3 More Direct Mail Ideas (+1 Bonus) to Drive Local Business

I heard from an old friend a few weeks ago who, in a roundabout way, asked me for some free marketing advice. This is kind of rare for me, and I asked a lot of questions. When she told me that Facebook was just not working well enough for her, I think my next words were: “direct mail.”

I talked with an old friend a few weeks ago who, in a roundabout way, asked me for some free marketing advice for her housecleaning business. This is kind of rare for me, and I asked a lot of questions. When she told me that Facebook was just not working well enough for her, I think my next words were: “direct mail.”

Now, I like housecleaning, but I know a lot of people don’t. There’s a really good market for this kind of work. I showed her how the Cleaning Authority does a terrific job detailing its services in a very simple self-mailer.

Then I remembered my blog post on copy and design ideas for using direct mail to drive local business. I listed seven of them then, but in talking with her, I came up with a few more, thanks to mail that comes into Who’s Mailing What!.

1.Tap Into Emotions
Salvation_01
This one is so obvious that I can’t believe I missed it the first time.

To make a personal connection with a prospect, your direct mail should use copy (and images) that generate an emotional response. Although there are many motivators, the seven main drivers of action are: fear, greed, guilt, anger, exclusivity, salvation, and flattery.

Over the years, I’ve seen all of them used in local offers, whether mailed solo or as part of a co-op package. Salvation seems to be the most common, as in this example.

2. Ask A Question
Question_01
This is an easy way to involve a prospect in your promotion. Providing the right answer helps customers to self-qualify for your services. In this case, it’s helped along by a bullet-pointed checklist that backs up the impulse to take the offer … or at least think about it.

3. Use Testimonials
Testim_01
The voices of satisfied clients can be quite powerful. Existing customers can talk about their own experiences, in their own words. For prospects, reading the opinions of other people that are similar to them the most, maybe even their own neighbors, can make the offer more relevant. Using a photo of a real person, an authentic story, and a specific problem or issue addressed by one or more of the selling points helps bolster a company’s claims. Add social call-outs adds even more credibility.

BONUS: Include The Magic Word
Free_01
That magic word is “free.” Or even better, “FREE!” This is pretty simple. Free estimate. Free inspection. Free bonus. Free item. Free membership. Free Service. Free dessert. The possibilities are endless for offering something of value.

Direct mail is highly measurable and cost-effective, when done well. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available to help. I also pointed out to my friend that many of these tactics can be applied to the online world. When I last checked in with her, she was working with a local marketer on a direct mail plan, as well as her Facebook and the rest of her online presence. She should be turning away business in no time.

7 Simple Direct Mail Ideas to Drive Local Business

To find and keep customers, local businesses have a lot of options available, with direct mail still at the top of the list. As director of Who’s Mailing What!, I’m bothered that I see a lot of solo direct mail that misses opportunities to really stand out well in the customer’s mailbox against efforts from national and big regional brands.

To find and keep customers, local businesses have a lot of options available, with direct mail still at the top of the list. According to BIA/Kelsey, a research and advisory firm, in 2016 direct mail will constitute 25.6 percent of local market ad spending (out of $146.6 billion).

For some marketers, shared or co-op direct mail programs are a good way to go, and the U.S. Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mail program has lowered costs for others.

That said, as the director of Who’s Mailing What!, I’m bothered that I see a quite a lot of solo direct mail that misses opportunities to really stand out well in the customer’s mailbox against efforts from national and big regional brands.

Based on some of the best local mail from my files, here are some good design and copy practices local companies can use to drive traffic to their doors.

1. Sell Benefits, Not Features
This is basic marketing, and it can’t be said often enough: you need to explain to customers not just what you do or what product you have, but why it should be important to them.

Shreiner_02In this example, a postcard mailed by Shreiner Tree Care describes one of its pruning services: “Proper thinning and pruning improves the safety, health and beauty of your valuable trees.”

Bonus: The mailer puts a personal face on the company by showing the names, photos and emails of two of its arborists.

2. Tell Them What You Do
Let’s face it: There are just some tasks we can’t, or won’t, do ourselves. Whether it’s housecleaning, painting or plumbing, we rely on local businesses to provide these services.

AJPerri_01To build confidence in the customer’s ability to choose from a variety of service professionals, HVAC contractor A.J. Perri mailed a postcard listing “21 Individual Operations we Perform on Your Furnace.”

3. Deliver Essential Information
Another contractor, Affordable Water Heaters & Plumbing, mailed this giant (6”x11”) yellow sticker. When applied to the front of one’s water heater, it starts doing its job.

Afford_01On the left side is a list of things to look for to avoid trouble. Most of the remaining surface area tells the prospect what to do when an emergency arises, and in California, that means earthquakes. Helpful arrows point to vital parts of the water heater and its connections. This allows the homeowner to assess any problem as well as describe it to the company, whose many local phone numbers are listed across the bottom of the sticker.