Marketing can seem like a “Catch 22” of circular reasoning for the small business entrepreneur. You know that online marketing can work, but you don’t have a large enough audience yet to really bring in the cash. Traditional advertising methods can generate the attention you need, if only you had the cash to invest in that type of venture. Fortunately, there is still one cost-efficient method of direct marketing that can be especially effective at creating awareness for a small business with a precisely targeted audience – direct mail.
You might have heard that direct mail is expensive, or that it doesn’t work well, but the online world that makes your marketing so much more difficult is also the answer to your direct mail challenges. Look online and you will find plenty of templates and resources that can help you produce and send a high-quality, two-sided postcard or mail piece directly into the hands of your target audience. The United States Postal Service, for one, is particularly interested in helping your direct mail campaign succeed. Their website has plenty of educational videos, infographics and white papers to get you started.
In a world where your prospects are bombarded by millions of messages with everything they do online, they might just take a moment to look at a direct mail piece that offers something of interest to them. It’s quick, easy to understand, and often far more memorable than anything they see online. Here are some key strategies for effective direct mail marketing for small businesses:
• Target your audience: If you have a specific product or geographic marketing area, you should be able to identify your prospects very easily. Use lists that help you zero in on your best customer candidates. For businesses that want to send a message to every home in town, the Postal Service again comes to the rescue with its Every Door Direct Mail
• Appeal directly to them: Tell them why it is better to buy from your local business than from some unknown entity online. Mention that you live in your area, know your customers and provide outstanding customer service to your neighbors and friends.
• Have an offer: Give them something that will really catch their eye and make them want to take the next step of coming to your retail location or visiting your online website. Make them feel they can’t miss out on what you offer.
• Keep it simple: Today’s consumers are far more accustomed to getting information in short, manageable bursts. Have a clear, concise message and get across one point that really summarizes your business.
• Pictures are great: This part of your message is worth spending some time on, as it can convey a lot about your business in one quick glance. A colorful picture can indeed say as much as hundreds of words of print copy. Think about whether you want to show your building, products, or smiling customers and make sure your pics tell a story about what your business offers.
The trick then is to make sure your mail piece also ties into your online efforts. Direct recipients to your website for a special offer, encourage them to sign up for an app or an e-newsletter, ask them to review your business online, or invite them to join your social media pages. As you build your online community, you can start to lean more on that as the centerpiece of your marketing strategy, but always remember that it was the direct mail piece that got you started in the first place.
Your small business doesn’t have to be stuck in the void of being a great unknown to potential customers. Reach out and let customers know that you have something valuable to offer that can make their lives easier, better, or more fun. With all the resources that are available to help you, there is no better time to start than right now. So why not give direct mail an opportunity to ramp up awareness for your small business? Drop me a line and let me know how it went!