Your Mailing Services Questions, Answered
By Trynka Shineman

Q. My small business doesn’t have the
resources for a large marketing
campaign, but still needs to advertise.
How can I reach a large amount
of people without a high cost?

A. Marketing a small business
effectively does not have to be
a costly venture. The most important part of advertising is to get the name and
product or service that you offer out to your potential customers. Sending a direct
marketing campaign to a large number of people in the area of your business is one of
the best ways to accomplish this. The more times a customer is exposed to your
brand, the more likely they are to become a customer.

If your business is just starting out, marketing should focus on getting customers to
try your product or service and convincing them to start using your company on a
regular basis. This can be achieved by using a postcard or other type of mailing with a
special offer for new customers. Offering a low price or free trial can be just the
motivation someone needs to give your business a try.

Q. I just started my own business and want to get the word out. What is the best way
to find customers who would be interested in my product?

A. Before sending out a direct mailing to potential customers, it is essential to
determine who your target market is to ensure the mailing isn’t a waste of time and
resources. Targeting the right list means understanding the demographic that you
think has the best chance of turning into a customer. Think of the type of person who
generally would use your product or service or who would gain the most benefit
from it. For example, if you are operating a flower shop, it would be best to target a
female demographic above the age of 30.

Keeping track of the types of customers who make purchases from you or asking for
referrals will help you develop a successful mailing list. Once you determine which
audiences are most profitable, you can continue to market to them to keep your
business on the top of their minds, while expanding and testing into other areas and
demographics. Another way to develop a list is to go through a third party company
that lets you purchase a list of prospects that meet your target demographic. Many
companies that have mailing services allow you to upload or rent your own list, and
then send out your creative all from one place.

Q. Sending postcards and direct mailing materials to my potential customers hasn’t
been as successful as I thought it would be. What could I be doing wrong?

These days, people can get overloaded with promotional mailings, especially around
busy times such as the holidays. Your mailing may have a great offer on it for
potential customers, but it could just be blending in, making it nothing short but a
waste of time and money. Business owners often forget that the standout nature of
your postcard or brochure can’t be understated in order maximize its effectiveness.

Not only does it have to standout and be bold in terms of color, text, and appeal but it
also has to have a clear call to action, and an offer that the potential customer will act
upon. Your call to action should tie directly to the product or service your company
offers – for example a free estimate for a company providing a service. Having an eye-
catching mailing is also an excellent opportunity start building brand awareness by
making sure your company’s logo is notably displayed on the mailing. Uploading
graphics related to your business can also let consumers know about your business
with just a glance.

Q. Using a third party mailing list seems like an effective way to distribute a direct
mailing, but how can I tell if it is more effective than other lists I have used?

The most valuable way to keep track of your mailings is to continuously test different
mailings and different groups of consumers and keep consistent records of its
effectiveness. Testing lets you determine what works and what doesn’t so you can
learn for the next campaign. Each campaign you mail out should help you target your
potential customers more and more, making each mailing more successful than the
last. With each mailing you send out, make it easy to be able to keep track of which
mailing is getting the most traction. For example, have customers mention a certain
code to get a discount or have a coupon right on the mailing that the customer can
bring in.

Be sure to start a listing of customers, including how they heard about your company,
in order to go back and review the value of each mailing. This list can also allow you
to see trends in customers and develop a better target market. Once you have a good
list to work with, test an offer to see if a discount works better than a free product
offer. Then, test the format of the piece to determine, for example, if envelopes work
better than self mailers. Once you’ve tested for the most effective, most reliable kinds
of marketing programs, no matter how small, you can continue to roll them out time
after time, stay on top of mind, and continue to generate business. This way you can
maximize resources to ensure that you’re only getting the potential customers you
really feel will give you the best chance to thrive.

About the author:
Trynka Shineman is the Senior Vice President of North American Marketing at
VistaPrint, a leading online supplier of high-quality graphic design services and
customized printed products to small businesses and consumers.

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