Editor’s Note: This article will be of special interest to our niche publishers.
No, you don’t have to make any phone calls. It’s a mailing.The best possible list of names you can mail to, bar none, is your house list. These are your present customers. They know you: they’ve already ordered from you, they like your merchandise, and they trust you. The absolute best campaign you can send in the mail is to them. Unfortunately, this isn’t the campaign we’re talking about. Fortunately, the campaign that follows works for that group too.The next best list of names you can mail to are your own hand-picked prospects. You should have 100 of these names on file-in some form or other of readiness to contact. This is your Top 100. The creme de la creme. The big bananas. The, well, you get the idea.Perhaps mixed in here are prospects you’ve called on once or twice. Maybe these are hand-picked names from a magazine article. You might even have mailed to these folks already. You may have sent them a letter-or a sample product-and are waiting for them to call you. (If it’s been over a few weeks, wake up, baby, they’re not.)Now you’re wondering what to do next. Keep reading!Your top 100 is a hot list. The key is to make it produce just one order-which in itself would be large enough to make the entire mailing profitable. And that’s what we’re talking about-a list of prospects so valuable that if just one of them orders, it would pay for the entire promotion and then some. It’s like selling 747s: it may cost you a bit in marketing, but if you sell just one!Don’t have a Top 100 list on hand? Shame on you! Create it. Dig, I mean really dig for the absolute best prospects you can find. Since this program doesn’t entail calling prospects on the phone, include a few really big-although unlikely-accounts you’d like to have. You never know who’s going to call you with an inquiry, or ask for a sample product-or place that order for thousands of units.If you don’t know who your Top 100 best prospects are, think about it. If you could sell your product to anyone, in any firm, in any position-who would you absolutely want to approach? Where would your best sales most likely come from? I’m talking big sales here-someone who will buy your product in quantity. Put them on the Top 100 list. Reactivate some of your better, older prospects who had an interest at one time. Never did close them, did you? No, no matter-today’s a new day.Now, you can activate-or re-activate-this group, without calling them. And without costing a lot of money.Here’s exactly how.Kindly recall from the beginning of this article that the best plan of all time is to mail to your house list of current customers. Well, the second best campaign is to mail to your hand-picked prospect list. If you have more names, all the better! The campaign takes place over the next four months. You’re going to mail something to each prospect every three weeks. Six pieces. That’s the plan. Simple, isn’t it?And this should make it simpler. The first mailing is a letter. A personalized letter that talks to the recipient, one person at a time. While the mailing may go to 100 people, each recipient thinks he or she is the only one receiving it. Make it personal.And keep it personal: most of the mailings are personalized letters. While you can throw a postcard into the mix if you like, personal letters are one of the most effective selling tools you can use. With a well-written series of six letters, there isn’t much you have missed. They’re either going to value your business-or they ain’t.I know the hardest part of any letter is to start. So here’s a few opening lines I’ve scribbled to help start you up:I know you’ve never done business with my company, but we have a product that I know will be of excellent use to your firm. Your name was mentioned in an article in ______ Magazine as the person who ______.. Congratulations! You’ve made it to our Top 100 List. Of all the businesses in the world, we’d like to do business with yours the most.Here’s what we offer: ________________________In my study of our industry, your firm stood above all others. Please allow me just a moment-and the privilege-of showing you.The letter later picks up here… Over the next several months, I’m going to show you something you hardly ever get to see: a firm that is willing to prove how much your business really means to them. You’re going to see absolute proof of our diligence, and the attention we show to the smallest detail of caring about each of our customers. And you won’t have to lift a finger to see all this.Every three weeks, mail a letter to each. Stay in that same friendly copy platform. Each letter makes sure you get closer to your objective: whether it’s to gain attention, stay in top-of-mind awareness, set up for a phone call they’ll be getting from you, have them call you, or to sell directly. Whatever you want, whatever your objective, each letter should continually point the series of letters in the direction you’d like the campaign to go.Always encourage a phone call to you or your firm. Set it up so that if your prospect wants to opt into an early buy-they can. If you can get an early sale, so much the better, but don’t bet the ranch-larger sales are hard enough to close in person, let alone from a few sheets of paper.Enclose a postage paid reply card if possible. Don’t have a reply card permit? Include a postcard with a live stamp on it. This will cost you $20 for 100 postcards, but if they don’t send it back it’ll drive them nuts trying to figure out what to do with a postcard addressed to you with a live stamp on it.Besides not having to make phone calls-and not having to deal with any rejection-you can establish a different set of objectives for each individual letter.Face it, any large sale-more likely than not-isn’t going to come from just a single letter. The chances of securing a large sale from a single letter is fairly remote. So my first choice for a campaign objective-at least for the early letters of the series-is to simply get the attention of the top 100 people and to establish trust and rapport. I have no trouble enticing readers to call in letters that are sent later in the series, where the sell gets a little harder.Over the past several months, I’ve tried to show you we offer excellent service, and a fine product line. I’ve tried to prove we’d be an excellent firm to do business with. Now I’d like to ask you the favor of a phone call. While I don’t expect you to buy our products-just yet, anyhow-a little encouragement to let us know we are in the bidding loop would be appreciated.If they don’t buy, don’t get discouraged. Even though it’s a thorough campaign, it’s still just a few sheets of paper. It’s your best shot to make a sale without a phone call or a personal visit. Through your letters, they’ll get to know you, your products, and your firm. This could prove more valuable over time.Setting a Secondary Objective
to the Letter Series
The objective of your letters doesn’t have to be to sell anything; it can be just to gain the favorable attention of your top 100, to set up a favorable phone call, or to schedule a personal appointment. Imagine the stage you’re setting up in your letters when the objective is to set up a friendly call to them? What better way is there to warm up a cold, cold market than with a friendly and personal series of letters your customer receives once every three weeks. When you get them on the phone, I guarantee you’ll get the warm welcome of an old friend.The obvious objective of the overall campaign is to secure a sale. While it’s not likely-say one out of 100-it can happen. Wait, wait, just a moment here. What did I just say? Your chance is one out of 100 to make a sale? This letter series is to 100 people. If we secure just one sale, just one BIG sale out of 100 letters, can we cover our costs? Let’s see… six letters, times 100, times 33 cents postage each =$198. Can you recover $200 if you get just one big sale? For a total cost of about $200, you can reach out and touch your Top 100 biggest and best prospects six times in a way they’ll remember. Maybe even secure a sale. Nice campaign, eh?
Jeffrey Dobkin, author of the marketing manual, “How to Market a Product for Under $500” ($29.95 +$4), now has a second book, “Uncommon Marketing Techniques” ($17.95 +$3), which features 35 of his latest columns on small business marketing. Both books are available directly from the publisher at 800/234-IDEA. Dobkin is also a speaker and a writer of sales letters, Web content, catalog copy, and direct mail packages. He’s a marketing consultant who will analyze your direct marketing packages, ads, catalogs, and campaigns. To speak with Dobkin, call 610/642-1000. Website: www.dobkin.com.
This article is from thePMA Newsletterfor March, 2000, and is reprinted with permission of Publishers Marketing Association.