Almost every investor turns to direct mail to jump-start their business in times of need. In most cases, their efforts are met with great success. However, not every mailing yields the results you may be looking for. It is not enough to send out a generic letter to a recycled list you may have used months ago. Using an old list is fine if you execute it the right way, but there is much more to it. There are several things, some you know about and some you probably haven’t considered, that make all the difference between success and disappointment. Direct mail can quickly add a boost to your business if you know the right way to do it. Here are five tips to help you get the most out of your next direct mail campaign:
1. Commit: Commitment is by far the most important task associated with any direct mail campaign. There is a certain level of discipline and commitment required every time you set out on a direct mail campaign. Before sending a single piece, however, you need to be willing to send it at least six times with the ideal number between nine and twelve. While that sounds like a lot, it takes about seven mailings before your message is noticed. This is one of the biggest reasons that direct mail campaigns fall flat; people don’t always commit to sending that many letters. It is always better to send a smaller list more times than the other way around. Think about the items you receive in the mail. There is a good chance you don’t open letters if you don’t know where they are coming from. The more times you see something from a company, the more it starts to register. By the fifth time, you know the name or the business and may be ready to act. If you are not willing to go this far, you should really consider trying something else. The best mailing campaigns take a full level of commitment to succeed.
2. Budget: Commitment and budget often go hand in hand. As you are thinking about where and how to mail, you need to know how much you can spend. First, you need to know all of the expenses involved per mailing. Buying a list is usually an expense you will pay for only once. You may make some tweaks to the actual letter every time you mail, but the names and addresses stay the same. From there, you need to supply the envelopes and stamps. You must figure out if you are going to write and stuff the envelopes yourself. Even a small list of 500 or more people can take up more time than you think. If not, you need to know what it will cost to have someone else do it. Every time you mail costs money. If your budget is limited, start with a smaller list and send it out more times.
3. Target: Who are you looking to reach with your letters? Are you targeting homeowners in foreclosure or facing short sale? Are you trying to reach absentee owners or landlords? Whatever your target market is, you need to make it your focus. The composition of your letter will be completely different based on who you are trying to reach. The more specific your marketing is, the better results you will experience. You may have to pay more for a refined list, but it will more than pay for itself in the end. Instead of choosing a handful of zip codes to work on, narrow it down to one. This will take a few extra days to decide, but it is important nonetheless.
4. Message: Most mailing pieces from investors are pretty much the same. Sending out something that looks like someone else is not effective. You need to create something that conveys your message without being too flashy. No homeowner in foreclosure wants to get a neon envelope that says “open immediately”. When they open a letter, they want to know how you are going to benefit them. They aren’t interested in past deals, or your resume. They want a solution to their problem.
5. Responding: Are you going to use your cell phone number on your letter? Are you going to have an answering service to field the influx of calls? Are you prepared to drop what you are doing when your phone rings? These are important questions you need to answer before you send anything out. If you are working on a rehab project, it may not be the best time to mail 2,000 letters. Without responding quickly, you may be throwing money away. You need a system in place to handle call volume and capture the information you are looking for. All calls should be returned within a few hours, or you run the risk of losing them for good. Whatever you do, be prepared to follow up with any inquiries.