Repairing Your Direct Mail Marketing Plan

October 20, 2008
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With the large amount of HVAC repair services in today’s industry, it’s extremely important to implement a cost-effective marketing plan that your potential customers cannot ignore. Direct mail marketing is focused on driving purchases that can be attributed to a specific call-to-action such as purchasing certain name brand products and requesting your specialty services. Direct mail is distinguished from other marketing efforts by its emphasis on trackable and measurable results. It is the most variable and efficient way to promote the name of your services and help attract new customers.

With more than 99 percent of American homes now turning to direct mail coupons to satisfy their everyday needs, many service-oriented businesses have also turned to direct mail as a viable source for creatively increasing their revenue. Steve Zuckerman, president of Clipper Magazine, suggests the following guidelines and strategies to help your future direct mail marketing campaigns to be more successful.



GUIDELINE AND STRATEGIES

Start With a Strong Image: Remember that today’s customers are very visually oriented. People tend to read advertisements with colorful photographs and logos that are supported by strong headlines with clear messages. It’s good to be clever, yet when you get so cute that they do not easily know what you are selling, they may completely miss your message. You must be able to stop customers in their tracks with strong visual presentations.

Use Quality Photographs, Logos and Colorful Illustrations: For added effectiveness, try to maintain a very consistent visual image for your store throughout all of your advertising campaigns. If you have any photographs, use them. The customers will read all of the small details, once they are magnetized by your consistently beautiful photographs, logos, colors, and headlines.

Use Full Color: A picture is still worth 1,000 words. When possible, avoid most black and white marketing options. Look for professional full-color printing capabilities. Today, you can affordably market your services and products in full color to ensure the best possible redemption. Research has shown that full-color advertising options can actually increase redemption rates by 30 to 60 percent.

Sometimes it may be best to hire a professional graphic designer, a marketing agency, or a direct mail marketing team to design your direct mail campaigns rather than to create something that may look unprofessional. This is a great opportunity to make sure your direct mail device conveys the message that you want to get across.

Plug a Message of Savings: It is extremely competitive in the service industry with the many discounts, special offers, and promotions offered. Therefore, don’t be afraid to sell up with specials and promotions.

Free Always Works Great: Nothing beats free, and it can surely help to persuade your current regulars to try new products as well as to get new customers to try you for the first time. Consider offering a free gift with a service or a purchase with purchase incentive.

Dollars Off, Not Percentages: Customers will react much better to strong dollars off discounts and incentives. Percentage discounts really are not perceived to be as strong, especially if they are only 10 to 20 percent off. Unless you use 50 percent off or higher percentage types of discounts, they will be perceived as weak offers and ignored. For example, “$20 off Your First Estimate.”

Use Care With Disclaimers: Try to avoid excessive disclaimers and rules for what is not included in these varied offers. Try to keep your special offers simple with words like, “No Double Discounts. Expires 05/01/08.” Use expiration dates of no more than 60 to 90 days to keep your offers timely.

Introduce New Services, Products, or Equipment: Special new air conditioning or heating products and equipment can be featured seasonally with secondary coupon offers within the same advertisements. While it is best to promote your strongest and most popular items, it is still very important to promote the unique merchandise and equipment that most people do not know you offer. Most customers prefer convenience and one-stop shopping alternatives. So, if you offer something extra special, unique or distinctively different, take advantage of the opportunity to promote that. Most customers will buy several services at once to save time and money, so incorporate your services in some of your promotions.

Affordable Direct Mail Solutions: Look at various direct mail marketing and advertising opportunities available to you. You can create solo direct mail letters, newsletters, freestanding inserts, postcards, and brochures. Visit your local Yellow Pages or the Internet to find direct mail resources near you. With direct mail, you can specifically target neighborhood homes surrounding your business. It is best to target homes within three to 10 miles of your business, while targeting at least 50,000 homes or more. At approximately 3-4 cents per home, direct mail marketing is extremely affordable, as opposed to solo direct mail campaigns, which usually cost between 50 cents to $1 per home.

Direct Mail Coupon Envelopes: The direct mail coupon envelope resources like Valpak and Money Mailer cooperatively mail loose independent coupons from various local businesses to 10,000 homes per targeted zone. When you add up the costs of artwork, printing, mailing labels and postage, it is a greater advantage to use cooperative direct mail or a combination of both.

Solo Direct Mail: If you are going the solo direct mail route, it is a good idea to send oversized colorful direct mail postcards, full sheet fliers, and freestanding inserts, whenever possible. The postage is less expensive than standard mail, and unlike envelopes they don’t have to be opened for the potential client to immediately see your offer. Use a high quality paper stock for your postcards and fliers. They are more durable and they are more appealing to the recipient. For solo direct mail, you will need to write the copy, create the artwork, determine your targeted markets, and hire a local direct mail house to facilitate the mailing.

Quality Direct Mail Resources: Work with the best local and national resources available. Use reputable and nationally respected resources, with a proven track record. Avoid lesser quality resources. Ask to see samples of mailing devices with samples of similar HVAC repair services.

Find a Resource That Does It All For You: With valuable direct resources, they do it all for you. Some offer pre-designed postcard formats, proper graphics, special offers, and mailing lists to targeted demographics and zip codes.  Benefits include complimentary marketing and advertising consultation services with vivid full color printing on high-quality glossy paper stocks, professional photography, expertly designed layouts, and a complete array of comprehensive high-quality resources at an extremely affordable price.

Complimentary Marketing Consultations: No matter what form of radio, TV, newspaper, magazine or direct mail marketing you plan to use, ask your advertising sales representatives to share examples of what has worked well for other similar business owners. 

Realistic Expectations: Direct mail really works, especially with repetition of very strong offers. Like any form of advertising and marketing, it usually takes a long-term investment. Visit with your consultant to set realistic expectations, so you are not disappointed. Coupons are trackable. If you want to determine your effectiveness, plan to ask customers how they heard about you. Many customers will bring in their postcards, mailers, and coupons. However, many will respond to your direct mail advertising without bringing in the coupons. You will also need to measure your total sales volume each week or month, especially on the products and equipment that you are promoting with your direct mail efforts.

Publication date: 10/20/2008

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