Welcome to your new franchise! Having been there, I know you most likely cannot recall a more exciting, exhausting and terrifying time in your professional career. The investment in time exceeds any corporate position you’ve ever had, and your bravery for putting your own capital on the line is admirable. You’re wearing more hats than ever before: Receptionist; Customer Service Rep; Sales Rep; Bookkeeper; Part Time Accountant; Director of Marketing; Operations Director; CFO; COO; CTO; CEO; and E-I-E-I-Oh my gosh what have I gotten into? I have been there, I know.
Most new franchisees begin their new business in an industry where they have limited or no direct experience. You’re relying on the expertise of the franchisor to direct you (and your funds) to realize the most marketing “bang for your buck” for your new company.
Given the demands on your time, shopping for the lowest cost provider in every area of your business is often sacrificed for the convenience of a “recommended” vendor. This can be a very expensive oversight. Obviously, your franchisor has looked into every marketing channel your company should consider, right? If they are a quality franchisor, they most certainly have. They have, through years of experience, devised an integrated system of potential customer interaction, starting with national brand awareness, website design, SEO, local TV advertising, vehicle wraps, lawn signs, door hangers, public event sponsorship and, finally, direct mail advertising.
For most franchisees, direct mail advertising is one of the largest expenditures each and every year, and herein lies the rub: while your franchisor is an expert at “what” needs to be done, there is no guarantee that they possess any more expertise than you in the “how” it should be done. However, there are experts in these areas that can help improve the efficacy of your campaign as well as reduce the cost to your business. Just as critically, you potentially get an opportunity to support another local business just like yours.
Direct mail campaigns normally include the following: list acquisition, product design, print & assembly and, finally, mailing.
Your list should be carefully considered. After all, you don’t want to invest any additional funds in mailing to customers who are unlikely to have interest in your goods or services. These usually include geographic limitations (certain zip codes, streets, and neighborhoods), as well as segmentation by age, professional status, income and many others. Once these are chosen, be sure to inquire about the quality of the list. How frequently is it updated? When was the last update? Has it been exposed to the National Change of Address service offered by the USPS? Once satisfied, shop for prices.
Define your message. Know what you are trying to accomplish. Brand awareness alone doesn’t drive business, however there are some companies who feel this is the main reason for direct mail. However, some call to action, either through a limited time discount, coupon or promotional item, creates both brand awareness as well as drives customers to engage with your business. Your call to action should answer three fundamental questions related to your product or service: first, why do something at all – what is your purpose? Second, why do something now? Finally, and most importantly, why do it with your company?
Letters or postcards? Each of these has unique benefits along with varying costs, such as production and the postage.
Postcards do not require additional production costs that letters do, like folding the enclosure, inserting the enclosure, sealing the envelope. If your message is uncomplicated and precise, your audience can see the offer without any additional effort. The USPS estimates that 52% of postcards are read, making them the highest read rate of any mail piece.
Moreover, the postage cost of First Class postcards is over 30% less than letters. Standard Class postage rates are the same for either postcards or letters.
Letters will be more expensive, but may be a necessity based on the complexity of your product and/or service as well as the call to action you use. The opening rate for envelopes can be affected by several factors: the degree of personalization, overall brand awareness and even the font used can impact the open rate of envelopes in your direct mail program. However, letters have a higher response rate than postcards. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the value of the higher response rate vs. the increased expense of both production and postage.
What postage category should you use, First Class or Standard Class (now called marketing mail)? First Class is significantly more expensive. Historically, there were several disadvantages to Standard Class rates. No forwarding or return services are included with Standard Class mail, a service included with First Class. These may not be important requirements if your company services a specific geographic area (why forward a mail piece to any area you do not service?) and return of a non-deliverable piece will be mitigated if you have acquired a fresh, high quality list.
Finally, find a competent, capable mail services provider in your area. There are additional postage discounts available to you that can reduce the overall postage dramatically through commingled sortation with other mailers in your area. You may also take advantage of USPS facility entry level discounts that your mailing, stand alone, could not achieve. In almost every case, the savings associated with using a service bureau to sort your mail exceeds the cost of the service, lowering your in-home cost per piece. Moreover, most mail services providers can help you craft, print, assemble and mail all under one roof. These process experts will enhance the quality and composition of your mail-based advertising while actually reducing the overall cost to your franchise.
Midwest Direct has been helping franchisees with their print and direct mail projects for more than fifteen years. Contact us to get started!tags: business, direct mail, direct marketing, franchise, franchisee, mail campaigns, print