You have to market to stay ahead in business today. Even if you live in a small community, marketing plays a big role in making your business creditable. Consumers today are subjected to anywhere from 1,800 - 3,000 advertising messages per day. With that large of a statistic, it is no longer viable to rely only on word-of-mouth marketing.

Word-of-mouth marketing is the best way to build a reputation, but if a competitor's marketing message comes along that hits your consumers' "buttons," they may be likely to leave your business in search for a better price, closer location or just plain curiosity.

You have to continually market to let people know you exist and so they will not forget about you. The way you do it may vary depending on your type of business, but there is one marketing avenue that will get you an excellent return on investment, if done right. Direct mail.

A survey by the International Communication Research concluded that people prefer receiving messages by direct mail.

73% of respondents said that they prefer receiving new product announcements by mail, versus 18% for email.

Fewer people trash unsolicited direct mail when compared to email, 31% to 53% respectively.

Direct mail coupled with community networking and involvement, and some free internet listings on local search engines can markedly increase your business. With that being said you need to know how to do it right.

Do it right
First you need to know the power of repetition. If location is the mantra of real estate success, then repetition is the mantra for promotional success.

Regular, repeated mailings are the way to create big, measurable results. When you mail every 30 days for a year, you will cause a dramatic growth in your business.

With direct mail, you can send your message to a targeted group of prospects or to your existing customers for only 25 to 30 cents each, including postage.

If you put out a blast of communication you will get inflow prospects, customers calling or coming in and buying. Yes, if you deliver a good product you will get some business from referrals, some. But you want that blast repeated over and over and over to get the inflow that it will generate consistently. Consistency is where prediction comes in.

Say you send out 5000 postcards one month:
Out of that 5000, 150 hang onto your postcard.
Out of that 5000, so many call the 1st week.
Out of that 5000, so many call the 2nd week.
Out of that 5000, so many call the next month.
Out of that 5000, so many call in 6 months.
Out of that 5000, so many never call.

There is a dwindling inflow from that first mailing and therefore can give a false impression of what occurs from one mailing. Someone sends out a postcard and says, "I only got four responses from my mailing!" But there is a whole dynamic that is going on that is continuing from that one mailing way after the person who sent the mailing expects things to happen. Every month you send out 5000 postcards you have the scenario happening above.

Eventually it is going to snowball because it's coming in from all different places! You are really putting your communication out there consistently in a big way and you are going to get consistent and continuous growth.

Likewise, any local community activities that you do to help get your name out there will get you even more results if you have a targeted and consistent direct mail campaign running.

Know your target market
Don't try and sell beer to the Temperance Society or real estate to people who cannot afford it. You have to target your direct mail marketing efforts.

The mailing list is a key factor in a successful small business direct mail marketing campaign. The right list targets people who want your product or service. The wrong list fails to target people who would want to buy from you. Sent to the wrong list, your mailing will be treated as 'junk mail.'

You should also look for local community venues that cater to your target market. Register to speak at their functions; sponsor some of their charity activities; see how you can help them, their children and their churches or organizations. But don't do this type of activity only to get the business it will not ring true and you might get a reputation as a fake. Find some worthy cause to get behind and help. This will increase the effectiveness of your direct mail efforts.

Design your direct mail pieces to your target market
A good design and a good message go a long way to making your direct mail piece a hit.

Your design should reflect your business/franchise, be relevant to who you are marketing to and should include an offer to create an immediate call to action. The graphic and headline is what ultimately prompts your prospect to turn your card over and read your message, so make sure they communicate to your target audience.

Don't want your direct mail to end up in the trash with the rest of the unread mail? These 10 tips will help you get the results you want:

1. A clear, bold headline.
2. A graphic that supports the message. The graphic should be easy to understand and add to the message the headline is trying to convey.
3. Color that pops. Make the headline and other text stand out by using a color that stands out from the background color.
4. Subheads that lead into text. If you have a couple of paragraphs of text with no lead in, there's nothing to entice people to actually read the copy. A subhead will give people a place to start reading.
5. Benefits, benefits, benefits. One of the biggest errors people make in advertising is stating features, rather than benefits.
6. The offer. An offer is always a good idea and should represent a specific reason to call now, such as "Limited supply".
7. Your company name and logo. Although this needs to be on the mailer, it shouldn't overshadow the offer. Customers care most about what you can do for them.
8. Call to action. Tell prospects exactly what you want them to do. "Call today for more information" or "See us online" are two of the most common desired actions.
9. Contact information. Provide your name, phone number, and web address directly following the call to action.
10. Return address. A return address ensures you'll get returned mail from the post office and sends a message that you're an established professional.

Be consistent and commit
One thing about marketing is that you have to commit.

Consumers rarely get multiple postcards from a business. Yet it is such a brilliant idea. When I receive multiple postcards, I take a look. I think, "Hmmm, these guys are still contacting me." That shows persistence, it shows credibility.

You need to hit your prospects with different communication about the same thing or hit them with different products with the same look and feel or both. The rest will come.

Moreover, you have to be consistently in the community speaking, helping, contributing, networking and shaking hands. But you cannot rely on this alone. Direct mail is a very creditable marketing medium and the two go hand in hand. The business owner who sends direct mail to his target market and sponsors their kids' little league baseball team is going to get more business than the business owner that only relies on word of mouth. People are bombarded with messages today you have to constantly remind them who you are, where you are and what you can do for them. You have to drive customers to your business.

What you are building with a marketing and community involvement/networking is credibility. You are building your business through communication. You are communicating consistently, so much that people will believe you (credibility) and they will respond; they will come, they will buy.


About Joy Gendusa
Using a powerful, simple, extremely cost-effective way of communicating with customers has earned Joy Gendusa Inc. Magazine's recognition as the nation's fastest growing direct mail postcard-marketing firm with year 2006 revenues estimated at $17,000,000. Gendusa began in 1998 with zero investment capital. Today, her Clearwater, FL firm called PostcardMania, employs 150 people and prints 4 million and mails 2 million postcards representing over 350 business, finance and industrial clients each week. Visit her web site at