Go Postal—with Direct Mail

June 23, 2023
In an ever-connected world, shop owners should market to the mailbox for customer attention.

The world has turned digital.  

And while digital marketing gets all the attention, there is money to be made using tried and true marketing techniques, namely direct mail. According to Statista, in 2021, direct mail advertising revenue in the United States amounted to $14.47 billion dollars. 

"Direct mail has helped our shop a tremendous amount. I was doing direct mail back in 2019 without knowing the return it would give us," says John Rauscher, owner of Thunderbird Automotive Specialists.  

"Once I dove in and saw our customers coming back more often, or even customers saying, 'I never knew you guys were here until after getting your mailer; I wanted to try you guys out!'—I was convinced of the effectiveness of direct mail." 

Use Direct Mail In The Right Zip Codes 

One of the most important parts of effective marketing is understanding and using the right customer targeting. You can spend thousands of dollars and still not acquire clients if you're not marketing to your ideal target customer.  

In direct marketing, sending flyers and adverts to targeted zip codes is the most effective marketing approach. Spending some time doing customer research is essential. 

"Your best results will come from people within easy driving distance of your shop. In urban and suburban neighborhoods, focus on customers who are geographically closer to your shop," says Joe Flammer, business development manager at Turnkey Marketing.  

"In rural settings, people are used to driving longer distances. Because of that, you can target homes farther away from your shop, and many people will still be willing to drive to get to you. Be cognizant of geographical boundaries that may make it unlikely for potential customers to come to you—like rivers or highways," says Flammer.  

Start with the zip codes closest to your shop where customers can benefit from your services. You can buy lists of zip codes that include the demographic of the residents in those zip codes. Then, expand to areas drivable to your shop. 

"We've been using direct mail for years and can't do without it. Direct mail reaches people we wouldn't have otherwise and can get us in front of the right customers," says Steve Killian, Owner of TK. 

"We can offer deals through direct mail, and new customers come because we're close to where they live. Google ads and direct mail complement each other and have been great for our shop. My advice is to pick your mail routes carefully; pick the right zip codes for those who can afford your services," says Killian.  

Use Visuals In Your Flyers 

People are visual by nature—they need to see things for them to click in their brains. Visuals are a vital marketing and branding strategy that shops can use to convert potential customers into regular customers.  

Spending a few extra dollars to make your direct mail flyers and adverts more appealing results in more attention and more business.  

You can use online creative work-for-hire platforms to get your direct mail designed in a visually appealing way or work with a marketing coach, consultant or agency to create the best copy for your direct mail advertising.  

"I used to think direct mail was a scam because I would think of the ValPak envelopes that would come and everyone just throws those away. On the other hand, working with Upswell and Turnkey, we mail individual address cards to our current and potential customers. We have customers bringing them in all the time or saying, 'Oh, I got your mailer,' and having our picture (myself, my manager and sometimes, my mother) on them shows them that this is a shop to try," says Rauscher.  

Offer Deals When It Makes Sense  

One way to leverage direct mail is by offering deals in your flyers and adverts. You can offer buy one, get one offers, as well as giving a percentage off for first-time or repeat customers or variations of sales offers. 

To increase success with direct mailers, Flammer says you must include an irresistible offer, something that gets your potential customer's attention, solves their problems and motivates them to pick up the phone and call you. That starts by knowing how many people will value the service you’re planning to offer. 

"Make sure you are marketing something that many people need; otherwise, your pool of prospects is small. Is it something that makes people think, ‘Wow, I need to take advantage of that now!’ or is it easy to shrug off and throw out?” says Flammer. 

“If you're spending money on postcards and marketing, you will get the best return on investment (ROI) from following the basic marketing principles—sending the right thing, with the right offer, to the right people, at the right times. Do that and you will reap lots of success.” 

Be Persistence and Consistency with Direct Mail 

For marketing to be effective, it has to be consistent. Shops tend to feel as if they're marketing too much, whereas the reality is that they need to be marketing more.  

"You rarely see great results if you send out mail one or two times and then stop. Mailing to the same customers once a month for four to six months is when results start to become apparent," says Flammer.  

People need to see direct mail numerous times consistently with deals and offers. Rauscher says in a three-year window since using direct mail, his shop grew from four to 11 employees—a 54% increase—to accommodate the growing car count his mailers pushed through the door. 

"We are on a very busy corner in North Phoenix, so it was crazy to think customers still drove by and didn't notice us. We as a shop have been able to grow year after year, and in 2022, I knew it was time to expand and gain as much customer market share as possible using direct mail consistently," says Rauscher.  

"From 2018 through 2022, we have effectively doubled our car count, and our No. 1 attribution to this was due to the direct marketing plan we created (with Turnkey and myself) with the primary money spent on direct mail," says Rauscher.  

Use Direct Mail and Increase Sales  

Direct marketing is an effective way to reach a customer base you would have been unable to through other means. Some of your customers don't use the Internet or aren't as tech-savvy—direct mail is the answer.  

"Direct mail helps you get new customers, be consistently more relative to your current customers, and effectively build your brand so your company is visible and well known in your area. If you are not doing direct mail, you should!" says Rauscher.  

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