadcast television or radio is expensive and ultimately you spend thousands of dollars to get your message in front of people who may not have any interest in what you’re selling. A better way may be to use a less expensive method that allows you to contact specific potential customers, directly, and more often.

When you think about direct mail marketing, we all have ideas of large garishly color post cards and envelopes that scream “JUNK MAIL.” I often wonder how many of these items the post office actually delivers to a customer. Let’s face it; we have all heard stories of finding sacks of mail in old abandoned buildings. Who would miss junk mail if the mail carrier didn’t deliver it?

What if we took a different approach, and went with a plain white business sized envelope that doesn’t have your company logo on it, was hand addressed, had your personal name on the return address, and used a regular postage stamp. Think of the kind of letter that a friend might send to you. I think we all would be more inclined to open that type of letter, and the mail carrier would be less inclined to throw it out. Before I get a lot of email, let me also say that the vast majority of mail carriers do their job and deliver the mail, but there have always been those bad apples that don’t do their jobs.

Okay by that thinking, we might have a higher open rate, but how do we stop them from throwing it away the moment they get the envelope open? Inside on plain white paper should be a personal sales letter from you that catches their attention, addresses their concerns, and shows them how you can help solve their HVAC problems. It can be one, two, three, or more pages long. If you write it correctly, the customer will continue to read to the end and want to know how to get the product that will solve their problem. The letter should end with a strong call to action, meaning you tell them how to get in touch with you or you tell them you will contact them in a couple of days.

Don’t expect one letter to do it. You’ll need to send three or more successive letters to be effective. Each letter can build on the previous one. Each letter should have its own call to action and should give the potential customers compelling reasons to do business with you and not a competitor, although you should never mention your competitor in your sales letter.

Your compelling call to action could be a special offer, $1000 off the price of a new system, or a free service agreement for the first year. It could be a free membership in your preferred customer club. If you know your customers well, you will be able to determine the right offer that will resonate with them. Regardless of what you send, don’t rely on your customer to call you. Plan to start making calls after the second letter has gone out. Remember that follow up is the key to closing any sale, and this will be no different. The nice thing about targeted direct mail is that you don’t have to send out 10,000 letters all at one time. You can stage them and send them out in groups of 100 to 500 depending on the size of your support staff.

It typically takes seven customer touch points to generate a sale, so don’t rely strictly on one medium to reach your customer. Follow up with a phone call. Speaking to someone face to face is still the best method to make a sale so you’ll want to use all your tools to secure that in-person interview. Try this approach the next time you think about running TV or radio commercials. I’m sure you’ll find that you’ll get better results this way and it will save you money.

My website contains links to all the marketing articles I’ve written for the HVAC-Talk Newsletter. If you want your marketing efforts pay big dividends, contact a marketing professional. I’m available to assist you in all of your marketing efforts. If you need a branding consultation, a complete strategic marketing plan, help with marketing strategy, or management services, call or send an email to discuss your needs.

Andy Fracica is president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, PR, social media, and lead generation strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market by teaching businesses to do more with less ($). Contact him at 260-338-4554, andy@fracicaenterprises.com or visit the Fracica Enterprises, Inc. website.