Marketing Mastery: How to create a customer stampede with direct mail

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Sept 16/23 2013; Volume 27/number 11

By Jim Armstrong

(First of two parts)

FLOOR DEALER: We’ve tried direct mail, but we quit using it.

JIM:  What kind of results did you get?


I was on a coaching call with Tim, a dealer who had recently joined my Inner Circle Club, and I asked him what kind of results he was getting from a direct mail campaign I provided.

“We just did over $27,000 in sales in the last two weeks from one letter.”

“That’s great!” I replied. “How much did you spend on the campaign?”

“Only $300.”

That’s a 90 to 1 return on investment. This may sound unbelievable, but these kinds of results are not uncommon with dealers who correctly use direct mail. I can tell you right off the bat what Tim did not do: He didn’t send out a mailer using the same tired ad formula used by most dealers, which is the name, rank and serial number formula (business name at the top, a list of products with teaser prices, and contact information).

I have spoken with a lot of dealers who quit using direct mail because of lousy to mediocre results. It almost always turns out they were using name, rank and serial number mailers, which virtually guarantees lackluster returns. However, when used correctly, direct mail is one of the fastest ways to generate sales.

I teach dealers how to successfully use a wide variety of marketing medias, including websites, social media, newspaper ads and more. They can all work well, and I encourage dealers to use multiple medias as long as they are properly utilized. This means, first and foremost, not copying other dealers by resorting to the name, rank and serial number formula.

Direct mail has some unique advantages. First, it can be targeted on a very, very specific group. Most other media can’t do this with the pinpoint accuracy of direct mail. (Except maybe shooting arrows attached to ads at the front doors of prospects.)

Second, you can reach that group quickly. You can drop a direct-response letter in the mail on Monday and get walk-ins and phone calls by Thursday. Yes, email is quicker, but you have to have permission to send emails, which mostly limits email marketing to past customers. This can be a great marketing strategy, but what about targeting prospects who have never done business with you?

Third, if used correctly, you can ensure your message is seen by most of the people you target. Statistically, the recipient sees only about 40% of direct mail messages. This is because consumers toss out anything that looks like junk mail without reading it. Your prospects are doing the same thing, which partially explains why many dealers get poor results with direct mail. However, I teach direct mail methods which guarantee that 89% to 99.2% of the recipients open your letter and see your message. This has been measured and verified. But again, it must be done correctly.

If you’ve abandoned direct mail because you got fed up with terrible ROI, hopefully I’ve re-sparked your interest in this method.  My coaching clients and I have collectively generated millions of dollars using direct mail.

In the next installment, I’ll reveal specific direct mail strategies that you can use to create a stampede of customers.

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