It’s been said that there are three sides to any story: your side, my side, and the truth.

    In the world of direct mail marketing, the proponents of digital marketing rejoice upon the assertion that direct mail is declining.

    And they’re right.

    On the other side, the champions of direct mail report that email is on the decline.

    And they’re right too.

    (Both sides are right? How can that be?)

    Then there’s the truth, which is that email actually is on the decline. This is backed up by statistics.

    For instance, the marketing consultancy Marketprofs found that while 44% of consumers recall a brand after getting their email, 75% recall a brand after seeing that brand’s direct mail piece.

    The biggest reason for this is in-box overwhelm caused by spam email. More than 74 trillion marketing emails are sent annually. We’d even bet you know someone who has abandoned an email account due to the amount of spam they were receiving.

    This flood of digital marketing messages has rendered email less effective. Hence email, though sent more, is actually on the decline in terms of results.

    To provide some contrast, marketers send out about 14 billion direct mail pieces annually. Though minuscule in volume compared to email, that constant flood of email has caused direct mail to become novel, just as email was novel 15 or 20 year ago.

    So direct mail is more welcomed by people right now. According to the U.S. Post Office, nearly 70% of Americans feel that direct mail is more tangible and personal than email. And where the average read time of a marketing email is two seconds, the Post Office found that people spend an average of 30 minutes reading what they receive in their mailboxes.

    What’s more, according to the Direct Marketing Association, postcards are the most-read type of direct mail piece, with 56% of them read by recipients. And perhaps due to the novelty factor, 79% of people respond immediately to direct mail marketing, compared to only 45% of people who click through on the emails they receive.

    And what about the future? Who knows? Maybe there’s something coming that’s going to cast a dark shadow on both email and direct mail. But for time being, direct mail is what’s resonating with people and it’s what’s getting most of the response.

    So if you’re a wise marketer…

     

    Get your next postcard out to your customers and prospects right now, with ProspectsPLUS! online design, print, and mailing platform. Log on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei and upload your design or try our customizable templates to create response-driving campaigns.

    Or, if you’d rather turn it over to the experts, give Opportunity Knocks a call at 1 (866) 319-7109. Tell one of our design & marketing brains about your industry, your customers, and your marketing goals and they’ll come back with a postcard campaign that sells.

      Wow! Thank you to all our amazing contestants this past month!
      We had some terrific entries – and we thank you all so much for sharing your ProspectsPLUS! and Opportunity Knocks experiences! If your name wasn’t drawn – no worries! We’ll choose another winner next month!
      Congratulations!

      Our October $500 winner is Janet Guerriero from Timeline Design who shared:

      “I cannot say enough how great Andy and Christian are to work with. As a marketing professional for over 12 years, there are very few vendors I can say I’ve had the pleasure working with, and Opportunity Knocks is one of them. Their team is detailed, communicative and extremely organized. Their integrated PURL direct mail with landing pages has worked great for our business, and their pricing is very reasonable.”

       

      Thank you Janet and to everyone who entered! Ready to throw your hat in the ring? It’s easy! Simply share your experiences on our ProspectsPLUS! Facebook Page, or our Opportunity Knocks Facebook Page and you’ll be automatically entered. The drawing is the first week of December!

        While growth is a necessary goal, concentration on the acquisition of new customers alone probably won’t sustain any business. Especially as the holiday season rolls in and distractions are everywhere.

        So, maybe you should try something else at this point in the year.

        Sure, you can put some energy into acquiring new customers but you’ll get a bigger payback from the marketing actions you take on your existing customers.

        This includes your inactive customers as well (Stick around; we’ll show you how).

        And the holidays are the best time (and excuse) to execute this strategy.

         

        The Shortest Route to Your Next Sale

        Your existing customers—the ones who have already spent money with you—are your most fruitful source of future sales. The stats look something like this:

        • Probability of selling to a new prospect: 5-20%
        • Probability of selling to an existing customer: 60-70%

        So who does it make the most sense to spend your marketing dollars on? Without a doubt, it’s your existing customers.

        On top of that, it’s cheaper to market to them, since you’ve already acquired them. And It’s also easier because (a) having made a purchase from you, you know they are within your target audience and (b) you have a pretty good idea of the kind of offer they’ll respond to, so there’s less trial and error.

        Direct mail postcards are an excellent method of reactivating your “lost” or inactive customers, staying in touch with your active customers, and rewarding your best ones. It’s just a matter of segmenting your list and delivering a tailored message to each.

         

        Get Rediscovered By Your Lost Customers

        You probably have a list of inactive customers. It may stretch back several years. Contact them and directly acknowledge that you haven’t heard from them in a while. Ask them straight out if something has changed. “Dear Former Customer,” you might write. “Do you no longer want to receive our offers? Has something changed?”

        You could ask them why they went away. Was it poor service? Competitors’ lower price? Another reason? Find out what their objection was and tailor your future messages to handle that objection.

        If it was poor service, promise stellar service.

        If it was price, offer them a discount to come back.

        Continue to make offers that correspond to, and handle, the objection and you will win back those lost customers.

         

        Cement Active Customer Loyalty

        With your existing, active customers, the best way to generate more business is to add value. If you’re a service business, offer additional services. Add new or innovative services to your offer to help your customers succeed.

        If you sell products, create offers addition products that are complementary to your main offer.

        If your customers are other businesses, create offers that promise to help them scale up. Create mutual value.

         

        Reward Your Best Customers

        This one is the easiest, of course: Thank them for their loyalty and offer them something to reward that loyalty—a substantial discount, a free month—whatever would really make their day (without putting you out of business).

         

        So there are some suggestions for messaging approaches for the three customer segments: best, active, and inactive.

        It’s great to find new customers too, but past customers—inactive or not—are still your most fruitful source of income.

         

        Your source for high-quality, do-it-yourself direct mail postcards is ProspectsPLUS!’s online design, print, and mailing platform at www.prospectsplus.com/pei. Use our customizable design templates to create winning campaigns. Then build or upload a list and mail to it, right from your computer.

        Or, if design isn’t your thing, give Opportunity Knocks a call at 1 (866) 319-7109 and talk to one our design and marketing pros about your customers and your sales dreams. They’ll create a postcard marketing campaign to make those dreams come true.

          For this week’s post, we are going to eliminate “the build” and get right to the point: the real money is in the follow up. And that follow up must be continual.

          If a band came on stage and let out a single beat—bop!—nobody would dance. Even worse, nobody would buy any of their t-shirts or other “merch.” It’s the repetition of the beat that gets people on their feet. And when they know and love your beat, they spend their money.

          So, if you want people to dance to your tune (purchase your product or service), you’ve got to mail out your postcard as if it were the pulse of music, over and over.

          Okay, now let’s turn the music down for minute.

          It’s a War Out There!

          The conventional definition of the word “campaign” is “a series of military operations intended to achieve a particular objective, confined to a particular area, or involving a specified type of fighting.”

          Without a “series of…operations” in mind, you may win a battle every now and then but not the war.

          A marketing campaign is not all that much different than a military campaign in terms of objectives. Mind you, you’re not seeking to destroy anything (except perhaps the competition) but campaigns are what win wars…and customers…and repeat business.

          If your competition is on top, you can be sure that they know how to conduct a campaign.

          A single postcard mailing is not a campaign. Continual follow up—repeat mailings—is a campaign.

          Fire off your postcards on a routine, continual basis and victory is yours.

          But That Costs Money…

          True, direct mail marketing costs money (not as much as you think) but here is yet another brilliant analogy to explain why it’s necessary:

          Coca-Cola tastes pretty good. (If Coke is not your thing, then substitute your favorite commercially-available beverage.) Do you think that their flavor alone could have put Coke, Budweiser or Starbucks where they are today?

          We doubt it.

          Without analyzing it too closely, we can say with great certainty that what made these products the giants that they are is their reality factor. Our general awareness of them is great. They are in every supermarket. Their ads are on TV, in print, and online. Everyone knows and uses these products, so they are real and legitimate to us.

          Whether consciously or subliminally, this all creates in us a feeling of trust. And we tend to spend our money on the things we trust. Compare this to the feeling you get when considering an “off brand” of product. Off-brands seem less real to us. They “can’t be as good as _____.” We don’t want to risk our money.

          Final Thought

          So, it’s not really about war but it IS about building up a high level of familiarity with your audience to where you’re real to them. It is only then that they trust you enough to give you their money.

          The more they receive your postcards, the more they will recognize your name. You will slowly become real and legitimate to them. Enough mailings and you reach the point where people think “everyone knows” who you are.

          When you don’t follow up, when you don’t carry out a real campaign, you are literally nobody to your prospects. And prospects don’t just cut checks to nobodies.

          Use continual follow up to make yourself real and you will start to enjoy the real money.

           

          Speaking of real, it’s real easy to get out the next postcard in your campaign with ProspectsPLUS! online design, print, and mailing platform at www.prospectsplus.com/pei. You’ll find customizable design templates, targeted list-creation tools and more, all from your desktop or laptop.

          But if you’re real busy, you might want to give Opportunity Knocks a call at 1 (866) 319-7109 instead. Tell us about your customers and your campaign objective and we’ll design a postcard campaign that makes you real (and makes your competition real jealous).

            Wow! Thank you to all our amazing contestants this past month!
            We had some terrific entries – and we thank you all so much for sharing your ProspectsPLUS! and Opportunity Knocks experiences! If your name wasn’t drawn – no worries! We’ll choose another winner next month!
            Congratulations!

            Our September $500 winner is Karlisa Smith Shultz from Clark’s Pools who shared:

            “We have nothing but great things to say about Andy and the entire team at Opportunity Knocks. They’re extremely helpful and professional at all levels, and we have seen a trackable increase in our business as a direct result of the marketing they have done for us. Consequently, we have never hesitated to refer them to other small businesses with whom we interact. Opportunity Knocks works for us!”

             

            Thank you Karlisa and to everyone who entered! Ready to throw your hat in the ring? It’s easy! Simply share your experiences on our ProspectsPLUS! Google+ or Facebook Page, or our Opportunity Knocks Google+ or Facebook Page and you’ll be automatically entered. The drawing is the first week of November!

              Whenever you click on this blog, you get information on how to improve your postcard marketing.

              But today, we’re not going to talk about what you’re doing wrong or right or how to get a greater ROI. Rather, we’re going to take a closer look at the postcard itself: where it came from, what it’s had to endure…some interesting history and back story.

              You can always revisit any of our earlier posts here.

              How Old Is the Postcard?

              There’s no definite data on the birth of the postcard but the Smithsonian Institute (a reliable source of information) estimates that it developed from picture envelopes—mailing envelopes with an image printed on the front left side. This would have been 1850 or so.

              During the Civil War years, printers on both sides of the conflict created a specialized kind of picture envelope: patriotic covers. These envelopes carried messages and/or illustrations of cannons, flags, political leaders, and the like, supporting the Confederate or Union cause.

              Congress Gets In the Act

              In February 1861, Congress enacted a law which enabled people to mail privately-printed cards. Not surprisingly, the same year, an American printer named John Charlton copyrighted and patented the idea for the postcard. Charlton’s business partner was a man named Hyman Lipman. “Lipman’s Postal Cards,” which sold from 1861 to 1872, were the first commercially available postcards and were completely blank: one side was for the address, the other side, for the message.

              In 1872, Congress enacted another law which allowed for the government to produce postcards. Theirs were no different in appearance from privately-produced ones but they cost half as much to mail: one penny instead of two.

              By the turn of the 20th Century, another new law allowed “private mailing cards” to be mailed at the same low government rate. These privately-produced cards could have an image on the front or, if not, a message could be written there. The back side was still only for the address.

              Postcards’ Golden Age

              The modern postcard—image on the front with a split back for both address and message—came about in 1907 through the work of the Universal Postal Union, a special agency of the United Nations which coordinates postal policies among member nations.

              Improvements in printing technology positively affected all printed media and by 1939, postcards were being produced with a process called photochrome, which resulted in those bright, photo-like, but not-quite-realistic look we associate with vintage postcards.

              Today

              The Smithsonian opines that presently, people purchase postcards as souvenirs, rather than as a quick way to communicate. They obviously are unaware of the hundreds of thousands of businesses that use postcards to communicate with customers and prospects.

              Today’s postcard is still divided on the back but continuing improvements in inks and papers allow you to print any kind of graphics or images you can imagine (on both sides).

               

              Fact is, people love to receive postcards. By logging on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei you can take the first step. Check our customizable templates (or bring your own design), create a targeted mailing list, a few clicks to mail and boom—make history!

              Or, if your extra time is a thing of the past, call Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109 and have a quick chat with one of our marketing and design pros. They’ll handle everything for you, from design to mailing, so you can concentrate on becoming legendary.

                We begin today’s post with a little poem:

                Roses are red,

                Violets are blue,

                Marketing is hard.

                I’m overwhelmed.

                So much information….

                (The sound of a quietly sobbing poet)

                 

                Does that remind you of anyone you know?

                 

                Complicated and Simple

                There is no subject under the sun which can’t be reduced to its few essential principles.

                On the other side of the card, there is no subject that can’t be made to appear complex and hopelessly beyond the grasp of all but a few (highly paid) industry “gurus.”

                Direct mail marketing is a subject about which much has been written. Much advice has been offered and sold at premium prices (those gurus again). Everywhere you look for marketing advice, you find opinions and one expert’s opinion may be in conflict with another expert’s.

                It’s easy, especially for the new marketer seeking advice to end up with an inbox jammed with emails and offers from this expert and that one, all reaching for your dollars, with a promise of a no-fail solution. This is usually followed by information overwhelm, thinking you’ve got to learn and master many technologies and concepts in order to pull off a successful marketing campaign.

                Okay, stand up and stretch. It gets better from here.

                Now let’s flip that marketing card back to the simple side. How simple can marketing be made? How about this simple: No matter how small your list is, no matter if you’re working out of your den, no matter this-or-that, just start.

                I Can’t Just Start…Can I?

                Probably everyone reading (or writing) this has at some time been guilty of waiting…until everything…was perfect…before they took action.

                Well, the fact is, there is no such thing as “perfect” and the timing is never right to do things that you’re nervous about or afraid of. So, if you run your marketing (which is the lifeblood of your business) on this basis, you will never move forward—or upward.

                But if you just start—mail out your first batch of postcards in spite of fear of other considerations—you’ve factually moved forward. You’ve reached some people. You’ve opened the door to leads. And you can turn those leads into sales.

                By just starting this way, you will learn what works, so you can strengthen it, which will bring even better results.

                Waiting is losing. Starting is winning.

                Continuing is Winning-er

                When actors stop making movies, they disappear from the pages of People magazine and then they fade from the public’s awareness. Movie fans find other more visible stars to put their attention on. Tom Cruise is one of—if not the—biggest Hollywood stars because he is continually making and promoting his movies (He didn’t just stop at Risky Business, and hope to sustain a huge career, right?).

                In the same way, if you don’t routinely remind prospects and customers that you’re there, you fade from their awareness. Then, when they need the kind of service or product you sell, they will contact the company—your competition—that is “top of mind” with them.

                So, it’s crucial to start but then it’s necessary to continue with routine marketing.

                It’s an easy choice: get overwhelmed into paralysis by all the marketing experts out there, or just start.

                 

                There’s never been a simpler way to start marketing your business than by logging on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei. There you will find customizable postcard templates, as well as prospect targeting resources, and mailing services, all for you use, all from your computer. So simple.

                Or, if want to start off with a bang, call Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109 and talk to our marketing and design pros. They know what works in your industry and will design a card that will get results and make it easy for you to continue marketing.

                  Wow! Thank you to all our amazing contestants this past month!
                  We had some terrific entries – and we thank you all so much for sharing your ProspectsPLUS! and Opportunity Knocks experiences! If your name wasn’t drawn – no worries! We’ll choose another winner next month!
                  Congratulations!

                  Our August $500 winner is Christine Atwell who shared:

                  “I started working with Opportunity Knocks at the very beginning of my business and continue to love our partnership. They understand my needs and goals as a business owner and are passionate about helping me fulfill them. Their products are beautiful – they make me look so good! And the customer service is outstanding. Always a pleasure to collaborate with their team!”

                   

                  Thank you Christine and to everyone who entered! Ready to throw your hat in the ring? It’s easy! Simply share your experiences on our ProspectsPLUS! Google+ or Facebook Page, or our Opportunity Knocks Google+ or Facebook Page and you’ll be automatically entered. The drawing is the first week of October!

                    New customers. We all want them. There probably isn’t a business out there that isn’t focused on marketing to bring in new customers.

                    And there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s how most of us built our businesses. Yet, in our efforts to generate new customers, we create something valuable which is often then neglected.

                    That “something valuable” is the prospects who responded to your postcard but whom you didn’t close on the first or second contact.

                    Here are some statistics you might have seen which tell you the value of persistence when it comes to continual follow-up with leads:

                    • 2% of all closes happen on your first contact
                    • 3% happen after two contacts
                    • 5% happen after three contacts
                    • 10% happen after four contacts
                    • 80% happen after anywhere from five to 12 contacts.

                    In other (rhyming) words, try-try-try = ROI.

                    If you sent out 1,000 postcards at a cost of $400 and got 20 responses…that would be an acceptable ROI.

                    Your $400 investment divided by 20 responses equals a cost-per-lead of $20.

                    If you close four of those leads for $1,000 each, you’ve made $4,000 on your $400 investment—a not-too-shabby ten-fold return.

                    You could probably do that over and over and get similar results each time, and that’d be fine.

                    But what about those other 16 leads you paid $20 each for but didn’t close on the first one or two tries? If you don’t continue to follow up with them, you are leaving money on the table (and on the chair, the floor, and in the garbage disposal).

                    Because those leads responded to your postcard, they are a potentially easier close than a completely cold prospect. You have their phone number or their email or their address, so continue to contact them and enlighten them about your product or service and how it makes their life easier, their home more beautiful, their body more fit, their business more successful, etc.

                     

                    One of the best ways to create leads you can follow up with is to send them a postcard. You can design and mail one right now by logging on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei. Use your own mailing list or create a targeted list using our built-in tools.

                    If you’re too busy following up with leads but want even more leads to follow up with, give a call to Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109 and tell us about your customers. We’ll design a postcard campaign tailored to your industry that keep those leads coming in.

                      You’re holding out your hand. Someone places a large dictionary on your open palm. It weighs a few pounds.  You can easily deal with it for a while.

                      Then they take away the dictionary and they stand a golf tee up in your open palm. It remains there, vertical. Then they balance the dictionary on that.

                      The dictionary weighs the same but you probably can’t deal with that weight for very long while it’s balanced on that golf tee.

                      The weight of the dictionary, laying across the area of your hand has some impact, but not much. The weight of the same dictionary, concentrated down into a single point. Oh, now that has much more impact.

                      If you could apply this concept to your postcard headlines it would blow up your response.

                      The Power of 9

                      You can apply this concept by keeping the number 9 in mind when you write (or edit) your headlines.

                      When you use a lot of words in your headline, you dilute the power of the idea in the headline and increase the time it takes for the reader to “get” it. It’s the dictionary across the open palm.

                      When you express the same idea in fewer words, it increases the power of the idea and shortens the time it takes the reader to “get” it. It’s the dictionary on the golf tee.

                      Top direct response copywriter Bob Bly recommends keeping your headlines to nine words or less. (To be completely accurate, he recommends keeping your marketing email subject lines to nine words or less. But we believe this to be applicable to postcards as well, due to their small size factor.)

                      It can take a little time and practice but you can concentrate a big idea down to nine or fewer words. And those words will have much more power than a headline that uses 20 words to express the same idea.

                      Oh, But Wait—There’s Less!

                      Bly also suggests that you keep each word in the headline down to nine or fewer letters. Remember, postcards are not literature. People will more readily understand a short, simple word. So keep a thesaurus handy and replace those big, “impressive” words with short ones.

                      And don’t limit this concept to your headline. Try using short sentences (12 words or less) and short paragraphs (one to three sentences).

                      It will result in copy that is understood fast.

                      This is not esoteric. It’s not beyond you. Here’s an example to show you how simple this can be:

                      Example A: Get a free pizza when you buy a medium pizza

                      Example B: Buy one, get one free (We’ll take for granted that the postcard has a picture of pizza, so that people know what you’re suggesting they buy.)

                      Which one do you “get” quicker?

                      In this way, less is more: less wordage, more understanding, and more response.

                      Try it and see.

                       

                      Editing your headlines down may take a bit of work but creating your next postcard is as easy as logging on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei. There you’ll find all you need to design a postcard you’ll be proud of. Then you can target prospects (or upload your own list) and mail, all from your computer.

                      Or, if your extra time is a thing of the past, call Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109 and have a quick chat with one of our marketing and design pros. They’ll handle everything for you, from design to mailing, so you can concentrate on becoming legendary.