The first blunder of many advertisers, even big companies, is not thoroughly understanding their primary target audience and directing their marketing only to that audience. Remember, 80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers, so you better be sure your direct mail pieces are sent to the right group. For example, if you want to cultivate high-school senior portrait business, then you wouldn’t send a direct mail piece for that service to an area with a large number of “empty-nesters” or retirees.
Another error is failing to include simple and clear language in some part of your direct mail piece that describes who you are and your business. If your goal is to sell high-end weddings with plenty of extras that you know an affluent audience will buy, then say so. Conversely, if you want to characterize yourself as a photography business that provides discounted wedding photography, appealing to budget-conscious couples and families (and therefore profiting from a high volume of clientele), then make sure there is no misunderstanding as to the scope of your services.
Many novice or undereducated direct mail advertisers think that consumers will automatically open an envelope simply because they received it in the mail. This is a major blunder. Your direct mail message must first appear on the outside of the envelope and be compelling enough to motivate recipients to open the envelope to read your offer. You need a high-powered, direct message, such as “Open this envelope to learn how to save $50 off your high-school senior portrait sitting!”
Don’t think every mailing must be a direct sales message. Often, it is much more effective to distribute a piece that contains helpful tips about choosing a wedding photographer, for instance, or a newsletter with the only purpose of informing potential customers and not selling them. Distributing such a non-selling piece once a quarter is more likely to motivate consumers to open your direct-selling mail you send before and after it.
One of the primary secrets of maximum direct-mail success is testing the look of the piece and the copy. The experts will tell you that a simple change to the message on the outside of the envelope or the headline recipients first see when they open it can significantly increase responses. Once you find a headline or other elements that generate great results, distribute it to other mailing lists.
Failing to proofread your direct mail and sending a piece with typos, misspellings, awkward sentence structure and/or incorrect punctuation brand you as unprofessional, even if you’re the best photographer in the community. These mistakes don’t often register consciously with recipients, but whenever bad writing interrupts the flow of your message, they subconsciously have no interest in reading your entire piece.
Another direct mail blunder is writing the copy in the first person singular or plural. Consumers don’t actually care if you’re the biggest, cheapest or most convenient. They don’t want to hear about “I” or “we.” Second person “you” is more likely to grab their attention, especially when written as benefit statements.
Many direct mail advertisers underestimate the savvy of their audience by thinking the inclusion of a cheap trinket, such as a keychain, and a percentage-off offer will sway them to buy. They are smarter than that. What they want you to do for them is to solve a problem, which is of much greater value than a keychain.
Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale. A required component of every successful direct mail piece is a call-to-action at the end of the message. In fact, ask for the sale more than once throughout the copy. The call-to-action often repeats your offer in clear, brief terms and tags it with a limited time to respond. If consumers want what you are selling, then you want them to call you now, not next week when they will have forgotten you and your offer.
Quite possibly the worse direct mail blunder is spending the time and money to create and mail the piece and then failing to follow the mailing with a phone call. Direct mail experts will tell you that it’s been proven again and again that a follow-up to a direct mail campaign can improve the response by almost 300%!
Many professional, or commercial, photographers employ a variety of marketing/advertising methods to generate leads. Direct mail can be one of the most successful when you don’t make the blunders in this PhotographyTalk article. Direct mail can be particularly useful if you are a wedding photographer or offer high-school senior portrait services, for example. In most cases, your future customers will come from the geographic location surrounding your studio or business address. Distributing direct mail pieces to the homes and apartments in one or more ZIP codes in your community—and doing it correctly and efficiently—will generally produce much of the business you’ll ever need.
Another strategy that has proven to work well is to avoid the outside of the envelope looking like a typical direct mail piece, which many recipients will immediately categorize as “junk” mail. Instead, personalize the exterior of the envelope with a hand-written look that can be created with a specific font and apply an actually postage stamp and not metered postage.
Image credit: violin / 123RF Stock Photo
People who read this PhotographyTalk.com article also liked:
Your feedback is important to thousands of PhotographyTalk.com fans and us. If this article is helpful, then please click the Like and Re-Tweet buttons at the top left of this article.