Monthly Archives: September 2009
Direct Mail Advertising is an effective way to grow your business. However, all advertising should be part of an overall plan that sets your business apart from the competition and creates a demand for your products or services.
Most business owners do not have the time to contemplate and then write a proper business plan. Furthermore, they usually don’t have the budget to hire a professional to do it for them. Besides, no one knows your business as well as you do, so I recommend that you do it yourself by starting with a “S W O T” Analysis.
A “S W O T” Analysis is a simple yet effective marketing exercise (first introduced in the 1960′s) that can help a business focus on improving sales.
The initials stand for:
- “S” – STRENGTHS
- “W” – WEAKNESSES
- “O” – OPPORTUNITIES
- “T” – THREATS
You don’t need a marketing guru to conduct the analysis, you can do it yourself, if you are willing to be honest. Start with 4 blank sheets of paper and title each with the headings shown above.
Here are some examples to help get you started:
STRENGTHS could be -
Your location, a one of a kind product or service, a reputation built over the years, your staff, etc.
WEAKNESSES could be -
Your location, similar products and prices offered by nearby competitors, not enough parking, a bad reputation
OPPORTUNITIES could be -
A competitor goes out of business, new homes being built in the neighborhood, new products available from a supplier, using the internet to expand sales, etc.
THREATS could be -
New competitor opens nearby, gas prices go up, temporary road construction, etc.
With a completed analysis, you will be better equipped to develop an effective marketing and advertising plans, including a direct mail advertising campaign.
Direct Mail Advertising is a great way to grow your restaurant business. Unlike newspapers, radio or tv, direct mail allows you to put your advertising dollars exactly where your potential customers live. You can target geographically by neighborhood or demographically by age, income, ethnicity, etc., or a combination of both.
Direct mail advertising also allows you to control your budget, by the size of your mailings (how many pieces) and the frequency of your mailings.
There are many other advantages of direct mail, here are just a few:
- It’s personal, between you and your prospect
- It’s not as public as other media, your competitors won’t have access to your coupons and special offers as they do in newspapers and other media
- It’s limited to one mail piece per household, which means special offers will not be abused, for example, by prospects buying more than one newspaper and clipping multiple coupons
- Response is easy to track
- You can compare results by neighborhoods and determine your best market area
At this point, you might be asking yourself, if direct mail is so powerful, why isn’t every restaurant in town doing it?
It’s true, direct mail can play a big role in growing your restaurant business, however, it is going to take some effort and a budget. It’s not just a matter of putting your menu or a few coupons together and mailing them out. A successful direct mail advertising campaign is a bit more complicated than that. To gain some insight into the process, I suggest reading my BLOG, which contains ideas and tips on design, mailing lists, strategies and more. It’s designed for busy owners and managers, each posting can be read in a minute or less. Feel free to leave comments and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.
Of course, everyone wants to hit a home run the first time at bat, but prepared for some hits and misses. Every mailing is important and provides an opportunity for you to learn more about your market area. Results will vary, even if no one responds, that is still a result (obviously not what you were hoping for) and the result, that no one or few people responded, can be used to make a course correction.
So, if you have decided to start a direct mail campaign, begin with a mailing that is large enough to establish a base line of results, usually about 2000 to 3000 pieces. Don’t be tempted to save money on printing by ordering large quantities to be used in future mailings. What if your offers fall flat and don’t work. Then you’ll be stuck with the extras or worse, feel obligated to mail them and repeat the results.
Direct mail advertising works. It can work for you. But, unless you are prepared to stick with it, you may be wasting your time and money. It is going to take some trial and error. The good news is, that over time, with experience, direct mail advertising results will become predictable. That’s when you can expand your efforts, and direct mail advertising won’t be costing you money, it will make you money.