Archive for January 17th, 2012

Dear Danielle: Would Mass Mailing Work for Me?

Dear Danielle:

First of all, I truly love the no-nonsense style and approach that is offered through your writings. You certainly keep it very real!! Keep on doing what you are doing! I was able to download and digest the Breaking the Ice feature on consultations last night. Of particular note was the diagrams/flow chart aspect–well designed! What are your thoughts on the process of sending out a mass mailing to a) educate prospective clients of what is possible in working together, b) testing the market to see if there is need, and c) you initiating the contact for new business and not waiting for it to come to you? Looking foward to hearing from you. —MM

Well, thanks, MM. 🙂 Glad you like my style because I can only be me, lol.

I definitely like your proactive thinking and you’re mostly on the right track.

Let me try and sort out some aspects for you. We all know that a lot of people in business have a “build it and they will come” mentality. They slap up a website that’s really no more than an online brochure and think clients will be flocking to them overnight.

Yeah, not gonna happen.

So where you’re on the right track is understanding that you need to attract clients to your website, not sit there thinking they’re going to arrive there by magic. The idea is that you want to be drawing potential clients to your website so that it can then do the job of educating them about how you can help them, prequalifying them, and then providing a clear call to action that will guide them to the next step. You want to engage them, entice them, give them a reason to come to you.

However, I want to save you from a lot of wasted time and especially money on ineffective strategies.

You ask about “mass mailing,” but I’m not sure if you mean a mass emailing or some kind of direct mail campaign. If you meant direct mail, that would be a huge waste of your resources.

Direct mail (e.g., postcards, intro letters, anything that is snail-mailed) is a form of outbound marketing, one of the most expensive forms of marketing there is. Direct mail campaigns cost a ton (e.g., printing, postage) and require a huge commitment of repeat mailings. Plus, do you really have the proper knowledge and marketing expertise to design and put together a campaign that would get any results, the kind of results that would make the huge cost worth your while? If not, you’d have to hire someone to do that and probably at a pretty penny.

The ROI just for getting attention is very, very poor (I’ll have to dig up some stats for you later, but research shows that it takes at least 7-10 touches before anyone even remembers your name, much less is compelled to call you or visit your site).

And who are you going to mail this to? Anyone and everyone? That would cost a fortune. I’m fairly certain you don’t have anywhere near the time or money you would need to make direct mail a cost-effective strategy for you.

Relationship building (growing the know, like and trust factor) and employing inbound marketing techniques (where you are drawing clients to you rather than chasing after them) is what has always worked best for professional services. And the great news is that it really doesn’t cost a thing other than your time and a small investment in technology tools and services.

When you draw clients to you (instead of chasing after them), they have already passed the most basic level of prequalification:  interest. This is great because it reserves your resources for those who have already expressed through their action an interest in how you might be able to help them.

When you chase after clients, it’s a very inefficient process because a) not only are you “selling” instead of educating (and people hate being sold to, particularly when it’s unsolicited), and b) most of your time, effort and money is wasted on people who have no interest or need for what you do.

Instead of direct mail, what you want to do is engage in permission-based marketing, which is a form of inbound marketing. This is done by growing your email list. You provide something of interest and value in exchange for people giving you their email address for it. Once they are on your mailing list, you can continue to keep in touch with them, providing them with useful information and resources, and thereby continue to nurture the “know, like, trust” factor.

So what’s involved in this? Let me list out some steps for you.

1. First, you NEED a target market! Knowing exactly who you are talking to will help you craft a vastly more compelling message, figure out where to focus your marketing and networking efforts, and what you can offer them that will get them interested in you. You mention testing to figure out a need, and this is what having a target market helps you do. Once you know who you’re focusing on, it’s much easier to figure out how their businesses are run, what admin work is involved, what their common needs, goals and challenges are, how to speak their language and how to then offer your solutions in ways that will be most appealing to them.

2. Provide a free offer. This can be a report, an e-course, a training guide… anything. The key is that is must be of great interest and value to your target market, enough that they will happily give you their email address for it. A great way to come up with a free offer is to figure out a problem your target market commonly deals with and create an info product that will help them solve or address this problem.

3. Get a list building/distribution tool such as Aweber. Technology tools like Aweber allow you to begin growing your list, create subscribe forms and create and manage email campaigns once you get set-up and you have a free offer to provide.

4. Put your free offer sign up form on your website. Research shows that the best spot for this is above the fold, top right quadrant of the page, either in the header or top right sidebar.

5. Now, get out there and network. Publish a blog and/or ezine. Write articles. Join forums and listservs that your target market belongs to so you can participate and interact with them. As you go about these things, be sure you are always providing a clear call-to-action that directs people to your free offer so they can sign up for it. Put it in your signature lines and “about the author” bios. Be sure your url and “free offer” call-to-action is on your biz cards.

Automate and be consistent and systematic about this and you’ll soon start seeing people signing up for your list! And once they’re on your list, you have a built-in audience who has already expressed their interest in you and what you have to offer. You can then continue to keep in contact with them and stay top of mind—all for only $20 a month if you use a service like Aweber!