A recent GetResponse survey of B2B and B2C companies found that 58% intended to increase their email marketing spend in 2017.

    It’s great news for online media agencies and email marketing services like GetResponse.

    It’s also great news for companies that create and sell ad- and spam-blocking software, because the online advertising space is going to become even more crowded (Is that even possible?).

    But the best news of all is for direct mail marketers because that space still provides sufficient room for you to be noticed.

    In fact, bigger email marketing budgets or not, direct mail is alive and well and here’s five statistics that’ll make you feel even better about using it:

    1. More People Trust It

    Print in the Mix, a clearinghouse of media effectiveness and an advocate for the effectiveness of print marketing, found that 56% if consumers trust print marketing over any other marketing or advertising method. A U.S. Postal Service report said that people find direct mail more memorable and that it makes an emotional connection, among other things.

    2. Even “Kids” Dig It

    We tend to have fixed ideas about the younger generation (19 to 36 years old), such as that they are device-dependent. But the fact is that they value direct mail. According to Compu-Mail, 73 percent of millennials use coupons they received in direct mail to make purchases. Ninety percent of them would prefer to receive continuing promotions by postal mail. And 92 percent said that their purchase decisions were affected by direct mail, whereas only 78 percent were included by digital.

    3. Response Rate 

    A recent Direct Marketing Association (DMA) report showed that direct mail gets an average 3.7 percent response rate for marketers mailing to their own lists. Marketing to prospect lists produces a 1 percent response rate. But response rate is meaningless without knowing ROI, right? (Keep reading.) 

    4. Return on Investment (ROI)

    A 2016 InfoTrends survey found that 62 percent of people who received direct mail over the previous three months made a purchase. DMA found that the average ROI for a well-targeted direct mail campaign is between 18 and 20 percent.

    5. The Cost of Acquiring a Customer

    When it comes to the cost-per-acquisition (CPA), direct mail, at $19, beats most digital advertising methods: Internet display ads have a CPA of between $41 and $50 and paid search runs from $21 to $30.

     

    All revved up right now about direct mail? Go to www.prospectsplus.com/pei, design your next postcard (with our pro templates or your own design) and reach an even larger pool of ideal customers with our data sets and mailing services.

    Or, you could call the marketing pros at Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109. They’ll handle the design and create a custom data approach that will bring a higher response and ROI.

      Every topic has its basics. These are the factors that don’t change, no matter how sophisticated a topic becomes (or is made to appear).

      Example: Good health is a matter of sensible diet, hydration, sufficient sleep, and regular exercise. There are plenty of exotic vitamins and supplements, exercise regimens, programs and equipment you can spend a lot of money on too…but none is a replacement for the basics of eating right, drinking plenty of water, sleeping at night, and exercising a few times a week.

      An example that might have more meaning to you is your marketing. No matter if you market online or off—whether you use postcards, Facebook ads, or roadside billboards—success or failure is based on the never-changing basic of the 15 words.

      Have we made this mysterious enough yet?

       

      It’s No Mystery

      We’re talking about your postcard’s headline.

      Like the importance of sleep and exercise to your personal vitality, the headline on your postcard is the key to your business’ vitality.

      A great headline is the doorway that your prospects willingly step through to find out more about your product or service. When the headline is weak, not well thought-out, they keep walking (past your door).

      So those first 15 words are more important than all the other copy on your postcard or other direct mail piece.

      Writing effective headlines has been made by some to seem complicated. True, the more you do it, the better and faster you get but headlines have their basics too. And if you know them and keep them in mind when you write your headlines, you will do better than if you just “wing it.”

       

      Headline Basics

      Though some experts will tell you that an effective headline contains four, five, or more factors, we have found that you can do quite well if you just pay attention to three:

      1. Benefit

      Ask yourself “Why would a prospect or customer walk through my door?”

      Is it because they have some time to kill? No. Is it because they feel obligated, since you sent them such a lovely postcard? Nope. It’s because they get the idea—embodied in your headline—that there is something there that will benefit them in some way, such as:

      • Make their life easier
      • Make them feel more secure
      • Make them more attractive
      • Save them money
      • etc., etc.

      So, state it, hint at it, promise it, but make sure it’s in your headline.

      2. Curiosity

      Look at the headline of this article: “The 15 Words That Determine Screaming Postcard Success.”

      The benefit is pretty obvious: screaming success with your postcard promotions. (I want that!)  The curiosity factor? It’s “The 15 Words,” because it makes the reader wonder, “What are those 15 words?” and they will continue reading to find out.

      Often, with postcard, a strong benefit will be enough to get people to walk through the door.

      But sometimes you may need more. That’s when you should inject some curiosity.

      3. Brevity

      We could have called this article “The 15 Words You Need to Know About That Can Make All the Difference in Whether Your Postcard Campaigns Succeed or Fail.”

      That’s 22 words. Our actual title is a mere eight words.

      So 15 words is the absolute maximum but if you can transmit benefit (and curiosity, if needed) in 12 words, or nine, or fewer, you will give your postcard even more persuasive power.

       

      Here’s a few short words about www.prospectsplus.com/pei, where you can log on and design professional-looking cards and mail them right from your desktop.

      Or, call Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109 and we’ll handle the design and mailing and you can relax and get ready for the screaming (success) to start.

        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 in September!
        Congratulations!

        Our $500 winner is Tony Milen from Clear Sunset Car Wash who shared:

        “I believe that Opportunity Knocks is the most professional marketing company I have ever dealt with. Their efficiency and quality is second to none. My “New Move In” mailer program which they print, manage and mail is giving me a 10% response rate month after month which is exceptional.”
        – Tony Milen president, Clear Sunset Car Wash.

         

        Thank you to everyone who entered! Ready to throw your hat in the ring? It’s easy! Simply share your ProspectsPLUS! experience on our Google+ Page or Facebook Page and you’ll be automatically entered. We’ll give away $150 ProspectsPLUS! credit. Next drawing is the first week of September!

          Not to be mean or anything like that but…your customers and prospects don’t really care how good your product or service is.

          Yes, they want quality. Sure, they want expert service. But these are not the things that get them to lay their money on the counter, to sign on the dotted line, to—you get the idea.

          So if you’re sending out postcards or other direct mail that tells people how good your stuff is, how expertly you create or deliver it, etc., stop—you’re wasting money.

          Instead, learn and apply two words to your headlines.

          These two words will make your prospects and customers care. And these two words will have a positive impact on your ROI.

           

          The Sale Starts with the Headline

          What do the headlines on your postcards say?

          Do a quick review and see if they sound anything like these:

          • A-1 Pool Cleaners—Your Pool Cleaning Experts in Littleville.
          • Arrowhead Dental, 25 Years Caring for Smiles.
          • Our Certified Used Cars Are the Best!

          These headlines are company-focused. If yours look like this, you might be in trouble. If they look like this and your sales are down, you’re in real trouble and now you know why.

          But it’s easy to fix—just two words (which we’re going to reveal in just a second).

          Y’see, you know your product/service is awesome. You know all the ways it’s better than what your competition delivers. You know the details, facts, and features. You’re an insider and between you and people in your industry, these things really matter.

          But they don’t matter to your customers. What matters to them is what benefits them. It’s never a question of how “expert” or “better” it is but rather how it makes them:

          • healthier
          • happier
          • wealthier
          • more secure
          • etc.

          So when your customers and prospects get postcards or other direct mail with headlines like the ones above, they yawn: “So what?”

          And therein lies the solution to weak, low ROI headlines and slumping sales.

           

          Use Two Words

          “So what?” are the two words that will make your “meh” headlines into lead and sales magnets. You take the customer/prospect viewpoint and keep asking your headline “So what?” until you arrive at a headline idea that presents a desirable benefit.

          Let’s try it with one of those ones from above:

          A-1 Pool Cleaners—Your Pool Cleaning Experts in Littleville.

          “So what?”

          We keep pools really clean.

          “So what?”

          So you don’t have to clean it yourself.

          Better, but…“so what?”

          You don’t have to clean the pool before you can jump in and cool off this summer.

          Bingo: the benefit is “saving time” and “instant gratification.”

           

          The Wrap

          Take weak company- or product/service-focused headlines and “so-what” them until you arrive at a benefit that’s desirable to your customer or prospect. Then write a new headline around that benefit. In this case, it might be “Don’t Wait! Jump Into a Clean Pool All Summer Long. Call A-1 Pool Cleaners.”

           

          Whether you clean pools or not, at www.prospectsplus.com/pei you can design great-looking postcards using your own design or our customizable postcard templates. Then mail them to your own list or create a new targeted list—all from your computer.

          Or, make it even faster and easier by giving Opportunity Knocks a call at 1 (866) 319-7109 and have a marketing pro handle the design and mailing for you. “So what” are you waiting for?

            The concept of “big data” can be a fuzzy one for some people, especially small business owners who are not yet taking advantage of data to power up their direct mail marketing.

            In this article, we’re going to clarify the concept of data. Then, by showing examples of three kinds of companies and how they would employ data to their benefit, you should get the idea of how you can do the same to increase the number of ideal prospects you reach.

            Putting Data into Focus

            In any area of life—from a kitchen drawer to an international airport—there is data to be had. But some kinds of data are more important than others. For instance, data that has a bearing on topics like health, safety, and business are in the greatest demand.

            People are a huge source of data. Some of it is demographic:

            • age
            • income
            • who they live with
            • how long they’ve lived there

            Some is psychographic

            • lifestyles & interests
            • financial behavior
            • purchasing preferences
            • online behavior

            Companies such as Nielsen collect this kind of data and create a huge range of customer profiles with it (which reflects the huge range of different kinds of people in the world).

            Businesses can easily access this information and use it to target their direct mail offerings. Really smart companies can use it to further narrow down their target audience to the most ideal prospects.

            Three Companies, Three Approaches to Data

            If you’ve been in business for some time, you should already know a thing or two about your typical customer and your best customers. The more you already know, the more effectively you can utilize data to your benefit.

            A little bit of data can go a long way. Here’s how three different types of businesses might do it:

            1. Local auto supply shop

            A wide range of people might visit a neighborhood auto supply but the ideal customers—the ones who spend the most money the most often—are going to be (a) people who work on their own cars and (b) auto repair shops. It’s pretty easy to identify and reach (b) but what about (a)?

            This is an indication of lifestyle, which services such as Neilsen PRIZM identify. So you can reach households that own tools and that are interested in DIY home and auto projects—the likely best prospects for auto parts.

            1. Financial planner/manager

            Who uses financial planners or managers? People with money, of course, who can afford to pay a financial manager to look out for their wealth.

            Data-wise, the financial planner is not interested in prospect lifestyle so much as income and financial behavior. They can focus on this area of data to target households above a certain income level, which also have significant investments, savings, etc.

            1. E-commerce business

            Let’s take a business like Dollar Shave Club, which you can only purchase from via their website. Though some women buy their product, it’s marketed largely to men, mostly online.

            Aside from gender, this business would take a big interest in prospects’ online behavior and purchasing habits more than anything else and would target households that are active internet users, connected with mobile devices, and who regularly make purchases online. (Yes, Nielsen even has that data.)

             

            Eager to start getting more business with data? Log on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei, where you can design a colorful, glossy postcard (with our pro templates or your own design) and choose a data set that will help you reach more of your ideal prospects.

            Or, you could call Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109 and tell us about your business. We’ll handle the design and create a custom data approach that will save you time and bring a higher ROI.

              We know that some people who arrive at this article are going to roll their eyes. They already know why it’s necessary to have an offer. They don’t need to find out.

              But enough businesses overlook (to their detriment) the need for offers that it’s worth taking up.

              To Offer or Not to Offer…

              In today’s direct marketing landscape there are a few schools of thought about what your postcard or other marketing pieces should contain:

              • The first school says, “Don’t present offers; provide valuable content…give away your know-how for free and eventually, people will buy from you out of a sense of gratitude or obligation.”
              • The second school says, “Always, always, always present an offer, in every marketing communication.”
              • The third one says, “Offer? Umm…we have a listing in the Yellow Pages.”

              (We’re not going to include the third one in this discussion.)

              Depending on what industry you’re in, there should be a balance between the two schools.

              For instance, it’s pretty much expected that a local restaurant that markets with direct mail is going to make offers (perhaps several on one card) any time they mail out.

              This works because people tend to eat on a continual basis…

              But they don’t tend to have their houses painted continually, so a housepainter can’t continually promote offers to his customers, though he can stay in touch with them so as to get hired the next time the house needs a new coat. (The housepainter would, of course, continue to promote offers to prospects.)

              But to keep a long story short, you’ve got to present offers on a regular basis. Being “offer-free,” as you will see, is pointless and wasteful.

              Reason #1

              If you walk up to someone and put out your hand, they will likely shake it.

              If you don’t, they won’t reach over, grab your hand, and put it into theirs.

              See? By putting out your hand, you’ve “told” them what you want them to do and they usually will do it.

              So the first reason for having an offer is:

              It tells people what you want them to do.

              We don’t mean to imply that just because you present an offer in your direct mailer that everyone will immediately buy. But over time, more will than if you did not present offers.

              Reason #2

              Consider these two scenarios:

              1. You receive a postcard that shows “Bud’s Plumbing, Established 1972, Call 555-1212”
              2. You receive a postcard that shows “Acme Plumbers. Clogged drain/toilet $50. Call 24 Hrs. a Day.”

              Example “A” tells you nothing of value, whereas Example “B” gives you price, availability, and tells you to call. (There’s the “handshake.”)

              Without veering off too far into the psychology of marketing, here’s the second reason:

              People expect offers.

              Upon receiving a marketing piece, the human mind expects a call to action (“Order today,” “Call now,” etc.). And in order to have a call to action, you’ve got to first offer something. Hence, people expect that marketing pieces will contain offers.

              You don’t want to let them down, do you?

              Reason #3

              Taking into account the first and second reasons, it’s clear that a steady campaign of direct mail without offers is a method for wasting your money. When you make an offer, more people respond. So, the third reason is simply return on investment.

              If you’re not making enough sales, check and see if you’re making enough offers in your direct marketing.

               

              Making your offers with postcards? Log on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei, where you can design professional-looking cards and mail them too, right from your computer.

              Or, you could give Opportunity Knocks a call at 1 (866) 319-7109 and take us up on our offer to handle your postcard design and everything else—saves time!

                Direct mail marketing, such as postcard marketing, provides the marketer (you) with direct insights into what works to create better response.

                But it can be a lot of trial and error before you see your response increase. So, to save you loads of time, we’re going to show you a special short cut that’s guaranteed to increase response with your very next campaign.

                And it’s only going to cost you two minutes of your time.

                But there’s more… We’re also going to give you the sure-fire secret that makes fence-sitting prospects jump down onto your side of the fence with a smile!

                All that—for just two minutes.

                And right now, if you agree to spend those two minutes, you’ll receive a free bonus: the easy-but-oh-so-powerful tweak you can use to supercharge any and all of your direct marketing pieces from now on.

                Ready to find out? Let’s go!

                Did You “Buy?”

                You’re still reading this. Excellent.

                How did you feel by the time you read “Ready to find out?”

                Were you more interested in “spending” your two minutes than you were when you started reading this article?

                We’re going to guess you said “yes.”

                Cool. Cooler. Really Cool.

                When we said we’d give you short-cut to eliminate trial and error and increase response right away, you probably thought “Cool.” Spend two minutes to save untold amounts of time? Who wouldn’t?

                But when we added in the “sure-fire secret,” it was even cooler. And then the bonus “powerful tweak,” all for the same two minutes? That’s really cool.

                You were even more willing to spend your two minutes, weren’t you?

                Structuring an offer this way has come to be referred to in direct marketing circles as “stacking the cool.” You take a good offer and stack another good offer on top, and then another. You make it so good, so valuable, that it’s irresistible—people know they’d be crazy to not buy it.

                The Five Rules of Cool

                Irresistible offers are the shortcut to greater response that was mentioned above.

                To create them, follow these five rules:

                1. Be obvious. Show the prospect what the outcome of using your product or service is. Don’t try to be clever; just make it clear what it does. The late Billy Mays, pitching OxiClean, demonstrated over and over how it cleans and brightens without the hazards of bleach. (This is the “oh-so-powerful tweak” we mentioned earlier.)
                1. Use emotion. People don’t always buy for rational reasons so present an offer that fulfills a deep desire or eliminates a real pain for the prospect. Billy Mays didn’t focus on the chemistry of OxiClean but rather on how it was safe and easy to get results with.
                1. Increase credibility. There are three main ways to increase your credibility in your marketing, including customer testimonials and evidence of market dominance. If you’ve got it, highlight it to strengthen your offer.
                1. Start stacking. Increase the perceived value of your offer by adding extras or bonuses to make the offer irresistible. For people who “call now,” Billy Mays would cut the price in half and throw in a squirt bottle, a “super shammy,” and a spray bottle of “World Famous Orange Clean.” Then he’d increase “super-size” the OxiClean from two pounds to six.

                Rather than being concerned about losing money by giving away free products or services, consider how much you’d give up to gain a new customer against that customer’s lifetime value to your company.

                1. Guarantee forever. Okay, maybe not forever but better than “30-day money-back guarantee.” Everyone’s heard it. It’s typical (and boring). Create a guarantee that’s another layer of cool on your already way cool offer. (This is that “sure-fire secret” we mentioned earlier.)

                 

                ProspectsPLUS! can put the icing on your coolness with richly-colored, customizable postcard templates for every industry. Log on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei where you can design, print, and mail it, all from your laptop.

                Or, you can contact Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109 and we can handle the design and mailing for you. (Hey, that’s pretty cool…)

                  You’ve probably heard this saying,  “If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business; you have a hobby.” (It came from author-customer experience expert Don Peppers and his co-author Martha Rogers.)

                  Though pretty obvious, the reverse is also true: If you’ve got customers, you’ve got a business. But let’s face it, as a business owner, you’ve got customers and then, you’ve got Customers—the latter being your ideal type, the loyal ones who buy often or a lot (or both) and with whom you share a mutually beneficial relationship.

                  Isolate Customer Factors

                  So, to be in business and stay in business—profitably and for as long as you choose—you must create a steady flow of the kinds of prospects who become ideal customers.

                  You do it by a sort of “reverse engineering” of your existing ideal customers.

                  That may sound a bit scientific but it’s easy to do—just three steps:

                  • Analyze
                  • Isolate
                  • Target

                  We’re going to look at each one of these individually.

                  Analyze

                  You’ve heard of “the 80-20 Rule?” It’s something you can observe in life. Example: You wear 20% of your shoes 80% of the time. Or, 80% of the pollution comes from only 20% of the cars. (It’s not always a hard and fast 80-to-20, but you get the idea.)

                  It’s likely that 20% of your customers give you 80% of your income. So, have a close look at that 20%, in terms of:

                  • Age
                  • Gender
                  • Education
                  • Marital status
                  • Geography
                  • Annual income

                  If you don’t have this demographic and geographic information, survey those customers to get it.

                  Ideally, you want to also know your ideal customers’ psychographic data—what they value, and what motivates or interests them. Interests and values are expressed across a person’s life, from their hobbies to their attitudes to their spending habits—their lifestyle in general. If the information you have about your customers provides you some psychographic insights, you’re ahead of the game. If not, survey to get it.

                  Isolate

                  In analyzing a dozen or a hundred of your best customers, you will begin to isolate the common factors…and you may be surprised at what you find.

                  We recall one very successful small business owner who had assumed that his customers were pretty much just like him: Millennial, entrepreneurial college drop-outs. When he finally analyzed the 20%, he isolated a game-changing factor: they were all baby boomers and retirees.

                  Target

                  Once you’ve isolated the factors that your best customers all have in common, you can use these factors to target more prospects who share these demographic, geographic and/or psychographic traits. It’s a bit like extracting the “best customer DNA” and using it to clone more ideal customers.

                   

                  If you’ve analyzed and isolated and you’re ready to target with postcard marketing, go to www.prospectsplus.com, where you can design your postcard and use Nielsen PRIZM to reach more customers with those “best customer” traits.

                  If want to learn more about your best customers, their spending/buying habits and more, call Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109 and we’ll help you with the analyzing, isolating, and targeting.

                    In the world of successful direct marketing—which includes marketing with postcards—there are a few fundamentals that remain constant. Regardless of what kind of business you run, your marketing pieces, to be effective, must contain the following:

                    • Attention-grabbing headline
                    • Promise of benefit
                    • Irresistible offer
                    • Call to action

                    These factors are mostly copy-related but consider also that the photo or image can convey a promise of benefit or support an irresistible offer.

                    Another factor which is necessary for successful direct marketing for any kind of business is repetition and persistence. On average, it takes seven postcard mailings for your brand to lodge in prospects’ minds. Repeated contact is what turns prospects into customers.

                    Those are the main things that all businesses have to do to create response.

                    Adjusting the Factors

                    If you own a pizzeria and notice that the florist next door markets with postcards and gets a lot of business, you wouldn’t necessarily want to copy what the florist is doing for your postcard; it probably wouldn’t work. Rather, you want to create the kind of postcard campaign that will work for a pizzeria.

                    Luckily, many industries have more or less already discovered what works.

                    So, similar to how there are these direct marketing factors that are common to all industries, there are specific adjustments of these factors that work better for some industries and other adjustments that work best for others.

                    Below are three examples to give you an idea of how these factors are used in a few different industries.

                    Dentists

                    You’ve got to present a great offer but dental practices seem to fare best when they present multiple offers on a postcard—as many as five, such as:

                    • Free x-ray and consultation
                    • Hundred-dollar gift card on work over a certain dollar amount
                    • Limited-time special on dentures
                    • Limited-time special on implants
                    • Major discount on braces, etc.

                    This approach speaks to a range of prospects: the ones who need dental work now, the ones with a bit of money, the ones with less money, etc. You give prospects all kinds of reasons to visit you.

                    Landscapers

                    It’s recommended that you use a larger postcard, especially if:

                    1. you have a lot of competition in your market, and
                    2. they are using postcard marketing

                    The landscaper could look at the successful dental office and say, “Hey, they have five offers and they’re so booked up, I can barely get an appointment. I’m going to have five offers on my postcard too.”

                    He’s on the right track but three good offers is plenty for a landscaping business. It could be three out of four of these:

                    • Free landscape evaluation and estimate
                    • A low monthly lawn care package price
                    • Percentage discount on project
                    • First two grass cuts free

                    As we’ve said many times before, a key factor in direct marketing success is the quality of your list. This is specialized for the landscaping industry in that you should routinely be mailing your postcards to a list of new homebuyers in your market—anyone who has purchased a home in the last six months.  

                    HVAC

                    As far as offers go, as an HVAC company, you can do very well with one strong offer—the more compelling and the bigger value, the better.

                    And, if you’re in the HVAC industry, then you know that your offers should correspond to the season: A/C-related offers as you head into summer, heater/boiler-related offers as you head into winter, system inspection and maintenance during the rest of the year.

                    (And notice that seasonally-geared offers might work somewhat for landscapers but wouldn’t work so much for dentists.)

                     

                    Over at www.prospectsplus.com/pei you can find customizable postcard templates for every industry—looks and designs that have been shown to be effective in creating response.

                    Or, give Opportunity Knocks a call at 1 (866) 319-7109 and have one of our design and marketing pros put together a postcard campaign that makes your phone ring with incoming orders.

                      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 in July!
                      Congratulations!

                      Our $150 winner is Joe Large from Granite Transformations who shared, “The experience is like driving a car. You set up the cards, define proximity parameters and hit the gas. From there it just goes.”

                      Thank you to everyone who entered! Ready to throw your hat in the ring? It’s easy! Simply share your ProspectsPLUS! experience on our Google or Facebook Page and you’ll be automatically entered. We’ll give away another $150 ProspectsPLUS! credit. Next drawing is the first week of July!