Direct Mail Results Sometimes Take Patience

Recently I received a call from a prospect who placed an order for a product I promoted using direct mail over a year ago.  She asked if the pricing was still valid, which I confirmed.  She told me “I pinned this up on my bulletin board so I would remember to call you when we needed business cards again.”

This not only underscores the value of direct mail but also speaks to the importance of tracking where sales come from if you plan on calculating an accurate ROI on your marketing efforts.

Often people will ask me what kind of ROI to expect from this or that action.  To which I explain that there is no way to tell without a lot more information.  And even then, predicting what will come of any sales promotion without some empirical evidence using similar products, media, lists and markets, is very difficult if not impossible with any degree of accuracy.  However to try to set up a scenario whereby some useful marketing intelligence can me gleaned, some questions to need to be answered:

  1. What is your offer?  Results (instant and delayed) are determined by the value of your offer.  Half-off will get you a great response, 10% off, not so much.
  2. Is your offer timely?  Putting parkas on sale in July…well…you see the value in that?  If you’re going to sell products out of season, bump up the offer.
  3. Are you reaching the correct, and complete audience?  And that’s not necessarily JUST the buyer.  Remember there are influencers too.  I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten calls from the buyer because I also send direct mail to the executives.  These executives then drop the mail piece on the buyers desk and say “hey, give this guy a call and check him out.”
  4. How are you going to track these offerings?  I recommend a one-point collection when there is a call in or response to an offering.  It’s much easier than having everyone that answers the phone try to set up their own spreadsheet and collect the data.
  5. How long are you going to track?  As my example demonstrates, people don’t always respond when YOU are ready for them to do so.  Rather, they respond usually when a need arises.  So keep that in mind when you put deadlines on your offers (which I always recommend, because it gives you an out should your costs increase).
  6. Compounded tracking.  Once you’ve gained a new customer from your marketing efforts, you must track the ongoing sales to fully calculate the gain from obtaining that customer.  When you start to consider the compounding effect that adding each customer has on the bottom line, the more respect you gain for the effectiveness of marketing.

Tracking marketing ROI is an ongoing process, much like the art of marketing is in itself. I’m not one that tracks everything because tracking can be expensive and consume a lot of time depending on how much and what you want to track.  I do however recommend sales promotion tracking as a form to find what promotions work best and when. Building a database of promotions that resulted conversions is good for future marketing.

While email, the web, social media and other effective forms of marketing grow, know that the age-old process of simply dropping a card in the mail, still works today, and should be a part of any B2B marketers arsenal of tools to help build market awareness and drive direct sales.

Good selling!

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