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Do you make these 5 direct mail mistakes?

It’s easy to burn through a lot of money mailing the wrong way. Here are five common mistakes that businesses make when sending sales materials through the mail. Don’t make them:)

You don’t use real stamps

Your direct mail pieces – of any kind – should be using regular first class stamps most of the time.

While I will admit that I use CASS bulk mail postage for some newsletter mailings (at client request to save postage), this happens ONLY after having sent at least one mailing using a real first class stamp.

Why? 3 reasons: Deliverability, address service and speed

If this excerpt from “Privatizing will improve mail service posthaste” doesn’t help, I’ll clear it up in a minute.

As journalist Jonathan Franzen recounted in a detailed portrait of Chicago’s postal crisis in the New Yorker last year, a letter carrier helping a coworker start his truck in a post office parking lot stumbled onto 100 sacks of undelivered mail in the rear cargo area. Chicago police in 1994 found 200 pounds of relatively recent mail burning beneath a viaduct and 20,000 pieces of vintage mail (some pieces dating to 1979) in garbage cans behind the house of a retired mail carrier. Last May, Chicago firefighters found 5,670 pieces of flat mail and 364 pounds of bulk mail in the attic of postal carrier Robert K. Beverly. And in October, Washington firefighters discovered four truckloads of mail in the apartment of postal carrier Robert W. Boggs

Other than because of postal workers like this guy and because of post offices like the Chicago one described above, a first class stamp in conjunction with a valid return address (sort of) guarantees you a returned mail piece with a corrected current address, or an indication that you should remove that name from your mailing list.

Speed. Bulk mail is not guaranteed to reach your destination anytime soon, if ever. In fact, isn’t guaranteed at all.

One last aspect of this: Choose your stamps wisely. Mailing to women? Use stamps most women would like.

Mailing to NASCAR viewers? Use stamps that fit their profile. Patriotic? Cars? Think about it.

Not making sure that mail only goes to the right people

Sending the same letter to the entire population of the United States: Bad idea.

Sending the same letter to your entire client list: Bad idea.

Are all doctors the same? You know… chiropractors (yes, that was intentional), heart surgeons, thoracic surgeons, dermatologists, general practitioners, podiatrists, sexologists, psychiatrists, ophthalmologists, and so on. They all need malpractice insurance, medical office software, furniture, etc.

Are all mechanics the same? Is a diesel mechanic the same as a HVAC mechanic? Ditto for single engine airplane mechanics, heavy equipment hydraulics mechanics, boat mechanics, jet engine mechanics, or …

Are all painters the same? Home painters vs automobile painters, detailed “pimp my ride” paint artists, industrial painters, high rise building/tower painters, and so on.

If you were trying to sell each member of these groups accounting services, a website, tools, furniture or rubber bands, would you have the same conversation with them?

Not likely.

Is it more work to create different sales materials for different groups of people? Sure.

Is it more profitable? Almost always.

“Almost?” – What kind of comment is that? The kind that leads to our next mistake…

Leaving out a way to measure response

If you can’t measure it, you’d better not mail it. Otherwise, how will you recognize what works and what doesn’t?

Failing to send another mailing to the same person for the same thing

Yes, I mean follow up.

But how many times should I mail stuff to my mailing list? When do I know to stop?


Getting a 1% response to a mailing is your goal

You’ve undoubtedly heard that 1% is an average response for direct mail.

Or maybe you heard 2% is what it takes to make a profit (h*mm, like $0.01?).

Or you’ve heard some other number.

Forget them all. Percentages mean nothing. Return on investment is what you care about.

If you spend $100,000 a month to mail 100,000 pieces of mail (yes, per month) and you get 1 sale, that’s a response rate of 0.00000000001% for each mailing.

If you’re selling $2500 custom trailer hitches for big expensive RVs, you have a big problem. You’re spending $100,000 a month. Even if you sell every lead, you’re spending $100,000 to get $2500. Unless there’s a pretty successful upsell process, or very large lifetime customer value, this just isn’t wise.

On the other hand, using the same numbers, if you sell boats – especially boats like these – then selling 1 of the 56′ boats per month is a ROI of somewhere in the neighborhood 13 times your investment. In other words, if you average 1 boat sale a month from your mailing, you’re spending $100k to get $1.3MM. Seems like a good idea.

In both examples, 1 response was the result of your mailing that month. The response RATE in both was the same. A terrible 0.00000000001% per month. Yet the ROI for the boat example was 13 times the investment.

A loss of $100,000 or a gain of $1.2MM cost $100,000, despite one response.

This happened despite both mailings having the same response rate. Don’t fall for the 1% trap. Or even the 2% trap.

Those are the common direct mail mistakes that come to mind for me… What other direct mail mistakes always jump out at you?

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Are you missing the point of automation?

Last week I received a phone call from SendOutCards, whose service sends personalized postcards and greeting cards â?? with pictures if you like â?? simply by pounding on their website for a moment.

First of all, kudos to them. They were just calling to see if I was getting what I needed out of the service and wondered what – if anything – they could do to help me.

Why kudos? Because SO FEW actually make the effort to do this.

Yep, that’s a not-so-subtle hint.

The downside of the conversation was that I blindsided them with my request.

It’s important to clarify that I really like the service â?? they even let me create a font of individual letters using my handwriting, so that the text I type into the website is printed in my writing on the card or postcard. This includes several variations of my hand-written signature so I can sign the cards any way I want depending on who the recipient is.

The disappointment is that the service lacks the ability to let you automate the delivery of what they produce.

You can import a list from your Outlook or whatever, but that isnâ??t automation. Itâ??s manual and a pain. Plus it’s a duplication of data – bad idea.

Once youâ??ve imported contacts, you can setup a series of cards or postcards or notes to go out over a period of days as you like. Setting it up is a little bit of a pain, but it works.

Then the trouble starts. There is no automated way to update the contacts when their contact info changes on my systems, much less to add or remove them. It’s 2008 folks, this stuff is commonplace and simple to implement.

Also – when you have 9400 customers, you don’t have them in Outlook and you don’t want to manually import and categorize them using a web interface.

Their goal SHOULD be to make it as easy to send cards and postcards as they possibly can, since their profit depends on two things: the revenue from sending cards and postcards, and the exposure they get to new people who receive those cards and start using the service on their own.

As it is now, it isnâ??t real automation. Automation occurs when things happen automatically because something else happened, manual or otherwise.

I tried explaining this to the vendor and gave them a few examples.

If I have an online store that sells stuff, I’d want my online store to automatically send a thank you card with shipping info in it. A month or a week or whatever (depends on the product) later, I’d want to send a follow up thank you that asks for a review, comments, makes sure they are happy with their purchase, etc.

That just scrapes the surface of needs of that type.

Random customer behavior: bad idea

Another example: Let’s assume that Iâ??m performing a service or selling an item to customers who come back intermittently. Your internal point of sale and invoicing system should have the information needed to produce a list of â??Who hasnâ??t been here in 30 days?â? (or 60, or whatever).

If youâ??re on top of this situation, someone is currently printing out that list and having someone mail them a postcard, or a note, or calling them to see if theyâ??re doing OK, need an appointment, etc. Or SendOutCards could be *automatically instructed* by your systems to send a reminder card or what not to try and retain this customer and get them back into the store, office, etc.

If you arenâ??t on top of this sort of thing, youâ??re simply waiting on the random behavior of your customers to return to your business – exactly the kind of thing SendOutCards is designed to assist you with.

Smart businesses DO NOT depend on the random behavior of their customers. Instead, they show up (and/or deliver) “Just before just-in-time”, as Don Ferris says.. They also make a point of reminding their customers to come back / purchase / do maintenance (or whatever) when it’s best for the customer… without being an annoying nag about it.

By now, you should have asked yourself what you can be doing in this area. Here are a few questions to ask yourself about your business:

  • What do your customers use every month?
  • What do they own that requires maintenance every quarter?
  • What happens TO THEM if they don’t come back on a regular basis?
  • What happens if I lose track of changes in their personal situation (if B-to-C) or business situation (B-to-B)?

If they arenâ??t buying or maintaining those things on that basis, every day they wait is costing you money *and* it could cost them money too.

Oh yeah, back to that every 30 days list.

What if your systems were automated and knew to send out a postcard (not one of those lame ones from the corporate office that no one reads) when someone should have an appointment coming up? And the system knows not to mail one if you already have an appointment scheduled in the next few weeks.

And it knows to email the right person in your business 10 days after the postcard is mailed to remind them to call that person if and only if they donâ??t have an appointment (or haven’t made a purchase).

This isnâ??t rocket science, but the vendor didnâ??t seem to get how valuable this was not only to me, but to their bottom line (ie: more cards get mailed, more people are exposed to the vendor’s service).

Advertising Direct Mail Marketing Small Business systems Technology

Direct Mail Mistakes That Cost You Money

Several of my clients use direct mail for the obvious reasons – it works. Like a chainsaw in the hands of the skilled artisan, the results can be amazing.

Or they can be downright awful.

Common mistakes people make when using direct mail:

  • Talking about the wrong thing
  • Not knowing your numbers
  • Making assumptions
  • Not segmenting your mailing

Let’s look at each of these direct mail mistakes (yes, they could also be made in other media).

Talking about the wrong thing

You might remember a project from several months ago where we talked about political candidate websites and what you can learn from them and their signup processes.

I’m still on all those lists, mostly so I can see what techniques they’re using.

One of the candidates keeps emailing me at the end of each month, asking for a contribution and reminding me that the campaign contribution reporting period ends the next day.

As if I care.

I’m a voter, or in small business terms, a prospect.

I don’t give a flip about campaign reporting periods. I care about issues and what a candidate is going to do about them – something rarely (if ever) mentioned in detail in their contacts.

You wouldn’t offer to talk about AARP to a teenager. Why would you contact your prospects and talk about something they don’t care about? Don’t do it.

Not knowing your numbers

Before you stick that thing in the mail, you better have way to track who responds and of those who respond, who orders.

Yes, I mean keep track of and take action based on: How many you mailed, how many the mailing caused to respond, or how many of those who responded actually bought.

Making assumptions

In particular, making assumptions about the relationship you have with the person you mailed to.

I received a piece of mail not long ago that was personalized and made reference to things I had done in the past with this entity, yet made a slew of inaccurate assumptions about our relationship.

The result? The mailer hit the trash before I finished reading it.

You wouldn’t steal a kiss at the front door as you picked up someone on a blind date. Don’t make assumptions about the relationship you have with those you are mailing to.

Not segmenting your mailing

If you were doing the mailing for Ford Motor Company, would you send the same brochure to everyone in the country?

Of course not. But you probably do it with your mailings.

  • The same people who buy a Mustang Cobra are not likely to be buying an Escape Hybrid.
  • The same people who buy a F350 Diesel are not likely to be buying a Probe.

And yes, it is possible a family might have both, but your mailing’s goal shouldn’t be to sell BOTH, or you’ll end up sending 300 million identical mailers out and getting 0.0000001% response from them.

  • You send the camper and boat owners, construction business owners, farmers and similar businesses info about the heavy-duty diesel trucks.
  • You send the Mustang Cobra mailing to successful people in the right income brackets and age groups (if you are Ford, you know exactly what those brackets / groups are).
  • You send the Escape Hybrid mailing to people who subscribe to Mother Earth News or Money, as well as kayak owners in the Pacific Northwest. But only those in certain income brackets.

You segment your mailing rather than rain huge piles of random paper down on their heads that do little more than empty your bank account.

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42 cents for a stamp? Run away, run away!

Los Monty Python españoles
photo credit: Arkangel

Apologies to Monty Python with that “run away” thing, but it’s a good example of the talk in some business circles this week.

Once again, I hear people talking of abandoning direct mail. You know, because of the 1 cent postage increase. 1 cent. A 2.4% increase.

Tell me…for 42 cents, where else can you get something delivered to the home or office of a specifically qualified prospect, without running afoul of anti-spam laws, anti-fax laws and so on?

If you aren’t taking the care to segment your mailings and send them only to the most qualified people for your offer, then you deserve to be pouring Forever stamps down the drain. Just remember, you didn’t learn carpet bombing direct mail tactics from me:)

Honestly, I love it when I hear others in my market talk about the “expense of direct mail”, because I know they are cutting back on it, leaving another gap in the market for my clients.

Wendy over at the Wall Street Journal brought up the postage increase this week and asked what businesses were doing about it. Some got it, some didn’t. One commented that the costs could add up. Sure. So can the return, if you know what you’re doing – and testing. And measuring response.

Over at the Huffington Post, a reader pointed out someone making fun of direct mail as an out of style waste of money for political candidates. No question: BAD direct mail is absolutely a waste of money, whether it’s sent by a business or a political campaign. Most political direct mail is horribly done (but not all of it).

However…Done right, direct mail is still incredibly effective, but hey, don’t listen to me, keep thinking about that extra penny.

Somewhere in heaven, Dick Benson must be shaking his head with disdain.

Book Reviews Email marketing Employees Internet marketing Marketing Small Business

Hiring staff to help with marketing? Start them off with these business books.

Over the weekend, one of my readers emailed and asked this very smart question:

We are hiring someone “green” to do marketing for us in about a month. I thought that starting someone from the ground up would be a good way to build someone’s skills for our business and not have to pay a small fortune at the same time. Do you have a couple of books that you would recommend for this person? I’m looking for books on both general marketing theory and on the nuts-and-bolts.

Still Life with Plato
photo credit: chefranden

So that you don’t overwhelm them on that first day, let’s go with 6 books.

That’ll start them off with a good baseline so they won’t spend a huge pile of your money and have no idea whether it was well spent or not – plus it may avoid scaring them to death:)

It’s hard to come up with a list that short until these 2 questions came to mind:

  • What books would I least want to give up if I found out they were the last copies ever?
  • What books would I want someone to have if they were going to spend a lot of my money on marketing without my oversight?

With those thoughts in mind, it was easy:)

Number 1 – your business procedures manual. (no, not the HR policy manual, ugh)
I’m sure you have one, right? I mean, we’ve ALL read Michael Gerber’s E-Myth (that was sneaky wasn’t it?), so we know how important that procedures manual is. I’m talking about the manual that your newbie assistant manager would use to run the place while you are off on that romantic cruise that you promised someone about 15 years ago. It has all the vendor contact info, how to turn off the alarm, how to lock up for the night, how to Z out the cash register (and when), how to do all the things that someone has to be trained for – step by step, so you don’t have to be a dozen places at once, or interrupted 72 times per day.

Number 2 – Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. Doesn’t seem like a marketing book from the title, but it’s critical path brain food for someone who will be coming up with copy, headlines, emails and so on. Both practical and theory, this one is a keeper.

Number 3 – The Ultimate Marketing Plan by Dan Kennedy. Mostly practical. Dan isn’t much on theory, instead he relies on results. Not very thick, not very expensive, but worth a ton.

Number 4 – The Secrets of Successful Direct Mail by Dick Benson. Not just about direct mail, if you look closely. Definitely a must have for anyone who sticks an envelope in the mail. The list at the front is worth the price of the book.

Number 5 – My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins. These come in 1 volume, so I counted them as one. So there. Claude was marketing like a master before your parents were born, or most likely so. Even this many years later, something to have on your marketing nightstand.

Number 6 – Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples. That’s Caples as in Ogilvy, Caples and other world-class folks from last century.

Total expenditure: About $94 or so new, even less if bought used.

PS: Being the shy person I am, I would have recommended a 7th one: Business is Personal – The book, but it isn’t out yet…

In fact, it was a little hard not to include a handful of others on this list, but this will get you started. Next time, perhaps I’ll limit it to books written in this century:) And besides, I don’t think Gary Bencivenga has a book:)

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Direct mail? Old school, yet dead tree ROI continues to please

Email is “free”, notwithstanding the copywriting, measurement tools, ISP issues with delivery and a few other things.

With “free” comes your favorite target – spam email.

You can afford to send 100,000 emails without testing – though the smart ones do not. On the other hand, most can’t afford to send 100,000 direct mail pieces without testing FIRST.

I can assure you that those who can afford to send that much direct mail each month would never do so without testing first. No question, direct mail has it’s share of issues – most can be solved with smart mailing (as opposed to carpet bombing).

So while newspapers and magazines see falling advertising inches, direct mail continues to grow – because done right, it works.

And lookee here, even the Wharton School of Business says direct mail works (archived pdf here).

Just one example: Those “silly little 4 page print newsletters” I create get places that the same content will never get via email.

How do I know? Because newsletter clients tell me this every month when I call for the next month’s snippet of content. They say things like “I can’t believe how well these things work.” I hear it over and over again – and best of all, no one else in their market has a clue.

Competitors sure wont duplicate the effort. Too lazy. Too busy stepping over dollars to pick up dimes.

Whether I do it for you, or you do it yourself, just flippin’ do it. Measure it. Go to the bank. Repeat.

What are you waiting for? You have Wharton’s permission.

Advertising Direct Mail Internet marketing Marketing Media Small Business systems

How to measure advertising response in any media

measuring advertising response (or in this case, a plane's tail)

Recently, I received a few questions about measuring advertising response so I thought I’d cover that a bit today.

The measurement and use of the results you record is one of the most important things to do when advertising – at least once the ad has been created for a particular target market.

Question: Why can’t all ads produce a response?

Very, very few ads pull nothing, but I have heard second hand of a business that mailed 20,000 direct mail pieces and gotten nothing for their trouble.

However, as I hear it, their mail piece was poorly done and was mailed to anyone with a heartbeat, so they sorta “deserved” that result.

In any audience, there is a percentage of people ready to buy (and thus, your timing is good), another percentage thinking about it, and the rest in various modes of not caring, not being interested, caring but not having a need or want at this time, etc. The key is motivating the 2nd and last groups to buy.

Question: How do you eliminate the process of testing ads and culling the non-performing ones?

The key isn’t to eliminate it, but to always test what you’re doing so that you can make decisions based on information rather than gut feel.

If we mail 1000 pieces, we might mail 333 people one letter, 333 people another letter and 334 people another one. Next time we mail, we’ll know which is the best producer. After that, we might mail 500 of the winner and 500 of a new challenger. You should always be trying to beat the current best performing ad you have in each media for a particular type of prospect.

If we place 20 radio spots, we’d alternate 2 or 3 spots in each time slot we select so we know which one works in that time slot (ie: different audiences, assuming they should all be “target rich” audiences). As each day goes on, we might adjust the spots that play in a slot based on the response we’re getting.

Question: Isn’t ad testing a very expensive process?

Depends on how you do it. If you try to contact everyone with a heartbeat instead of focusing on a personal, contextually important message for that prospect group, it can be very expensive, not to mention seriously unproductive.

For example, you wouldn’t likely send the same mail piece to opera lovers that you would NASCAR fans, for obvious reasons. Sure, there will be some exceptions (people who like both NASCAR and opera), but you aren’t worried about the crossovers. You’re worried about completely missing the boat with your message to one group or another.

Question: So how do I measure response on a mailer, newspaper/magazine ad, radio ad, email or website?

I could go on for pages about the details of this, but the bottom line is to do at least one of two things so you can tell exactly which ad they are responding to:

  • Create an offer that is specific to the ad.
    Ever notice how TV ads ask you to ask for a specific operator, department or send you to a website that has what seems like random numbers in it? That’s why they do this” so they know which ad you are responding to. They want to know which time slot works and which ad works, among other things. A particular price, quantity or product name can also indicate which offer you chose (and thus, which marketing effort you responded to).
  • Create a mechanism for contacting you that is unique.
    A different phone number (800 numbers are easy to use for this, because they forward to another number). A different fax number. A different web address. Google Analytics codes on your URLs (in emails, for example). A different email address. A special page on your website. A department number, or a contact name, ie: “Ask for Harry”. You can give them some sort of reference that gives them access to a discount or bonus, such as “Tell em Tiger Woods sent you”.
Internet marketing Marketing Politics

Political marketing: Comparing the signup process & first impressions of the candidate sites

Each candidate’s web site includes a way to get on their email list so you can get current news about your favorite Presidential candidate.

Today, I compare the sites from a “I’m here for the first time and I want to get news emailed to me” perspective, as well as give some first impressions of the site as I arrive to give them my email address.

Barack Obama : Acts like a squeeze page upon first visit, but only the first visit (ie: the site is paying attention so they don’t “bore you” with a squeeze page that you’ve already seen – smart). The squeeze page was nice and clean. Do this, or do this, no chance of distracting you with the “bright shiny object” and take you away from the goal of that page – to get your email.

After that initial visit, the squeeze page is not shown and you must choose to give them your email address. Low objection level to joining, it only asks for your first name and email address (ala

Because they aren’t asking for much info, they’re more likely to get email addresses. On the other hand, not having address info makes it tough to localize emails, meeting notices and perhaps most importantly, it makes GOTV and direct mail more difficult. It’s possible to get some of this info from some email addresses based on domain registration and reverse IP lookups.

Hillary Clinton : More traditional entry page, joining the mailing list occurs first. You’re asked for an email address and zip code. After adding your email to the list, you are taken to a page where they request your contact info and identification of priority issues. It remains to be seen if these issues will drive specific emails in the future.

One oddity about Clinton’s site: The main menu has a “States” drop down. Only the states with a caucus or primary are included. If I’m interested in what’s going on in my state and that state isn’t on her menu, what message does that send to me? The site has no search capability.

Regarding the email news signup process: Asking for all contact and priority issue information might put off some people, but it does allow them to tailor the email by issues. At the point where this ask occurs, they already have your email address and zip code. On the other hand, the site is unclear if you are volunteering (“join our team”) or just asking to get on their email list.

Clearly the latter is a goal, but for someone who just wants to be kept up to date, it might put off some people. Failing to ask for a name, or at least first name puts a damper on the ability to personalize future emails, at least until they get you to fill out the “Join the team” page with complete contact and issue info.

John McCain : Required zip code, then took me to a Team McCain signup form where they asked for complete contact info, important issues and areas where I might want to volunteer. Site includes a search capability.

Mitt Romney : Splash screen on first entry didn’t offer a place to enter an email. Options were an economic platform video, a contribute link or a button to skip to the site. I closed by browser after the first visit without clicking on anything, and like Obama’s site, a second visit skipped the splash screen and took me to the main site. Again, the server is paying attention. The main page includes a search feature, an oddity among candidate sites.

Oddly enough, there was no place on the main site to just enter an email address and get email updates. I had to dig around a bit to find an email-only option where I could get news without becoming a “Team Mitt” member, something I’m not doing on any of the candidate sites.

Ron Paul : Asked for first name, last name, zip and email. Upon completion, it went to a form asking for complete contact and issue information. No search capability. Paul’s “States” menu item included all 50 states.

All of the sites clearly understood the value of having an upsell on the thank you page. Upsell as in contribute, join our team or both.

Creativity Marketing

Viral marketing doesn’t work

charlotte1.jpg Ever seen that t-shirt? In big letters, it says “Viral marketing doesn’t work”. The rest of the shirt says “tell everyone you know”. You know, just like direct mail doesn’t work and Google AdWords doesn’t work.

Neither do electrical circuits, if you don’t know how to design them. Skills required to use these tools aren’t second nature, or instinct. They require study.

Want to learn about direct mail that works? Start by reading Dick Benson’s book (available at Boardroom books). Want to learn about AdWords? Start with Perry Marshall’s book and email series. Want to learn about viral marketing? Read Seth Godin’s books, among others.

Viral marketing sells pork. It sells cars. It sells marketing and business consulting work. It sells coffee. It sells a ton of things.

Viral marketing sells pork?

Yeah. Remember a spider named Charlotte? Her viral marketing message was… “Some Pig”.

E.B. White knew about viral marketing way back when. His character used it when she weaved those words into a spider web in the barn where a little pig named Wilbur lived.

Viral marketing does work, if you know how to use it. Seth didn’t invent it, he just fine tuned it and uses it very effectively. There’s no reason why you can’t do the same. Just takes a little effort, whether it’s direct mail, viral, AdWords or some other skill.

Update: Another example of viral “marketing”,
the recent Virginia snow day episode.

cerebral palsy Community Direct Mail Marketing

Direct mail marketing lesson: “Breakfast with Santa”

santa-big1.gifOne of the many things my Cajun friend does (aside from an occasional interest in LSU football) is help out a cerebral palsy clinic in Opelousas Louisiana with a special event they do every December.

It’s called “Breakfast with Santa“.

He describes it like this:

We have a local cerebral palsy clinic where kids … and adults … can come to get therapy and treatment.

All the funds are donated funds. None of the kids are charged for the services.

Many of the kids who get treatment wouldn’t have it available to them anyplace else.

We put on this “Breakfast with Santa” fundraiser each year. We charge $25 for breakfast and 100% of that $25 goes towards providing therapy for a child.

Local celebrity chefs cook the breakfast, local dignitaries serve the breakfast, everything is donated, 100% goes to the clinic.

Some of the promotion for this event/fundraiser is done by direct mail. Not that boring old direct mail you expect to get from the chamber or United Way every year. No, no, Sparky.

Instead, you get full color envelopes and letters with signature fonts, Santa images, and calls to action on the outside of envelopes. It’s done at a time when most businesses wouldn’t dream of dropping a big mailing, fearing that it’d get lost among the holiday cards. Or they’d use the “people are busy” and similar excuses some business-to-business folks use to avoid marketing their products and services in December (if not November).

The reality is that direct mail in the 6 weeks before Christmas is just as effective then as any other time of year, IF the proper ingredients are in place.

These include a well-crafted letter (offer) and call to action with things to get your attention (color, signature fonts, angled text, photos of the kids being helped).

All these things make the letter stand out from all the inept direct mail crap you get in your box every day – the reasons that most people think direct mail doesn’t work. Those colors, signature fonts, etc are the tools that turn the mailing into what Dan calls ‘A pile’ mail, ie: mail you’re gonna open before you open the bills. If you’re keeping score, “B pile mail” is bills, “C pile” mail is crap that hits the trash can before it even gets opened.

I suggest you send 25 bucks to the clinic if nothing else so you can get the thank you letter, a direct mail (much less web) marketing lesson all by itself (the lesson is the bit of blue text at the bottom). I won’t show it to you here, you’ve gotta earn the right to see it by sending them some cash.

Send your check (made out to the clinic) to:

Breakfast with Santa
Opelousas Area Cerebral Palsy Clinic
PO Box 70
Opelousas, LA 70571-0070

In return, you’ll get a thank you letter that will be well worth the $25, plus you’ll have helped some kids who need it.

Merry Christmas.