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Produce Your Own Direct Mail Marketing CampaignBy Glenn Fellman, President Fellman Business Consulting LLC. (301) 962-7600, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.fellman.netLast update: December 3, 1999 Recently a client asked for some help in coordinating a low cost, direct mail marketing campaign to potential restaurant clients. We developed a program that has a low investment and a high probability for excellent returns. We are glad to share the concept with you. If you are looking for a way to generate “hot” sales leads each month, this idea is right up your alley. This particular company wanted to target the restaurant industry because his company cleans commercial kitchen exhaust systems. But the same market is an excellent source of work for companies that clean carpets, HVAC systems, and a number of other items. So, for the purposes of this article we will stick with the restaurant example. Creating Your Own Flyer or Brochure The first step in producing your direct mail program is to decide on the target market (restaurants, homeowners, insurance companies, etc.). Then you need to write and design a flyer with a message aimed right at the target group. The flyer you create does not have to be very complex. It just needs to promote the services of your company in a professional, clever way. With a little creativity and a user-friendly desktop publishing program, you can develop a great flyer that can be printed very inexpensively. There are a number of low-cost desktop publishing programs, as well as “brochure-maker” programs that are very useful. For small businesses doing one or two color printing, Microsoft Publisher is a very handy program. It is very easy to learn. In fact, if you are fairly proficient in Microsoft Word, then you should have no problem working in MS Publisher. One of the nicest features of MS Publisher is that it contains dozens of brochure templates. You just drop your text into the right places – all of the design work has been done for you! You want to design your flyer as a self-mailer. In other words, one panel of the flyer has to be reserved for your address, the mailing label, and the postage. Because we are trying to keep program expenses at a minimum, we want to make sure the mailer does not have to be inserted within an envelope – envelope printing can double production costs! A double-sided photocopy on color paper is the cheapest way to print your flyer. The sad reality is that most people who receive your mailer won’t give it any attention. So two-color printing is a waste of money for this program. Save the expensive printing job for the brochure you will use in proposals, at trade shows, or for those who have already contacted you for information! Developing a Mailing List Once you have the flyer written, designed and printed, you will need a mailing list. You can purchase computer software that generates the lists for you at your local software store or office supply place. Pro-CD and PhoneDisc are both popular programs. They sell for about $150. And they are very user friendly. We did a search of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex using PhoneDisc. Our search showed the following number of restaurants by exact sub-divisions we specified. Some software allows you do further narrow down lists by zip code or other specifications. Arlington – 434 Dallas – 2,120 Fort Worth – 820 Grand Prairie – 97 Irving – 268 Our client in this region could mail 500 flyers a month for 8 months and never hit the same potential customer twice (however, mailings to certain restaurants should be repeated – especially to chains and larger facilities). Let’s take a look at the cost of this marketing campaign. § Computer software and staff time for flyer development - $500 § Mailing list software and employee time for list generation - $175 § Postage to mail 500 flyers - $165 § Printing 500 flyers ($.10 each) -- $50 The same flyer can be used over and over again, so the software and flyer development cost of $500 is a one-time, up-front expense. Likewise, you are purchasing the mailing list software and your staff person who prints up the mailing lists will get faster over time, bringing the cost of this element down considerably after the first month. Let’s take a look at the potential return on this investment in the first three months for our client in the kitchen exhaust-cleaning field. The total cost over the 90 day period would be less than $1,400 – that includes postage and printing and it covers the up front expense. If the contractor get a 1-%-closing ratio off the 1,500 restaurants, that’s 15 new customers. If he cleans each restaurant two times a year at a cost of $300, that’s $9,000 gross income – not bad for a marketing program that cost him under $1,400. These figures are very conservative – plus the contractor generates repeat customers for years and years of service! In the second three months, the program cost is reduced further since the up-front expenses were paid in the first three months. Assuming the same closing ratio, the program generates $9,000 in business off a $650 investment in printing and postage! For a small company, sending a one-page flyer promoting your company’s services to 500 potential clients is enough for one month. If you have a large sales staff, you could double or even triple the number of mailers sent each month. But don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by calls. If you can’t handle doing estimates on a daily basis, don’t mail to 10,000 potential customers all at once. Stagger the mailings out over the course of 6 or 12 months. The program we described is a simple concept, easily executed if you have some time to invest and the willingness to dedicate some staff resources to the effort. Otherwise, you could always hire a firm to do the work for you. In either case, you will be accomplishing what is essential for continued company growth – getting your name out there and making an impression with potential customers on a regular basis.