Business Articles - Marketing

Dave the Hyperspace Referee: Direct Mail vs. E-mail campaigns

The question: As customers continue to increase their reliance on the internet to find service professionals, is there any value in running direct mail campaigns?

The Facts:

I picked my mail up today. I had forgotten to do it on Monday. As I opened the completely stuffed mail box, that glow which receiving mail gives you washed over me. Then I realized it was all direct mail.

Direct mail campaigns do serve a purpose. You are able to track results, track successful areas, and so on. If someone likes what you are offering, the results can be almost immediate. That being said, a lot of the mailers end up in the big green bins.

Like direct mail, online mail campaigns offer you the ability to manage your mailing lists. The management programs allow you to select certain people to receive 'reminder' mailings or special promotions. E-mail campaigns allow you to insert hyperlinks to your website, personalize the message, and update promotions as you see fit. They offer a great deal of flexibility.

The Call:

No matter how digital our society becomes, there will always be room for real time connections with potential clients. In the service industry, customers aren't solely judging the numbers in your bid, they are judging you personality. Trying to feel out if you are an honest, hard working service provider.

Both e-mail, and, let's call it 'paper', campaigns, serve their purpose. E-mail campaigns are good to run:

  • Service reminders-"It's almost been a year since you had your carpets cleaned. Call now because we are offer 15% off"
  • Customer follow up- "We completed your job. Add the picture of your renovation to our webpage!"
  • Promotions- "We know you liked our service before and you'll love it more with 15% off"

Remember to hyperlink all your e-mails back to a website or profile page!

Direct mail may or may not get you the results you are looking for. Think outside the box. I knew this contractor who was beginning a kitchen renovation for a client. On the first day of the job, he sent out flyers to all the neighbors "apologizing for any mess" and inviting them to contact him if they had questions or concerns. Mid way through the project, he sent out a second wave of flyers. He let people know that the job was going well and that he appreciated their patience. At the end of the project, he sent flyers inviting neighbors to use the dumpster rented for the job that was still on the jobsite. Additionally, he invited them to come ask any questions they might have about renovations.

The bonus of this promotion is that the paper mailings weren't simply asking for people's business. He extended them courtesy and opportunity. Who wouldn't love a low pressure situation to discuss that "what if" house project?

The Bottom line: With any promotion campaign, remember it has to add value to the customer's life. Value isn't always defined in a monetary value. Whether it's online or offline, the secret to success will always be found in an appeal to human emotions. Don't we all just want to be loved?

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