About 3 weeks ago, I received a letter in the mail. Yeah, snail mail. Typically, when I get something from the US Postal Office, it’s either:
- A bill
- Junk Mail
- One of the last hardcopy magazines that I simply refuse to give up.
At this point, everyone I know either sends me email, gives me a tweet on twitter, texts me on my cell, chats with me on Google, writes on my Facebook wall, links to me on Linkedin or calls me on my cell. I’m sorry to say that the snail mail only brings me uninteresting news at best and bad news at the worst.
So when this bright yellow 4×6 envelope arrived in the mail, addressing me by name, a real name in the return address and a stamp in the upper right hand corner, it caught my attention.
It even looked like the address and return address had been hand written, as if someone had taken the time to add their personal touch to the correspondence. For a savvy direct marketer, this is easy enough to do with a printer and some clever fonts. Still, it looked extremely personal and inviting.
The thing had me curious. When I first saw it, I thought to myself, “Mike G??? I don’ t know a Mike G. Who is this guy?”
Guess which piece of mail got opened first that day?
When I opened it, I found this card on the inside.
Well, at this point, I’ve got the envelope opened, I’m looking at a dog chewing on a shoe and I needed to know who Mike G was. So I opened the card and found this.
RoadRunner Sports, where I bought my shoes to run the Akron Marathon back when the weather was a lot warmer, was reaching out to me again 6 months later.
Not a bad strategy, actually.
There are two things to consider here. First the friendly, personal appearance of the letter stood out from the everyday, humdrum, here-comes-another-bill look. It invited me to open it first over everything else.
You can do this same type of personalized, stand-out-from-the-crowd implementation in email as well. In fact, in a previous post entitle Email Marketing Ideas Using The Dale Carnegie Principles, we discussed how using the Carnegie Principles in an email direct marketing campaign can boost your open rate.
Then there is the strategy of reaching out to me after no activity on my part for almost 6 months. I’m willing to bet that there’s a sizeable chunk of customers in their database that hasn’t made a single purchase over the past couple of months. It just makes plain old common sense to give those people a little nudge, to remind them that RoadRunner Sports is still alive and thinking about them.
There are customers in your database that are like that. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones that you let languish in a corner, ignored, neglected and have collected enough cobwebs to qualify for their own horror movie. They purchased something from you in the past because you had something that they wanted at one time, and have long since fallen into oblivion.
Create a direct marketing campaign that reaches out to them again and brings them back into the fold. It’s a lot cheaper than going out scouring the fields to find new customers. And in this economic environment, you would have to be crazy to sacrifice the people that have patronized you in the past to go hunting for new clients to nurture. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for going out and beating the bushes to find new clients. But not at the expense of past patrons who have already bought something from you.
As I said, I get most of my correspondences electronically as I’m sure most of the new sales force out there does. I get a lot of email from sales reps telling me about their latest offerings or the specials that are coming up.
I can’t remember the last time a sales rep emailed me saying:
“Hey Larry, I know that you were looking at storage systems for your company. Here’s an interesting article that talks about some interesting data preservation techniques.”
“Hey Larry, the last time we spoke you were looking at bringing your team up to speed on using social media in sales. Here’s an interesting blog that discusses using Linkedin to generate leads.”
But I do get 7 or more emails a day from potential suitors saying, “Look at my latest video on killer sales techniques. It’s hot! People are snapping it up. Check it out here.” When I get to their site, the video is a long infomercial on how great their product is. Definitely not personal, and definitely no relationship built.
There’s nothing wrong with self-promotion, but I do believe that it goes a lot further if your audience believes that you have their best interest in mind. The best way to build that credibility and trust is to think of them and send them something of interest when you don’t need anything.
Before this whole credit crisis erupted, the experts recommended that you establish a reputation with your banker by asking for a loan when you didn’t need one. That way you could establish your credentials and earn their trust when the pressure was off. Then, when you did need that loan for starting your business or buying your home, your banker was in your corner because you had already earned their trust.
When was the last time that you emailed your client or prospect something that they were interested in, just to build that relationship? What are you doing to nurture your relationship with your current clients and to re-engage your past clients? Most blogs, videos and articles now have some way of emailing the file out to other parties. Are you making use of that ability to create value for your potential prospects and clients?
I would encourage you right now, to touch base with nine clients that have fallen off of your wagon for whatever reason, and begin bringing them back on board with a quick email that includes something that is of interest to them.
In today’s economic environment, lots of sales people are out there looking for the killer strategy or that one secret that will give them an edge.
Become genuinely interested in your prospects and do something that demonstrates that interest. Show them that you care by sending them something that they can use.
When it comes time to make the sale, they will take care of you.