Tag Archives: direct mail

A Handwritten Note in the “Original” Inbox

7 Jul

Image via Flickr user dcJohn

I am a social media marketer. As I see all kinds of small business clients gaining immediate traction on social networks and through blogging, I know that social works for a lot of organizations.

But sometimes traditional marketing works well too. Here’s an example. I recently took my dog Jackie to a new kennel while out of town for the weekend. The place we usually go to was all booked up for the holiday weekend, so we chose Kennel Nirvana based on some Google reviews and the fact that they even had space left so close to a holiday weekend.

We had a great experience at Kennel Nirvana. The people were lovely and knowledgeable and the dog was comfortable from the moment we dropped her off. As any pet owner knows, it can be tough to find a great boarding facility for your pet’s needs.

Then today, a few days after Jackie’s visit, we received a note card in the mail. The card stock was thick and elegant, and inside was a handwritten note on the Kennel’s stationery.  The note thanked us for our visit, asked us to share any thoughts or criticism about the kennel and encouraged us to refer friends. Inside the card were a few business cards that the note suggested we pass out to friends.

This handwritten note sent to what I like to call the “original” inbox, otherwise known as a mailbox, worked wonders. It reaffirmed the positive feelings I had about the Kennel and encouraged me to spread the word the next time I am at the dog park or with friends.

I think this is a great example of how a traditional tactic can really help your small business marketing efforts. When everyone else is doing Facebook and Twitter it becomes kind of old-hat for your customers to interact with companies on these networks. Nothing beats a handwritten note, not even a direct message.

E-mail : Mail : E-mail = Greater Response

7 May

If you are not already trying this in direct marketing, you should. For big campaigns, where every response matters- send a string of related communications: an e-mail, mailing, and then a follow-up e-mail. This “bookend” approach to the campaign will greatly increase the chances that recipients read and reply to your messages.  More details on 3 step bookend campaigns here.

photo via Flickr user mark_rutley

Ever Wondered What WORKS in E-mail and Direct Mail?

4 May

Have you ever had to put together copy or design for an e-mail, postcard or direct mail marketing campaign?

If you don’t have a history of testing within your organization, (and sometimes even if you do) it’s hard to know what works. It’s also hard to decide if an image-heavy or text-heavy message will work, without knowing what the competition is sending out. I mean there’s only a few seconds of opportunity for a consumer to open and read your message. If it looks the same as every other piece of mail or e-mail it will get tossed.

Well over at DirectMarketingIQ.com- they KNOW what companies are e-mailing and mailing to prospects! Through their E-mail Campaign Archive and Who’s Mailing What Archive, these folks collect thousands of e-mail and direct mail campaigns per month from leading companies and organizations.  They are literally sitting in a pile of mail packages and tracking stats and trends. Then they write candidly about trends on the Direct Marketing IQ website. So these are some pretty great resources for folks in direct marketing to check out!

The US Postal Revolution Will Not Be Televised

7 Apr

I’ve always marveled at the fact that everyday a US Postal worker comes to my house just to deliver mail. That’s a fact. A given. Most days the mail is just an advertising postcard from the local internet provider and a circular from the supermarket. But that truck still pulls up every day but Sunday and the mailman and I wave to each other. It’s so routine, my dog doesn’t even bark at him.

The US Postal system runs on a vast infrastructure of vehicles, warehouses, retail locations and staff who support this daily delivery of mail. It all seems a bit wasteful, when in fact, the folks who care most about delivery frequency and postage rates are the big corporations, who send you all of that lovely direct mail a.k.a. “junk mail.”

The post office has been bleeding money for years due to the absurd volume of direct mail, federal requirements to pre-pay employee benefits, rising operating costs and competition from FedEx and UPS. There have been many different ideas on how to streamline mail delivery and keep costs down, but this article by Adam Richardson in Good magazine, “Re-imaging the Postal Service,” takes a different approach. First Richardson summarizes the USPS’s identity crisis:

The USPS has got itself into the position that the telecom companies are worried about getting into: They became a “bit-pipe.” That is, they have an expensive infrastructure that isn’t seen as valuable by customers, who only care about the content that the infrastructure passes along. That’s a fancy way of saying that the Postal Service is undervalued. Furthermore, much of what the USPS now delivers, such as unsolicited catalogs, sales brochures, and credit-card offers, would be classified as spam if it were email. They have become overly dependent for revenue on their least-liked customers (junk-mail companies), which is a dangerous position to be in if you want to command loyalty and profits.

Some of Richardson’s ideas are great, but I think the biggest challenge to the USPS making any positive changes is its current bureaucratic, slow-moving culture. It took the USPS years to implement a barcoding system that many mailers are still struggling to understand and implement today. The USPS is stuck in a rut of increasing pricing and cutting back services to stay afloat. I don’t think they have the thought leadership, technology or flexible personnel necessary to consider changing the way they do business. It would take a postal revolution…