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September 20, 2010 at 7:25 PM #43261
A consistent and persistent direct-mail marketing strategy is the single most important thing you can do to sustain, maintain and grow your video production business. I’ve preached it and proven it, and continue to believe that I can spend preciously limited funds nowhere better nor more effectively than with a continued direct-mail campaign.
This message bears repeating. I’ve written about it, blogged about it, posted on forums about it and preached about it time and again. When I do a few listen, most put it off and some scoff. Be that as it may, with more than 30 years experience in advertising, publication, promotion and marketing as well as putting so-called “theory” to practice I’ve proven to myself time and again that ANY direct-mail strategy is a better investment over any other method of marketing and advertising, penny for penny.
I’ve noted in previous posts and blog articles that I’ve had as much as an eight percent response to small (50-to-100 addresses), targeted direct mail campaigns, when the accepted industry average is still one percent and THAT is based on mailing thousands of pieces.
My approach is much simpler: a minimum of one half-page-sized postcard a day, on average. You can get by using maximum USPS postcard sizes at 6″ long by 4 1/4″ high, and currently pay 28-cents per piece to mail. I prefer to use the half-page size (8.5″ x 5.5″) and pay the prevailing 1st class rate of 44-cents per piece.
Experiments with various weights, sizes and rates and delivery times have resulted in a consistently more positive experience with the heavier card weight, size and first class handling overall, for me. Your mileage may vary. But let’s look at this from a cost perspective.
Using one of several available high quality professional print labs around the country (my personal preference for price, quality and turnaround is America’s Printer in irvine, California) you can get excellent heavy-weight, coated high quality postcards produced for cents per unit. The minimum for most such website services is 1,000 units.
My 8.5″ x 5.5″ postcards, 4-color both sides, UV gloss coating on front side (gloss on both sides is nice, but it can generate problems with certain types of address labels and various inks tend to smear easily) run me about $105 per 1K pieces. That’s 10.5 cents per unit. Adding shipping and handling, sales tax if any and the current 1st class rate of 44-cents, and you’re looking at spending between a half-dollar and 60 cents per unit.
Send out one a day. Hey, send out three a day, you’ve got a three-year supply 😉 and you’ve spent between 60 cents and $1.80 a day. Let’s say you mail three a day, on average, so you’re putting out $54 a month, or $657 a year based on 365 days. You’ve invested a total of $657 to reach 1,000 homes or businesses or club addresses.
But that card has been seen, and often read by at least three people, tripling your exposure rate. Even if you get a one-percent response resulting in a paid video production job chances are the job paid you back your investment. Two percent, you break even. But, if (and you usually will) you were careful in your direct mail address selections you will get an even higher response level. Three jobs and you’re getting a decent return on investment (ROI).
Not to mention the exposure, branding, visibility and linkage, name recognition and the fact that a properly designed, compelling direct-mail postcard has a longer shelf-life (useful lifespan) than a direct-mail letter or print ad or EXPENSIVE radio/TV spot making your consistent direct marketing campaign a GREAT eyeballs gatherer. Listen for the calls to come in. Watch for the responses to start, and build over time. Check out the increased website views, hits and follow-through on call-to-action.
Once you go down the path to sustaining a one-postcard-per-day average you will see all your marketing analysis numbers move higher on your business scale. Do this religiously and you have the makings of a highly successful and profitable habit for the rest of your video business career.
September 21, 2010 at 3:57 AM #181336SteveMannParticipant
Just from curiosity, how much do you put on the card? Is it minimalist, little more than your business card info, or is it “top heavy” with content?
September 21, 2010 at 5:35 AM #181337
Probably somewhere in the middle, Steve, leaning toward “minimalist” and you can get a glimpse of my basic approach (the fronts anyway) on a couple of samples in this blog article I wrote back in February.
On the address side I usually place a smaller representative image and a blurb (more marketing messaging) beneath it, but it is NOT by any means overcrowded on either side.
September 23, 2010 at 1:54 AM #181338SteveMannParticipant
Thanks – I somehow missed that on your blog.
September 30, 2010 at 6:11 AM #181339AnonymousInactive
Thanks for all your information, both here and on your blog.
I’m about to take your advice by starting a postcard campaign, using a target specific approach.
One question so far: are you sending mail to the same addresses repeatedly (until they respond), or do you go for a new address all the time?
September 30, 2010 at 5:58 PM #181340
My approach is a redundant one. I keep lists of all the addresses I use, of course, marking the ones that went out initially, what I sent and when, what was returned non-deliverable, responses, etc.
I will usually always send out a postcard first, for all the reasons I’ve given here and in my blog articles. If I’ve NOT received a request for removal I will continue sending relevant direct-mail pieces on average of every 90 days, or just prior to some specific holiday or general school schedule etc. that might result in a higher level of interest – spring recitals or end of season sports banquets, etc.
Working my current direct-mail program i am focusing on branding and awareness for my Video StoryTellers! program as well as seeking local business based on that program, and worldwide expansion by attracting new video business associates to participate.
I’ve compiled lists of target independent professional video services providers, other lists of quality retirement communities and active senior living locations, and yet another of senior activity facilities (most cities have at least one, where I am at any rate).
First they get the postcard, followed by a one-page letter that is a bit more definitive, followed by a package that includes an information postcard, two-page letter AND a sample DVD of some nature. Thereafter I will follow up with a rotation of “keep us in mind for your video production needs/projects” postcards and the original postcard.
I rarely ever get a notice to quit sending stuff to the addresses I’ve selected and maintained. I can just barely remember maybe one or two over the years. I think this is mostly because what I send is relevant to whom I send it and can only assume they welcome both the information and the reminders that I am still in business and still available if needed.
It is my experience (they’ve actually share with me) that, as I’ve said in my articles, life and situations change. Old service connections go away, somebody makes a bad mistake, pisses off a client, or a client is desperate to fulfill a last minute decision on a project that includes video and has no resources. If that postcard hits, is on the desk or in a resources file, we’re going to get called.
Thanks for the encouragement of hearing of your plans and for the response. I hope this gives you more information you can use Edward.
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