Probably the most cost-effective marketing method, direct mail is strongly recommended to SMEs with a limited budget.
Sending letters by mail is one of the most effective and cost-effective marketing methods. If an SME’s budget is limited, the company should focus its efforts on sending letters rather than publishing ads in newspapers, on TV or on the street.
A perfect letter
A letter can take the form of a formal letter or a simple flyer. Everything depends on the nature of both the company and the document. The bigger the offering, the more formal it should be. For a customer to read and appreciate a letter, it should contain:
- An exceptional offer. Consumers receive a lot of advertising in the mail. The customer should understand that the SME’s letter is unique. For example, a store selling lawnmowers can offer a 50% discount on these products.
- A clear offer. The customer should understand the nature of the offer in seven to nine words at the most.
- A timeframe. The offer should be limited in time to encourage the consumer to take advantage of it immediately.
- A personalized address. The letter should feature the addressee’s name. Consumers are not taken in by letters addressed to “a loyal customer” or to a “dear friend”—they will throw them away without reading them.
- A free reply option. The customer should be able to benefit from the offer without having to buy stamps or pay to make a call. Ideally, the letter should include a reply slip with their address pre-printed and a postage-paid envelope addressed to the company. To minimize postage, the entrepreneur can get discounts from the post office for prior sorting.
The success of a direct mail campaign depends on the quality of your address book. Companies are advised to create a list of contacts to whom letters or flyers are to be sent. A company can ask its customers to provide their addresses. It is also possible to request an address list from a chamber of commerce, or buy one from an advertising agency or direct mail company. Direct mail companies have hundreds of thousands of addresses, which can be selected depending on your business sector and geographic location.
An SME should be capable of responding promptly to customers interested in the promotion. The company absolutely has to supply the promised service or item to the customer. In the past, the success of certain offers has forced some companies to retract them. This has damaged the reputation of these companies.
An effective brochure
A brochure provides a snapshot of your company. It can present the company as a whole, a product, a service or a range of items in particular, and may take the form of a small booklet or simple flyer. SMEs whose customers do not use the web or do not read newspapers should produce a brochure.
A good brochure comprises the following:
- A title and subtitle that summarize the company's activities.
- Strong clear statements that highlight the SME’s strengths.
- Customer reviews that highlight the quality of the company’s products and services.
- Images illustrating the work done by the SME.
- A call to action which speaks to the customer. The message should encourage the consumer to buy the services presented in the brochure.
If the SME has an employee with basic graphic design skills, a brochure can be created in-house. However, if the objective is to design a professional brochure for large-scale distribution, companies are advised to use the services of an advertising agency or graphic designer.
Source: Small Business Marketing Kit for Dummies, Barbara Findlay Schenck, John Wiley & Sons Inc, 2012.