Somerset-area Small Business Accountant Reveals How Not To Get Burned By Direct Mail

Somerset-area Small Business Accountant Reveals How Not To Get Burned By Direct Mail

May 19, 2012

Last week, I posted some information about Obamacare (aka “ACA”), and how it affects business owners. Well … there’s more to come for small businesses here in Somerset Area — and as local accountant, it’s my job to warn you.

I may not have made this as clear as I possibly could have — but there is a “tax cliff” which is hurtling towards us on January 1, 2013. And while Obamacare itself carries tax provisions, this particular cliff has more to do with a series of tax cuts which are due to expire.

What’s most crictical for you, as a Somerset-area business owner is that you plan ahead.

But aside from taxes, you might discern that I love to write about marketing for my clients and business owner friends. It’s fun for me to put together these emails, because it gets me “out” of working in the minutiae of my firm, and “in” a pretty diverting (and worthwhile) topic. I hope you find them useful.

Anyway, have you noticed that mailboxes are slightly less “empty” these days than they were a year or two ago?

(Not your email inbox, but, you know — that old, actually *physical* one out front.)

I think businesses are back to investing there, and it’s smart. But before you jump in, here’s some good advice so you don’t get burned, which I picked up from one of my marketing mentors.

Somerset Area Small Business Accountant Reveals How Not To Get Burned By Direct Mail
Direct Mail can be “expensive”–which is why you do NOT want to “come huge” right out of the gate with it. Instead, it’s a very good idea to “test” small, and then continue to tweak and improve what works.

Here’s how you do that:

1) Start with a small list of about 300 prospects. Anything less than this isn’t a very good sample size for a test. Frankly, even this is a bit small — 1000 names or more seems to make for a truer test, but if you are on a tight budget, 300 will do.

2) Send out at least 2 steps before you consider it a failure. There are a variety of reasons why marketing pieces fail, and not all of them are under your control.

3) Include a true tracking mechanism. This can be a specialized 800 number, a dedicated local number (special to this particular mailing), a unique URL, a specific appointment request form, a coupon — it actually doesn’t matter a LOT. What matters most is that you have a way to reliably separate out any respondents from this particular mailing AWAY from other kinds of inquiries from yellow pages, referrals, etc.

4) Measure results by ROI. You can spend a bunch of cash to get high response rates, but as a “details” person, I’m most interest in seeing specific dollar returns on marketing before it’s judged to be worthwhile.

I hope this helps!