Monday, 28 May 2012

Direct Marketing and the Art of Brochure Maintenance

Some time ago, around 1995 or 1996, I was introduced to ‘Direct Marketing’.  Very generally, this term was used to describe a mass pamphlet drop.  Referring to something as indirect as flooding an area with tens of thousands of pamphlets as ‘direct’ marketing seemed a little absurd, but what did I know?  Wiser people than me were directing the shots.

The same wise people also told me that you need a minimum of 250,000 pamphlets to yield any kind of response.  And that response, the wise people say when considering trends, is a 7% response with a 4% take-up of your product or service.  Let’s do the math quickly on that one:

250,000 pamphlets x R0.40 = R100,000 (that’s the average price, by the way, for an A5 full-colour single-sided pamphlet printed on non-glossy paper).  7% of those 250,000 people pamphleted will respond, and 4% of those 250,000 will buy from you.  So, 4% of 250,000 being 10,000 people, it means that you have spent R100,000 to gain 10,000 new customers.  That sound like not a bad campaign to you?

Not having ever been asked to print 250,000 pamphlets, for one client at one time, and not subsequently having had access to the after-print stats, I really can’t testify to this particular piece of info from the wise ones.  But we have nonetheless, over the years, created brochures – both in print and electronic.  Not only have we designed and printed them, but we have also actively been involved in the writing, the strategising, the ‘put-it-all-together-so-that-it-makes-sense-to-the-intended-target-market’ stuff.  And over the years we have learnt a few things.  Here they are:

1.   Nowadays, emailing 250,000 people is not marketing – its spam.  Don’t be a spammer.  Target your brochure at your intended market.

2.   Be conversational.  Stiff and formal language, the kind they teach you in high school or business school, doesn’t really work as advertised.  Show your target market that you’re a human being, and that you’re passionate about your business.  Don’t treat your business like a commodity, even if you’re selling one.  If you’re passionate about what you do, and it comes through in your communications, people take notice.  You build an audience this way, rather than a mere customer base.  An audience, by the way, comes back to see what  you have to say.  You don’t have to always go back and speak to them; they’re already listening.

3.   Be personal.  Use your name for your email and not the name of your company.  Your email is more likely to be opened if it comes from you, and not from ‘ABC Equipment Supply’.

4.   Your subject line must encapture the soul of the email, and the attaching brochure.  Avoid words like ‘new’, ‘astounding’, ‘amazing’ and so on.  That sounds like a miracle cure, and no one will open it.

5.   The longer the document, the more it matters?  No no no.  Don’t be caught by that kind of thinking.  Short, punchy and to the point.  Say what you need to say in as few words as possible.  If you haven’t got them in the first paragraph, they’re not going to read the second and third.  And remember: big words are not impressive.

6.   Imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery.  Looking around to see what other brochures in your market say and copying those brochures is a bad idea.  It is not short-cutting, it is stealing.  Be you, be original, and leave someone else’s text and images where they belong: on someone else’s brochure.

7.   Finally, send your brochure out on Tuesday morning.  On Monday morning your intended market is getting into the business of finding their feet after a weekend.  Any mail not seen as directly related to their own business is likely to be binned.  Friday is likewise a problem day: you’re in the business of winding down to the weekend, and you’re wrapping up, NOT considering taking on a new supplier or buying a new product.  Tuesday, we find, is best.  That way your recipient has had Monday to sort out what must be done with the week, is is generally in a better frame of mind for opening unfamiliar mail.

A good brochure is one that comes with experience.  Don’t be afraid to mess it up the first couple of times.  If you keep your target market small enough then the fallout will not be as bad as you think.

Of course, you could just as easily contact us.  We’ve done brochures.  Lots.  And we know a few things.

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