The Easiest Way to Waste Marketing Money and Go Out of Business
I have worked with over 65,000 business owners over the past decade and a half, and all that experience has taught me one critical truth about marketing:
If you want to waste your money and eventually go out of business, DO NOT repeat your marketing message. Send out ONLY one postcard campaign, run ONLY one TV commercial, do everything you can to only make ONE impression on prospects…
You’ll be in the unemployment line inside 6 months.
Companies that understand repetition get all the business; and those that don't… don't.
Many people ask me, “What is a postcard campaign, exactly?” “And why do I need one?” I sigh. I take a deep breath before writing this. This is a biggie. Very important subject. This is the one that is hardest to teach. No matter how I try, no matter how much proof I give, people just don't want to believe it. But I owe you the truth. So here goes…
Let's first look at the definition of campaign:
1. A series of military operations undertaken to achieve a large-scale objective during a war: Grant's Vicksburg campaign secured the entire Mississippi for the Union.
2. An operation or series of operations energetically pursued to accomplish a purpose: an advertising campaign for a new product; a candidate's political campaign.
To engage in an operation planned to achieve a certain goal: campaigned through the jungles of Vietnam; campaigned for human rights.
The word origin is: [French campagne, from Italian campagna, field, military operation, from Late Latin camp nia, open country, battlefield, from Latin campus, field.] ~The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Definition number 2 above is the one we're using. But from studying the entire definition along with the derivation (the word origin) you can see how all the definitions tie together. Campaigns for marketing are, in a nutshell, a series of advertising steps including repeat mailings that are strategically planned so that there is maximum benefit (more new customers) for your business.
Nota bene (that means “take note” in Latin – and I do mean take note): If you are not doing repeat mailings then you are flushing money down toilet. Sorry, I know. The truth sometimes hurts.
Why is this true? One mailing of one postcard once is barely going to get anyone's attention for more then the minute they see it. Think about it. How many times have you seen the same TV commercials over and over? A one shot in the dark postcard mailing is not going to change your business, your bottom line, your life or your anything.
So, if you are not up to confronting that you need to do a campaign then maybe you shouldn't be in business. And that may sound harsh – it is harsh. It's a harsh world. And I want you to succeed in it.
There is another reason. Credibility. In some cases people will hold onto your postcard for a while. They can hold onto your postcard for six months. They may even hold on to your card for three years. But in most cases they'll think “Oh, I may need that some day” and then while tidying up they'll throw it away. When you repeat your mailings to those same people and they see your image, logo, slogan, message over and over you become credible to them. Your chances of them responding just got greater. Repeat mailings cannot be repeated enough.
Why do over 50% of businesses fail within five years? Because they don't have enough people paying money to them for their services. The bottom line is, they don't market – they don't get people buying their stuff. That's the whole point of marketing.
Yes, of course. Some promotion is better than no promotion. And sending out a one-time mailing is better than never sending any mailings at all. But this article is about campaigns, not complaints. With a real campaign of repeat mailings, you will soon learn to predict your growth.
Eventually you will see trends within your own company based on specials or offers on your postcards. You'll know which offers pull more responses. And if you tabulate your results – meaning if you keep track of how many closes or how much income came in off of that promotion – you'll be able to predict your results your next time out. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's keep it simple.
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. And consistency is where prediction comes in. You could almost make a big flow chart of what will happen. Check this out:
Say you send out 5000 postcards.
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. Think about it. Do you jump at every single advertisement that you get bombarded with that you think is a good idea? If you do, you are either a millionaire or broke. But most likely, you see some advertisement that catches your interest and say to yourself that you'd like to check that out some day. Then, you see it again and remember that you wanted to check that out one day. And then, you see it again and this time you decide to check it out. Or you file it away and when you pay off that credit card, you pull out your file and visit that store that advertised the rug you wanted to buy for your living room.
Victoria's Secret, Pottery Barn – any reputable catalog company will mail you catalogs multiple times! Are you getting the picture yet? How many Pottery Barn catalogues have you received without ever making a purchase – yet they keep sending them…
You want continuous and consistent growth. So what do you do? Look at this scenario:
You send out 5000 postcards one week and you have all that going on that I mentioned above.
You send out 5000 the next week and you have all that going on that I mentioned above.
You send out 5000 the next week and that dwindling flow chart is going on, on each one of those outflows.
What is going to happen? Mmmh, let me see… Eventually it is going to snowball – it's coming in from all different places!
You are really putting your communication out there consistently in a big way.
And yes, it costs a lot of money to do it. (Once you have your list which you'll use over and over – only paying for it once – postage is more then 55% of your costs) So, FIND THE MONEY. FIND THE MONEY. If you are going to borrow money to do a business, spend that borrowed money on marketing!
This is the thing about capital investment: People get money to start their business. They give themselves a nice big salary, they buy really great furniture, computers, a building, and so forth. That's not where they should be spending their money. They should be spending their money on marketing and promotion and getting their name out there. And then all that money from the sales that come in should be spent on upgrading their computer or designing a fabulous office. Then and only then.
Back to campaigns and mailing out beaucoup each week. Start with a list and mail to one list one week, another list the next week and another list the following week. Then you rotate those lists – again. And again. And again.
Now you ask – what if you only have one list? You can still rotate one list. And it is always good to put it on a spreadsheet or a flow chart to track what you are doing and what you have already done.
For instance: You get one list of 6000 identities. You can mail to 2000 one week, 2000 the next week and 2000 the third week. Then you rotate. There are your three different lists!
OK, you got the point. The next thing to know about campaigns is that there are two different types of marketing campaigns. There is the campaign to get your customers to keep buying from you so they don't go elsewhere. And then there is the campaign to get new business in.
Once you have gotten new business in, then those customers (that once were prospects) get the repeat-customer campaign.
Where does one start?
The first thing you should do when starting out and thinking of a marketing campaign is to start with your own customers.
Say you've been in business 5-10 years and have hit a plateau; start by mailing out to your own customers that have been with you and already know you are good. And then once you get your income up a little bit, start the second campaign to market to new customers.
But then, if you have the money just figure out how to do both. Don't go out to eat quite as much. Don't buy that new Lexus (yet!). Don't invest in that piece of real estate right now. Put your money back in your business.
Up to this point if you have made all your money with your business, well then that business is the goose that is laying the golden egg (for the eventual Lexus), so put that money back in your business first. Go ahead and spend the newly earned money on both the new customer and customer retention campaigns.
Sure, be selfish; you earned it but just be patient. Wait until your marketing is really paying off and you couldn't stop the influx of business if you tried.
Above, I am speaking to someone that has gotten very comfortable in their own income and doesn't necessarily want to cut their own income to grow their business. But if you have a new business and really only have twelve customers, then you have to do a campaign to get new customers. And it costs money; it will be a big expense.
So buy a used computer. Most of the $10,000 you borrowed from your dad to start up should be spent on marketing. Work out of your bedroom on a used computer, then sell and deliver your product or service. When you've sold plenty then you pay yourself (when Dad's paid off and you actually have money).
To get back to what we were discussing: just mail to the list for a while – and rotate through it. It will pay off, I promise.
A campaign could be as simple as mailing over and over and over again the same postcard to the same list. You'd still be campaigning if you did it this way and you would have results. But you could get closer and closer to an ideal scene with a â€˜several-different-message' campaign. You could design each piece so that it communicates to different types of people. For instance FEAR is a common feeling for people when they are about to make a purchase. You could use this to make your cards communicate how safe it would be to try your product or service – or how awful it could be for them if they don't. Maybe you can offer a money back guarantee. People also respond to humor. So another card in your campaign could be funny. Different folks will respond to different emotions in advertising.
A VERY successful way to put together a campaign has to do with creating a series of cards and on mailings 2,3,4 and so on all your postcards should look similar. Not the same, but similar. You could do a three-card, four-card, five-card campaign. Look and feel should match. Your logo is in the same place each time, your color scheme is the same, etc.
You have got to come up with your look and feel beforehand. I suggest that you design and mail the first one and check for results. You can tweak it, but choose your basic colors FIRST. Do a little research. Which colors communicate to you the most? Be your own survey person. Love your mail piece. Don't sign off on anything a designer came up with if you don't love it. You'll imbue it with results. It'll pull better if you love it…sounds nutty, but it's true.
One thing about campaigns is that you have to commit to a campaign. Commit. Wherever you buy your marketing services from, commit to a campaign. Let them design all five pieces at once. I don't suggest printing them all at once. Tweak the design on the others if you need to as you go.
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 are building credibility with a campaign. That is the point. So, hit â€˜em again, Sam.
A campaign is mailing to the same people over and over and over again. The point is you want 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. A great movie had a great quote that is well remembered but not necessarily true, “Build it and they will come.” Ever hear that? People think that it means if you put a building there people will come. Or they think if you build a web site then people will automatically visit it. No, you have to drive customers to your business. So, “Build it and they will come” should actually have been “Build your marketing campaign and they will come”. Because what you are building with a marketing campaign 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 spend.