Boost Your Sales by Going Old School

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The Internet has provided opportunities that we’ve never had before, but that doesn’t mean you should completely ignore traditional types of marketing. Lets take a look at a few good ones…

I’m a digital marketing junkie. I believe there is a blueprint for business success and that all most businesses have to do, is follow that blueprint. The Internet has provided opportunities that we’ve never had before, but that doesn’t mean you should completely ignore traditional types of marketing. In fact, there are some “old school” techniques you can use that can be very profitable. Let’s take direct mail for example.

Most companies that use direct mail are fortunate if they get higher than a .5% response rate. That’s one sale out of every 200 hundred mailers sent. In the old days, we used to get 2-3%, but consumers generally ignore mail pieces these days and frankly, 99% of direct mail is just a waste of paper. Marketers make their mail pieces flashy, with colorful images and graphics so their message stands out. But that’s the paradox of direct mail. The more we try to stand out from the other 10-15 pieces of junk mail that consumers have to sort through to find what they’re looking for, the more we actually blend in. Is there a way to make your direct mail pieces get noticed? Here are three ideas that just might work.

The Handwritten Mail Piece

I once received a mail piece that looked like a child had written it. It immediately caught my eye and I read through the whole thing. It turned out it was a promotion from a house cleaning service. The address, the note inside—all were handwritten like a child had done it. Brilliant! It stood out among all the colorful pictures and flashy images in my mail and I felt compelled to read through the entire note, even though I didn’t need a house cleaning service. It got my attention and that’s what’s important.

You don’t have to write yours like a child, but could you design a handwritten mail piece for your business. It may not work for everyone, though. If you’re an attorney, insurance agent or accountant, you may need to be a little more professional or you risk losing trust, but think of the possibilities.

The Cartoon

Cartoon MarketingI always loved this idea. I used to get a three panel cartoon mail piece from the post office. I read each one, even though the cartoon wasn’t funny. People love cartoons because they’re almost always looking to be entertained. Could you design a postcard that had a short three panel cartoon on it? If not, you could go to?fiver.comand find plenty of artists who could write one for you pretty cheaply. I guarantee that you’ll get people to read it, even if they don’t need your service. The cartoon doesn’t even have to be funny, but if you send them out on a regular basis, I’d try for humor or at some point, they may stop reading your mail.

Be careful with humor as “funny” is hard to do without offending someone. Think of the Far Side cartoons. Gary Larson was as successful as anyone at creating short, hilarious cartoons without offending anyone, unless of course you were a cow.

The Wedding Invitation

This one is a little more deceitful and expensive, but it used to work for us pretty well in the old days. I rarely recommend sending mail in an envelope as they almost never get opened, but here’s an exception. We would send a hand addressed envelope, conspicuously about the size of a wedding invitation or graduation announcement. We’d even stuff it with a few goodies to give it some bulk, as if there were a return envelope inside. People would open it up wondering who was getting married. Inside they’d find a handful of promotions or offers, maybe even a refrigerator magnet. Bulk tends to get opened more than flat letters because people don’t want to throw away anything they may be able to use so this idea worked on a number of levels.

The most you can expect with direct mail is for your piece to get looked at. I would never use any of these ideas to replace your digital marketing, but together with a well-optimized internet strategy, direct mail can boost your ROI.

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