Putting Together an Effective Mailer
The recipient of a direct mail brochure will spend about three seconds deciding whether to read it or toss it out. If she does read it, she may quickly decide the seminar is not something she wants to attend. If she does want to go, getting her to respond and pay is another step. To get an adequate profit, the rule of thumb is you need at least a 2:1 ratio of total receipts to promotion cost per 1,000 brochures mailed. To get there, consider the following ways to improve the response.
An envelope without any message on the outside and cryptic sender identification will often provoke recipient interest enough to open it. If it is larger than a #10 envelope, that can make it stand out in the mail. Unlike ads, adding at least one color and a quality photo to the letter can improve response.
There are no hard rules about color use because it depends on the colors of brochures the recipient has been getting recently. Boredom soon sets in and what prompted attention initially no longer will work. Just make a brochure or letter attractive and do not worry too much about the precise colors used.
The higher the cost of the workshop, the more copy you should expect to need. Other seminar providers have found that not only is longer copy required to convince people to part with their money, but also by following this practice, they have conditioned prospects to expect long letters.
The key benefits of attendance must be stressed in the headline and in bold throughout. Describe yourself primarily in relation to the topic. It may be commendable that you have a degree from Harvard in English, but that will not get people to come and listen to you talk about investing. Hands-on experience in the field is clearly preferable to simply being an academic expert. Business professors do not necessarily really know how to run a company. Other tips include:
If you are providing a workbook or other tangible item, describe it.
Use conversational English and avoid overly intellectual phrases, jargon, and clichés.
Make it easy to sign up and pay (set up a merchant account with a bank so you can take credit cards and also enable registration via your Web site). Provide an incentive to pay early, such as a gift at the door (like a copy of your book).
Provide a generous cancellation policy, such as until two days before the event. This makes people feel secure about committing (even with this, only 2.5 percent cancel on average).
The most important aspect of using direct mail is list selection. Standard Rate and Data's
Generally speaking, the higher the cost of the list, the more valuable it is — for the demographics of those on the list and how frequently it has been updated. Most lists will come with a guarantee about the percentage of bad addresses. You can also ask for references to other customers who have used a particular list to get feedback.
The best strategy is to test out several lists with the same letter to see if there are notable differences. For small tests, you can put together the mailing yourself. A commercial mailing house is essential and very affordable if you are going to do a large one, and you may want to use bulk mail to save on postage, unless you are marketing a high-cost seminar. Keep in mind, though, that it can take a week or two or even more for a local bulk mailing to arrive. Plan to have the piece arrive between four and seven weeks before the event, a range that is neither so early that recipients will put off registering, nor so late they have made other plans.
A list broker or a mailing house can merge and purge duplicates in multiple lists if you are renting several that may have significant overlaps. But check the price of doing this against the guarantee of bad addresses to be sure this is cost-effective.
Remember to code your brochures or letters for different lists so that you will match up the responses to determine results.