Does Direct Mail Work for a Retail Business?
Direct mail definitely works for retail businesses.
There are actually several key advantages to using direct mail. First of all, direct mail is highly targeted. Small retail store owners often send mailings to the types of customers who are most likely to purchase their types of products. These customers may be distinguished by their gender, age, income, occupation or other characteristics. Also, the results from direct mailings occur relatively quickly, especially if you add a deadline. You may send direct mail to current customers or target non-users who fall within your particular target group.
The major objective of direct mail is to increase customer traffic in stores. You can best accomplish this by following the AIDA principle in advertising. AIDA is an acronym for attention, interest, desire and action. Write a strong headline in your sales letter, flier or brochure to get the readers' attention. Include at least one key benefit in the headline, such as saving money. Address the reader directly to attract her interest. Build desire by having her envision shopping at your store for some of her favorite items. Entice her to visit your store with a coupon or special offer.
Types of Direct Mail
You can use many types of direct mail to effectively attract customers. Insert a flier in the local newspaper or inside bills going to electric or phone customers. Newspapers and utility companies will charge you for the advertising, but you may be able to negotiate a lower rate. Another type of direct mail for retailers is a coupon magazine. These magazines usually include multiple advertisers and are distributed inside newspapers or mail. A traditional direct mailing includes a sales letter and brochure. Use the sales letter to sell the reader on your store and products. Include key features and pictures of your products in your brochure. Other effective direct mail tools include postcards and catalogs. Postcards are relatively inexpensive. Include just the main aspects of your promotion and products, but also include your hours of operation and street address. It is best to mail catalogs to existing customers since they are more expensive.
Direct Mail Strategies
One effective direct mail strategy is the loss leader. Advertise one of the cheaper models of a popular product to pull customers into the store. Sell it at half the price of some of the more expensive models, for example. However, introduce customers to the more expensive models in person. Many will purchase the more expensive brands if your incremental costs for additional features or benefits are in line with competitive products. Use a "limited time only" strategy to get customers to buy at full price, according to experts at RetailWire.com. Another effective direct mail strategy is the special invitation. Create the brochure in the form of an invitation to add a more personal touch to your mailings.
Maintaining a Customer Database
Always keep track of customers who purchase items at your store. Conduct in-store surveys to determine where they heard about a particular offer. That way you know if their visit stems from a direct mailing. Create a database of customers, distinguishing between walk-in traffic and those who received a mailing. The latter will likely respond to future direct mailings. The best way to create a database for retail customers is by starting a loyalty program. Have customers sign up for the loyalty program by providing their names, street addresses and email addresses. Subsequently, provide customers with personal cards they can use when making purchases. Reward them with discounts or free products the more they purchase.
( Rick Suttle, Demand Mania)