I was talking to a few other business folk earlier today about direct marketing. Someone asked if anyone does direct mail.
The craziest thing about my history with direct mail is that I did a direct mail marketing campaign before I even knew what direct mailing was.
When I first got out of University, I had minus money to my name and this was slap bang in the great recession.
Kids, if you aren’t old enough to have enjoyed the last recession, let me tell you you’ve no idea.
Imagine looking for work and not hearing, “Sorry, we’re not looking for anyone right now” but instead hearing, “Sorry, we’re not looking for anyone ever again because it’s game over.”
It’s a terrible affair when businesses go bust left and right, everyone who doesn’t go bust is contracting their work force and people don’t have any money to spend on anything because they literally don’t have any money to spend.
So anyway, the job hunt wasn’t going well. Besides, I always had the pirate gene.
(Time Out: If you’re enjoying this article, then you should probably sign up to my mailing list, where I give out ideas and business tricks that I don’t share publicly. Click here, fill out your details and get yourself on the list! You won’t leave this page.
Now Back To The Regular Programming Schedule…)
Side note: The above is why you learn skills and build your own autonomy. I’m probably a paranoid lunatic because I became an adult in the last recession. It’s better to build skills and autonomy than not do.
Anyway, let’s get back to the story I was telling…
So I’m twenty-one years old – maybe twenty-two – and I decide to do some web design because companies were trying to go online to cut their overheads and get the rapidly shrinking business pond.
This was a terrible time for business. Some folks will tell you that “if you know what you’re doing then it’s easy to get ahead in a recession” and “recessions don’t exist it’s all opportunity” and the people that say that are profanity-inducing morons.
I mention all this because it’s important to frame how tough business was and how useless I was.
So I decided to do some web design work and build simple websites for companies with money to spend.
And I thought “How do you get clients?”
And some came to me and they were horrendous.
I’m talking “never had any intention to pay you but will still turn up at your front door demanding stuff with a threatening glare” bad.
Story for another day.
So I decided because I didn’t know any better, “Why not just write to some people?”
And I had never read a copywriting book before.
I had never written a sales letter before.
And I’d never actually approached anyone before about doing business.
Here’s What Happened
I did some research. I picked businesses with a lot of money. Then I worked out how much I needed to charge to cover costs.
I found out who the decision makers were at the companies by ringing them up.
Then I wrote letters to them.
I typed them up and made them personal. I addressed the person by name and I wrote three reasons they should hire me. This included how much money their competitors were making online (I made this up totally, by the way) as an estimate.
And I gave them a free hint with no obligation necessary.
I send this out to 19 companies.
I got six replies.
“But… But… Nobody falls for direct marketing anymore that worked in the seventies but not now!”
That’s what dorks on Reddit will tell you and they have never sent a direct mail letter like I just described ever before in their lives.
Years later, I remember reading a forum post which described Gary Halbert’s method of getting clients.
It was remarkably similar to what I just described above.
I created a successful direct mailing campaign completely accidentally.
Everyone else can too.
But here’s the best news…
It’s EASIER To Do This Than Ever Before
Just remembering this experience this morning made me want to try out direct mailing.
It’s easier now than ever before. Let me tell you why.
Everybody opens their letters.
I know that online nerds are going to say, “That’s not true I put everything in the recycling bin straight away…”
But honestly ask yourself this:
When was the last time you got a handwritten envelope which had your exact name and address on it written with a first class stamp on it…
And you threw that away without opening it?
Compare that to email where you sign up for a dozen mailing lists and then never open any of them.
Compare it to Twitter where I don’t even remember what I wrote on Twitter, let alone anyone else.
Everyone opens direct mail and it’s the exact place your competitors aren’t.
It’s EASY To Personalise
“But Jamie… once I open mail and realise it’s marketing, I throw it in the recycling pile right away!”
Remember to yourself the last time you got a letter addressed specifically to you where the first paragraph accurately described you and something relevant to issues you’re facing…
… and you didn’t read to the end?
Research Is EASY
Honestly research is easier than ever. LinkedIn means that you can find the top people in pretty much any company in any industry and get their details immediately.
Throw in some of those phone directory sites and you can pinpoint a person’s exactly location in creepy detail in a couple of searches.
When I was chatting about direct mail this morning, I was going to list cost as a drawback.
But let’s say a stamp is 70p.
You can send ten letters a day for £7.00.
That’s the same as a $10 Facebook Ads campaign which is basically where you start.
It’s cheap and you get in front of people. The only drawback is the speed and lack of tracking.
There’s no reason not to try direct mail if you’re offering services or high ticket items.
As with all direct response marketing, the hard work is in the stuff at the beginning.
If you can target a person and give them a perfect offer, there’s no way they’ll say no.
For less than $100, you can send one hundred letters to people offering them a service. They’ll almost be guaranteed to read your letter and if it’s a perfect offer, they’ll go for it.
If it’s not a perfect offer, then you’re $100 out.
So start brainstorming now. I certainly am.
I’m going to test this out and report back.