Direct Mail Strategy – Brand Identity Guru

1. Know your purpose: What do you want your direct mailer to accomplish? Do you want to be remembered? Do you want to educate prospects about benefits? Recently, Brand Identity Guru was hired to expand a clients direct mail efforts, so we created a direct mail piece to showcase our clients related capabilities. Now direct mail accounts for nearly 30% of our clients new business.

2. Research your market: Explore the companies on your mailing list so you can refer to their needs. Find out the top two issues and pain points that the company faces.

3. Be relevant: Your direct mailer should resemble something your client might use or buy.

4. Plan a campaign: The best direct mailers complement your PR, Advertising, Marketing Strategy and Sales efforts. Ultimately, each piece should build a cohesive, identifiable whole.

5. Attend to details: Find out the name of that purchasing agent or marketing contact and spell it right, proofread your words and double check visual placement. Even an award winning direct mailer is useless unless you send it to the right person at the right time.

6. Keep em’ coming: Send a series of direct mailers regularly based on your clients needs. To find out what those are, simply ask clients how often they’d like to hear from you. Generally, December is already crowded with mailings, so BIG suggests waiting until February. Bulk mailers are good monthly and targeted mailers quarterly.

7. Follow up: If you don’t follow up, all your efforts could slam to a halt. Initiate a dialogue with clients by making phone calls within a week or two after your mailing, especially if a client requests it. And of course, don’t waste time dialing hundreds of phone numbers, but know that it’s worth the effort for smaller mailings.

Scott White is President of Brand Identity Guru a leading Corporate Branding and Branding Research firm in Boston, MA.

Brand Identity Guru specializes in creating corporate and product brands that increase sales, market share, customer loyalty, and brand valuation.

This Article may be freely copied as long as it is not modified and this resource box accompanies the article, together with working hyperlinks.

Over the course of his 15-year branding career, Scott White has worked in a wide variety of industries: high-tech, manufacturing, computer hardware and software, telecommunications, banking, restaurants, fashion, healthcare, Internet, retail, and service businesses, as well as numerous non-profit organizations.

No BS Grassroots Marketing Inconvenient Truth 9 – Billboards Are Only Useful If You Can Read Them

Billboards are only useful if drivers can read them. Limit the copy to no more than three elements, six words, clean type, and a simple, easy-to-understand message. If you can’t do that, don’t waste your money.

The grand-daddy of outdoor advertising are the billboards. Billboards make impact, no doubt. It can be a very creative medium.

The only issue in question is if whether you can buy your billboards so that you get a good return. Billboards can be expensive. If you have a location that has high visibility, a billboard can help direct traffic to you.

But to bring in paying customers, is your money better spent elsewhere?

The only way to know for sure is trying and tracking.
Some times the price of the boards is negotiable and sometimes they’re not. Plus you have to consider the cost of production as well. Currently the standard is to produce your message on vinyl, which could cost you as much as a month or more of the board itself.

Location is important

Location is important as well. Usually the billboard companies price their boards on what they call a Gross Rating Point or GRP Showing. This term has no relation to the GRPs used in broadcast advertising. One rating point equals 1% of the market’s population. What you want to find out is the Annual ADT (Annual Average Daily Traffic.) This is the total number of vehicles passing the location in 24 hours based on counts taken over an entire year. Like in broadcast, you can figure out your CPM (cost per thousand) based on the relationship of the ADT to the price.

Also, consider doing a pre-ride. Drive by each location you’re considering to evaluate the approach. This is the distance measured along the line of travel from the point where the billboard first becomes fully visible to the point where the copy is no longer readable. See if there are any obstructions that may cut down on the visibility of your board.

If it’s winter, anticipate leaves on a nearby tree in spring. If its summer, anticipate earlier sun down on the drive home from work.

Are those boards lighted, and if so, at what time are the lights set to come on? Drive the locations during rush hour in each direction. See how much time people are spending at that location.

Here are a few important questions to consider:

Are they driving into the sun and therefore not seeing your board?
Is traffic flow unencumbered so there is less time looking billboards?
What else is at that location that is competing for the driver’s attention?
It could be other boards, signage, displays, scenery, etc. As long as you’re going to make a sizable investment, it’s best to know exactly what you’re getting for your money.

If you can’t get the billboard company to come down on the price, see if they have some not-so-desirable locations that they’re having trouble selling (usually in non election years). To create additional exposure, ask for some bonus boards, but you want them after your main campaign is running so you can use the existing vinyl instead of paying for extra.

Post Billboard Strategies

What do they do with the vinyl after the campaign is over? It could make a very interesting backdrop for a trade show booth, or perhaps it could be installed on the side of your building, if permitted.

More elaborate versions of billboards are wallscapes and spectaculars. Wallscapes are advertisements painted directly on building walls. Some walls can accommodate vinyl facings that are secured in a frame. Both have large-scale exposure and high visibility to vehicular and pedestrian traffic. They are generally geared for high density areas like downtowns.

Spectaculars are usually larger than 14′ x 48′ and positioned at prime locations in a market. Both require custom designing and are intended for long-term exposure. Obviously they are very costly so you have to evaluate very carefully what you’re objectives are in choosing this type of outdoor medium.

Bottom Line – You can get Free Instant Access to all 10 of the No BS Grassroots Marketing Inconvenient Truths when you visit [http://GrassrootsMarketingBonus.com].

And if you like the tips in these Inconvenient Truths, your are going to love Dan Kennedy and his co-author Jeff Slutsky’s new book “No B.S. Grassroots Marketing: Ultimate No Holds Barred Take No Prisoners Guide To Growing Sales and Profits of Small Businesses.”

Directionals Move Properties

One of the most effective and frequently overlooked methods of filling or selling a property is the use of directional arrow signs. I’m guilty of it myself, although usually I’m merely lazy instead of overlooking this great marketing technique. Being lazy usually costs me in terms of holding costs, especially if you happen to be in a buyer’s market as I currently am. Even if you’re in a hot market where everything is moving quickly, directionals will move your property that much quicker.

Yes, there are numerous other methods you can use such as: flyers in the neighborhood and large stores and shopping malls, ads in the large and small papers, listings on the internet, listing with a real estate agent, calling real estate agents to inform them, mailouts to apartment complexes, yard signs with flyer boxes, open houses, calling loan officers, emailing your buyer list, etc., etc. (I have one friend use advertises her properties on the cable preview channel and she says it works great. Unfortunately, that option isn’t available in my area.)

Why Do Directionals Work So Well?

Directional arrow signs work well for a number of reasons. First, they are targeted to the neighborhood where the property is located so the folks who will actually see them are the buyers or tenants who are already driving the neighborhood looking for properties. The second group of people who will see the signs are the residents who already live there. Many times the nearby residents will have family or friends who want to move into the neighborhood.

Flyers delivered to the neighborhood will also accomplish the notification aspect that there’s an available property, but what flyers don’t do is lead the prospect or prospect’s friend straight to the front door.

Why Not Just Use Typical Bandit Signs?

For those that don’t know, bandit signs are the road-side signs that many people utilize to advertise their business, favorite politician, and/or properties for sale or lease. The signs come in many colors and sizes, some professionally done and some hand-written. The nickname bandit signs stems from the fact that many municipalities have sign ordinances that prohibit their use or restrict use in the public domain or right of way.

The primary weakness of typical bandit signs for marketing a property for sale or lease is that the sign provides a little information (often impossible to read while driving by) and a phone number. If I’m out looking for properties today, I don’t want to leave a message or turn around to go see what the sign said. I want to drive by NOW, not tomorrow, not later today, right now.

How is a Directional Arrow Sign Different?

Who said anything about one directional sign? I’m talking an entire series of signs that leads the prospect from the main thoroughfare all the way through the neighborhood to the driveway of your property. There’s no thinking, major squinting, turning around, or phone calls involved here. “Oh, honey, turn there quick.” Then it’s “look, there’s another sign, turn there.” etc., all the way to the property. Then, of course, there’s more information including contact numbers available at the property.

Okay, So How Do I Implement This Technique?

Here’s the way I do it and you should tweak it and improve to suit you. When a property becomes available, I study the neighborhood and determine the “best” ways to lead prospects to my property. By “best”, I take into consideration ease of navigation, neighborhood amenities like parks and schools, and surrounding properties. If there’s a back way into the subdivision or location, I map out both paths.

My target locations are every single corner that my prospects will need to turn in order to get to the property. If there’s a really long stretch without a turn, then I might need a directional arrow in the middle of that stretch to keep them coming. My experience has been that I will have to replace signs within the neighborhood only a few times, but I have to monitor the signs on the major roads and replace them fairly frequently. However, these signs tend to stay put much longer than a traditional bandit sign.

Then I simply go door-knocking and ask people if I can place a small directional sign in their yard. I intentionally do this during the day to miss folks because I’d rather not get involved in lengthy discussions about the property and I’ve got many doors to get to. Once I’m sure no one’s home, I leave a letter in the screen door or someplace where it will be easily seen. I drop this letter at all four houses on each corner on the route.

What Does the Letter Say?

I’ve found it’s important to NOT come across as a real estate investor or a company. I use an informal style and simply ask for help in finding someone to buy or lease my property. Points that I include in the letter are:

It’s just a small directional arrow sign
I’ll put it right by the corner and not really in their yard
I’ll make sure I don’t damage any sprinkler systems
They get a $20 gift certificate once the process is done
They get to choose the store, restaurant, etc.
Please call me to replace the sign if it gets removed
The first person who calls me wins

This technique has never failed. Frequently, I’ll have two or more people from each corner call me, but I’ve always had at least one person call to agree to the arrangement. Some of them have even taken serious offense to do-gooder neighbors who remove the signs as the property owner is concerned they might not get their gift certificate. I’ll describe the signs in more detail below, but I started adding “Placed With Permission of Owner” on the top of the signs and this reduced my losses.

The end result of this effort is that perhaps I pay out $160 to $200 in referral fees, but I have to run my $50 to $150 worth of weekly newspaper ads many, many fewer weeks. It definitely pays off from a monetary standpoint. The other benefit is that I now have a list of folks near each property (whom I’ve never even met) who think I’m great. Every single person will call me back after receiving their gift to thank me and the large majority volunteer that I’m more than welcome to do this anytime I need.

What Do the Signs Look Like?

The signs I use are basically the standard bandit signs cut in half. A normal size bandit sign is 18″ x 24″ and I use 9″ x 12″ signs for my directional arrows. I have a red directional arrow that takes up about 5 inches of the sign, leaving the bottom 4 inches blank. Within the red arrow I ask the sign company to put my message which could be “Owner Finance” or “Lease Purchase” or whatever you prefer. The message is easy to read.

In the blank space I use a large marker to write the property address. It’s important to leave enough blank space below the arrow to write the address in large numbers and letters. Also, as I mentioned above, I include the “owner permission” tag line on top of the arrow. I buy 36″ wooden stakes from Home Depot and attach an arrow sign to each side of the stake so the information can be seen coming and going.

If you don’t have a source for these signs, please contact BanditSigns.com to get some. They’re inexpensive and well worth the cost.

I hope you’ll add this tool to your marketing techniques and discover the same success I’ve had in using it. You may find that you abandon many other advertising tools you’ve been using in the past.