Two of the most cost effective methods I’ve used for generating sales in residential areas are direct mail and door hanging. These strategies both do one thing for the small business better than any other method – target your immediate neighborhood without wasting effort on people across town who will pass 10 competitors on their way to your door.
I used direct mail as part of a strategy that made me a top 1% real estate agent in my market. Even more effective, especially considering cost, I used door hanging as the linchpin of a marketing strategy that saw sales increase by double and triple digit percentages year-to-year at multiple restaurant locations.
Here are my 11 top tips for making effective use of these direct customer contact methods. I’ll start with the two tips that are specific to direct mail only.
Tips for Direct Mail
- Postcards. If the target has to open an envelope, it’s wasted money. Even while throwing a postcard away, they’ll notice a good deal and your name.
- Door hang instead. Door hanging is much more cost effective. You can contract it out at about half the cost of direct mail. If you’re in a business with low wage employees with downtime, you can send them door hanging with a pager or cell phone in case you get busy. If sales are really slow, you can even do it yourself.
Tips for Door Hanging and Direct Mail
- Color. You need color and a simple design to catch the customers attention in a couple of seconds while they open their door.
- Specials. Door hang specials, not menus or catalogs. Too much information generates distraction instead of action.
- Add-ons. Since you want your flyer to be simple and attention getting, you can’t list every great combination. Be prepared to offer suggestions that really add value and satisfaction for the customer.
- Build ticket average. The service labor and advertising cost don’t change much when the amount sold goes up. So, focus on the higher priced sale to add the most to your bottom line.
- Free. Don’t be afraid of the word “free.” Selling a $15 item at regular price with an equal or lower priced item free is usually much more profitable than giving half off the $15 item. (See Tip #6.)
- Offer repeat specials. Repeat business is more bang for you advertising buck. People who respond to specials respond to value. To get their repeat business, provide exceptional service and a different offer to bring them back again.
- Loyalty program. Do you have a loyalty program? You don’t need plastic cards with magnetic stripes. Ask for an email and track it on your computer. Or, just use paper punch cards. Give your loyal customers a sense of ownership in your success.
- Follow up. Ask for contact information and follow up with direct mail or email. An ideal approach for email is a followup survey invitation. For direct mail, in higher priced items especially, a handwritten thank you note is ideal.
- Personal contact. Small business has a massive advantage in personal contact between customers and owners or top managers. Learn names, shake hands, learn birthdays. You’re more than a product on a shelf; treat your customer as more than a dollar sign.