Developing an Effective Newsletter

Consistency is Key in Successful Direct Marketing

Everyone always seems to be searching for the next “big thing” in marketing . An approach that will bring them instant and continuous success in marketing their product or service. A veritable cure-all to inconsistent return rates and lulls in their lead flow.

Unfortunately, there is no miracle remedy out there. Certainly not one that will out-perform the one marketing method that has stood the test of time and when done with consistency and diligence, will provide you with continuous prospects requesting you to contact them and endless appointment filled days. I’m talking about direct mail.

Now, I know that you’ve probably tried many direct mail approaches in the past and may have even had a bad experience or two along the way. However, when you do a mailing with a reputable company who is willing to listen to what your marketing goals are and do their best to design a mail piece that best suits your needs, your results will be more successful.

A good direct marketer should have a wide variety of standard mailing options for you but also have the ability to do quality, customized mailers. If you are looking for something that stands out in the crowd, they should be able to steer you in the right direction.

By listening to your vision of what you believe your mailer should convey, and then coupling that with their marketing insight, they should be able to produce a mailing that will get you in front of qualified prospects. There is a very important aspect of direct marketing that you need to know though. In order to achieve real success with your direct mail, you have to do it with dedicated consistency.

I realize that if you receive a response rate that you don’t consider to be phenomenal, your initial response isn’t going to be “I’m going to try this again in another 3-4 weeks.” However, if you’ve used a reputable direct mailer who has a proven track record and provides you with all of the pertinent information in regards to your mailing, such as a 3602 Postal Statement showing that your program was mailed in it’s entirety and showing the date the mailing went out, you need to give your direct mail another try.

Because, very honestly less than stellar response rates are often not because of the mail pieces itself. There are many factors that could play a big role. Such as: timing, not knowing if perhaps another direct mailer just mailed a similar piece in that same area and the possibility of some type of postal delay. But, by having good communication with your marketing company, you should be able to work through these issues and continue on with some great mailings.

Even if you choose to mail a different mail piece than you did the first time around, having something in the mail on a consistent basis is going to prove to be your most valuable marketing tool. You would be amazed at the number of clients that I have who prefer to mail to a select group of zip codes or counties and just by rotating between those areas in a consistent cycle, their response rates improve over time.

For example, I have a large client who has a core group of 15 zip codes that he prefers to work in. He mails about 10,000 pieces per month for himself and his agents. We have a schedule set-up that enables him to mail approximately 3 of those zip codes each month to make up his 10,000 piece quantity.

What we’ve found by doing this is, by the time we get to back to the beginning of our rotation of those first zip codes, the areas that we initially mailed, have pulled better the second or third time around. Prospects that didn’t respond the first time we mailed the area, were more apt to send in the reply card the second or even third time. I think that in part, the reason that this approach works well is because, “timing is everything” and I also believe that prospects really like to see consistency also.

I’m sure the more apprehensive repliers feel a little more comfortable when they’ve seen the same card with the same reply address a couple of times. This will also have a positive impact when you contact those prospects to set-up your appointments. They’ll feel more familiar with you and the service you’re trying to provide them.

I don’t want you to have the impression that I’m advising you to beat an unsuccessful mailing program into the ground. If you’ve mailed the same direct mail piece more than two or three times to different areas and you haven’t been pleased with the response you’re getting, let your direct mailer know.

Again, communication is everything, you always want to have a good line of communication with your marketing consultant-it’s imperative to your success. And really, if you’ve done several mailings with lack-luster results, a good direct mailer should have contacted you with some ideas on how to improve your response rate. They should be monitoring your programs’ success, not just playing the role of an order-taker.

A good marketing company will have consultants that know their business well and will have iinnovative advice for you if your program is not meeting your expectations. In conclusion, first and foremost, finding a reputable direct mail company with flexibility and a proven track record is the very first step in a successful marketing program (I just happen to know the best in the business, if you’re interested!) Then once you do that, work with them on finding the best-suited mail program for your product.

If they’re the right company for you, they should offer a wide variety of mail options and a lot of helpful input in reference to the mail piece and the most effective demographics to mail to. Then go for it!

Confirm that they will be mailing your drop in a timely manner, a good rule of thumb is 3-4 business days after you place your order. Then it should be about 2-3 weeks until you start to see leads coming in. Then make sure you’re provided with all of the applicable paperwork verifying that your mailing was done to your specifications and in the time period you were expecting.

Finally, track your response rate and most importantly.don’t give up. Consistency is key to your successful marketing program. You don’t always get the big responses on your first time out, you’ve got to stick with it and be persistent and with the right guidance.It will come.

Learn how to create newsletters for your prospects and customers.

Creating an effective newsletter takes more than simply having an idea. Many companies provide newsletters strictly online and not in printed form. As a result, many prospects and customers may never receive or open a valuable newsletter.

To create an effective newsletter, you should follow these steps:

1. Have a purpose – Is this newsletter going to be for prospects? customers? or both? What is the purpose of the newsletter? Will the newsletter be a way of sharing new information or to reinforce a previous communication? Do you want the newsletter to drive a particular behavior? If so, how will your prospect/customer respond?

2. Stick to a schedule – Nothing is more frustrating to an avid reader than an inconsistent delivery schedule. When you deliver your newsletter in a timely manner every week, every month, or every quarter, you develop a sense of reliability and consistency among your audience. This speaks volumes about your company.

3. Segment your newsletter – The most effective newsletters are targeted. This means that the content of your newsletter is personalize for a particular audience. If you face multiple segments (prospect vs. customer, marketing professionals vs. advertising executives, etc.) then you may consider ‘versioning’ your newsletters to provide the most relevant content.

4. Keep your layout simple – Don’t try to be fancy. Your primary objective should be to have your newsletter read from cover to cover. Spend your time creating targeted content and over intricate design and layout.

5. Gather relevant content from the market – Ask your readers to contribute content. Solicit feedback form vendors, partners, and professionals. When the content is created by those who read it, you’ll be sure to capture the most relevant topics and information.

6. Provide a hook – In addition to providing relevant information on pertinent topics, you’ll also want to include something that readers will look forward to every month. Perhaps it’s a puzzle, cartoon, or case study.

7. List your upcoming specials, offers, and events – Use your newsletter to distribute exclusive offers. This will build loyalty and reinforce the benefit of reading the newsletter each month.

8. Ask for comments – The best way to improve a newsletter is to ask recipients how to improve the newsletter. Provide an email address or ask them to call. This is a great way to continually improve your newsletter and a great way to let your readers know that their opinion is important.

9. Write content at a 6th grade level – Make your newsletter a quick read, allowing individuals to skim, highlight, and refer back to it throughout the month. Newsletters that are too wordy, lengthy, or overly verbose aren’t as effective as those that make finding the right information easy.

10. Manage your list – Be sure that your mailing list is up-to-date. When distributing your newsletter, watch for returns. Compare your customer list with your newsletter database on a regular basis if they’re in separate files. Doing so will keep your costs at a minimum while insuring that you’re touching the right audience.